The age limit is the devil. It supposedly helps the NBA by protecting front offices from their own poor decision-making; it obviously benefits the NCAA. It’s the athletes who get screwed. I am probably more opposed to the age limit than I am anything in the world of college basketball. I even believe that eliminating the age limit would, if not solve the entire problem, do a lot to obviate the most egregious instances of athlete exploitation.
As for athletes making the most of their academic experience, I believe that schools owe it to the to make it possible for them to succeed without cutting corners. That means special programs, courses, instruction and tutoring. It means deadlines and timelines that take into account practice and games. And—just being a pragmatist here—it does involve getting them to think long and hard about their future plans. Most athletes playing high level ball are used to being the best and those egos die hard. Not saying it’s the job of schools to hold hands or somehow break athletes’ spirits, but a reality check might be the only way to ensure all athletes are on track academically.