College basketball stars: one and done

BY DYLAN GORDON ’14
Staff Writer

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Coach Calipari, Thank you for everything you have taught us over the past season. With your coaching, our games have improved drastically, and we feel very confident in our abilities. In fact, we feel so confident that we plan on forgoing our three years of additional eligibility and entering the NBA draft. We promise not to forget our roots when we are making millions of dollars in the NBA. Once again, thanks for accepting our motive for coming to Kentucky University was to play for one season, win, and then leave. Go Wildcats!

Assuming Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist both declare for the NBA draft, eight Wildcats over the past three seasons will have left after their freshmen year. No, that was not a typo. Among these eight players is Daniel Orton. Orton averaged a mere 3.4 points per game and did not start a single contest in his short collegiate career.

Ladies and gentlemen, Kentucky is the school to attend if you are amazing at basketball and want to make millions of dollars as quickly as possible post-college. If you don’t believe me, take a look at Enes Kanter’s time at Kentucky. Kanter did not log a single minute at Kentucky because of eligibility issues, and he was still the third overall pick in the 2011 NBA draft.

What should we make of this “I have no intention of staying past my freshman year” mentality? For starters (sorry Orton and Kanter), it shows the immaturity and greed of some players. I understand it is their dream to play in the NBA, but you only get one opportunity to play for a great coach like John Calipari. Experience is impossible to replace, especially when you are playing against the best competition out there.

Players often sacrifice the ability to mature on and off the court for the immediate luxury of the NBA lifestyle.

It’s truly concerning how many college freshmen declare for the NBA draft. Some guys are simply too confident in their abilities and make ill-advised decisions. For example, Duke University freshman Austin Rivers desperately needs to improve his passing skills, yet he will not be returning to Mike Krzyzewski’s team. Doesn’t this seem a little ridiculous? He is forfeiting his sophomore, junior, and senior year, time he could have spent learning from the all-time winningest coach in division one history.

Yet, what scares me the most about freshmen declaring for the draft is life after the NBA. Recently, ESPN reported Allen Iverson and Dennis Rodman are nearly broke, despite earning millions as NBA stars. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this happened because they didn’t value education or weren’t smart guys. I’m saying this because it’s easy to think that this will never happen to you.

A Sports Illustrated article published in 2009 stated that an estimated 60 percent of former NBA players are totally broke within five years of retirement. There’s no doubt about it: with wealth comes temptation. So, here’s a reminder to all college freshmen seeking advice as to whether or not to enter the NBA: understand that playing under the close supervision of a college program lets boys mature into men.

The truth is, declaring for the NBA draft is a difficult decision for a college freshman to make. So, I’m going to make it a little easier and propose college freshmen should not be eligible for the NBA under any circumstance. Other professional sports leagues already have post-high school age requirements. For example, the NFL requires a player must be three-years-removed from high school before being eligible for the draft, which could make a lot of sense.

This brand new eligibility requirement would be a win-win scenario. Freshmen who come to powerhouse programs like Kentucky to win for that year only will have the opportunity to win for a few years. After all, who doesn’t like winning? Also, Kentucky might actually be able to develop players over the years, instead of watching them come in and out of the program at record rates.

Most importantly, spending more time in a collegiate program will allow players an extra year or two to mature on and off the court. Let’s face it, no one wants to see former Kentucky freshman DeMarcus Cousins pout and complain on the court. And who can forget Cousins demanding a trade from the Sacramento Kings and then revoking his demand a few days later? Clearly, Cousins could have benefited from some extra time under Calipari. Plus, I’m thinking Calipari would have been happy to have one of the most dominant centers in the nation back for the next season.

Every team has a system for winning and success. Syracuse University plays a tremendous 2-3 zone and capitalizes on fast break opportunities. Wisconsin University holds the ball for almost the entire shot clock, which tires defenses out. Yet, Kentucky relies on recruiting the best talent each year, hoping for one season of unison and productivity. Sure, this formula might work right now, but I can’t wait to see how Kentucky adjusts if the eligibility rule ever changes.

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dylan.gordon@fandm.edu

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