Is the One and Done Rule beneficial?

Over the past decade, the NBA has changed drastically. Before a new rule was implemented, NBA prospects could enter the NBA right out of High school. Only a selective few were big time names coming out of highschool.  Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady, Dwight Howard, Shawn Kemp, Kevin Garnett, and Moses Malone are the most known High school prospects that came straight from High school into the league and was very successful. There were many more athletes who tried to make that big leap from highschool to the pros and did not quite meet the expectations set out for them. To address this issue, the NBA and their Players Association approved a bargaining agreement that requires prospect entering the draft to be a minimum of 19 years old and or have completed their first year of college. Players are now forced to spend a year in college, even if they had or have no intentions of graduating.

 

When the rule was first established, it was meant to allow collegiate fans to see superstars like Derrick Rose, Karl Anthony Towns, and Anthony Davis for at least a year. This excitement was quickly reversed when prospects were only meeting the minimum requirements to enter into the NBA draft. Adam Silver, the NBA commissioner, has spoken about his willingness to change the rule. “It’s not working for the college coaches and athletic directors I hear from,” Silver proclaimed.  “They’re not happy with the current system. And I know our teams aren’t happy either, in part because they don’t necessarily think the players who chartare coming into the league are getting the kind of training that they would expect to see.”

 

As you can see in the graph displayed, there has been a significant jump of one and done prospects over the past few years. In 2008, there was 16 freshman who declared for the draft and was drafted in the first and second round. There was a significant drop off of young prospects in years 2009-2015. The hype began to pick up a lot more in years 2016 and 2017. Last years’ draft had the most one and done draftees in history. 24 freshmen were drafted in the first and second round. There were 40 freshmen overall declaring for the draft.

 

40 freshmen declared for the draft.

 

meta-chartMany have questioned and have concerns about the one year out of high school rule. College coaches and college administrations disagree with the one and done rule. Many college coaches look to build a foundation with their programs. How can college coaches create a foundation with athletes only coming to their school for one year.

 

Schools like Kentucky, Duke and Kansas have been named the prolific one and done schools. Prospects would only go to these schools for a year and seek to enter the draft after their first collegiate season.  

 

In the graph above, you can see that since 2016, Kentucky has had the most one and done players coming out of there program. Duke is in a distant second following Kansas with 8 players.

 

Now the question is, are the athletes benefiting from one year in college? Is there another option for these prospects to take instead of one year in college?

 

meta-chart copy.jpegTo decipher this issue, I am going to look at their performance in the NBA to determine if the year in college helps them or hurts them.

 

One and Done athletes  average 1.3 more points than other players in their drafts.

meta-chart copy 2One and Done Players average less assist than other players in the Draft.

 

These charts do not give an accurate assumption whether their production in the NBA could be better if they could have gone straight to the league from High school.

 

Many believe that most young prospects are not developed enough or ready to jump into the league at such a young age. Allowing them to get more experience, exposure and training in college could propel them with a long career in the pros. Others say that if prospects want to enter the league, why should we hold them back.

 

This is a constant conversation that has been going on for the past few years and has reared its head again over the past few months. Not knowing what the future holds for the ‘one and done rule’, could be detrimental to the athletes and the NBA. Adam Silver is determined to come up with a solution that will well suit all parties involved.

 
Sources:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fancy-stats/wp/2015/04/08/a-look-at-how-one-and-done-players-perform-in-the-nba/?utm_term=.6a92082208ce

https://herosports.com/news/one-and-done-rule-list-college-basketball-nba-visualized

All the NBA draft’s one-and-done lottery picks: a scorecard

https://www.thoughtco.com/one-and-done-325778

https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaab/2014/02/17/college-basketball-nba-draft-early-entry-one-and-done-rule/5552163/

https://www.si.com/nba/2018/06/21/2018-nba-draft-grades-players-teams-pick-analysis

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A Tale of Two Athletes

August 2016. Robin Afamefuna steps onto the grounds of the University of Virginia for the first time; it was his first time in the state of Virginia, his first time visiting an American university. One year earlier, he was playing club soccer he was in the talent factory for Borussia Monchengladbach, one of the most successful clubs in Germany’s highest league, the Bundesliga. For Robin and other soccer players rising through the ranks of European super-clubs, his logical next step was not necessarily a move to the United States. But after a turn of events, and two years later, Robin is the captain of the University of Virginia’s top-ten ranked soccer team.

