Michael Wilbon's waxing about basketball's good ol' days when players had to stay in school longer and gets Jay Bilas in for backup-
"Now, it doesn't mean we're not going to have a great tournament; I think it could be an even better tournament than we normally have because it'll be volatile and it'll be fun to watch. The competition still is going to be great. But the quality of play is not what it has been. We've still got outstanding players; we don't have the tremendous superstars that are older that we used to have."
Bilas continued, "This is something the basketball community, the NBA included, is going to have to put its arms around because it's not just hurting the college game; it's hurting the NBA, too ... and the NBA product could be even better than it is, and right now I think it's outstanding."
As one who caught the UK bug while living in Lexington, it would have been nice to see the cadre that Calipari brought in last season get a second shot at the title after laying an egg in the regionals. However, John Wall is learning more basketball playing an 82 game NBA season with Washington than he would have playing a 30ish-game season at Kentucky. Likewise, Demarcus Cousins is getting a better basketball education at Sacremento.
Would the NBA be better if those two were forced to spend a second year (or more) playing college ball? If that were the case, why were teams hot to draft them back in June? If the NBA were better without them, the team formerly known as the Bullets would have sent Wall to the D-League like Houston did with Wall's UK running mate Patrick Paterson for a time earlier in the year.
If you made the current one-and-done rule requiring players to be a year out of high school before going to the NBA a three-and-done like the NFL does, you would have a crop of sophmores and juniors playing college ball. Brandon Knight would be coming off the bench for UK (or play for another school in the market for a starting point gaurd since Wall and Eric Bledsoe would be hogging the starting backcourt spots for two more years) and create a deeper UK team.
However, would the NBA be better with four guys off of D-league rosters than the four UK underclassmen who went pro this year? I think not.
It is nice to see players develop in college, to mature in their game and to see them develop a legacy at the school other than one fleeting season of promise like the UK bunch did last year. However, keeping folks who are ready for the next level in an extended period of indentured servitude (yes, tuition and room and board at a good school is nothing to sneeze at, but it's a fraction of the millions they make at the next level) doesn't help the game that much.
Bilas makes his living covering college basketball, so he has a vested interest in seeing that brand strengthened. Seeing folks like Grant Hill or Kalin Lucas stay for four years is better for fans of their schools than the one-and-dones that litter the modern landscape, but college is supposed to be preparing folks for life.
If one of my undergrad finance students had a million dollar offer from an investment banking firm, I'm not going to tell him to stay in school and finish his BBA; he can do that part-time while making the bongo bucks. That won't happen too often, but old-school folks would like to do just that with basketball stars.
Does the one-and-dones level the playing field? Yes, the more mature teams from mid-pack power conference schools and mid-majors can use age and treachery against youth and inexperience, so we see more parity in college ball and more teams with barely-above .500 records make the field, even adjusting for the extra three teams in this year's field.
However, that is just a side-effect of a somewhat free market in basketball talent. Shumpeter's creative destruction winds up doing a number on college dynasties, since if a team is good enough to win a title, it usually has an underclassman or two who will move on to the next level; the Florida team of a few years back who came back for a second title rather than go pro is the exception to the rule.