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Sports Authority

Adams: Time for the one-and-done rule to end

| Thursday, January 30, 2020

Being a Kentucky basketball fan, I am acquainted more with the NCAA’s one-and-done policy than most. Wildcats head coach John Calipari was the originator of the one-and-done era during his time at Memphis when he made a national championship game with freshman Derrick Rose in 2008. Soon after that, he made his way to Lexington and has garnered great success as an advocate of the one-and-done philosophy.

For a while, I didn’t have a problem with it, because it was working really well. But now, I’m in favor of its dismissal. Here are my reasons why.

Degrading Academics

I know, I know. I sound like an old fart right now, but I can’t help it that this is the way I was raised. College is about getting an education, or at least it should be. Guys coming to college for one year and using it as a stepping stone to the professional league isn’t good for academics or for them, and it feeds a poisonous mindset.

Look at Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons, who attended Louisiana State University for one year before going pro. Simmons unashamedly quit going to class in his second semester at LSU, as the school required only a meager GPA in the first semester, then dropped out immediately after his season ended. I get having a singular focus like going to the NBA, but you need a backup plan when it comes to professional sports.

Simmons is 6-foot-10, and big guys are more injury prone. God forbid he gets a career-ending injury. What’s he to do? Hopefully he is wise with his finances while he’s healthy, but a lot of guys are unwise with their investments. Look at former Kentucky player Antoine Walker, who filed for bankruptcy in 2010 despite earning more than $100 million over his NBA career. I would go so far as to say players should be required to take financial literacy classes while in college, even the ones who don’t have professional ambitions, because everyone involved in sports should be able to take care of their earnings.

Inability to Connect

I understand fans have to put some effort in get to know new players, and I’m willing to do it. However, many are not as amiable as me. It becomes difficult for people to research and relate to several new players every season. Granted, Kentucky is an extreme example, but it does happen.

Part of the appeal of college basketball is watching and growing with the players on your team, learning their strengths and weaknesses and buying into the identity of the team. It makes it more enjoyable for the fans when they can have some sort of connection with the players, and I know it isn’t all about the fans, but you need their interest to keep college basketball profitable.

Dreams and Sentimentality

Call me a romantic, but I grew up dreaming of playing basketball for the University of Kentucky. Sure, it was a bit of stretch, and I’m not too proud to admit that dream lasted well into my years riding the bench on my high school team. However, not a lot of guys playing today share that dream.

Many guys now simply dream of making it big in the NBA, and to that end, they’ll go to whatever school they think gives them the best chance of it. That’s all well and good, but it takes the passion out of the game. And it may be great for teams like Duke and Kentucky, but for everyone else it isn’t, which is bad for college basketball as a whole. I want to see the whole thing flourish with competition.

Worse Quality of Play

Plain and simple, freshmen just aren’t usually that good in college. There’s a select few who become high draft picks, but many of those are based solely on potential. Very rarely do more than one or two freshmen take the NCAA by storm. Look at what’s happened to college basketball this year: AP top 5 teams have combined for record losses, and teams played hot potato with the No. 1 ranking to start the year. Sure, the playing field is pretty level, but that’s because there is no great team, and that’s pretty much how it’s been for the last few years. Sure, if the best high school talent goes to the draft, then the college game will miss out, but the guys who do enroll would be staying in college for longer and develop more, making the game not only competitive, but actually good.

I know the days of Pat Ewing, Chris Mullin and Michael Jordan staying for three to four years are long gone, but I pray we can get some quality guys to stick around a little longer and develop some real powerhouse teams.

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About Hayden Adams

Hayden is the former sports editor of The Observer. When he's not working toward his four majors (physics and film, television & theatre) and three minors (journalism, ethics & democracy), you can probably find him hopelessly trying to save his beloved Zahm House from being wiped out. He plans to attend law school at a TBD location after graduation.

Contact Hayden