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?