Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Would Doing Away With "One and done" Affect Kentucky's Recruiting?

If "one and done" was changed, scenes like this one where five players from a school declared for the NBA draft would likely never be seen again in college basketball.

Many pixels have been darkened over the years about how bad the "one and done" rule is for college basketball. Today's question is this: If "one and done" were replaced by a different rule, how would the new rule affect John Calipari's recruiting relative to other schools?

It is a fact that, as of right now, Calipari is recruiting at an unprecedented level, and at a level above any of his competitors. There is no defensible argument about that. There is also no doubt that Calipari's track record of advising players who are ready for the next level after one year to take the jump is a primary reason for his success at getting these talented players, as well as his persuasiveness, his success at getting players drafted high, and the destination of Kentucky, probably in or near that order.

If the rule were changed, would it affect how Calipari recruits relative to other teams, and if so, how? Let's look at some possible scenarios:

"Two and through"

The most likely change being floated right now is essentially the one and done rule extended by one year, making it the so called, "two and through" rule.

It seems likely that a change in that vein would not have much of an affect on Coach Cal's success. He would still be seen as the most friendly coach in college basketball to early entry players, his track record of success with high-skill players speaks for itself, he is still as persuasive as ever and Kentucky is still Kentucky.

This seems to me like no change at all, in terms of player motivation. High-skill players will still be looking for the fastest and best possible route to the NBA, and the coach that can prepare them the best. That is as self-evident in two and through as it is in one and done, so it seems likely that changing the rule to two years would have no measurable affect on Calipari's recruiting.

The college baseball rule

There has been a lot of discussion about the college baseball rule as an ideal for basketball. As I understand it, the baseball rule allows players to enter the draft out of high school, or attend college. If they choose the college route, they must wait three years to be eligible for the MLB draft.

Assuming the implementation is exactly the same, this rule could well affect Calipari's recruiting, because it removes the motivation of the NBA to a rather remote objective, and brings things like relationships with the coaches, system fit, and school destination and geograpics more to the fore. Needless to say, Calipari would still recruit the best of the eligible players remaining after the top high-schoolers declared. He would still have his track record, although it would be legitimate to question how it translates to lower-skill players. He would still have his winning personality, and he would still have Kentucky.

I do suspect, though, that the baseball rule would make it slightly tougher for him, since Calipari's major selling point, the quick NBA entry, would be removed to a more remote consideration. Players would move concerns like geographic location closer to the top of their list, and opposing coaches could argue that the only reason Calipari was so successful is that he always got the cream of the crop. That's not as true as it sounds, but it would be an argument.

That scenario would probably see more recruits stay closer to home, a bigger consideration when you're talking about three years of enforced economic stability. Players with poorer families would be more strongly motivated to stay close by, and families of greater means might be more tempted by schools such as Duke, who have a stronger academic reputation than Kentucky. If you have to stay three years anyway, the argument would go, why not get the best education possible?

Of course, not all players would desire a tougher school, since academic standards are only getting more rigorous. So in the end, that would likely be a consideration for only a very few elite students who are also comfortable playing further away from home.

Recruits highly motivated to stay close to home is a negative for Kentucky, although not necessarily a crippling one. While Kentucky itself produces relatively few high-level players, nearby states such as Ohio and Illinois produce them in good quantity, and southern states not too far away like Georgia and Alabama also produce a fair number, and have no real showcase programs in their state.

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The good news for Calipari and Kentucky fans is that, between the two scenarios, the most likely to be implemented is the "two and through" rule for many reasons, not the least of which is that although the National Basketball Players Association will fight them both, they would fight the baseball rule most vigorously. Not only that, the NCAA would probably rather not see the baseball rule implemented, as it would unquestionably affect the economics of college basketball negatively by depriving them of high talent. Truth to tell, though, the NCAA has almost nothing to say about it, since the rule would have to be implemented by the professional league via collective bargaining, and the NBA isn't gong to be concerned about how it affects the NCAA.

There has been some remote discussion about a three-year rule without the entry after high school, and I suppose that would have substantially different effects from the "two and through" rule, but that seems such an unlikely scenario at this point that it really doesn't deserve analysis.

So what do you think? How would a rule change for draft eligibility affect Kentucky recruiting?

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