The concept of the one and done rule in college basketball became a predominant talking point in the sports world this past week, after the potential number one overall pick in this summer’s NBA draft suffered a torn ACL on a freak accident against the University of Florida.
It is unfair that this injury happened to Nerlens Noel, as he is just a freshman, beginning his public basketball career, but life is cruely unfair sometimes. He’ll have the ability to rehab the injury, while highly skilled trainers keep a keen eye on him. After a successful rebab, Noel will be faced with the decision to either continue his college basketball career at Kentucky next season (what he should do), or enter the NBA draft (what he probably will do).
The argument against the “one and done” rule focused on the impact that the injury would have on Noel’s draft stock and thus his brand. It was deemed unfair that Noel had to participate in a year of college basketball instead of having the choice to either enroll at Kentucky, or make the giant leap to the NBA fresh out of high school. I understand the purpose of the argument against the one and done rule for a case like Noel, but remember why the rule was inserted in the first place.
Droves of unqualified high schoolers either thought they could successfully make the jump to the pros and play like Kobe, Kevin Garnett, or Lebron (the anomalies of the group), or were pushed into making the jump for the money (99.9% of the group). By forcing eighteen year olds into either playing in college or overseas (Brandon Jennings) for one season, it was supposed to help improve the product of both the NBA and college basketball.
Instead the rule robbed us of (hyperbole alert) potentially the greatest college basketball team ever.
Let’s pretend that Billy Hunter and David Stern had the ingenious idea of instituting a bachelor’s degree rule. The public relations spin on the rule would focus around how important a student’s education is, when behind closed doors it would be Stern telling Hunter that he’s tired of all of these under developed kids infiltrating his league, so let’s make them develop into their maximum college potential before coming into the pros. Not only would this improve the play of rookies across the board (you think there’s any quinidine as to why Damian Lillard is the runaway rookie of the year halfway through the season?), but it would vastly improve the college game.
Rivalries would intensify because there would actually be a true carry over effect from the previous year. Animosity wouldn’t be created just by the colors and logo on the front of the jerseys. Fans would be able to invest their stock into a team and wouldn’t have to worry about selling it after the season because the star players were leaving for the pros after their freshman, or sophomore seasons.
Let’s take the bachelor’s degree rule and apply it to the Kentucky Wildcats. Not only would Nerlens Noel still be healthy, he would be working his ass off to try and get more playing time.
John Calipari’s tenure with the University of Kentucky has been defined by his ability to bring in the kids (for one season) that would have most likely made the jump from high school to the pros. He has publically stated that he encourages his players to leave college if they’re draft stock has reached it’s maximum potential. He’s right in doing so, because another year in college could kill their draft momentum (Matt Barkley please stand up).
With this BA rule in place Calipari wouldn’t have to worry about recruiting a revolving door of eighteen year olds, instead he would be coaching the most polarizing college team since the Michigan Fab Five.
Just look at this starting five:
G.) John Wall (sr.)
G.) Eric Bledsoe (sr.)
F.) Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (jr.)
F.) Anthony Davis (so.)
C.) Demarcus Cousins (sr.)
Just imagine how imposing the combination of a matured (Sacramento has stunted his maturation growth) Boogie Cousins and the unibrow would be? By his senior year John Wall would be almost unstoppable at the college level. Kidd-Gilchrist would be the perfect I’ll do anything to help this team win every night guy and Eric Bledsoe would have vaulted from the 18th overall pick in the 2010 draft, to the top five in this year’s draft. In fact three (Wall, Cousins, Bledsoe) of the starting five would probably be taken in the top five.
Here would be the bench:
G.) Brandon Knight (jr)
G.) Nerlens Noel (fr.)
F.) Terrence Jones (jr.)
F/C.) Daniel Orton (sr.)
Odds are that Brandon Knight probably would have transferred, but if he decided to stay he would be the best sixth man in college. Nerlens Noel would show flashes of brilliance during his limited playing time.
Now look at what would have happened next season, in this scenario if the BA rule actually existed. Knight and Noel would slide into the starting lineup to replace Wall and Bledsoe. Anthony Davis and Kidd-Gilchrist would return for another run at a championship and Calipari would probably find the best eighteen year old center in the country to round out his starting five. Kentucky would yet again be the favorite to win the national championship for the fourth straight year.
Would that be good for college basketball? You’re damn right it would. People love and love to hate dynasties. Rooting against the Wildcats would become a trendy thing to do because ESPN (and the other major outlets) would shove them down our throats on daily basis. Our culture would become either sick of Kentucky’s basketball team, or root for them because we only get a small amount of chances in our lives to see greatness in sports.
Instead we’re witnessing the parody within the realm of college basketball dominate the storylines. Sure it’ll be fun in March when we fill out our brackets, but it won’t leave a lasting impression. Odds are we’ll look back at this college basketball season and remember how many students got hurt while storming the court after taking down a top ten team.
We’ve been robbed of a potentially historic season in college basketball, but more importantly, we as a sports culture have overlooked the extinction of greatness in college basketball. Unless some drastic measures by the NBA take place, kids will continue to view college as a minor truck stop on their road to the association and March Madness will continue to resemble the randomness of a scratch off lottery ticket.
Dollar, dollar billz ya’ll.
Follow me on twitter @Scottdargis.