Apr 7, 2014; Arlington, TX, USA; Kentucky Wildcats guard Aaron Harrison (2) is defended by Connecticut Huskies guard Shabazz Napier (13) in the second half during the championship game of the Final Four in the 2014 NCAA Mens Division I Championship tournament at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Is a year of college ball necessary for the NBA?

Hopefully soon, the NBA will raise their minimum age limit or do away with the mandatory year a player must wait before declaring for the draft out of high school.  Until then top high school players will have to agonize over their choices and whether that year of college basketball will help them prepare for the NBA.  In most cases, the players do decide for that year of college.  In the case of recent Kentucky recruit Dante Exum however, it appears that he benefitted from not playing college ball which brings up the question again as to whether that college year is necessary.

It is kind of a backhanded compliment to say that Exum did not NEED college.  It’s simply that the lack of playing in college did not expose any flaws that the NBA scouts could dissect.


“When Dante doesn’t play, he’s just fine, right?” ESPN draft analyst Tom Penn said Thursday on ESPNU from the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. “He’s just fine. In fact he gets better and better and rises. It’s sort of the nature of the beast here because of the human nature here. We look for faults and we look for things that are wrong.”


It’s also important to keep in mind that Exum hails from Australia, so any tape scouts may have of him is against opponents where it is hard to determine how god they are. Exum came from the Australian Institute of Sport.  To be honest, I don’t know how that level of competition would translate and that is what makes Exum such a confusing and intriguing prospect. However, according to some NBA types that year of college may hurt some players that just finished their freshman campaign.


“The top of this draft was ballyhooed as just the best maybe ever going into the season and then we systemically start picking apart Wiggins and his drive, Parker and his ability to defend, his footwork and his quickness, Embiid and his health and his ability to translate,” Penn said.


Obviously, Exum is a unique prospect and in his case, the lesser known may be better for him.  However for American players, it looks like the extra year (or two) will help.  Granted, Andrew and Aaron Harrison may be been drafted in the top ten if last year if that had gone directly to the NBA from high school, seeing them play against college talent made it obvious they were not ready for the NBA.  Instead of improving their game in college under John Calipari, they would have been forced into the NBA fire as a high draft pick and probably would spend the year languishing on a NBA bench or on the D-League while dealing with the high pick pressure.


And in the case of the Harrison’s. one year of college was not enough.  But after next season, expect an improved draft stock for both of the twins.  Likewise for Julius Randle and James Young.  Their year in college exposed some holes and they each had their struggles, but it was obvious that they left college a much better NBA ready player than if they had gone out of high school.

As for , who really knows?  His draft stock is high but has he really been tested by not going to college?

It is likely that  will struggle to adjust at the next level. The NBA drafts on potential however, so hopefully whatever NBA chooses him will have the patience to stay with him through the inevitable growing pains that will occur.



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