August 2016. Anzel Viljoen enters the University of Virginia as a first year, her first time stepping onto the grounds of the university. A little under a year earlier in November 2015, she graduated high school in New Zealand. Her path to the next level of athletics could have gone two different ways, but she chose the one less travelled in moving to the United States. After navigating the recruiting process on her own, Anzel landed a spot on a nationally ranked American field hockey team. Two years later, Anzel is a regular on the field hockey team, even landing a spot on the 2017 All-ACC Academic Team.

The two athletes are now thriving as students and as athletes at the University of Virginia, but how did they end up in the small town of Charlottesville, VA after growing up on opposite sides of the world?

Robin Afamefuna, 2018. Photo: UVA Media Relations

Robin Afamefuna graduated high school in 2015, with plans of pursuing a professional soccer career. Growing up in the youth clubs of Germany’s Bundesliga, his future looked bright. His plan changed after tearing his meniscus, forced to sit out for the next six months. “[Robin] was starting to think of different options” when a recruiting agency, Monaco Sportstipendium, sparked his interest in American universities. This was a new, exciting opportunity, and Robin decided to pursue a collegiate soccer career, training under coaches in the United States. Through this presentation, his path to the United States became clear: complete a few placement tests, send out a highlight tape, and wait for the offers. Robin’s talent caught the eye of many schools, and quickly received attention. Overwhelmed with choices, Robin “received about 28 offers from different colleges. I had all those names in front of me and no idea which colleges were the best ones, so I had to do all the research.” While the agency spread the word about his talent, Robin was on his own when it came down to his decision. “After the coaching staff reached out to me, I finally made my decision to come to UVa. Because the whole program, academics and athletics, was just so good.” Robin made a difficult decision in leaving Germany, but he felt that it was the best opportunity for him to create his own path in soccer.

Anzel Viljoen, 2018. Photo: UVA Media Relations

Anzel Viljoen had some friends attending American universities, but didn’t know much about the schools or even the different field hockey programs. It was a tough decision between going to a completely new country or staying in New Zealand for school, and it was definitely not the most common, as most of Anzel’s childhood friends did not move for school. The opportunity to pursue both academics and athletics was one she had to take, as it would help her reach her athletic and career goals for the future. Once deciding she wanted to play field hockey for a university, Anzel got straight to work. While most players used the agency system to assist in their recruiting process, she “decided really late that I wanted to come to the US, so I just took all the film that I had of playing in New Zealand and made a recruiting video and then just looked up the top ten schools in America for field hockey and sent out an email to all of their coaches.” Seems simple, but her path to UVa consisted of endless paperwork, eligibility checks, and communication with coaches. Anzel felt she was one of the only players to not use an agency. After a few Skype calls with the head coaches, discussing her place on the team, her decision was made clear. Her meticulous research on each team that showed interest proved that UVa’s program was the best option for Anzel; academically and athletically.

Men’s soccer, with 12.1%, and women’s field hockey, with 10.2%, are two sports with the highest percentages of international student athletes on their team in Division I athletics. Regardless of the sport, it is apparent that the number of internationals on these college teams is increasing. Talented athletes around the world have a decision to make in high school: to pursue their sport at the next level, or to pursue academics. For American students, the college athletics system has made it possible for the youth to pursue both. This is something that most take for granted, but it is not an option in most other countries. Robin shared his thoughts on the matter.

In Germany, we only have the chance to focus on one, academics and athletics are completely separated from each other. I feel like more and more people are trying to take advantage of that.

Robin Afamefuna

Academics and athletics are unrelated in most other countries, so most athletes choose to focus on their sport full time. It is typical for athletes to disregard university as an option, as they are trying to make teams and stay fit. Therefore, in Robin’s eyes, “it’s pretty dangerous to be honest, let’s say you fail, don’t get that trial or tryout, usually you’re just like there and don’t have anything.” One of Robin’s deciding factors was the two-in-one aspect of American universities; he could train under award-winning coaches while receiving a world-class education.

