08 April 2015

Don't blame schools & coaches for taking advantage of 'one-and-done'

In the wake of his team's loss to Duke in Monday's National Championship, Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan said this:
"But every player that's played through the program, okay, we don't do rent-a-player. You know what I mean? Try to take a fifth-year guy. That's okay. If other people do that, that's okay. I like trying to build from within."
And then Missouri senator Claire McCaskill got in the mix as well with this tweet:
Naturally, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski did not take too kindly to the suggestion that he and his program "rents" players, and said as much on Tuesday's CBS This Morning.

First off, it is unusual to see Coach K and Duke get this criticism considering it is usually Kentucky and their coach, John Calipari, that see this criticism with how his teams have been dotted with talented freshman that then leave for the NBA after one season (something we will this season from them). However, Krzyzewski did see some criticism that he is taking advantage of his gig as coach of Team USA to draw star recruits to Durham.

Ryan's and McCaskill's criticisms are misguided however. As we all know, and as Deadspin's Kevin Draper notes, the current system in place, for lack of a better word, sucks. Since the 2006 NBA Draft, there has been an age minimum put into place of 19 years old by the end of the calendar year of the draft. That essentially means you have to go to college (or play overseas) instead of declaring for the draft right out of high school. Hence the term "one-and-done."

Ryan can play the high horse card all he wants but everybody in their right mind knows that if he had the ability to recruit such talented players, knowing they would be locks to enter the NBA Draft after their freshman season, he would surely jump at the opportunity. And thus, you can't blame anybody for taking advantage of the system. Say what you want about Calipari but a key reason why talented recruits love to come and play for him is that he prepares players for the NBA and he also doesn't pull the holier-than-thou crap than so many other coaches pull when it comes to their players and leaving for the next level. Of course, Calipari still profits off the system while the players get nothing and is still a total slimeball. But even then, I think he realizes why his players are there (to get to the next level) more than most of his colleagues, and is thus more receptive to some positive change (like schools paying for the insurance of players) than somebody like Jim Boeheim (a total slimeball in his own right).

In the end, everybody knows the system is broken. The NBA wants to raise the age minimum for the draft to 20, but the players' union appears deeply opposed to it. In my opinion, a sensible solution would allow players to enter the draft right out of control or stay in college for at least two years. SBNation's Tom Ziller also has some sensible reform ideas to the one-and-done system that could be worth considering. But in the end, I find it hypocritical to blame coaches for taking advantage of such a system simply because it's not "the right thing to do."

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