What is a college coach’s responsibility? Does he have a responsibility to make his team the best it can be OR does he have a responsibility to give the best advice to his players? Because sometimes those two things counteract one another. For instance, there is no doubt that Eric Bledsoe could have greatly helped this years team. But, it was probably better for him to leave school when he did, get drafted and get his family out of poverty. And while I don’t remember Calipari saying that Bledsoe should leave, I feel very confident he didn’t try very hard to get him to stay. Same likely goes for Daniel Orton, although under different circumstances. Cal and Orton had a poor relationship it seemed, so Orton was going to go no matter what Cal did, I would guess. But again, nowhere in any quotes I saw did it say Cal tried to get Orton to stay in school. And judging from his draft night statements (“greatest day in UK history”) it didn’t seem his was too disappointed.
Which brings us to Year 2 of the Calipari experiment. And while what happens in the tournament will have some effect, it is almost inevitable that both Doron Lamb and Brandon Knight will have difficult decisions come April. Bothguys have been included in 1st roundprojections at different times, with Knight on the borderline of the lottery, andLamb barely in the 1st round. Currently, nbadraft.net has Knight selected 16th, 2 spots out of the lottery, while they don’t include Lamb until the 2012 draft. But, other projections have called Lamb a late 1st-early 2nd guy. And as Matt and others have said so many times, there is nobody on the roster wanting to get to the NBA more than Lamb. So his draft stock might not need to be as high for him to go, much like Orton last season.
What I will be most interested in though is this: If on the borderline, what will Cal push these kids to do? There is NO DOUBT that if both of these guys come back, the Cats will be beyond fantastic next season. And Coach Cal is the coach of the University of Kentucky men’s basketball team, which means his main objective is to make that program successful. Trying to get those guys to stay would seem to be what Cal should do in order to try and field the best team possible.
But, some would argue that Cal has a GREATER RESPONSIBILITY to lead these young men to the better decision for themselves. If you are Brandon Knight, and you feel like you will be a lottery pick in a fairly weak 2011 draft, declaring after this season might be a better decision for you, financially and personally. Is it Cal’s job to push him towards that decision if it is actually better for Knight but worse for Kentucky?
And what about Doron Lamb? Lamb could clearly use another year (or two) of college to develop some other skills besides a great jump shot. But, 2011 is a weak draft class andeven if Lamb improves, he might still be a late 1st round pick in 2012. Sometimes we assume guys WILL improve the more they stay is college, but maybe Lamb has already reached his peak. I would imagine Coach Cal would know better than us. So maybe for Lamb’s sake, he should go ahead anddeclare this season. Even if Coach Cal knows this, he also knows that having Lamb on his team next season would be great. So, where should Cal stand on Lamb?
It is a conundrum that UK fans have not faced under Tubby and Gillispie. Generally, those coaches had very few players that had the talent to leave early. Keith Bogans might have been the one exception. Randolph Morris left too early. Azubuike left too early. Rondo left at the right time. Andin those 3 cases, the coaches position to take was obvious. With Cal, you have these guys who COULD leave and get drafted, but it’s unclear whether they SHOULD leave. They could potentially get better with another year at UK, or they could take the paycheck quicker. Last year, Cal seemed to tell these guys to take the paycheck. Will he do that with Lamb and Knight this season?
What do you think? Does Cal have a greater responsibility to the fans to put try and put the absolute best team on the floor each season, or does he have a greater responsibility to his players to give them the best advice for their future?