In whose best interest? 1-year rule hurts college hoops, while NBA does just fine

'The college game will continue to suffer, and kids will make decisions based on a system that won’t benefit them'

Associated Press
Kentucky coach John Calipari and the Wildcats come to Columbia tonight.

Photo by James Crisp

Associated Press Kentucky coach John Calipari and the Wildcats come to Columbia tonight.

The debate over paying college athletes seems never ending these days.

Yes, it’s interesting, and at some point, I believe there will be adjustments made to the scholarship system.

A more important discussion that affects both the players and the collegiate system is the “one-year” rule in basketball.

With the NBA forcing high school kids to be a year removed from preps forces these players to spend a year in college before bolting for the pros. It’s a revolving door that’s made life difficult on coaches and has led to a demise in the overall talent and entertainment of the college game.

Sure, these kids have every right to go overseas and earn a living or sit on the couch for 12 months and wait their turn, but that’s not going to ever happen in reality. The kind of basketball education they get at the collegiate level makes sure of that.

No coach has experienced the highs and lows of this system more than Kentucky’s John Calipari. He’s been bringing large freshmen classes for many Novembers before shuffling off most of those same kids to the NBA in June. It’s hard to feel sorry for Calipari. He did win a national championship in 2012 and went to the championship game in April by relying on one-and-dones.

However, there aren’t a lot of coaches who can pull this off.

“This cycle (we’ve been) on — and there were coaches last year that had freshmen and their primary guys were freshmen and couldn’t advance in the NCAA tournament and after said, ‘It is so difficult.’ Yeah, it is,” Calipari said Monday. “Well, let’s start five freshmen and try to do it. So to do this every year — in this environment, at Kentucky — is, I don’t want to say impossible, because for five years we’ve done it ... it’s just a dangerous thing for the coach.”

We’ll never go back to the days when Kevin Garnett and Kobe Bryant made the jump from preps to pros. Neither the NBA nor the courts would allow it.

But college coaches are holding out hope that a two-year rule could one day be instituted. Georgia’s Mark Fox said Monday he’s in favor of it because it would “help college and the NBA,” but Fox is unsure it would ever pass.

“You cannot do that unless the NCAA is gonna do things along with the NBA if kids are asked to stay another year,” Calipari said. “I mean, are you gonna do the cost of living? Are you gonna cover their insurance? What about loss of value insurance that’s really expensive? What about flying them back and forth once or twice a year? Why would we not do that? What about their families being flown to the NCAA events, championship events, with the teams? Why would we not do all those things? So we finally after five years of absolute arm-wrangling got the food right so that we can feed these kids without feeling we’re gonna go to jail and we’re criminals for feeding them.

“So there’s a lot of things we need to do. Now it’s taken 40 years, but we’re moving in that direction now.”

Calipari also brought up getting information so kids make the right decisions and letting them attend combines without losing college eligibility. He’d like to see the NBA change its rookie contract structure so players don’t have to rush into the draft and have loans available that families could pay back to the league after the draft.

It makes a lot of sense, but it’s hard to believe the NBA would ever sacrifice so much, even though Calipari sees progress.

Instead, the college game will continue to suffer, and kids will make decisions based on a system that won’t benefit them.

The NBA will do just fine.

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Comments » 3

BlueRidgeBengal writes:

No tears are being shed for Calipari by this poster.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

You've presented a false set of choices: play in the NCAA, go overseas, or sit on the couch. We just finished a draft where a player was a 1st round pick from the D-League. PJ Hairston was ruled ineligible, went to the D-League for a year, and still went roughly in the same spot in the 1st round as he would've had he been able to play at UNC. And he earned a paycheck prior to the draft in the D-league. The reality is that any kid can go earn a living in the US playing basketball straight out of high school in the D-League.

The basketball education argument you make is bogus. The NCAA game is the polar opposite of what the NBA game is. College basketball is a slow, low-scoring game with a longer shot clock. The D-league has the same rules as the NBA. Almost every D-league coach has NBA experience either as a player, assistant coach, or player development coach. How can Bill Self prepare a kid for the NBA better than a guy who has actually coached or played in the NBA? The most forgotten point of all of this is that the NCAA has limits on the amount of time coaches have for on-court instruction... actually limiting coaches on how long they can coach their players. There of course is no such rule for professionals. So if your goal is the NBA, why not get paid to play for NBA coaches who can coach you as long as they want?

So why don't players go to the D-league? One answer is because it's not glamorous and it's hard. You're in empty gyms playing against ex-college players who are fighting for a basketball paycheck in games that aren't televised. College basketball is safe. You disagree with your coach and you can transfer to your pick of almost any of the 300+ D1 programs. If you piss off a coach in the D-league, you have to get a passport in order to feed yourself playing basketball. Another reason why players don't go to the D-league is b/c they're afraid of pre-draft exposure. The D-league is full of nothing but successful college players who are trying to continue their career. College basketball is full of games against kids who will never earn a check playing pro ball. There's a reason why top draft prospects don't participate in the combine and set terms with teams on what pre-draft workouts will look like. The less NBA scouts can pick apart your game, the higher your draft position. Almost no one has seen Dante Exum play in person against quality competition and he refused to do pre-draft workouts with other top players in the draft. He ended up a high-lottery pick.

YabbaDaboDooDoo writes:

To me, players shouldn't get to have it both ways and the NCAA should make modest changes and say that's it when it comes to compensation. Families can save money to fly to NCAA tournament games. Kansas shouldn't have to pay for Andrew Wiggins' entourage to travel. Players don't need the NCAA to pay for insurance policies. They're not in the insurance business. Players should be guaranteed everything that provides for the original mission of college sports: 1) a scholarship that provides for the FULL cost of education through graduation not just 1 year renewables, 2) food and nutrition required for a high-performance athlete, and 3) full medical coverage during the entirety of their eligibility.

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