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And Another Thing

File | The Journal Gazette
Norwell's Josh VanMeter, bottom, slides under the jumping Delta catcher for the Knights' first run of the Bellmont Regional semifinal game in 2013.

A few questions to ponder

So I'm chatting with Norwell standout/TinCaps infielder Josh VanMeter yesterday, and I'm marveling at what a professional mindset he has even though he's only 19 and not even a year out of high school, and I'm wondering why baseball is so different from basketball, maturity-wise, because apparently it is.

I mean, why else would the NBA have that silly you-can't-turn-pro-out-of-high-school rule, which has turned the college game into an absolute joke of expediency and system manipulation?

(Which it has, by the way. I mean, John Calipari at Kentucky has turned the one-and-done into a cottage industry, playing by rules even he doesn't like because, well, why not? No sense pretending the college game is something it isn't anymore, or maybe ever really was).

Anyway ... I'm talking to VanMeter, and it occurs to me he was plenty mature enough to turn pro out of high school. But Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins weren't? What's up with that?

Sure, I get that kids turning pro out of high school in baseball aren't going straight to the majors, and there's a lot more of 'em. So what? If baseball has its minor-league system, doesn't the NBA have the D-League? And isn't it supposed to function as a minor league? So what's all this fuss about 18-year-olds being too immature to turn pro right out of high school?

If they are, you do what baseball does: You send them to the minors for seasoning. And by that I mean the D-League, not college basketball. For college basketball, you institute a rule, as Major League Baseball has, that if you choose to play basketball at a four-year institution, you will not be eligible for the draft until you either turn 21 or have completed your junior year at said institution.

If you can't do that ... fine, vaya con dios. Enter the NBA draft instead and take your chances.

The problem, of course, is that both the NBA and college buckets are making a pile of dough, or at least have in the past, off one-and-doners and/or high school kids (See: Kevin Garnett, LeBron, etc.). As much as the colleges claim to loathe the current system, they really don't; a couple of primo one-and-doners can get you to the Final Four, and that means money, lots of it. So the colleges will complain about it while being complicit with it.

Everybody, NBA or college, professes to hate the current system. But, lord, look how the money's rolling in.

Ben Smith's blog.