Early favorites emerge as college basketball begins



Zion Williamson goes up for a dunk against Eastern Michigan. The Blue Devils won the game 84-46.

Thomas Melkonian, Contributing Writer

College basketball is one of the most popular sports in the country.  The biggest postseason tournament of the year, known as March Madness, racked up an average of 5.6 million viewers per game in 2017.  This tournament is where all the best teams, coaches, and players come to see who is the best in the country.  Unfortunately, NCAA college basketball has recently been plagued with scandals, and other options are emerging for players interested in the basketball world.  The federal government and NCAA is looking into these scandals, but is unsure what to do about the new options players have of where they want to play, college or the G-League. 

The main issue the NCAA is facing right now is the ongoing corruption case. Players are not allowed to be paid by anyone while they are on a college team. The case includes major programs paying players to come to their school. The schools are also paying for expenses and luxuries to bribe different players to come to their school. The FBI has wiretaps of the coach from Arizona, Sean Miller, discussing a $100,000 payment to basketball player DeAndre Ayton. This could cause major problems for everyone involved in the scandal. Many of the major contenders like Duke, North Carolina, Michigan State, and more are alleged to participate in this corruption. This could be detrimental to the league because teams would need to be suspended, coaches would be fired, and players would be kicked off the team.

This could bring about a new change to college basketball in a positive way, depending on what the NCCA decides to do if these allegations are true. Many people think that the players should be paid because of all the money they are making for the university and networks. They think that the players put in the work, time, and effort to help the team succeed and should benefit from their actions. 

“With how much time and effort these athletes put in to their sport, they deserve to get paid. It is outrageous that they can’t even get rewarded if a big brand like Nike wants to partner with them,” said sophomore Max Mallah.

If the NCAA decides to change their rule on paying players, it could have a vastly positive outcome and none of the universities would be punished. 

Many of these athletes want to bypass college and go straight to the National Basketball Association (NBA) for many different reasons, such as needing money or wanting to get professional experience early. However, they are not able to do this because of the “one and done” rule put in place. This rule forces players to go to college before they are drafted. This limits players’ options on when they can enter the NBA, and doesn’t allow them to make money instantly because of the rules the NCAA has in place. 

The G league, or the NBA affiliate league, has created a new solution for players to get past the NCAA’s one and done rule. It is offering $125,000 to talented prospects looking to get past the college rules and gain some professional experience. This allows talented players to grow in a professional team system. These players have to be 18 years or older, and are not able to enter the NBA draft. The G league offers allow the prospects to join a professional team early. Though they won’t be able to enter the NBA draft, they can work up in the system to get to the NBA. 

The new freshman class is one of the strongest in years, but they aren’t very dispersed throughout the sport. The most looked at team is Duke, because they received the top three prospects this year.  Zion Williamson, R. J. Barat, and Cameron Reddish are the new freshmen Duke has recruited, and they have already brought Duke to the number one ranked team in the nation. 

Other freshman prospects like Quentin Grimes (Kansas), Darius Garland (Vanderbilt), Keldon Johnson (Kentucky), Romeo Langford (Indiana), Bol Bol (Oregon), and Nassir Little (North Carolina) all hope to bring their team to a championship in March. They are going to have a hard time competing against Duke.

“March Madness is known as one of the most exciting events in sports because of the unpredictable outcomes of games this year could be different because of a team like Duke. With the top three players in the nation and their dominance so far, it is unlikely that Duke doesn’t end up on top,” said sophomore Dylan Trenaman.

Many people agree with this statement about Duke being unstoppable and having the capability to control the league. There is still a long season until March, and teams might get better or worse depending on what happens. The only thing Duke should be worried about at the moment is not injuring their players.  There have been too many recent players who cut their seasons short before the tournament by getting injured.  

“I am looking forward to an exciting season. There’s plenty of young talent in the league this year so it should be fun to watch. I like Gonzaga’s chances this year,” said sophomore Isaac Goldstein. 

It is rare to find someone like Goldstein who does not see Duke on top of the league at the end of the season. The competition between the new freshman class will be a battle all the way until the end of march, and it will definitely be an entertaining one to watch.