Dana O’Neil, who I normally enjoy only slightly more than a root canal, has written an interesting piece explaining why fans (and opposing coaches) shouldn’t bemoan Kentucky for their tremendous success with one-and-done athletes.
She explains as follows:
You can fret over the bastardization of academics or denounce the death of college ideals until you are as purple as Frank Martin during a 15-point loss.
It won’t change a thing. Until the NBA decides that, like skilled carpenters or master craftsmen, basketball players don’t necessarily need to go to college, we will live in the age of the flyby.
In other words, don’t blame the people who have benefited from the rule. Blame the people in charge of making the rule.
O’Neil, with open disdain, describes Calipari as the game’s “P.T. Barnum.” A comparison that makes so much sense because P.T. Barnum was a coach in competitive sports that involved teaching and improving athletes as players and people. Oh, he wasn’t? My bad.
That aside, she goes on to make a few very valid points about the state and future of college basketball:
The history of our world, the basketball world, is being rewritten before our eyes. This isn’t 1972. Bill Walton isn’t slinging hook shots in tube socks and short shorts.
… I realize that conventions don’t last. The construct of the rules dictate how the game is played, and one overriding rule from 1972 still applies: He who has the best players wins.
And why does Kentucky get the best players, Ms. O’Neil?
So Mom and Dad. You want your boy to succeed in his field of choice, the field being basketball? Well, tune in on June 28 and watch. UK is to basketball as MIT is to engineering.
I think that sums it up pretty nicely. If your goal is to play and succeed in the NBA, UK is the place to be right now. Don’t kid yourself. Getting to the NBA as fast as possible is most certainly the goal for every top prospect who isn’t lucky enough to have independently wealthy parents.
Kentucky coach John Calipari recruits the best players possible year in and year out because he can and talent equals wins. Unless the NBA changes the one-and-done rule, college coaches will have to adapt or die.
You can rest assured that the NBA will not be changing the rules any time soon. NBA GMs have benefited immensely from having an extra year to watch the top prospects compete against high level competition. The one-and-done rule has produced more players like Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and John Wall than it has busts like Kwami Brown and Jonathan Bender.
Coach K has recruited and coached a couple of one-and-done players, so has Roy Williams. Rick Barnes and Thad Matta try to recruit as many as possible. They’re just not as successful at it as John Calipari.
In the end, I think that’s what rubs people the wrong way. It’s not that they give a crap about integrity or development. They just hate losing.
As long as they keep clinging to an outdated approach, they better get used to it.