By Larry Fine
NEW YORK (Reuters) - National Basketball Association teams would be better served if potential players spend more time developing their game rather than rushing to the professional ranks, commissioner David Stern said on Tuesday.
The NBA currently mandates players must be 19 years old during the calendar year of the draft and at least one year removed from the graduation of their high school class.
Stern pointed out that the so-called "one-and-done" rule was an NBA-driven improvement from the days when high school standouts were drafted directly into the NBA, and that he would like to see the requirement taken further.
"We have a committee that we've agreed to with the Players' Association. We will be looking at the entire situation and probably with the (National Collegiate Athletic Association) input as well," Stern told reporters after kicking off the NBA's Green Week, a program sponsored by Sprint to generate awareness and funding to help protect the environment.
"We would love to add a year, but it's not something that the Players Association has been willing to agree to."
Kentucky's win in Monday's final was accompanied by buzz about the freshman-dominated Wildcats, who could lose most of their team, including projected No. 1 draft pick Anthony Davis, to the NBA after just one season as collegians.
Stern, who has steered the NBA for 28 years, said he would have pushed for raising the entry age in the last collective bargaining agreement with the players, but economic issues took precedence in difficult negotiations that ended up delaying the start of the 2011-12 season.
The commissioner said the age rule was intended to give NBA teams more time to evaluate emerging young players.
"They can play in Europe, they can play in the D-League (development), they can go to college," he said. "This is not a social program, this is a business rule for us. It's really not what we require in college, it's that we say that we would like a year to look at them."
Stern said the extra year of seasoning has been a help, but he held out hope that the entry age could be raised again.
"We are very happy to have improved from having our scouts all over high school gymnasiums," he said.
"That was an important policy part of what we did. We'll see what we can do. They have some ideas, we have some ideas (and) I'm sure the NCAA has some ideas."
(Reporting By Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)