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John Calipari proposes new solution to high school players going straight to NBA

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Coach Cal says there’s more to take into account than just basketball.

Wofford v Kentucky Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

It’s no secret that the NBA is exploring the possibility of allowing high school seniors to enter the NBA Draft, rather than forcing them to spend a full year in college.

The one-and-done rule has been largely criticized for the better part of a decade and everyone knew it would come to an end one day. Right now, it’s looking like 2022 will be when the rule is finally abolished.

While John Calipari agrees that players should be able to enter the draft straight out of high school, he thinks there should be limitations. He believes that there’s probably only about five or six players a year that are truly capable of going directly from high school to the NBA.

“Was Anthony Davis ready to go from high school to the NBA? No,” Calipari told the Herald-Leader. “Was Karl Towns? You saw him early in the year. Maybe John Wall was. Was Eric Bledsoe? Was Brandon Knight? I can go through all of our lottery picks, and tell you 90 percent of them were not ready to go to the NBA (out of high school).”

The problem is that more than five or six players will go, they’ll be stuck in the G League and won’t develop, and they won’t concentrate on school. If these players never make it out of the NBA developmental league, they won’t have a degree and they won’t have the requisite skills to be successful outside of basketball for the remainder of their lives.

Sure, these guys might get a substantial sum of money when they get drafted. But they’re only 18 or 19 years old and they spend it erratically. They don’t save and without a second payday, the money could disappear quickly.

“Half goes to taxes,” he said. “Let’s say you get two and a half million. Say you get three million. You’re at 1.5 million. How do you think that dude is living for those two years? You think he’s living like he has nothing? He’s going to save everything? Are you out of your mind? They spend it like they’re making 50 million.”

However, a season playing at Kentucky, and leaving in good academic standing, not only better prepares players for the NBA, it gives them the opportunity to return to school if basketball didn’t work out.

But instead of just complaining about it, Cal offered a solution that he thinks will benefit everyone.

He proposed that USA Basketball decide which high school players are eligible to jump to the NBA. He also added that they could include an academic component in the formula for determining eligibility for being part of future USA Basketball events.

That kills two birds with one stone. It doesn’t allow overambitious and unprepared high school seniors to jump straight to the league, and it forces kids to stay in good academic standing and focus on their schoolwork.

Of course, one might believe he’s simply saying this to preserve a handful of elite recruits to come to Kentucky. Or that he’s being selfish. But he says that’s just not the case.

“That’s me sitting on my soapbox giving you what I believe,” he said. “And I want to be the one that they look back and say, he said this 10 years ago. And no one listened to him. And said he’s only doing this because he wants kids in college. He’s only doing it for himself. He doesn’t care about the kids either.

“Uh, jeez, maybe he did (care). It was about that.”

A change that abolishes the one-and-done rule will assuredly force Coach Cal to change his approach. But it doesn’t have to change that much. And unlike a lot of people, he doesn’t just complain about it without offering a reasonable solution.

Should the NBA abolish the one-and-done rule? What do you think about Cal’s proposal if the rule is abolished?

Let us know in the comments.