What is the Impact of College Basketball on an NBA Career

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  • Title: What is the Impact of College Basketball on an NBA Career: An Analysis of McDonald’s All-Americans from 2001 to 2012
  • Author(s): Nathan E. Dial
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: Common Ground Open
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Sport and Society
  • Keywords: Linear Regression, Propensity Score Matching, NBA, Draft, College Basketball, All-Americans
  • Volume: 12
  • Issue: 1
  • Date: January 06, 2021
  • ISSN: 2152-7857 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2152-7865 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2152-7857/CGP/v12i01/53-69
  • Citation: Dial, Nathan E.. 2021. "What is the Impact of College Basketball on an NBA Career: An Analysis of McDonald’s All-Americans from 2001 to 2012." The International Journal of Sport and Society 12 (1): 53-69. doi:10.18848/2152-7857/CGP/v12i01/53-69.
  • Extent: 17 pages

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Abstract

Before 2006, the National Basketball Association (NBA) required 18 years of age and high school completion to enter their draft. Since 2006, the NBA requires players to be at least one year removed from high school and 19 years of age, effectively, requiring NBA hopefuls to participate in college basketball for at least one season. This raises the question, what is the impact of college basketball on elite high school players’ NBA production and prosperity? Using an original dataset of every McDonald’s All-American (MAA) from 2001 to 2012 and a causal inference technique called Linear Regression Propensity Score Matching (LRPSM), this article produces three findings. First, MAAs with zero years of college have longer NBA careers. However, they are less productive over the first five years in the NBA. Second, there is no difference in NBA production or prosperity when a MAA plays one or two years of college basketball. Third, the difference between MAAs playing two and three years of college basketball is significant. Three years of college basketball generates less productive and less prosperous NBA players. The strength of LRPSM is three-fold. First, MAAs only match with MAAs with similar propensity scores. Second, it eliminates outliers and focuses on draft policy regulations that affect players’ decision to stay in college or pursue the NBA. Third, it provides an analysis that compares the impact of college on characteristics, not individual people. In conclusion, I recommend the NBA move toward a two-wave system that resembles Major League Baseball’s draft eligibility rules.