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John Calipari speaks on education in one-and-done era

Calipari recently posted a blog to his website about the topic

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-South Regional Practice Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

In a recent post by Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari on his website, he speaks on the importance of education in the one-and-done era of college basketball.

“Our job as coaches is to create a love for learning. We must promote lifelong learning, encourage young people to have curious minds and to want to read,” Calipari wrote.

The inspiration came from Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins, and Mychal Mulder graduating from UK this weekend, and Marcus Camby graduating from UMass.

Calipari also used the platform to double down on comments he has made in the past about high schoolers skipping college to play in the D-League, an idea that has been floated as an alternative to the one-and-done route.

“In the past, I have spoken out against the possibility of the NBA allowing high school players to be able to go directly to the D-League. My reasons are simple and they have nothing to do with the University of Kentucky. If you want a high school player to become professional, whether it be after their junior or senior year in high school, let them. Draft them into the NBA, which used to be the case.”

“But to ask them to spend a year in the D-League before they can be drafted creates a social dilemma with young ninth and 10th graders. Their choice would be whether they’re going to really challenge themselves academically, or simply say to themselves, ‘This is too hard and I’m going to the D-League anyway.’ The issue is the latter. We must guard against devaluing education, especially in this one-and-done era.”

Calipari warned that this isn’t a system similar to the MLB Minor League System.

“This isn’t like minor league baseball. They’ll have a year or two to prove themselves and that will be it. And if they don’t make it to the NBA, what are they left with? I’ll add another caveat: What kids are we talking about here? These are urban kids, poor kids, many with single parents, many of whom are minorities. Without that education and that lifelong curiosity for learning, their path and chance at the American dream is almost nil.”

He also used the example of Willie Cauley-Stein as a player who came in that did not like school, but changed his stance during his time at UK.

“Some of these kids come to me with an attitude about school. The story’s been told before, but Willie Cauley-Stein didn’t like school when he got to Kentucky. While he was here, he and I started a book club where we would read a book and share ideas from it. Prior to his third year, Willie and I sat down and talked about his decision to stay in school or enter the NBA Draft. He said he wanted to come back to get better and work on his game, and that he liked school. He liked school? I was so proud. To me, it was like we won the championship. Willie became an All-American, was a lottery pick, and has become a lifelong learner and reader.”

On graduation rates, Calipari said they have graduated 17 players in eight years and been near the top in Academic Progress Rate.

“I have to say this, because it gets overlooked with anything that is said about Kentucky basketball: We’ve graduated 17 players now in eight years (every kid who was eligible to graduate by the end of their senior year, by the way), including three players who graduated in three years, two of which are playing in the NBA. Our kids leave in good academic standing. They’re in class the second semester because it’s a must if they want that lifetime scholarship. And you know what? They do. We’ve had an Academic Progress Rate, which evaluates a team’s academic eligibility, retention and graduation rate over a four-year period, in the top 10 percent in the country for each of the past three years. It’s what we believe in.”

For the full blog post, click here.