Since its inception in 2005, the one-and-done rule has completely changed the sport of basketball, and no one knows that better than John Calipari. Cal has become synonymous with the rule, and in turn, is college basketball’s biggest villain. The sport’s purists work themselves into a fury talking about how Cal’s “NBA factory” at Kentucky has demoralized and cheapened James Naismith’s great invention. To them, painting Calipari as the villain is easier than accepting the cold hard truth: the rule is a necessary evil for success in college basketball. And John Calipari’s the only one willing to do something about it.
Let’s start by looking back at how we got into this mess.
During collective bargaining talks in 2005, the players’ association and the league came up with the “one-and-done rule” as a solution to the influx of prep stars making the leap to the NBA without attending college. The NBA wanted more time to evaluate high school talent and hoped that a year in college would help players mature. The players’ association didn’t wholly approve of the concept, but agreed to it to get other things they wanted from the league. Therefore, the rule stating that a player must be 19 years of age, or have spent one season in college or playing abroad in order to play in the league was born.
In its first few years, the rule seemed to benefit both NBA and college basketball. Stars like Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, and Greg Oden only spent the requisite year in college, but helped their teams to postseason success, and Durant became the first freshman ever to win the Oscar Robertson Trophy. College basketball benefited from a jolt of talent that previously, would have followed in Kevin Garnett, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James’ shoes by leaping to the league straight out of high school, and the NBA got its slightly more developed stars. At age 22, Rose became the league’s youngest MVP, a feat that LeBron James didn’t achieve until he was 24.
The problems with the one-and-done rule began once the sport had a few years to adjust to it. Some coaches accepted the rule and found a way to make it work, while others refuse to adapt their practices, and in turn, lag behind the curve. The nation’s top high school talent sees which coaches/programs are most successful in putting players in the league (Kentucky), and as a result, other coaches are left in the cold, which breeds jealousy and contempt.
Cal’s approach to the rule? Put the players first. “I’m not recruiting one-and-dones; I’m recruiting basketball players,” Calipari said in 2011. “I tell kids, ‘Don’t come here if you think you’re leaving after one year. If you’re ready to go after a year, I will be fine with it.’ You recruit the best kids you can recruit and then you make judgments when the year is over. People say, ‘Cal, if he had stayed, you would have had another guy and maybe won the national title.’ Maybe it would have been better for us, but it wouldn’t have been better for him.”
The fact that the media really only started making noise about the evils of the rule after Cal began to have success at Kentucky is not a coincidence; Kentucky was already the villain of the sport, and when Cal came along, he vaulted it back to elite status with such speed that the rest of the teams in the sport were left spinning. It didn’t take the critics long to take the low road to explain Kentucky’s sudden shot of success.
ESPN and CBS commentator Len Elmore in 2011: “You have coaches now running and telling kids, ‘Come with me, and after your freshman year I’ll have you ready for the NBA.’ It used to be in recruiting the coach would say, ‘Come with me and I’ll develop you into a man and you’ll get a degree.’ …I won’t name names, but you know who they are. And it still boggles my mind how a coach can think he can take a kid for six months and get him ready for the NBA.”
At this point, the one-and-done rule isn’t exactly helping the players out, either. The number of one-and-doners drafted that end up in the D-League is going up. While they’re getting paid, it is clear in some cases that another year or two in college would have helped both the players and the teams make a better decision. Now, teams are full of players who are young, raw players who need development. Critics love to blame Cal for the system, but he’s quick to point out that he’s not the one who created it, he’s just found a way to make it work, and in turn, reap more rewards:
“All these people are trying to make this one-year rule my rule. When did it become my rule? I don’t even like it. Would I like them to stay four years? Absolutely, I would like them to stay four years. But it’s not the rule. This is the rule,” Cal has said. “There’s only two solutions to it: Either I can recruit players who are not as good as the players I’m recruiting or I can try to convince guys that should leave to stay for me.” “
He’s even gone as far to trump his system’s “success rate,” aka a graduation rate in the one-and-done era. His players may not make it to their sophomore year, but they do put in work towards their degrees over the summer, while at the same time still chasing their dreams and taking care of their families’ financial situations. It ain’t pretty, but until the rule changes, it works.
