Did 'One and Done' Really Catch Up to UK?
There seems to be two ways one is allowed to look at John Calipari. Either you love him or you hate him.
Those that hate him aren't shy to express their opinion. To some, he is everything that is wrong with college basketball. For one, he has been involved in numerous NCAA and recruiting scandals and has had wins (and National Championships) stripped from two different universities he has coached for.
He also has become the poster boy for college coaches who take advantage of the NBA's 19-year age limit by convincing high school players to come to Kentucky for the one year before they are eligible for the NBA and doing everything he can to ensure they are will be prepared and marketed to be selected in the NBA Draft.
To some, this is a cheap (some might say disgraceful) way of taking advantage of the system. It cheapens what college sports are supposed to stand for and it makes a joke of the concept of "student-athlete."
But defenders of Calipari would argue that he is doing absolutely nothing wrong. He is simply working within the system that he operates within. If the system changes he will have to adjust with it. And most of these "one and done" freshman have their mind made up that they will play in the NBA after one year anyway meaning they have to go somewhere. What's wrong with being the one that recruits them? Not to mention that every coach in the NCAA is kidding himself if he claims he wouldn't sign a future NBA first rounder in a heartbeat. Calipari just so happens to be the best at it.
But there are detractors that claim that, regardless of moral or ethical standards, it's simply a bad long-term strategy. There are obvious reasons for this: it causes him to have a brand new team literally every year. If he can't convince the next NBA superstar to come to UK every year then he is in serious trouble because the last NBA superstar is already out the door.
So the question is did it finally catch up to Calipari this year? Calipari and the Wildcats made history last year by having an astounding six players drafted in the NBA draft including the first and second overall picks.
There was no doubt that replacing an entire team after winning a National Championship would be extremely difficult. But Calipari had the luxury of future NBA player, Nerlens Noel who some argue is a better defensive player than last year's number one pick, Anthony Davis.
But then something unexpected happened. Noel injured his knee midway through the season causing him to miss the rest of the year. That left a struggling UK team with questions of whether they would even make the NCAA tournament.
And despite that knee injury Noel is still expected to declare for the NBA draft meaning Kentucky barely got a few months out of his service.
The Wildcats will probably sneak into the NCAA Tournament. But while we will be looking towards March Madness to see if most teams are "for real," we will be judging UK in the off season, in their ability to recruit.
Kentucky has already received commitments from the Harrison twins (both top 10 high school prospects) and the number one prospect in all of high school basketball (Andrew Wiggins) has yet to rule UK out.
So I guess you could say that this season is proof that "one and done" has caught up to Calipari, but you'd probably be wrong. The machine keeps moving. Even after a bump in the road.
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By Mo Johnson
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