MORGANTOWN — t one time in his life, Malik Newman was on every coach’s wish list in college basketball.
He helped lead Kansas to the Final Four by averaging 21.6 points in five tournament games. He scored 32 against Duke.
And he left his name in the NBA draft, signed with an agent and was sure a draft pick was headed his way.
It didn’t happen.
Brandon McCoy was the fourth-ranked prep center in the country in the class of 2018.
You may have heard of the three ahead of him: Arizona’s DeAndre Ayton (the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NBA draft), Texas’ Mo Bamba (the No. 6 pick) and Mitchell Robinson, who did not go to college, but was selected 36th overall, by the New York Knicks.
McCoy was a one-and-done freshman at UNLV, where he averaged 16.9 points and 10.3 rebounds.
He went undrafted. His hopes for an NBA career now lie with the Milwaukee Bucks summer league team.
Duke’s Trevon Duval was the top point guard in the 2018 recruiting class.
His one-and-done freshman season saw him score 10.3 points and average 5.6 assists per game for a team that featured three first-round picks and a second-rounder.
He did not become the fifth draft pick out of the Blue Devils’ camp.
Instead, he became the latest head-scratcher on just who these kids are listening to when they decide to give up their college careers to turn pro and then don’t get picked.
At one time, we would have cursed those agents and hangers-on who surrounded these kids and filled their heads with dollar signs, bright lights and limousines.
We would back Dick Vitale’s rants about how these mistakes only hurt the kids, as well as the college game.
It was everybody’s loss, we were made to believe. There is probably some truth to that, although it seems that as the NBA’s G League becomes more popular and more leagues continue to spring up overseas, we lost some of our compassion for what these kids lost in making a decision to leave college early.
As to hurting the college game. It’s been 13 years now that the one-and-done rule has been in place.
Tell me again — wait a second while the NCAA cashes in on its billion-dollar-a-year TV deal for the rights to broadcast the NCAA tournament — just how the college game has been hurt?
Colleges are being hurt, sure. The idea of academic institutions is being slapped in the face, as a one-and-done kid basically needs to sit in classes for only a single semester in order to stay eligible for that one season.
But, let’s be clear on this: The game of college basketball is just fine. It’s thriving, in fact.
The schools dealing with the majority of one-and-done prospects are just fine, too.
No one has read stories about Duke and Kentucky being hard up, right?
And if we are no longer going to have this national outpouring for these kids who make the mistake of staying in the draft when they shouldn’t, then why do we have a push to change the early entry rule?
Adding a year before a kid can declare for the draft won’t keep NBA teams from making dumb picks.
It will probably lead more kids to go overseas to cash in instead of playing college ball.
Can’t wait to see what the college game will look like then.