Charles Barkley attends the Julius Erving Celebrity Golf Classic at...

Charles Barkley attends the Julius Erving Celebrity Golf Classic at St. David's Golf Club on Sept. 10, 2018 in Wayne, Pennsylvania. Credit: Getty Images for Julius Erving G/Lisa Lake

Charles Barkley is in his ninth season moonlighting as a college basketball analyst in March, and he has insisted since Day One that he puts in the homework to get up to speed on NCAA teams every year starting on Jan. 1.

But some critics continue to wonder whether he and his NBA pals from Turner Sports know as much about college teams and players as they should.

To which Barkley offered a profane retort on Tuesday, saying among other things, “We’re giving them a billion dollars for this tournament. They should just shut [expletive] up.”

This was at the annual CBS/Turner pre-NCAA Tournament media breakfast in Manhattan, where tradition calls for Barkley to weigh in on a variety of topics. Including, in this case, his weight.

He said that having hip replacement surgeries each of the past two summers was the best decision he ever made, but in the aftermath he has gained 75 pounds. At 56, he knows that is not healthy.

“I have to spend this summer getting myself together,” he said. “I have to get myself back in physical shape.”

Barkley considered retiring several years ago but was talked out of it by outgoing Turner Sports president David Levy. He now says he is considering calling it quits after he reaches an even 20 seasons at Turner next year but also might aim for age 60 as a time to move on.

Among the many other topics he addressed, he said he is not in favor of admitting players to the NBA directly out of high school, in part because even one-and-done players coming into the league are rarely ready for the pro level and do not help the NBA game.

Beyond that, he said, “I don’t want anybody telling young black men getting a free education is not a big deal . . . Not everybody makes it in the pros.”

Barkley believes the NBA has enough coddled divas at it is.

“[Commissioner] Adam Silver, they’re so concerned with kissing these players’ [expletive], everything we [television analysts] say is so scrutinized.”

Barkley said he is supportive of players’ rights but that he is bothered by those who publicly call for paying college players without explaining the mechanics of how it would work.

He admitted, as he has before, that he “borrowed money from agents” while at Auburn in the 1980s and advocated making such arrangements legal.

“Let’s get one thing straight: They’ve been cheating since I was in college,” he said. “Teams have always cheated, they’re always going to cheat, and people should not be surprised.”

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