Kentucky Basketball: Why Coach John Calipari is Setting Kentucky Up for Years of Success

You see them out there all the time -- the naysayers.  The ones that tell you there is no way Kentucky can win national championships by turning over half it's team to the NBA every year.  The ones who say Kentucky is a D-League team, the minor leagues of college basketball.

We have discussed ad nauseum the merits of offering scholarships to talented players who aren't necessarily likely to be around for years, but most people have been, as we are wont, living in the present and ignoring the possibility of the future.  Let me enlighten you.

Let us suppose, for the sake of argument, that the NBA succumbs to public pressure and includes a two or three year out-of-high-school requirement for future players entering the NBA draft.  Let that roll around on your taste buds for a while.  Think about the possibilities of having a team where Enes Kanter, Doron Lamb, Brandon Knight, and Terrence Jones join Michael Gilchrist and Marquis Teague for up to two years.  Do you think the naysayers would still be their with the "too young to win" meme?  Maybe, but the high probability is that they would be wrong.

John Calipari is aware of where this thing is going, and the worst thing that could happen is a scenario in which the NBA does not change it's current "one and done" rule in favor of a rule that reduces the drumbeat of criticism the league is suffering right now from the educational establishment and possibly even the government.  As it stands now, the NCAA is powerless to prevent "one and dones," and even though college coaches like Calipari get plenty of criticism, when you ask the critics what's to be done, they don't suggest keeping these kids on the shelf.

It's easy to beat up on coaches -- that's what they get paid for, after all -- but it's really tough to suggest that a kid should be denied a chance at any amount of education in favor of a stint at McDonalds for a year, or hanging out on the street waiting to be eligible for the draft.  Some would say, "let them go to prep school or junior college," but the question remains:  If division I colleges want them, and they are eligible, why should they be denied an opportunity to earn a scholarship just because they are likely to accept NBA millions after only one year?

Calipari is betting the farm that the NBA will listen to it's PR people and extend the college attendance requirement to two years.  That won't hurt Calipari's recruiting in the least -- he's still the guy that can get you into the first round of the draft faster than anybody -- but the additional experience means that Kentucky, if that scenario comes true, will be battering down the doors to the Final Four with teams so talented that success is inevitable.

In the final analysis, John Calipari is not getting enough credit.  The "one and done" rule that he is helping to get changed by putting player after player into the draft will quite possibly be history after the next collective bargaining agreement.  The NBA won't say that, but you know that they are thinking it, and if the "one and done" becomes "two or three and done," Kentucky (and the student athletes) stand to benefit immensely.

Here's hoping for three years.  But I'd take two.

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