When will that rule change? Probably not anytime soon. Yet, Cal has been one of the few college coaches to offer some solutions. He’s proposed the “two and through” system, in which the age requirement for the league would be bumped up to 20, or two years of school. The two-year rule would make it easier for players to get their degrees, while still having the time they need to develop their skills and mature in college. Cal told Mike DeCourcy back in 2011 that it’s the perfect medium:
“If it’s two years, the kids understand they’ve got to go to college. I think we would have 100 percent graduation rate along with all these kids getting drafted. When a kid leaves after one year and he’s 90 credits short, that’s going to take seven or eight years. …Two years is a good number. Kids can come in and do their thing, they can get close to graduating, you can have an impact on their lives.”
He’s also suggested that players who stay two years or more get a year off their initial contract in the NBA, which would give them a bigger contract sooner and provide incentive for them to stay in school. In the past, NCAA president Mark Emmert has proposed getting rid of the rule altogether and letting kids go to the league right out of high school, something which Cal pointed out in a 2012 speech was how we got into this mess in the first place:
“The NCAA president said let them go right out of high school? What? How many ninth graders will think, ‘I’m going right to the NBA?’ Five hundred? One thousand? Now those kids will be really focused on academics. How could you make that statement?”
Calipari’s ire for the NCAA and its rules has swelled to the point that on our radio show last week, he suggested that Kentucky may secede from the NCAA until things are changed. And while the one-and-done rule is an NBA rule, the NCAA is doing nothing to fix it. Until they do, college basketball and the nation’s top talent will continue to suffer from a broken system:
“I’m the one guy out there saying we’ve gotta change this somehow,” Calipari told Matt last week. “We’ve gotta encourage these kids to stay two years. But the NCAA’s gotta do some stuff, and if they don’t do it we need to separate from them. I’m not afraid to say it. Look, they’ve embarrassed me. I’ve done nothing, so they’re not gonna come in, show retribution to me and do stuff. I don’t really care. But something’s gotta change with this one-and-done rule. I seem to be the coach saying anything.”
We all joke about how often Cal talks about his “players-first” system, but the reason he does is because it falls on deaf ears to those who have the power. The system isn’t perfect, but right now, it’s the only line of defense until the NCAA, the NBA, and the Players’ Association come together to find a proper solution, which Cal has even already put together for them.
But he’s the villain, right?
It’s time to break out that old Charlotte Hornets Starter jacket! Team owner Michael Jordan announced this afternoon that the Charlotte Bobcats have filed the necessary paperwork to take back their old “Hornets” nickname, which was freed up when New Orleans became the Pelicans. The NBA Board of Governors will vote on approving the name change when they meet up in July. Jordan also indicated that the colors may change from teal and purple, and that the logo may be modified.
Will two Cats soon wear Hornets gear? We’ll find out shortly during tonight’s NBA Draft Lottery (8:30 pm ET on ESPN).
5 stats/keys to success to keep an eye on:
1. Perimeter defense- Kentucky had interior defense last season when Nerlens Noel was healthy, but the Wildcats never found the guy who could contain the other team’s best perimeter shooter or guard. Not only did hot shooting guards plague the Cats last season, but quick/penetrating point guards often burned Kentucky as well. Kentucky may not find a DeAndre Liggins or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist… but guys like Brandon Knight and Marquis Teague became formidable perimeter defenders though during their time at Kentucky.
2. Shot blocking- We have become accustomed to great shot blocking over the past two years with Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel. Marcus Lee is not necessarily either of those guys– at least not yet. Cauley-Stein showed flashes of shot-blocking brilliance late last season. The shot blocking will likely be an effort by committee rather than simply one player dominating the statistic.
3. Two 3-point shooting threats- We know that Kentucky has Kyle Wiltjer. Although his shot wasn’t consistently falling last season, he is likely to see a lot more open looks with the personnel Kentucky will have on the court. We’ve also seen Wiltjer’s defense though. Kentucky would benefit greatly from having another three point shooting threat in addition to Wiltjer in times when his defense is a major liability for the team.
