To complete my various posts related to the NBA and college degrees this week (see here, here, and here), it's time to take a look at the 2014 crop of NBA prospects
Fitting in with recent precedent, this year only four of Draft Express's top 35 prospects can claim to have a college degree. But if the likely first-round picks are set aside, the number of college degrees ticks up quite a bit. Over half (thirty-eight in all) of Draft Express's prospects ranked from 36-100 have college degrees. And many of those prospects who do not have a degree are international players who did not attend an American college. In short, college players who are not locks to be a first-round pick often stick around for four years, get their degree, and then hope for a shot with an NBA when it's all done.
Of course, the transition from college to the NBA was not always set up this way. Originally, the NBA's rule was that rookies could not play in the NBA until their college class graduated. For example, when Wilt Chamberlain decided in 1958 to forego his senior year at Kansas, he had to wait a year -- even though he was drafted by Philadelphia through the NBA's territorial rule -- before he could enter the league.
Since players had to wait four years after high school graduation anyway, most stayed in college and got their degree before they entered the league. Those who did not generally had only a couple courses left to complete for the degree. This was the situation for Chamberlain's rival big man, Bill Russell. Russell planned to finish his classes at San Francisco during the summer after his first NBA season. However, when San Francisco made it clear that Russell would have to pay for the courses himself, he left the school, never to return (and never to receive his degree).
So what caused the NBA to change its policy?