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Ramsey: College basketball's one-and-done rule is a joke

April 3, 2014 Updated: April 3, 2014 at 9:47 pm
Caption +
Kentucky head coach John Calipari hugs forward Anthony Davis after the NCAA Final Four tournament college basketball championship game Monday, April 2, 2012, in New Orleans. Kentucky beat Kansas 67-59. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

Colorado coach Tad Boyle can't stand the "one-and-done" rule that drains college basketball, results in an inferior NBA product and robs basketball fans.

"The thing that bothers me about it is that it's a farce and has nothing to do with what we're trying to do, and that's educating young people," Boyle said. "I don't know what to do about it. We're never going to be able to stop it. We don't have any teeth."

In 2005, the NBA adopted a rule that prevented players from entering the league unless they had turned 19 or completed a freshman season. Since then, several dozen players have waited out a season in the college game before bolting to big money.

Boyle remembers when the basketball universe was in a better state. He played at Kansas alongside Danny Manning, who ranks among the greatest college players ever. Manning played four seasons in Lawrence, led the Jayhawks to the 1988 national title and then marched off to the NBA.

"The way the world is supposed to be," Boyle said. "Holy cow. That's the way the world is supposed to be."

In that world, nearly every player who leaped to the NBA arrived after four seasons in the college game. These college vets understood the team concept. They had talked to reporters. They had sat through film sessions. They had often waited a year or two before becoming starters.

It's a rare player who graduates NBA-ready from high school. LeBron James was ready. That's about it. And it's a rare player who departs college after one season as NBA-ready.

Air Force coach Dave Pilipovich watched Korleone Young, one of the top high school superstars of the late 1990s.

"He was a can't-miss prospect, right?" Pilipovich said. "A Hall of Famer. Oh, my gosh. He was chiseled. He was strong. He was a man-child. You immediately said, 'This guy is a pro.'"

Young went straight to the NBA. And played a total of 15 minutes.

"Lots of the guys are talented enough to do it, but some aren't mature enough to do it," Pilipovich said.

Listen, I realize the old days are gone forever. We dwell in a free market, and if a player in his late teens wants to bolt to the NBA, that's his right as an American.

But this bolting is only rarely a wise move. Remember, Tim Duncan remained at Wake Forest four years. He fully learned the game before moving to the NBA. That's part of the reason Duncan is Duncan.

The one-and-done rule has not been kind to several of the college game's finest minds. Bill Self of Kansas, Mike Krzyzewski of Duke and Jim Boeheim of Syracuse limped to less-than-satisfying finishes with one-and-done athletes who at times seemed only lightly interested in the college games they were playing. Fans of all three schools are openly wondering if those coaches should stop chasing elite, one-and-done prospects.

Kentucky is the exception. The Wildcats, about to compete in the Final Four, could place four freshmen in the first round of the NBA draft.

Coach John Calipari, that paragon of nobility, wants to make it clear he does not coach college basketball to earn a massive pile of money.

"I'm just taking care of kids," Calipari said Monday on his radio show. "I went from the business of basketball to the business of helping families."

Those Kentucky kids just handed their coach a $175,000 bonus by earning a trip to the Final Four. Obviously, helping families doubles as good business.

Calipari is an easy target. He earns $5.2 million per year coaching basketball, but still retains the pomposity to talk about himself as the second coming of Gandhi. This self-love comes from a man who directed two basketball programs - Massachusetts and Memphis - into major, and deserved, trouble with the NCAA.

But give Calipari this much:

He's an expert at exploiting the "one-and-done" rule.

This expertise is to be expected. The rule, like Calipari, is a farce.


Twitter: @davidlukeramsey

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