Kentucky Basketball: How the Media Fails to Understand Early Entry

Perhaps I really shouldn't call this "the media" since it is only the student newspaper of the University of Washington, but I think this illustrates very well some of the groupthink that occours within the sports media, and how it can cause them to draw the incorrect conclusion.

Anyway, this story from The Daily praises Washington Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar for shepherding Quincy Pondexter to a #26 pick in the NBA draft.  But instead of just praising Romar, the writer feels the need to take John Calipari down a peg:

"I’m more ready to play right now," Pondexter said. "I know I can handle adversity. I can handle going through ups and downs. It’s going to be a great experience."

And maybe it’s Romar, the wise, calm coach whom we should be crediting for making sure Quincy stuck around these past four years. You think John Calipari could have convinced a struggling, homesick 19-year-old that his best bet to achieve his dreams was going the four-year route?

They may not be writing it, but this is exactly what a lot of media types are thinking about John Calipari -- i.e. that Calipari is all about himself and his goals, not the players and their goals.  This is exactly the opposite of the actual situation.

To answer this young writer's rhetorical question, "Of course Calipari would have."  It's fairly obvious from his draft position this year that Pondexter was not ready last year to be a first-round draft choice, and that the four years in college prepared him for exactly what both he and his coach desired.  It is also fairly obvious from many examples at Memphis that Calipari will take "struggling, homesick" athletes and convince them to become the best they can be.

Does anyone think that Calipari would not have recruited a four star like Pondexter?  The fact that UK currently has one just like him in its 2010 class (Stacey Poole) should disabuse them of that notion.  Does anyone seriously think Calipari will recommend to any of his players, regardless of their talent, to enter the draft before they are ready, or try to hang on to them when they are?  If so, DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall et. al. should disabuse them of that notion as well.

At the end of the day, it is of course praiseworthy that Romar worked hard to develop his player for the NBA.  The fact that it took him four years should be only a coincidence, if Romar truly cares about his players.  This entire meme is rooted in the notion that it is better for players to reject the NBA for college if you are likely to be a first-round draft pick, but I think this piece demonstrates the folly of that suggestion.

Coaches should work hard to do what is best for the athletes, not for themselves.  Calipari has done nothing if not proven that is his philosophy.  Hopefully, it is the philosophy of Lorenzo Romar and other college coaches as well, whether those best interests lie in a 4-year degree or a one-and-done.

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