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Shaquille O’Neal says players should have to stay three years

Jan 18, 2013, 3:45 PM EDT

Shaquille O'Neal AP

As part of a 30-minute question-and-answer session, as part of the NCAA convention on Wednesday, Shaquille O’Neal talked with the president of the NCAA, Mark Emmert about a variety of topics. Which included the one-and-done rule.

O’Neal spent three years at LSU, before being drafted first overall by the Orlando Magic, going onto win three titles with the Los Angeles Lakers, another with the Miami Heat, retiring and waiting for his induction into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame, which should happen the second he’s eligible.

However, when it comes to one-and-done Shaq disagrees with the current rule. O’Neal told Emmert that if he could, he would make it “three-and-done.”

This is one of the more controversial topics, and O’Neal did address the exceptions for why some players choose to leave school early.

“A lot of guys do it because of their financial situation and they need to do it. That’s the only way to provide a better means for their family. So when you look at it from that aspect, I understand it,” said O’Neal.

O’Neal went on to advise anyone that leaves early to go back and finish their education, like he did.

There are players, who leave for the wrong reasons, but there are too many variables to change it to three years. For example, look at Anthony Davis and his season at Kentucky. He won a national title and national player of the years as a freshman. What more did he have to prove in two more mandatory years in Lexington?

Or guys like who are tagged with the potential label, such as Andre Drummond Connecticut? Drummond was high in various mock drafts because of his size and tremendous athletic ability. He stock was as high as it probably could be – ended up being a top-10 pick – and he chose to leave Storrs for the NBA. If he came back, had a lackluster sophomore campaign, or unfortunately injured himself, he costs himself millions.

If the rule was changed, as Mike DeCourcy of the Sporting News mentioned it almost was during the NBA lockout last year, it would be interesting how the game changes if players were forced to stay longer. John Wall, the top pick in 2010, would just be eligible for the draft now under the three-and-done rules.

Changing the one-and-done rule up to three years could also have other consequences. Do more players jump to Europe like Brandon Jennings and get paid? Does the D-League become a route for players?

The one-and-done rule is always a topic of discussion in college basketball. It’s a system that’s not designed for everyone. Those who are ready for the NBA should have the option to leave early. There’s no clear-cut answer for how this should be addressed, but adding increasing the years might not be it.

Terrence is also the lead writer at and can be followed on Twitter: @terrence_payne

  1. ukraiders - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:10 PM

    I wish they would use the baseball rule. Go pro out of high school but if you go to college your not eligible to be drafted for 3 more years. Davis and Rose can go to NBA but the rest refine their game in college instead of clogging up a bench for 3 yrs.

    • schlom - Jan 18, 2013 at 4:25 PM

      The NBA might be looking at something like this as they are really trying to develop the D-League into a viable minor league system. I think if the the NBA and NFL formed their own develop system instead of forcing the NCAA to do it a lot of problems would be solved.

  2. txnative61 - Jan 19, 2013 at 3:28 AM

    I think Shaq is trying to make the point that the level of Professionalism in sports needs to be elevated. The salary levels of professional athletes often exceed those of attorneys, physicians, engineers, journalists, accountants, agents and a host of others while adhering to an abysmally low education standard. I think no matter what the collegiate standard, the first year major should be “Professional Athlete”. This would include the “professions” of coaching fundamentals, physical training, leadership, personal financial management and communication. Regardless of the many options to be chosen later, the university owes the athlete the fundamentals of the profession be included with the scholarship. I see the Players Union to be the proper driving force for mandatory continuing education with the goal of making a degree available to all its members. I don’t see reasons for various League’s opposition to such set asides, since they really only stand to benefit.

  3. omniusprime - Jan 19, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    Shaq hit the nail on the head, there should be a three and free rule for every sport, not just basketball. Far too often these naive, undereducated athletes go to the pros way too soon making way too much money and not knowing how to handle the pro life or all that money. Pro athletes should be educated enough to be responsible since they are held up as role models and so few who come out of high school ever achieve that.

    • imwhitewolf - Jan 23, 2013 at 12:26 PM

      I guess by extention those “naive, undereducated” young men and women serving in our military shouldn’t be able to enlist (and kill people) until they are 21. What a rediculous statement you make. People are considered adults, for legal purposes, at 18. If a person wants to try to make it in the NBA, after all it is just a job, right out of high school, let them. Like any other job there will be ones who make and ones who don’t. Those who don’t can get on with their lives doing something else.

  4. frankenderek - Jan 19, 2013 at 11:37 AM

    UkRaiders has the perfect answer. Baseballs system is perfect for the NBA. Or maybe modify it where you you can either go to school for three years, or the D League for one out of high school.

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