Cinderella can return to dancing with mice and beating the midnight curfew, college basketball no longer needs her. As a matter of fact, the writing has been on the wall for old Cinderella for quite some time now. Once David Stern decided he wanted to protect his league from an influx of Gerald Greens, Ndubi Ebis, and Robert Swifts; it became as predictive as Carmelo becoming a Knick that Cinderella would soon be endangered.
The Butler Bulldogs have returned to the NCAA championship game and you should not be surprised. The days of your father’s Tar Heels, Bruins, Wildcats, and Blue Devils annually making it to the final four are in critical condition and their chances look pretty bleak. Butler’s ascension to fame is not a matter of luck, but a matter of a changing guard. Mid majors and small schools like Virginia Commonwealth are able to compete with the Goliath in spite of the All Americans that flock to the powerhouses yearly. Wait, I said in spite; I meant because.
By implementing the one year of college and 19 years of age rule, David Stern threw the perfect alley oop to the small schools that used to just be happy to play to in March. Despite the success of most NBA players who have brought their talents from high school, Stern felt a need to protect his league from the “undeveloped player”. The funny thing is the rule opened up his league to an even more undeveloped player. Instead of talents like Dwight Howard or Monta Ellis bypassing college for the NBA, you’re left with Avery Bradleys and Daniel Ortons languishing in the D League and at the end of depth charts after one year of college.
Subsequently, college programs are bringing in All Americans to replace All Americans year after year opening the door for upperclassmen laden teams to shed the Cinderella moniker and play in back to back title games ala Butler. Truth be told, the one and done rule is benefiting none of the parties it was intended to and the small schools like Butler are gratuitously reaping the consequences.