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Hoops’ leaders propose new player eligibility rule to NBA players

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Should the NBA limit draftees to at least 20-year-olds, or college players who have finished their sophomore seasons?

That's the big issue swirling around the NCAA's Final Four, the climax of a tournament that featured a ton of freshmen who are considering putting their names in for the draft by April.

NBA commissioner David Stern and Myles Brand, president of the NCAA proposed the rule change on Monday, replacing the existing rule at age 19 which will expire in 2011.

Any change would have to pass muster by the NBA Players Union since it would be part of the collective bargaining agreement.

In the meantime, an army of underclassmen are considering, or have already announced, they will be coming out, including half a dozen freshmen in a draft pool considered to be the best guard talent in draft history.

The guard-heavy draft could make Memphis freshman point guard Derrick Rose or Kansas State freshman forward Michael Beasley the top pick.

If you go down mock drafts, the June 26 draft could include USC's O.J. Mayo; Indiana's Eric Gordon; Arizona's Jerryd Bayless or a host of other underclassmen in the top 30 players taken, pushing ESPN's player of the year, North Carolina Forward Tyler Hansbrough, a junior, down the list and perhaps out of the lottery pick zone.

Throw in the NBA's love affair with foreign players, say half a dozen, and what's left for a prospect like BYU's Trent Plaisted? He is currently weighing options of staying at BYU, putting in for the draft, or testing the waters for a professional career in Europe.

So far, Plasited is keeping his quest for answers to himself. Anything concerning his case is speculation.

Hoopshype.com’s mock draft has only one senior picked in the first round, Memphis shooting guard Chris Douglas Roberts. Other prognosticators see the same trend. Freshmen and sophomores may dominate the draft, pushing down all seniors and even juniors like Plaisted and Hansbrough.

In the latest predictions, NBAdraft.net has Plaisted a second rounder, No. 53 to Phoenix. Collegehoops.net has the Cougar No. 46. Draftexpress.com has Plaisted going No. 29 in 2009 if he stays for his senior year.

That site says Plaisted's best case is that he's another Channing Frye; the worst case is he's Jason Smith (CSU).

Monday, I spoke to one of BYU's most financially successful basketball players of late, Travis Hansen, who plays for Dynamo, a Russian professional team in Moscow. Hansen is the beneficiary of going to Europe after being a second-round draft pick of Atlanta.

That Hansen "played" in the NBA has made all the difference in the world for his "billing" and negotiating power.

Hansen said Plaisted should do what's best for him.

"He needs to look at everything and decide what's best for his future. He should sit down and have a long talk with Dave Rose. He knows a lot of people and he knows the game and the system and what is going on.

"If he has a better chance to get drafted next year, it might be best to stay and play with a great supporting cast around him and finish his senior year. Getting to the NBA is always a plus, especially if you end up playing in Europe. It makes a difference over here."

And that's the big quandary.

European basketball for Americans can be big time. Hansen has a big salary, lower taxes, and is provided a house, two cars with drivers and a cook, plus first-class airline tickets for family to visit him there, or for his wife to come home. The money and benefits are alluring.

This draft will prove to be more complex than any before, with all the underclassmen throwing in their names and dominating the picks that will get the guaranteed contracts and big money.

There might be wisdom in letting all these guys go early and clear the way for a more traditional draft in 2009.

A traditional draft is one where a premium is put on big guys in the 6-foot-10 to 7-3 range.

Big guys. They're in demand — if they're good.

They're hard to come by and if you look how big men have dominated the first picks over the years, you can easily see that trend as the norm. What is not the norm is this march of freshmen and a bus load of point and shooting guards.

The proposed new rule?

How can Brand and Stern make it stick if the player's union decides to open the gates? We have 18-year olds vote and they're old enough to go to war. Why not earn a buck?

E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com