John Klein: The one-and-done rule is hurting college basketball
BY JOHN KLEIN Senior Sports Columnist
Thursday, March 17, 2011
3/17/11 at 9:04 AM
Go to John Klein's Blog Original Print Headline: The one-and-done rule hurts college game
THE ERA of "one-and-done" players has changed the face of college basketball and put a new emphasis on experience in the NCAA Tournament.
That's why a team like Kansas, with an emphasis on older players, is among the favorites to win the national title.
Two Tulsans, who combined to coach in 33 NCAA Tournaments and five Final Fours, believe the keys to success in the NCAA Tournament have changed because of the rule.
"Some of those one-and-done players have had a tremendous impact on the tournament in the past few years," said former Oklahoma State coach Eddie Sutton. "But I don't like the rule. I think they need to stay longer than a year. That's not good."
Ted Owens took Kansas to two Final Fours. Sutton took four schools to the NCAA Tournament. He led Arkansas to the 1978 Final Four and Oklahoma State to two Final Fours (1995 and 2004).
"It absolutely changed the game," said Owens. "We used to talk about point guard play and rebounding and different aspects of the game as keys to success.
"Now, a great way to analyze teams is to look at the age of the players. The more veteran teams are the better teams in the tournament. The teams with older players are the ones to watch for in the Final Four."
"One-and-done" players have been the result of the 2005 NBA collective bargaining agreement that mandated players had to be 19 or complete one year of college before becoming eligible for the NBA draft. It followed a 10-year period when high school players were bypassing college to go straight to the NBA.
"I think the rule change to one-and-done has diluted the field," said Sutton. "It has spread the talent around and there are so many quality teams.
"It is such a plus for the teams that have experienced players. These young players and leaving early has changed everything. There are just so many of these young players leaving college after a year who just aren't ready."
Now, the mandate that players must spend a year in college has resulted in a turnover rate that some believe has hurt the college game. Some projections have six of the first 10 players in this year's NBA draft being college freshmen.
Some coaches, like Kentucky's John Calipari, have openly embraced the idea of one-year collegiate players. He has sent future pro stars like John Wall and Derrick Rose (from Memphis) into the NBA after one season.
He basically sent his starting lineup from last year's Kentucky team, eliminated in the Elite Eight, to the NBA. He's back in the NCAA Tournament this year with a team that won the Southeastern Conference Tournament.
"To be honest, I'm really surprised that John was able to get Kentucky back to such a high level after he lost so many players from last year's team," said Owens. "That is really a remarkable story. That has to be such a hard thing to do. You are changing your team almost every year."
Before the "one-and-done" players were mandated under NBA draft rules, Carmelo Anthony was the most famous of one-year players. He led Syracuse to the national title in 2003 as a freshman before he jumped to NBA stardom.
There have been a long list of one-year players in recent years who have gone on to be stars in the NBA like Kevin Durant of Texas, Michael Beasley of Kansas State and Rose, who led Memphis to the national finals in 2008 and may be this year's NBA MVP. Greg Oden led Ohio State to the 2007 finals as a freshman.
But recent history also shows teams that stay together and play together are most successful.
In last year's Final Four, there were no "one-and-done" players. In fact, the national finalists (Duke and Butler) were a tribute to the experience factor.
North Carolina's 2009 national title was built around Tyler Hansbrough, a senior.
Kansas' 2008 championship team had seven future NBA players but there were five seniors and two juniors.
Florida's 2007 champions were a team that decided to come back for another year to repeat their 2006 NCAA title.
In other words, experience counts. A lot.
"I think as a coach you have to go after those one-and-done players because they are so talented," said Owens. "But, what troubles me is that those players come in with the idea of playing just one season. It is hard to work them onto a team. They really don't get to experience what college is all about.
"They are going to miss something that is so wonderful. To me, to waste that college experience, is sad."
KU's Bill Self is among a majority of coaches who support a change to the system used by the Major League Baseball amateur draft. Players may turn pro out of high school but if they choose college they must stay three years.
"That makes a lot more sense to me," said Owens. "The one-year thing is not good for college basketball."
Former Kansas coach Ted Owens led the Jayhawks to two Final Fours. Tulsa World File