The Lexington Herald-Leader has this article by Jerry Tipton up, and it had me shaking my head:
With Kentucky expected to produce multiple NBA first-round draft picks again this year, Jay Bilas scoffed at the notion that John Calipari could claim a knack for developing pros.
"A lot of coaches out there are really good teachers," Bilas said on an ESPN-sponsored teleconference Tuesday. "But the idea that somehow a coach does a better job developing pros is absurd."
Bilas' opinion cut to the heart of Calipari's program. During a Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this month, prospects cited UK's record in recent years of producing pros as a recruiting lure. Most often, the draft picks from UK are so-called one-and-done players who spent — or required — only one season of college basketball to be deemed ready for the NBA.
Now, hold on there, hoss. Just the other day, we were assured that John Calipari's system was "smoke and mirrors:"
"In reality, the Kentucky system is smoke and mirrors. I remember being out in Vegas for a Summer League and I was sitting and watching games with a long-time Director of Scouting in the league. He said he was stunned at how unprepared Kentucky players were for the NBA, and he had drafted one of them," the scout said.
So I guess the question is, what's new about this? Essentially, the scouts and Bilas agree that college systems do little to prepare kids for the NBA regardless of perception. But that perception by recruits is based on what they see, not what Bilas or Calipari or anyone else says. They see guys like Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Derrick Rose et. al. get picked in the NBA Draft lottery. To recruits, that means that Calipari is doing something right, whatever that "something" is.
The H-L article goes on thus:
Such college coaches as Calipari or Mike Krzyzewski of Duke or Roy Williams of North Carolina should take limited credit, Bilas said. That's especially true of players who play only one season of college basketball, the ESPN analyst said.
Exactly right. Why? Because it isn't the job of Calipari or Williams or Coach K to develop players into professionals -- it is their job to develop them into great college (read: amateur) players. If that leads to the perception that players with NBA talent and who became great college players will also be great NBA players, well, fine. But the college coaches aren't trying to develop pros, they're trying to develop winning teams at the college level.
The NBA doesn't pay one thin dime of John Calipari's salary, so what incentive does he have to help them out? Now, Coach Cal's system does a lot of things NBA teams do, and maybe that has an ancillary benefit of helping UK's players get better prepared for the NBA, and maybe it doesn't. Whether that's just perception or reality, the bottom line is that Calipari's players are more prepared than most because they are more talented than most to begin with.
So if Calipari benefits from the perception that he sends all those pros to the NBA because his system prepares them better, I say, "Great!" Who cares if it's true or not?