Gaining a degree while playing a sport gives international athletes something to fall back on, which is very enticing. For sports where it is difficult to create a professional career, such as field hockey, there are different incentives. Athletic scholarships do not exist in international universities, Anzel shares that “You can go to university and play your sport, it’s just you don’t get scholarships for it at all because it’s a separate thing, you won’t be playing for your university.” While sports such as field hockey do still have regional and national club teams, there are fewer incentives to maintain both, and most likely only the serious will continue to play.

Playing sports in college is a normal path for high school athletes in America, but internationally, not as much. It has become more popular for internationals to come to America because they are serious about both athletics and academics, and there are now more opportunities to pursue both through the NCAA program. With the growth of technology like Skype, YouTube, and social media, there are fewer barriers between countries when it comes to athletes and coaches. The college coaches have access to a broader range of talent, and are willing to give scholarship spots to internationals, since they have proven their dedication to their sport. In fact, the NCAA publishes that there are 17,000 international student athletes from across the world active in college athletics today.

As the pool of international talent grows, so has the industry of college recruiting. So-called “college recruiting agencies” have emerged to serve as a liaison between the international athlete and American universities. These are present in almost every country, and promise exposure to American universities in exchange for a fee, and it isn’t necessarily a small one. These agencies tour around to clubs for every sport, selling their ‘product’ of a potential scholarship to prominent colleges in the United States.

A typical recruiting website

The process seems simple: “you pay [the agency], and they take care of everything for you. They reach out to all the schools, and do all the communication for you. So really you don’t have to do anything apart from be good at your sport.” Anzel explained her view on the agency process, a route that she chose not to take by dealing with the process herself. “I preferred [doing it on my own]. But if you’re not the type of person who likes to just get things done on your own, it is helpful to have someone else. Because it is a lot of paperwork, and they can really help you settle into coming.” Shown on the right, agencies such as Monaco Sportstipendium show American universities in the best light, comparing it to college movies and showing packed stadiums at powerhouses such as Ohio State and Alabama.

Robin and Anzel came from completely different parts of the world, growing up with different plans for their futures, and different ways they believed they would get there. Both were very dedicated to their sport while also dedicated to gaining a higher education. Though the two athletes came from opposite sides of the world, they are both successful today at the University of Virginia, and believe that their paths will be followed in the future. As the barriers to entry for international student athletes are lowered, college athletics will continue to match the levels of diversity that are seen on in the wider campus body.

References

Jara, Evelyn S. “U.S. Collegiate Athletics: International Student Athletes Recruiting Process.” University of South Carolina, 2015.

“MONACO SPORTStipendium | Persönliche Betreuung Aus München.” MONACO SPORTStipendium – Robin Afamefuna Über Sein Fußball Stipendium in Amerika Mit Monaco Sportstipendium, www.monaco-sportstipendium.de/.

Powell, R. “International Student-Athletes.” NCAA.org – The Official Site of the NCAA, 18 May 2018, www.ncaa.org/student-athletes/future/international-student-athletes.


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Life and Tennis: One and the Same

Note: All images used in this article have been provided through the courtesy of the Wiersholm family.

Just a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean in Palos Verdes, California, Henrik Wiersholm reflects on the career he’s had and the one he hopes to achieve. All his life, he has been working to be the best tennis player he can possibly be, with dreams of playing the professional circuits and shaping his life in the mold of tennis. With three NCAA Championships at the University of Virginia, Henrik’s time in college has been nothing but decorated by success. But, approaching his final season in college, he must rebound from an injury that sidelined him from his passion for nearly a year, forcing him to contemplate for the first time who he is without a racket and a ball. In essence, he has come to confront the daunting uncertainty of what life has in store for him once collegiate tennis ends.

Henrik, currently 21 years old, has been playing tennis since he was five, when his parents bought a membership for the closest gym to their Kirkland, Washington home. That gym happened to also be a tennis club, and soon enough Henrik started hitting balls to himself off the wall with a tiny racket. Before long, his parents enrolled him in lessons, and even though no one knew it quite yet, he began what would eventually become his life’s passion.

Early on, his family realized the potential Henrik had and introduced him to the Junior Circuit once he was old enough. If a player wants any shot at going pro, “Tennis is one of those sports where you really have to start young,” Henrik says. So, by the age of 11, he and his family started travelling around the United States to various tennis tournaments. Once he finished middle school, he and his family started to go international, playing in some of the most elite tournaments in the world.

