NCAA symposium shows college basketball willing to work with the NBA

The NCAA brought 19 college basketball athletes to Indianapolis this past weekend for the Elite Student-Athlete Symposium, an educational program that attempted to tackle head-on “the challenges and pitfalls” highly touted prospects face, with an eye toward helping them pursue a career in professional basketball.

The NCAA invited prospects who could become NBA draft-eligible for the first time in 2018, such as 17-year old Udoka Azubuike (Kansas) and other underclassmen: Tyus Battle (Syracuse), V.J. King (Louisville) and Rawle Alkins (Arizona). They were joined by upperclassmen such as Jalen Brunson (Villanova), Allonzo Trier (Arizona), Ethan Happ (Wisconsin), Trevon Bluiett (Xavier), Kelan Martin (Butler), Anas Mahmoud (Louisville), Angel Delgado (Seton Hall), Dean Wade (Kansas State) and Jevon Carter (West Virginia), among others.

The NCAA “selected participants based on publication news surrounding upcoming draft prospects, from individuals linked to future NBA careers and from a list of individuals who expressed interest in turning pro but decided to return to school.”

Although no freshmen were in attendance, the symposium (held from Friday to Sunday) appears to indicate a shift in NCAA philosophy. While in the past, the topic of an underclassman declaring for the draft may have been taboo, the NCAA seems to be evolving to the current realities of the college basketball landscape, instead focusing on helping “young men when and if they have to make key decisions on steps after college,” in their words.

The symposium was also notable for the increasingly strong relationship that appears to be developing between the NCAA and the NBA. It wasn’t long ago that the NBA commissioner openly mocked the NCAA, and then-commissioner David Stern went as far as to say, “A college could always not have players who are one-and-done — they could do that. They could actually require the players to go to classes.”

Current commissioner Adam Silver has…

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