It seemed like yesterday when Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones arrived at the University of Kentucky.
Hello one minute and good bye the next. As evidenced during the past two years, that’s what happens in the world of one-and-done recruiting, especially when it hits close to home.
It’s no surprise that Knight and Jones, along with junior DeAndre Liggins declared for the NBA Draft Wednesday and will at least test the waters before making an official decision. None of the three players have hired an agent, leaving the door open for a possible return next season and have until May 8 to withdraw their names from consideration.
Former Indiana coach and Hall of Famer Bobby Knight wanted to blame the recent trend on Kentucky coach John Calipari earlier this week, when he really should be pointing fingers at the NBA.
More than a decade ago, high school players started skipping college and entering the professional ranks almost immediately following graduation ceremonies. The NBA then instituted an age limit, forcing high school graduates to attend at least one year of college under the age limit of 19.
Although the rule has prevented players from making the leap straight from high school to the NBA, it has led to the one-and-done scenario, where players attend college for one year, then exchange the entry-level college textbooks for the greenbacks.
A year ago, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton left town after one season with the Wildcats. Despite the exodus of the four players, along with junior Patrick Patterson, Kentucky simply replenished the roster and reached the Final Four with a starting lineup that featured two newcomers, including Brandon Knight, who picked up where Wall left off at starting guard.
Earlier this week, Bobby Knight singled out Caliapri’s recruiting practices at Kentucky, which now includes six players who have declared for the draft after just one season with the Wildcats. The former coach had no business singling out Calipari’s program, but should have indicated that the one-and-done system as a whole is hurting college basketball.
Again, it’s not Calipari’s fault. He’s recruiting the best talent available on a yearly basis and living up to his promise of making Kentucky a players first program under his guidance. At the same time, who can blame a player for wanting to improve their financial standing in society? For the record, Calipari has stated that he’s against the one-and-done scenario, but simply wants what’s best for his players.
The solution to the problem isn’t an easy one, especially if the NBA doesn’t change the age limit for entering league. Maybe the NCAA needs to get involved and figure out a way to compensate college athletes beyond free tuition and scholarships.
The organization makes millions off the NCAA Tournament, not to mention the BCS Bowl Series, none of which is returned to the players or the coaches. Understandably, college athletics is and should be about student-athletes, but at the same time, it’s a business, and a big one too, especially when it comes to athletics.
The times are changing and the NCAA and NBA need to find a solution to the one-and-done issue. Otherwise, college basketball will continue to suffer the consequences of the disastrous trend.