A few weeks ago following Kentucky winning the National Championship I wrote about how their victory was bad for college basketball. It wasn't bad because their team was full of a bunch of bad kids or even because their coach, at least in my opinion, isn't very reputable. My point was that a team consisting of at least three starters that will only play one year of college basketball is bad for the game.
The Wildcats entire starting five consisting of three freshman and two sophomores announced last week to the surprise of almost no one that they were all going pro. Doron Lamb, Terrance Jones were the elder statesmen joining freshman Marquis Teague, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Anthony Davis in bidding adieu to the college game.
All are projected to potentially go in the first round of the NBA draft and be making millions of dollars this time next year. Not a single one of them seemed all that terribly interested in finishing their academic careers any time soon.
Few can blame them, but forgive my old fashionedness for a minute, but college athletics should still involve some semblance of the college part. When Anthony Davis appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live and joked about going to classes when everyone knew he wasn't going to be coming back to college, I found that a bit had to stomach.
It isn't Davis' falut or Kentucky's or even John Calipari's, but it is the fault of the NBA and the NCAA for failing to work together to close a loop hole that basically makes college a one-year stop for kids who would otherwise be good enough to go pro.
Most of the onus falls on the NBA whose age limit essentially requires kids right out of college to either go to college, go to Europe or sit out an entire year before they can be drafted. And since no one is going to want to sit out a year, most choose one year of college, though a few have gone overseas.
This rule which has been labeled the one-and-done rule is essentially the NBA age restriction. The college game and the NCAA had no say in it what so ever. They still have no say in it and the NBA has made little to no effort to even bring them in to attempt to solve the problem.
The entire rule itself was created to solve the problem of too many high school kids declaring for the pros before they were ready and then having their careers and in some cases lives fizzle before they really got started.
The NCAA initially lauded the move thinking it would bring the great players it would have lost and perhaps the majesty of the college game might sway a few to stay more than a year. That hasn't worked out that way and what has happened is what you saw at Kentucky this season: the college game has become a revolving door for top talent.
Most of those kids have zero interest in getting an education and the coaches and programs that can lure the talent there and don't mind having to reload year in and year out have benefited.
Other programs like UCLA, and Duke have struggled a bit in the one and done era. UCLA had a string of Final Four trips in the last decade but have fallen of the map after most of those teams were purged of talent when the players left.
Duke hasn't gone after that many one and done talents but in the last two years they have lost two freshman starters to the NBA after their first seasons.
Mike Krzyzewski recently acknowledge the challenges Duke has faced with going after one and done kids.
“We can’t go after every one-and-done guy because a lot of the guys—and they are great players and great kids—but school isn’t as important (to them)..It’s not even going one year. They are going to spend maybe six-seven months (at school). … We have a great school, but it’s not as attractive as going someplace else, so we have to be careful with who we get involved with because it could be a monumental waste of time for us.”
The bottom line it is hard for schools like Duke, even with their reputation as a basketball school to get kids who aren't interested in college because the academic requirements at Duke are much more intense than your average school.
Think about Stanford; as a program they were a consistent Top 25 team but the one and done era and coaching changes has made it hard for the Cardinal to get back their.
Duke hasn't been as bad, they did win a national title as recently as 2010, but they can't go after a roster full of one and done guys like Kentucky has been doing since Calipari arrived.
Again not his fault, he has just mastered the game and kids are buying into it, even more so with a national title to show off.
Not a lot of people, aside from Kentucky fans are thrilled with this. Most writers, while they are quick not to pick on Kentucky or Calipari, they generally feel the one and done rule makes a farce out of the college experience.
These kids aren't going to get an education they are going to play basketball. And I suppose you could say that of a lot of kids who aren't necessarily one and done talents, but the educational requirements are still there.
College basketball isn't the bastion of amateurism it once was, and it hasn't been for some time. There is too much money being made by programs, and coaches, while the kids who play get very little, though a free ride to a top notch academic institution you'd think would be payment enough.
So, I can get the very elite players opting to take the money, especially when they see how much money is being made and how much money they stand to gain. But why not just let them go out of high school?
If you are that good why have them pretend to be student-athletes and take up a scholarship that could be filled by someone else?
The problem is until the NCAA stands up to the NBA or the two organizations sit down and talk nothing is going to get better and the one and done phenomena is going to continue to be a blight on the college game.
There are no easy solutions. I say throw out the age limit but make a mandatory two or three year stay for kids who go to college. If you aren't good enough to go pro right away then improve your game in college and by the way learn something too.
Because even though you are a stud in high school, and may end up as one in college, there is no guarantee the millions of dollars will be waiting for you in the end. So while you are in school you might as well go to class and learn to do something else.
But again until the NCAA does something differently or the NBA works with the college game the status quo will remain and that isn't doing anybody, aside from John Calipari any favors.
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