College basketball coaches have adjusted to the culture of the “one-and-done” generation, with the operative word being “adjusted.” What choice did they have?
Since 2006, the NBA has enforced a minimum age requirement for draft eligibility, meaning players must be at least 19 years old and one year removed from high school. Gone are the days of KG, Kobe, King James, and, thankfully, Kwame. Blue-chip prospects are now coming to campus for one
school year season to fulfill that pesky rule, forever coining the phrase “one-and-done.”
With David Stern and other NBA officials calling the shots regarding the rule, not even NCAA president Mark Emmert—much less the coaches—has any say in the matter. Then again, Stern and company say they are for change, pointing to the players’ association and its unwillingness to agree to a new rule; both parties must concur per collective bargaining.
Notwithstanding, Emmert has publicly voiced his displeasure with the one-and-done rule on several occasions, and many top-tier coaches have expressed the same opinion.
One popular solution among coaches, including Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, is to give players the choice of going pro straight out of high school or staying in college at least two years. The rationale here lies in eliminating the force of going to school for what is basically a tour around campus while not depriving someone of making the leap to the pros.
Krzyzewski has lost a starting guard to the NBA in each of the past two years; Kyrie Irving and Austin Rivers both declared after their freshman years.
The one-and-done phenomenon has seemingly created a need of instantaneous success upon these players’ arrival to school. Krzyzewski questions the stability of college basketball and the mentality of incoming freshman, citing not only the one-year players, but the high number of transfers the sports has experienced recently, as well.
For the one-and-done guys it’s the NBA, but for the other kids, it’s another school.”
The stability issue is at the forefront of the discussion for coaches. Are all of these highly touted freshman coming in and wanting to impact the team or simply looking to improve their personal draft stock? Surely not all, but during the season, there are undoubtedly those with no reservations about declaring after that first year. Put up some decent numbers, avoid injuries at all costs, and get ready to be paid. Is this the mentality that programs are paying scholarships for?
With the senior star of college basketball, ala Tim Duncan, largely relegated to the past, the one-and-done era has shifted the game to one with an emphasis on signing classes. The prized recruits—who would otherwise be in the NBA barring the age requirement—are the equivalent to the superstars in the league and have actually helped the NCAA economically. Emmert can say he wants change, but it’s these freshman phenoms who have played the most critical role in fueling the NCAA’s recently signed $10.8 billion tournament television deal.