It’s no secret that Rick Pitino and John Calipari have different opinions on the one-and-done rule. Pitino is notorious in his criticism of the rule, which he says limits the bond you can have with players and creates a “six-month breeding ground for the pros.” Calipari is equally critical of the rule, but is realistic about what it means for his players, whose future he puts above his own desires for them to return to school.
USA Today’s Eric Prisbell interviewed both coaches about the rule, and in true Cal vs. Rick fashion, unearthed some hidden barbs between the two. First, Rick’s comments:
When asked by phone if he would want to coach a team that featured at least three one-and-done players, Pitino said: “You know, I wouldn’t care if the pros say the young man is one and done and he goes. But I don’t go in the home and say, ‘You’re a one-and-done and my program is a one and done program.’ I don’t do that.
“I go in and recruit the young man and if he asks me how I would feel about it, I say, ‘If you’re good enough, that’s up to the pros, go ahead and do it.’ I don’t talk about it. I don’t look at it. One of the things I enjoy is building relationships with guys, and I don’t want to get to know them for seven months and they move on because I never get to know them.“
Cal said that when he visits recruits, he doesn’t mention the one-and-done rule at all. In fact, he tells players they need to prepare for Kentucky as if they were going to be in school at least two years. In response to Pitino’s comments about not building relationships with his players that go pro, Cal said that’s merely the defense of someone who isn’t capable of landing elite talent:
“That’s not true (that you can’t have relationships). Obviously the relationships I have with my guys, you need to go talk to them. Why? I have been loyal to them. I have loved them when they were here and loved them when they left. It’s not about me, it’s about them. I don’t go in and talk about one-and-done. It never comes up in meetings. I don’t have to. It’s the white elephant in the room … If you can’t get those kids, that’s the kind of comment you make. That’s what you say.“
First off, BURN! Cal’s right, though; think about the players that have come and gone over the past three years. While their time in Lexington is short, they continue to have a close bond with the program and their former coach. Players regularly visit for games and spend their summers in Lexington finishing their degrees. Cal constantly tweets his support for them and even flew to Charlotte during the season this year to watch MKG’s Bobcats play Eric Bledsoe’s Clippers.
Yet, they don’t have a relationship, right Rick?