College Players Going to NBA Sooner

By Jenna

Do you remember all the fuss and the hubbub created back in 1996 when a highly-touted college recruit decided to forego university studies altogether?

This person didn't want to go to college, even for a year. He believed the time spent playing at Lower Merion High School in the Philadelphia suburb of Ardmore was enough. Lower Merion has had solid baseball and basketball programs over the years, but this recruit believed he was ready for the life of the National Basketball Association.

The person's name was Kobe Bryant. Everyone soon found out that yes, Bryant was ready for the pros even though he hadn't played one minute of basketball in college.

Since Bryant opened up the doors in the mid-1990s, the trend in college basketball has swung toward players becoming known as "one and dones", or players that spend a year in college as a freshman, taking only a few classes to stay in good graces and displaying a strong work ethic on the basketball court.

There is a belief these one-year players have made college basketball more unpredictable, but sports fans argue that these same players may not have enough when it comes to seasoning for the pro game. For every Kobe Bryant, there is a Kwame Brown (a solid high school player who has been merely serviceable in the NBA).

The continued shifting of players from college basketball to the NBA has caused the college game to change. It seems like now the coach that stocks the most blue-chip recruits in his cabinet has the best chance of winning the championship. Don't believe us? Ask John Calipari how well it worked at Kentucky during the 2011-12 season.

UCLA is one of those teams that bears watching this season. Freshman Shabazz Muhammad has helped the Bruins overcome a lackluster Pac-12 schedule, and the team is locked in a first-place tie with Oregon in conference play. UCLA has 20 victories this year, and while the Bruins aren't up to the level of the John Wooden-coached teams they are certainly one to watch.

When you think of college basketball you don't always think of Oklahoma State, and if you are a fan of non-traditional teams making the tournament this might be someone to watch. This might be a sleeper team to watch come tournament time, so if you want to live your dream and take a trip to the tournament enter the Car Madness Contest. You may get a chance to see Oklahoma State freshman Marcus Smart, who averages 13 points a game.

The late Rick Majerus guided the Saint Louis Billikens for the past few seasons, and his hand can still be felt as the Billikens lead the Atlantic 10. Considering Saint Louis plays in the same league as Virginia Commonwealth and Butler, it is not out of the question that a team like the Billikens could surprise and go far into March Madness.

These are only a few teams to watch as we approach Selection Sunday. The rise of teams like George Mason, VCU and Butler are indicative of what college basketball is like now. With the rise of one-and-done players in the last several years, traditional teams have been joined by these other schools that make coaches nervous.

Tune into March Madness and you will see what we mean. What team will come out of nowhere this year?

What do you think?

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