4. Fouls- Kentucky will have no shortage of interior defenders between Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Alex Poythress and Julius Randle. Not only does that list include a list of very good players, but that’s also 25 fouls per game to spare. Not that Kentucky would (or would want to) give up 25 fouls, but foul trouble shouldn’t ever be an issue with the big men on this team. Calipari has already mentioned that he wants to press more with this team. Kentucky will be able to gamble more on all areas of the court with the depth this team will have.
5. Who will be the back-up point guard? I honestly think this is one to keep an eye on. Jarrod Polson gained a lot of experience last season and also had a lot of success. Dominique Hawkins is more athletic, but lacks the experience Polson has.
4 potential losses:
1. vs. Michigan State –Kentucky will have only had 2 true games and 2 exhibition games under its belt before facing an experienced, talented and well-coached Michigan State team. Kentucky will be the kind of team you want to catch early next season if you hope to have a chance. Michigan State will definitely have a chance.
2. @ North Carolina– The Tar Heels are 1 Andrew Wiggins short of having the talent to go toe-to-toe with Kentucky like they did 2 years ago when Anthony Davis became the late-game hero. The home court advantage for North Carolina might not be enough to even the playing field, but it’s enough to make it awfully close.
3. vs. Louisville– Kentucky was an NIT team (barely) last season and still almost beat Louisville ON the road. Louisville essentially has the same team coming back, minus a few key pieces. Kentucky will have a totally revamped and more talented roster. Stranger things have happened though in the UK/UL series than the favorite losing. You have to give the defending national champions a chance, especially in a game played in December.
4. @ Florida– Kentucky and Florida will be the class of the SEC and it’s not even really close. Both match-ups next season should be the premier SEC games of the entire season. Florida returns a great deal of talent while also bringing in one of the nation’s top recruiting classes. I expect at least 1 of the 2 games between these two teams to be a 5-point or less game.
3 things that shouldn’t surprise you at the end of the season:
1. Orlando Antigua finding his first head coaching job– It’s only a matter of time. I feel like we’ve been saying that ever since Calipari and Antigua arrived in Lexington. Antigua has passed up on a number of potential opportunities. His name will continue to be thrown into the coaching carousel mix year in and year out. If Kentucky wins its second national title in three years, coming off of yet another #1 ranked recruiting class aided STRONGLY by the recruiting of Antigua– what better timing could he have to make the move? Also, don’t be surprised to see him back in Lexington again someday…
2. At least 5 players averaging double figures. No one averaging more than 14 ppg. — Kentucky will have so many weapons that it’s hard to pinpoint who the leading scorer on this team will be. Any of the top 7 guys when you look at the roster could average double figures, easily. My guess is at least 5 of them do. Much like the national championship team of two years ago, I can’t see any one particular player scoring the lion’s share of the points either. Balance, balance, balance. Teams will have to pick their poison on any given night.
3. Louisville fans who told us “not to live in the past” for years about our national championships… living in the past and still talking about 2013.
2 sleeper games to keep an eye on:
1. Boise State
I don’t expect that both of these games will be close, but I do predict that 1 of them will be closer than you would expect (at least until late in the 2nd half). Kentucky will likely pull away in the end, on its home court, but both of these NCAA tournament-experienced/veteran teams could give Kentucky a little trouble at first.
1 player leaving at the end of the season who you did not expect to be a one-and-done
We’ve seen this happen before with guys like Eric Bledsoe and Marquis Teague. If Kentucky wins the national championship, you can almost be sure that at least one player who had a better season than expected will make the jump. Calipari tends to have at least 1 player every season who really over-achieves. I’m not saying it will for sure happen, but keep an eye on a guy like Dakari Johnson who has developed rapidly in the last 6 months alone.
As the old saying goes As someone has probably at least said once, “you can’t teach being a 7-footer.”
Julius Mays will participate in the Brooklyn Nets’ league-wide NBA combine this week. The two-day event begins tomorrow and is open to all NBA teams. The Nets’ combine features mostly five-on-five competition between potential second rounders, as opposed to individual workouts like what we saw from the draft’s top prospects in Chicago’s combine last week.
