One thing we know for sure is that the one-and-done era will not last forever. More than likely, it won’t last five more years. It’s a matter of “when” not “if.” But for the coach who lives and dies coaching top-tier talent and reloading year after year once they depart for the NBA Draft, what comes next?
That’s a hard question to answer. Calipari isn’t worried about it right now, saying Kentucky will still be first to the table, but the recruiting landscape has already changed tremendously in the decade that Coach Cal has made UK the poster child for one-and-done recruits. Coach K has emerged as a more-than-worthy adversary, challenging UK each and every year for the top recruits. And then there are some who would just rather be the star of the show. It’s already not as easy as it used to be. And it’ll be even harder once you have to figure out who’s actually going to play in college and who’s not.
However, I think we’re already seeing the trend that will continue to rise once the NBA abolishes the one-and-done rule: reclassification. High school kids have been reclassifying at a high rate in recent years. This trend came out of nowhere, but it could be a way for coaches like Cal to not be forced into changing their philosophies.
There’s always going to be an age-limit to enter the draft. Right now, it’s 19 years old. Once the NBA allows high school seniors to enter the NBA Draft, that age-limit will be 18 years old. So, instead of players spending their last season of amateur basketball as a senior in high school, they could reclassify and still play one year before going pro. This would vastly improve player development and help NBA teams in the process to see the true talent of some of these kids.
Sometimes, one year of college can hurt a player’s draft stock. The best example of this is Nick Richards. The 7-footer would have likely been a first round draft pick straight out of high school. Instead, he flopped. But then there’s guys like Zion Williamson and Trae Young. Williamson would have been a top-10 pick regardless, but No. 1 overall? No chance. And there’s no way Trae Young would have gone in the first round. He ended up becoming college basketball’s Steph Curry and was drafted in the top five.
The system’s never going to be perfect – there are pros and cons that vary player to player. However, the one-and-done era is coming to an end. An increase in reclassifications is certainly possible once a rule change inevitably happens, as it would allow players to improve their game and build their brand.
Will it happen? We’ll just have to wait and see.