 

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By the age of 15, Henrik had already won the U.S. Juniors National Championships in both singles and doubles, in addition to winning the ITF 14-and-under Junior World Championships in the Czech Republic the year before.

After much discussion, Henrik said goodbye to his parents and sister after his freshman year of high school and traveled to the exact opposite corner of the country to move into the dorms of a tennis boarding school in Boca Raton, Florida. There, he trained and competed every day in an academic and athletic environment much more conducive to his lifestyle. He recognized the need to mature as well, and soon found himself with a professional mentality and work ethic unlike anything he had back home in Kirkland.

Henrik admits he was convinced he was going to play professional tennis when he was just a freshman in high school. As the third-ranked recruit in his graduating class, college was an afterthought. It was just a step along the way to reaching his ultimate goal and dream of playing among the best on the pro circuit. But after years of playing by himself and for himself, Henrik fell in love with a whole new kind of tennis when he began his collegiate career in the fall of 2018 at the age of 17.

Professional tennis is often viewed as an extremely singular sport, where players are more or less on their own, save for a few coaches and trainers. This is not the case at all in collegiate tennis, where winning an individual match is meaningless if the team falters. So, when Henrik found himself playing for the University of Virginia, fighting for and with the guys around him, he was in decidedly uncharted personal territory.

As usual, Henrik didn’t need much help adjusting to a new home. He didn’t even need much help adjusting to his rigorous training and academic schedule. Instead, Henrik found himself in the same place for months at a time and a part of something bigger than himself, two things that he had not experienced in years.

Adapting to college tennis “is one of the most challenging things [a player] can transition into,” said Henrik’s former UVA coach Brian Boland. “There is so much that they have to be responsible for”, but in Henrik’s case he came into Virginia “with the proper values, coming from a great home.”

For the first time since his childhood, he realized that the goal was not only to improve his own game, but those of his teammates as well. Henrik soon embodied the notion, as the team camaraderie and friendship he found at UVA provided a much-needed balance to the extreme mental toll tennis can exert on an athlete. According to Coach Boland, Henrik “epitomized everything any coach would want in a student athlete. He is a leader, student, player, friend, and teammate.”

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Even in the more team-oriented arena of college tennis, the sport still possesses the psychological impact of an individually focused game. “It’s easy to tie your value or your identity as a person to your success on the court,” Henrik says, explaining that “In tennis, if you lose a match, it’s no one else’s fault. You have to be introspective and ask ‘Okay, what did I do wrong?’ Because there’s no one else on the court to take the blame.”

Henrik has experienced some truly remarkable highs during his time at UVA. Henrik has a 32-1 record in ACC regular season singles matches, and has earned a spot on numerous all-tournament and all-conference teams since his first year. In addition, each of his first three seasons resulted in a hard-fought, sweetly earned NCAA Championship. In his second trip to the NCAA Finals, he delivered the title-clinching match, seeing all of the hard work and dedication crystallize into a single moment as his teammates swarmed toward him, yelling and celebrating another national title.

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Then, just before his fourth and final season, Henrik ceased all tennis activity.

A few months before in the ACC Tournament, Henrik stretched out for a ball and immediately felt a pull in his shoulder. Grimacing in pain, he fought through it and played all the way through the NCAA Championships and into the summer, until one match in July when the pain became too much to bear, and Henrik had no choice but to shut down his training. Returning to UVA, Henrik went through a battery of tests revealing a partial rotator cuff tear in his right shoulder. As his worst nightmare became a reality, doctors told him he could not play tennis for the next nine months if he wished to compete again.

Henrik had never faced an injury that kept him out of tennis for a prolonged stretch, let alone one that prevented him from basic practice. Devastated, he would be left to stand on the sidelines, taking a medical red-shirt in what would have been his last collegiate season before finally realizing his dream of playing in the professional circuits.

Instead, he was faced with rehab five days a week, total restriction on lifting with his upper body, and nine months without playing the sport he loved.

Soon enough, it began to drive him crazy.

