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Associated Press

Object lesson

So, now the nightmare scenario is not just a scenario.

Now we get the grim sight of standout Kentucky freshman Nerlens Noel -- who surely would be drawing an NBA paycheck now were it not for the league's ridiculous age-limit rule -- being helped off the floor last night after tearing his ACL in a loss to Florida. He's lost for the season, lending a whole new meaning to the phrase "one-and-done."

A shot-blocking big man coming off a blown knee, after all, does not have nearly the draft appeal of a shot-blocking big man with two healthy knees. Which is what Noel was coming into this season.

If NBA rules allowed him to play right out of high school -- which, it says here, anyone who's good enough should be able to do -- he'd at least be earning a living doing what his gift allows him to do. Instead, forced to spend this year as one of John Calipari's rentals, he's likely looking at a diminished draft status, which the means the living he'd have earned will be diminished, too.

Bottom line: The NBA's rule punishes the truly gifted. And at the same time, it punishes college basketball, too, reducing it to little more than a weigh station for kids who are required to participate in an obvious charade not of their making.

It's bad (and, as Noel demonstrates, potentially costly) for the one-and-dones. And it's bad for college basketball.

Time to do something about it, David Stern.

Ben Smith's blog.

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