The NBA is reportedly considering a return to the high school arena, less than two decades after David Stern introduced an age limit in the league.
The so-called “one-and-done" age rule adopted by the then-commissioner in 2005 stated that to be eligible for the NBA draft a player had to be at least 19-years-old or one year removed from his high school graduation.
But according to ESPN, NBA commissioner Adam Silver and the league’s top executives are seriously considering the option of allowing 18-year-olds back into the NBA.
Under the proposal, which could be put forward within months, the league plans to build relationships with talented teenagers when they are still in high school and provide them with the skills required to develop as players, as well as off the court.
The league hopes that, in the long-term, the plan would open a new route to the NBA for 18-year-olds.
While 18-year-olds are allowed to play in the developmental G League, many players are put off by the salaries, which are capped to $26,000 per season. Players can then earn up to $75,000 if they are signed up to a two-way contract between a G League team and an NBA franchise and the proposal will reportedly aim to make the development league more financially attractive to teenagers.
"We are looking at changing the relationship we have with players before they reach the NBA," one of the league’s top officials was quoted as saying. "This is a complex challenge, and there's still a lot of discussion about how it's going to happen, but we all see the need to step in."
In the wake of the corruption scandal that has engulfed the NCAA in recent months, a number of high-profile figures, such as LeBron James and Barack Obama, have argued in favour of providing teenagers an alternative option to the college basketball route.
Last week, James was outspoken in calling for the NBA to expand its G League and NCAA president Mark Emmert reiterated college basketball should not be seen just as “pit-stop” towards a career in the NBA.
"We've talked a lot about youth development in terms of whether we should be getting involved in some of these young players even earlier than when they come into college," Silver was quoted as saying.
"And from a league standpoint, on one hand, we think we have a better draft when we've had an opportunity to see these young players play an elite level before they come into the NBA. On the other hand, I think the question for the league is, in terms of their ultimate success, are we better off intersecting with them a little bit younger?"
However, the league has reportedly already ditched plans of developing NBA academies aimed at developing the country's elite high school basketball players. The league operates similar academies in China, India and Senegal but has chosen against adopting the same model in its domestic market.