NEW YORK — Charles Barkley believes that unless you’re a transcendent talent like LeBron James, you should stay in school.
Specifically, he pointed to the six players from Kentucky’s 2012 NCAA championship team and said they all probably should’ve remained on campus instead of entering the NBA Draft.
“Kentucky had six guys and ain’t none of them made an impact [in the NBA], not one,” Barkley told SNY.tv Monday morning at the Turner Sports and CBS Sports NCAA Tournament media day.
“Like Anthony Davis, physically has been hurt all year. All those other guys, they’ve been in the D-League all year.”
Davis, the No. 1 overall pick, is averaging 12.9 points and 7.8 rebounds at New Orleans, but has been troubled by ankle and knee injuries.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, the No. 2 pick and former St. Patrick star, is averaging 9.0 points and 5.5 rebounds at Charlotte.
“Really?” Barkley asked with a smile. “I’m not sure you can consider that contributing.”
Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb and Darius Miller (who left school after his senior season) have all spent time in the D-League, and Marquis Teague is averaging 2.3 points and 1.4 assists with Chicago.
Overall, 26 of 60 Class of 2012 Draft picks have spent time in the D-League.
“In the NBA, the Draft is designed for a bad team to get help,” Barkley said. “My bad teams didn’t get any help. That undermines the integrity of the game. As a fan, if my team is sh—y, I will say, ‘OK, I got some good young players.’ But like I say, I loved all those Kentucky guys, but they’re not making an impact in the NBA, and that’s not fair to the game.
“I want to have a good young team if I got lottery picks. And I haven’t seen anything from those Kentucky players to say, ‘OK, I got a good player going forward.”
The system appears flawed, where players like Jones, Teague and Lamb (and others like them) have to come out early to capitalize on their rising stock and make the money, especially guaranteed first-round money for guys like Jones and Teague.
Barkley said he’s spoken with the NCAA about “getting these some kids money to stay in school. You know, because they are leaving for the money. I mean, it’s wrong, but they’re doing it.”
He added: “If the NCAA [does that], it will help everybody. Let’s find a way to work with these kids, ‘We’ll let you borrow some money to stay in school.’ I’m not talking about millions of dollars, but I want to stay in school, get my education, but I want to get physically stronger….It would be curious to me if you would ask those Kentucky players off the record, ‘I’m making money, but I’m getting my ass kicked every night. I wish I was back in college for one more year.’ It would be curious to me see how they would answer that question. I would be curious to hear their answer on that.”
Barkley also said he believes that Kentucky freshman big man Nerlens Noel should stay in school at least another year, and that Kansas freshman Ben McLemore would be his No. 1 overall pick.
“[Noel] is not better than Anthony Davis and Anthony Davis is struggling physically,” Barkley said. “I don’t think these guys understand how physically imposing the NBA is. The Nerlens kid needs to stay in school. It’s not an easy decision.”
Most mock drafts have Noel, McLemore and Indiana’s Cody Zeller in the mix for No. 1, although Indiana’s Victor Oladipo has gotten some support, too.
“Obviously, most people are going to take the big kid [Noel],” Barkley said. “For me, I can’t go wrong with McLemore. I’m not sure if I need a point guard who I take, but if I need a two guard I’m taking McLemore. I like him a lot.”
“I love how hard the kid [Oladipo] plays but my shotoing guard gotta be a shooter, and the McLemore kid is a better shooter, in my opinion.”