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Calipari on why letting kids go to the D-League instead of college is a horrible idea

© Mark Zerof | Getty

© Mark Zerof | Getty

I just finished John Calipari’s podcast with Dan Patrick, and thank goodness I kept ploughing through because the good stuff came right at the end. Patrick has been a longtime critic of the one-and-done rule, and he and Calipari spend a good ten or fifteen minutes at the end of the episode debating it. Calipari goes through his usual stump speech about how one-and-done allows him to help families, and how the rest of the coaches in college basketball are finally coming around to it.

“But I love it because of the bigger picture. I don’t think we hurt college basketball. I’ve had more coaches come up to me and say, what you’re doing and how you’re coaching these kids and how you hold them accountable helps everybody because they’re supposed to be the best players and you’re all over their butts if they’re not doing that they’re supposed to. And they play hard and they’re unselfish.”

Cal said some (his haters) want the one-and-done rule to go away just to spite Kentucky, but no matter what happens, “Kentucky will eat first.”

“I say let them go out whenever they want to go out. If they want to go out of high school, if they want to go out after one year, two years, three years. What I say to everybody is, Kentucky will eat first. Whatever the rules are, we will eat first, so it really doesn’t matter. See, you have people that want rules changed thinking it will hurt Kentucky. [laugh] It’s not hurting us. Whatever the rules are, we’ll be the first to eat.”

Here’s where it gets interesting. While Cal says he’s fine with players going straight to the NBA from high school, he is not fine the proposed idea of the D-League becoming a “minor league” for high school players. At least with the one-and-done rule, they go to college for a year and have the option of a lifetime degree if basketball doesn’t work out. If going straight to the D-League is an option moving forward, how many elite prospects would choose to go to college instead?

“If you want them out of high school — here’s what I don’t want. If they let kids — if they raise the salaries in the D-League and they encourage high school kids to go to the D-League instead of college — what would you have been doing as a sophomore in high school? What would you have been doing as a ninth grader? You would have been doing calculus? Or would you have said, I’m going directly to the D-League and I’ll make $80,000 or $100,000 and then you do it for two years and all of a sudden you’re out because it’s not minor league baseball where you’ve got A, AA, AAA and you can make that run for ten years. You will have a two-year run and my prediction, if we go that route, what will happen is, a whole generation of kids will pass on academics thinking that, ‘I can go to the D-League and make it.’ …You go to a college that says you’ve got a lifetime scholarship and you leave after a year or two and you don’t make it, you come back and you’ve still got your scholarship.”

“If you want a kid out of high school to be professional, let him go to the NBA and pay him. Draft him. Give him $15 million. So, if you’re wrong, he has $15 million and will figure out what he’s going to do. Don’t put him in the D-League for $100,000, $80,000 and two years, after taxes, he’s left with $15,000, no education and he’s done. Well, he’ll go to Europe and play. What are you talking about? There will be hundreds of kids. “

Expanding the D-League and changing the age restrictions to make it a minor league for the pros is a very real idea that’s making the rounds, so this is definitely something to keep an eye on moving forward. Do you agree with Cal that one-and-done is a better alternative than letting young players go to the D-League instead of college altogether?

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

24 responses to “Calipari on why letting kids go to the D-League instead of college is a horrible idea”

  1. runningunnin.454

    Cal nails it as usual…..the D League is depressing, and just a fast ticket to playing overseas.

  2. rickwhitetx

    Cal’s right assuming that every college gives a lifetime scholarship. However, I’m not a big fan of lifetime scholarships. If a kid stays in school for a year, then the school owes him a 1 year scholarship. If he bails on the school and transfers to another school, does the first school still owe him a lifetime scholarship? I say no. If e goes pro, the same thing.

    1. UK Big Board Update

      Life’s not always fair.

    2. J-Dub421

      I’m not a fan of coaches being able to block a player from transferring wherever they want, but it still happens.

    3. Sentient Third Eye

      If you think about it, lifetime scholarships are a relatively cheap recruiting tool. How many kids actually would come back to collect? Only a handful. Yet, the players it would bring in could earn the school millions. That’s just good business.

    4. BlueGrass

      I get it doesn’t seem fair to get a 4 year ride for 1 year of work, but is it fair they get no pay, yet make millions for the school? Save the “they get paid” argument, they don’t.

      To give a lifetime scholarship to every UK player really costs the university nothing. There is no expense to the university. You could argue they lose the revenue from one scholarship, but they have paid their way many times over after a year.

  3. ukfan4388

    I know very little about the D-League, so my question is, “Is that kid going to get the kind of coaching that he would from college?” I am guessing that the coaches in the D-League do not have multi-million dollar contracts.

    1. J-Dub421

      Here is a list of D-League coaches. The only one I’ve ever heard of is Jerry Stackhouse. So the answer to your question is no.

      D-League salaries are $19,500 – $26,000.
      Players are much better off going to college.

  4. Wildfelinebeeline

    Cal speak “We eat first!” Meaning – stop talking about fumbling football memories to a bunch of basketball fans because “EVERYBODY KNOWS” basketball is king in Kentucky!

    1. Booby Petrino

      huh? No comprehende.

    2. Wildfelinebeeline

      lol booby, lol

    3. EdC

      I believe what Cal is saying has nothing to do with football and everything to do with the kid’s and parents’ goals. Whatever the reality is of when a kid is able / allowed to go to the league UK is on the very short list of schools that have proven to be able to get them looked at seriously by the NBA and getting a contract. Whether it is 1, 4 or in between they are still going to want that and UK has proved far more reliable for that during the Cal years than any other program.

    4. EdC

      Further, if kids were allowed to jump to D league immediately and then washed out with no scholarship, no financial learning, etc. they would also have torn up the college opportunity. The kids that take the college route would get coached, learn financial realities, the lessons of hangers on and relatives you never knew wanting a piece of the pie. There will always be a place for college basketball and as long as there is the best at making players better and helping them get to their dreams will eat first.

  5. ClutchCargo

    The NBA is barely watchable until the playoffs, I can’t imagine how a watered-down D league would draw enough of an audience to be worth it. Also, why would the NBA spend their own money to do this when college basketball is already serving this purpose?

    1. UK Big Board Update

      “The NBA is barely watchable until the playoffs”

      That s simply not true. Just because you disagree with players getting paid millions, don’t poo-poo the talent and level of play.

  6. EdC

    I’m surprised the players union doesn’t want them to be 4 years in college. The league getting younger and younger just hurts the older veterans. There are only so many open spots.


    Is there any way to listen to it put it directly on . I cant figure out this I tune junk. Not everyone is good with this technology. Put a link click on it so we can just hear it?

    1. UK Big Board Update

      Have Trump fix the technology for you by setting it back 50 years.

  8. Bluegrass7914

    100,000 and no school bullshit? Many will dip. Many.


    ONG i instalked Itunes and still cannot find it.

    1. Realme
    2. UK Big Board Update

      That’s because you’re an idiot.

  10. Bluebros

    I need a “Kentucky Eats First” shirt! Make that happen KSR

  11. The Professor

    Of course Cal is right. I remember when they raised the minimum high school GPA and test scores regarding college eligibility. Several people yelled racism because it was going to affect a greater number of African American players. It did hinder some at first but players found that they had to work harder to remain eligible and eventually grades and scores went up. In the end it was helpful as it better prepared them to deal with college classwork unless they went to UNC or UL where academics are purely optional.