Henrik has sculpted this mindset since childhood, to the point where it became second nature, an integral part of who he is. But, this mentality didn’t necessarily translate to the world of rehabilitation. He was used to competing mentally against his opponents and keeping his calm in a match, not waiting patiently in doctors’ offices and being told to stay off the court he desperately wanted to get back on.

“Tennis is very cerebral. There is a ton of strategy that goes into how you approach each match, and even each point,” Henrik explains. When a player steps on the court, he or she becomes their own coach, responsible for all adjustments, decisions, and mental checks. Tennis is a sport that constantly poses new problems that require new answers for every point, game, and set won or lost. Through it all, Henrik says, it is extremely difficult to keep discipline and a cool head.

Henrik had no idea what to do or expect after his injury. He reflected, explaining that “Tennis definitely becomes a part of your identity, and you can get it associated in your head that you are a tennis player. That is what you do, that is all you do. When you get hurt, you can’t play. You can’t possibly identify yourself as a tennis player during that time. So, you have to figure out, ‘Who am I really?’”

The five or more hours of his day carved out for tennis were suddenly freed up. He threw himself into academics, spent time with friends, and even picked up a guitar and started to learn. However, everything he tried didn’t feel quite right, not like it would if he were playing.

For the first time in his life, Henrik had to seriously reflect on who he was outside of tennis. It wasn’t easy, as he recalls how “There were days that were dark, there were days where I was wondering, ‘Will I be able to play again?’” It’s a feeling that every athlete hopes they will never experience, and one that Henrik had to struggle mightily with. So many athletes encompass themselves in their sport, and for good reason. It is hard to be the best when one doesn’t dedicate their life to their sport. But when things slow down, or even threaten to stop altogether, life outside the niche world of elite athletics comes into focus.

For some, it is absolutely terrifying.

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Henrik has had moments where he’s felt slightly burned out. He’s also had moments where he feels that he could have worked harder. But if Henrik has learned anything from his injury, it is that tennis is where he belongs, tennis is a part of who he is, and he loves nothing more than walking onto the court and competing.

Always thoughtful of the opportunities he’s possessed, Henrik has come out of his recovery with a new outlook and appreciation for not just tennis itself, but the value he has gained from it. Henrik explains that tennis is not all about winning championships, describing how “You’re so sure that it’s going to make you happy… but in the end you realize it’s all about the daily process of getting to that point.” Winning the championship is undoubtedly one of the best feelings there is, but he emphasizes that “Just living it all the right way – that’s where you really draw your sense of value from the whole experience,” not with a single moment, but as a collective whole.

Collegiate tennis has been a passion of Henrik’s since the moment it began, and with his fourth season approaching this spring, he is ready to embrace it one final time. But now as he stays with his friend in a Palos Verdes apartment, Henrik is pensive about what his path will be after UVA. He knows he could be playing for five years or twenty, but no matter what life throws at him, he will be ready. Although he does not have a certain idea of what his life might be like in a few years, Henrik knows that he’ll tackle that question just like each one he faces on the court: with a fierce determination and a will to succeed.

When asked what he is most anticipating after his UVA career is over, Henrik responds that he’s just excited to see how good he can be. He’s never been able to treat tennis as a profession and fully give his all to the sport that has become such a tremendous part of his life. He’s never been able to spend all day on the court fine-tuning his stroke or hit the weight room to condition his body the best he can. For him, that is all he can ask for going forward, and Henrik is ready to become the best player he knows he is capable of being.

After five years of calling one place home, he’ll hit the road once again, tackling tournaments across the country – and the world – like he once did as a teenager. Where he’ll call home will become uncertain. It could be in certain tennis hubs such as Los Angeles or Florida, or it could even be in Charlottesville. Wherever it is, he’s excited for the challenges he’ll face, the mental games he’ll play, and the problems on the court he’ll have to solve.

Tennis has been a part of Henrik’s life for as long as he can remember. It has made him the man he is today, and he could not be happier to be a tennis player. But, as he learned when he was diagnosed with a partial rotator cuff tear, the sport that has given him so much could disappear from his life in an instant. This is true not only for Henrik, but anyone who has ever loved a sport.

Henrik, after experiencing nine months away from tennis, is perhaps one of the lucky few who can fully understand what their game means to them. As he eventually moves into the world of professional tennis, that realization will be valuable, and it will also make every game, set, and match that much sweeter.

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