Once the NCAA is finished drying its tears over missed shots in the Johnny Manziel autograph-gate, it might want to look at what could become a trend in college basketball: the one-half-and-done player.
That's exactly what future Florida Gator Chris Walker could be. Walker, as reported by CBSSports.com's Gary Parrish on Tuesday, is planning on enrolling for the second semester in December and could be available to play as soon as Dec. 17.
Remember when Bob Knight raised a fuss a few years back over the one-and-done rule?
Knight's issue with the rule was that once a player decided to leave for the pros, it was no longer necessary for him to go to class. All he had to do was pass six hours the previous semester to be eligible.
Walker could take it to another extreme. Theoretically, he could enroll in 12 hours in December, which is the minimum necessary to play, and he could help Florida to a Final Four without ever stepping foot in a classroom.
Another future pro, Dante Exum, could have had the same opportunity.
Instead, Exum is doing the NCAA a favor by choosing not to enroll in December. The Australian shooting guard, a projected top three pick, told Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com that he will not play college ball this season.
Since Exum will graduate high school in October, he could have enrolled in December, the ultimate midseason free-agent acquisition. But instead, Exum has the freedom of choice unlike his American buddies, and he told Goodman he will either enter the NBA draft or play an entire 2014-15 season at a yet-to-be-determined university.
He could have abused the rule, and that has to eat at the NCAA.
The organization has done what it can to hold the schools accountable. The Academic Progress Rate (APR), which led to Connecticut's 2013 postseason ban, penalizes the programs if they have too many players who are not on pace to graduate.
For the one-and-dones, so long as they leave in good academic standing (a 2.5-plus GPA), the schools do not suffer. So it's in the best interest of the school to make sure their NBA-bound players keep going to class.
That doesn't mean some programs aren't turning a blind eye to what happens once second semester begins. There are ways to game the system. Plus, what can a coach really do once the NCAA tournament is over and his player has no intention of ever getting his degree?
It's a sticky situation that the NBA has put the NCAA in because of the one-and-done rule.
It is meant to benefit the NBA, not the NCAA. And while the NCAA benefits because those players are marketable—and marketable players means more money in the NCAA and the schools' pockets—it is a hit to the ongoing insistence that these kids are student-athletes.
Before pointing fingers at Billy Donovan for some shady ways, realize I'm not inferring that Florida is trying to take advantage of the rule. Walker is not enrolling late for the sole purpose of skipping a semester of bookwork.
But that could be selling point down the road for a shady recruiter. And if a talent like Exum could get a team to a Final Four while pretending to go to school for a semester, you'll have a hard time finding a coach who would say no to such an arrangement.
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