Mays is scheduled to run with guys like Pierre Jackson (Baylor), Travis Releford (Kansas), Marshawn Powell (Arkansas) and Alex Oriakhi (Missouri) in Thursday’s 11:15 a.m. session. Other notable prospects participating in Brooklyn are Peyton Siva (Louisville), Christian Watford (Indiana), Phil Pressey (Missouri) and Jack Cooley (Notre Dame), to give you an idea of what level of talent is invited.
Friday has the potential to be a pretty epic day on KSR Radio. America’s favorite hero Charles Ramsey will be on KSR Radio with me and Drew on Friday. We are making the trip to Floyd County, where Ramsey will be doing a public meet and greet. Drew and I are beyond excited and the interview could be the highlight of our young careers. So do not miss it and while you are waiting, make sure to listen to his great words set to music again…my only hope is that we can eat ribs with this dude on Friday:
On Monday, Tyler Thompson dropped a poll asking you, the Kentucky Sports Radio readers, to cast your realistic opinion on the upcoming football season. No frills, no strings attached. The results seemed optimistic overall, but there was plenty of naysaying and overboard positivity in the comments.
Without a doubt, morale is high around the program. Mark Stoops has sent a massive surge of energy into the recruiting scene and has rallied a dormant fan base around a team that mustered only two wins last season. If what Stoops has done off the field in just a few months is any indication of the product we get on the field, this season will be fun. However, the SEC is still the SEC. It will take time for the young guns to get acclimated to the size and speed. Results will not be immediate, in all likelihood.
That is not discouraging the KSR readers. They have spoken, and the majority says the Wildcats will just miss out on a bowl berth, posting a 5-7 record overall. Twenty-nine percent of the votes say the Cats will be one win shy of the post-season. That is still quite an improvement from what we saw a season ago. Next, with 25 percent of the votes, say 4-8 is most likely. Third was an even 6-6 record, getting 20 percent of the votes.
Kentucky loses five offensive starters from a unit that was among the worst overall in all of college football. That claim was no fault of two veterans on the front line, however, center Matt Smith and guard Larry Warford. Replacing these big boys up front will be no easy task. The quarterback and running back position will be the deepest for offensive coordinator Neal Brown, who can’t wait to air it out.
Defensively, Stoops has a lot to work with. The only major loss is safety Martavius Neloms, and some of the brightest players with the most upside are still young. Fans have a lot to be excited with in defensive end Bud Dupree, along with tackle Mister Cobble and Donte Rumph. Throw in linebackers Avery Williamson and Miles Simpson, and there is plenty of experience in the unit, along with its top three tacklers from last season.
The outlook for the season is not pristine, especially with teams like Florida, South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia on the schedule. But with Stoops at the helm, surely this ship with right itself before long. I have to say the KSR readers are optimistic at 5-7. Pick up one surprise upset and we could be bowling!
Anthony Davis is in New York City to represent the New Orleans Pelicans with his head coach in the draft lottery. The Pelicans have an 8.8 percent chance of receiving the pick for a second consecutive season.
Chad Forde believes the Pelicans will take Otto Porter if awarded the top overall pick. Trey Burke and Ben McLemore are No. 2 and 3 on the Pelicans’ board.
The NBA draft lottery is five hours away and fans are anxiously awaiting the draft order. Once the ping-pong balls are drawn tonight, we will have a pretty good idea whether or not Nerlens Noel will become the third No. 1 overall pick from Kentucky in four years under John Calipari.
Here are the team-by-team and pick-by-pick odds:
Let’s go Charlotte. Or Sacramento.
Follow along on ESPN at 8:30ish.
Every fan base has its trolls. We know them well here at KSR. While most of us just ignore them and wait for them to slither back beneath their bridge, Vanderbilt offensive line/run game coordinator Herb Hand took action. Hand received some offensive tweets about his wife from a Tennessee fan, and replied to them with the following message:
“Feel free to come by anytime so we can talk about this in person like men. …You are welcome to come to my office so we can discuss this face to face…I fully welcome the opportunity.”
