Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari cautious backer of one-and-done change

By The Sports Xchange  |  June 26, 2017 at 5:46 PM
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Kentucky coach John Calipari is fine if the rule changes to allow high school players to go directly to the NBA, agreeing with Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski about the one-and-done issue in basketball.

Calipari said he is in favor of the "baseball rule" -- Major League Baseball allows a player from high school to go to the pros or go to college and then not be eligible to be drafted until after his junior season -- but he voiced caution about the motivation behind proposed changes by the NBA.

"I'm good with the baseball rule. As long as they're going directly to the NBA, they're paying them what they deserve to be paid and then it's on them to look after these kids and give them a gap year if they think they can do that in the NBA," said Calipari, speaking on the SEC coaches' summer teleconference.

Krzyzewski said last week he would be in favor of the baseball rule for basketball.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver said before Game 1 of the NBA Finals that the one-and-done system is "not working for anyone" and changes need to be made.

Currently, any player entering the draft must be at least 19 years old. For players in the United States, they must also be at least one year removed from high school. Silver said the rule will continue to be discussed between the league and the players' union.

"My sense is it's not working for anyone," Silver said. "It's not working certainly from the college coaches and athletic directors I hear from. They're not happy with the current system. And I know our teams aren't happy either in part because they don't necessarily think that the players coming into the league are getting the kind of training that they would expect to see among top draft picks in the league."

Silver said the NBA favors raising the age to 20, while the union wants to lower the minimum age to 18.

Calipari, who coached in the NBA with the Nets, defends Kentucky's use of the one-and-done rule, saying his players have thrived in the NBA.

"Let's not look back a generation from now," Calipari told reporters, "and say well we did this because we want these kids better prepared to play basketball, we did this because we're trying to eke out this and this and have more control over our 'assets.' We think we can do a better job of teaching when you're talking about a 17-year-old leaving his bed in his home with his mother who is waking him up and walking into a man's world right now. Or you go to college and get a gap year, maybe you stay two years."

Calipari said it would be a misguided plan if the NBA lowers the age limit with the intention of sending players to the development league -- the NBA recently renamed the D-League to the NBA Gatorade League (NBA G-League) as part of a multiyear partnership between the league and Gatorade beginning with the 2017-18 season.

"Whatever we do, I'll be on record, if we're trying to get kids to go the D-League and it's a baseball rule and they're going to get $20 million contracts right out of high school and the NBA thinks they can deal with that, I'm good. I'm fine," Calipari said. "If they're trying to get high school kids to go to the D-League, I will be shouting from mountaintops saying what is this going to do to a generation of kids who say, 'all right, I'm going to do this,' you get one or two years to make it and now you're out without any opportunities. Who's taking care of those kids now?"

Krzyzewski, appearing on ESPN Radio's "Mike and Mike" last week, fought back on the suggestion he has altered the way he recruits in the one-and-done era.

"People say that we've changed our recruiting philosophy," Krzyzewski said. "We haven't changed our recruiting philosophy. We've always recruited really good players who are good students and good kids, and now that combination has produced one-and-dones. ...

"We've had a number of guys who early on, like 10, 20 years ago, they would be one-and-dones right now. So that's who we have attracted. We're not going to stop recruiting them, but it doesn't mean we've changed our philosophy. The world of basketball has changed, and we're trying to adapt to those changes."

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