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Instead of that year in college...

Milwaukee Bucks rookie point guard Brandon Jennings
Milwaukee Bucks rookie point guard Brandon Jennings
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College basketball purists who detest what the NBA's age-limit policy has done to the sport have found an unlikely hero in Milwaukee Bucks rookie point guard Brandon Jennings.

Jennings, who racked up 55 points against Golden State last Saturday, was picked 10th overall in the 2009 draft by the Bucks after forgoing college hoops to play professionally for a year in Rome. He's the first player to do so since the NBA hiked its age limit from 18 to 19 in 2006.

The policy has led many top high school players to opt for brief one- or two-year college careers before heading to the NBA. Six of last year's top 10 draftees were freshmen or sophomores.

The old school, including Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan, would prefer to keep the college in college hoops. Programs like Wisconsin's, which are built around four-year players, shouldn't be edged out by those hoping to win big with players who have no desire to stick around for a degree.

That could happen if pro-caliber players stop using the college game as a de facto minor league. Enter Jennings, the early frontrunner for rookie of the year, averaging 26 points and five assists after eight games. This suggests that pro ball in Europe might do better than a brief stay in college to prepare players for the NBA - and without making them rely on cafeteria meals.

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