He also copied the tweet into a text message and sent it to Tennessee head coach Butch Jones. Here’s a screencap (warning: salty and somewhat blurred language ahead):
Hand has since deleted the tweets from his feed, but posted this message to his followers this morning:
Some will say that Hand went too far and should have just ignored the tweets, but I applaud him for calling the guy out. Next time you guys get unruly in the comments section, maybe we’ll have him pay you a little visit.
Photo by Regina Rickert
After going into the season ranked eighth in the country, it was a sad day in Hoover for your University of Kentucky baseball team, who lost to Ole Miss 4-1 in the opening round of the SEC Baseball Tournament. The Rebel Black Bears jumped out to an early lead, and despite having the bases loaded in the seventh inning, the Cats couldn’t mount a comeback. Their lone run came in the fourth inning off a delayed-steal play with two outs.
The Bat Cats started the season 22-6 and ranked as high as seventh in some polls, but a late season skid has totally halted their postseason plans. They will finish the season with a 30-25 record. Ole Miss will move on to face Arkansas tomorrow.
Get ‘em next year, boys.
Rivals.com updated its 2014 college football rankings today and Drew Barker got a bump up from a 5.8 four-star to a 5.9 four-star player. Barker is ranked No. 117 (previously No. 153) in the list of 250.
Mikel Horton joins Barker as the only other UK commit rated 5.9. Horton is the 131st (previously No. 209) overall player and the 22nd-ranked running back.
Thaddeus Snodgrass also made the list at No. 205 overall.
UK safety Ashely Lowery is still recovering from his horrific car wreck earlier this month at his mother’s home in Georgia, and according to this picture from Lowery family friend Doug Stutsman, he’s got plenty of reading to do. Stutsman posted the picture of Ashely’s get well cards on Twitter with the caption “Never seen so many get well cards before. #BBN.”
Ashely expects to return to school in June.
“I will make you eat your feet.”
Archie Goodwin is one of four NBA prospects tabbed as combine “losers” in a piece at SI.com. Though the label is only “for the moment,” it is clear that Archie’s inconsistent jump shot may be too much for him to overcome as he tries to improve his stock in these weeks leading up to the draft.
Losers (For The Moment)
Goodwin struggled with his jump shot throughout the combine — “Very flat,” a Western Conference coach said — and looked like the player who said he would be “delusional” to think he was ready for the NBA. There is a raw, Jamal Crawford-like talent in Goodwin, an athletic, dynamic combo guard who can score in a variety of ways. But it could take years to develop that player in him, if it can be brought out at all.
Once a potential lottery pick, Archie is now expected to go in the late first round to early second round range. Draft Express updated its mock draft today and it projects him going to the Suns with the last pick in the first round.
Another combine loser, according to SI.com: Shabazz Muhammad.
While talking about Louisville’s success in an interview with KSR last week, John Calipari said, “We won it first.” Now, that jab at the Cards is a t-shirt in The KSR Shop for members of Big Blue Nation to own.
Pre-order your “We Won It First” t-shirt at TheKSRShop.com today!
One of the few setbacks from Spring Practice was Donte Rumph’s shoulder injury. However, Rumph is recovering nicely from his surgery, and should be ready to play once the season rolls around. In fact, ESPN’s Chris Low says that he’ll be one of the top defensive tackle prospects from the SEC in next year’s draft:
Donte Rumph, Kentucky: He had his spring cut short by shoulder surgery, but the 6-3, 323-pound Rumph is an imposing figure in the middle. If he’s healthy, look for him to be on a lot of teams’ draft boards.
We want the Rumph…gotta have that Rumph…
Have you ever woken up on a Tuesday and wondered, “Man, I wonder what Ramel Bradley is up to these days?”? Apparently Bradley has his team, GreenTops Netanya, one game away from the Israeli Premiere League Final Four. Netanya was down in the series 0-2, but Bradley led them to two straight wins, with 19 points and had 7 rebounds and 6 assists in last night’s victory. Game 5 is Thursday night, and if they win, they move on to the Semifinals.
In case you missed it a few weeks ago, Ramel also accidentally hit his coach in the face while trying to save a ball. Smooth.
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Bill Keightley Report : Never to be forgotten.
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