The college basketball world turns to Chicago's United Center Tuesday night for ESPN's Champions Classic where Kentucky plays Michigan State, followed by Kansas against Duke. It should be a night for quality basketball, though not free of controversy. Once again, Kentucky head coach John Calipari brings a boatload of freshman talent, most of whom don't figure to stick around past this season.
John Calipari is the master of landing "one-and-done" recruits; high school stars who are stuck playing a year of college basketball until the reach the NBA minimum age of 19. Calipari is so good that after winning a national championship in 2012, the entire starting five (all freshmen) left for the NBA.
With Kentucky's success many argue that John Calipari is running college basketball. But he's not alone in recruiting one-and-dones. Kansas is led by Freshman Andrew Wiggins, a star already being compared to Lebron James. Calipari is unique in that he doesn't stop at a single player, leaving the rest of the basketball world charged with trying to win with Calipari's crumbs.
Each year John Calipari reloads with a new group of mercenaries, to which I say, so what?
Coaches like John Calipari don't make the rules. Their job is to get the best players and win games. The next time fans line up to cheer a major coach like John Calipari for graduation rates or ACT scores will be the first.
If you're looking to cast blame focus on the NBA. For years they have had a free farm system in place. If the NBA were serious about player development and welfare they would spend more resources developing a farm system similar to baseball or hockey, beginning with their own NBA Developmental League.
The notion that elite college players should stay in school, passing up millions, is comical. College basketball offers no guarantees. Scholarships aren't guaranteed, a degree isn't guaranteed. There's no guarantee your coach will stick around. In the NBA, first round money - millions of dollars - is guaranteed.
It's the system that's flawed, not John Calipari, speaking strictly of his recruiting one-and-done players.
Don't shoot the messenger, especially the ones in Armani suits coaching 7'0 phenoms.
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