The NBA draft could be set up for a needed revamping of the eligibility requirements if five-star basketball recruit Thon Maker follows through on his reported intent to declare for the 2016 draft and is allowed to enter.
On Sunday, Bleacher Report columnist Adam Wells reported that Maker, a 7-1 center who plays at Orangeville District Secondary School in Ontario, Canada, will forgo college to go directly into the NBA if the league approves it.
Under the current collective bargaining agreements, players applying for the draft must be 19 by the time of the draft and one year removed from their class graduating high school.
Maker turned 19 on Feb. 25.
The NBA must decide whether Maker's claim that he graduated in June 2015 and then did a year of post-graduate works at Orangeville meets the second criteria.
"We believe that Thon has fulfilled his academic requirements to be eligible for the 2016 NBA draft," coach Edward Smith, Maker's legal guardian, told Bleacher Report.
Maker's academic career includes eighth grade in Louisiana, ninth and 10th grades in Virginia and the last two years at Orangeville.
Guard Jamal Murray, who also attended Orangeville, was part of the 2016 class, but reclassified to 2015 to attend the University of Kentucky this season. Murray, whose 19th birthday is two days before Maker's declared for the 2016 draft.
Expect a lot of lawyers to argue the difference between the Canadian and U.S. education systems.
Even though Maker has dual citizenship in Australia and Sudan and attends high school in Canada, he is not considered to be an international player because he has not permanently resided outside the United States for three years before the 2016 draft.
The issue of Maker's eligibility will be resolved before the draft, but, regardless of how it turns out, it opens the door for another round of discussion about the rules of the NBA draft.
The Association attempted to put the genie back in the bottle with respect to high school players entering the draft by negotiating the current requirements in 2006. That, however, created the "one-and-done" phenomena which has satisfied neither the NBA nor college basketball.
Instead of raw high school players dominating the top of a draft, it is now raw college freshmen.
The top two prospects for June's draft - Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram - are freshmen. Many mock drafts have at least 25 of the 32 projected first-round picks being age 20 or younger.
The National Basketball Players Association will not negotiate a raise in the age limit. More likely, it will push to remove it when the collective bargaining agreement is reopened in a couple of years.
At this point, the NBA should accept that the kids aren't going anywhere. The current restrictions haven't done much to prevent players who aren't truly ready from entering the league anyway.
The league needs to concentrate its efforts to creating an effective way to deal with the situation. It needs to work with the players union to set the guidelines for a legitimate minor league system, similar to major league baseball's.
The structure is already in place. It simply would be a matter of investing more resources to transform the existing NBA Development League into an entity truly devoted to developing future NBA talent.
Teams have always had the right to send players to the D-League and a few have sent draft picks, including occasional first-rounders. Still, the NBADL is primarily a place for fringe prospects and journeyman veterans to try to find a place on the bench of an NBA team.
The D-League is not like an MLB minor league system, in which the big-league club invests coaching and staffing resources to teach its young players the ways of the organization and how they are expected to perform as major league players.
It could be, however, and, at this point, it should become like that, for the overall good of the NBA.
The NBA is supposed to be for the best players in the world, not a league in which raw prospects are trying to learn how to become one of the world's best players.
Still, with the top of the draft dominated by collegiate freshmen, upside potential has surpassed NBA readiness as the main emphasis in the draft.
Some young players, such as LeBron James or Kevin Durant, are ready to contribute immediately. Others, such as Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant, had the mental toughness to thrive through tough early times.
Many others, however, need more seasoning before they are truly able to make an impact.
Despite the hype surrounding him, Maker is being projected as a pick in the 20s for this draft.
He is the definition of a long-term project.
A true minor league would be a place for kids such as Maker to develop properly instead of wasting valuable time sitting on the bench or being overmatched game after game.
The NBA will decide whether Thon Maker will be accepted into the 2016 draft, but whatever it decides will only be a bandage for the true problem of players coming into the league who are not ready.
That's the issue that needs to be addressed.