Chris Graham: The one-and-done scourge, and what to do about it
John Calipari was in another national title game Monday night with a group of one-and-dones, and for the second time in three tries his team came up short.
Calipari tends to get his comeuppance, sure, but that’s four Final Fours and three Elite Eights in his last nine years at Kentucky and his previous stop, Memphis, with the same recruiting philosophy that takes advantage of the NBA entry rule that bars players from entering the NBA draft until they’ve been out of high school for a year.
Now that the NBA is talking about going even further, barring draft eligibility for players until they turn 20, you have to wonder how many more coaches are going to adopt the Calipari approach and put more focus on the one-and-dones, or if the NBA is successful in pushing the age limit to 20, two-and-dones.
What limits the scourge of one- and two-and-dones from having more of an impact on college basketball is that there just aren’t that many of those players out there to recruit – maybe 8-10 of them a year who have convinced themselves that they can go straight from high school to the NBA, and more like 2-3 who are actual potential impact NBA players from that pool.
Calipari gets the bulk of those players, and has ridden that horse to obvious success in recent years, though it is significant to point out that he has just the one national title on his resume with all the success with one-and-dones.
This year’s three most notable one-and-dones not wearing a UK uniform, Duke’s Jabari Parker and Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid at Kansas, just as significantly didn’t make it out of the first weekend of this year’s NCAA Tournament.
And while Kentucky’s one-and-dones willed their way to the title game, they ran into a balanced, more veteran, if less talented, UConn team that ran circles around them all night long.
So, is the one-and-done scourge the, well, scourge that we think that it is?
Nobody outside the Nation of Blue cares for Calipari, but as long as he doesn’t win the big one with his non-student athletes, it’s not the worst thing in the world. He gives the one-and-dones free room and board for a few months, and the rest of college basketball can focus on building programs for the long term.
Everybody is happy.
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