It’s been eleven years since the NBA instituted the “one-and-done” rule, and John Calipari is still being asked about it. On this morning’s SEC Coaches Teleconference, Cal was asked about the possibility of the NBA switching from the one-and-done rule to letting high schoolers go directly to the D-League (I refuse to call it the G-League), and, well, it’s safe to say he’s not a fan.
“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 you get a gap year. Maybe you stay two years. So, whatever we do, I’ll be on record if we’re trying to get kids to go the D-League and if it’s a baseball rule and we give $20 million contracts right out of high school and the NBA thinks they can deal with that, I’m good. I’m fine. If they’re trying to get kids in high school to go to the D-League, I will be shouting from mountain tops, saying, what is this going to do to a generation of kids who say, alright, 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?”
Cal preached the value of the one-and-done rule, which he says forced kids to focus on their academics enough to make it at least one year in college. Cal was skeptical at the time, but admitted today it’s one of the few things the NCAA has gotten right.
“So, what the NCAA did was challenge kids to do well. If you really want to do this and go to college and have a gap year and prepare, or maybe stay in school two or three or four years, you’ve got to get your academics up to these standards. Well, I thought it would shut people out. Very rarely do I speak highly of the NCAA, but in this case, what it did was it challenged a generation of kids to do better academically, to be on point, to get themselves where they need to go. The NCAA reported this year we had the highest graduation rate in men’s basketball for African Americans. Ever. Ever.”
Wait for it, wait for it…you know it’s coming!
“So, my kids all finish the term. I don’t know where they got this, ‘They don’t go to school,’ that’s all — look, it’s kind of like fake news, if you say it enough, it becomes what’s real. It’s not real. My kids have lifetime scholarships.”
The same reporter asked a follow up question about the one-and-done rule, which led to this classic exchange.
Reporter: “Do you think the one-and-done rule has been good for college basketball?”
Calipari: “Have I think it’s been what?”
Reporter: “Has it been good for college basketball or has it hurt college basketball?”
Calipari: “It depends on your perspective — Excuse me?”
Reporter: “When you see all the freshmen that were drafted in the first round?”
Calipari: “Say that again what you just said? I thought you said, is it good or bad for college basketball. What do you mean?”
Reporter: “When you see all the freshmen that were drafted in the first round, has it been good or bad?”
Calipari: “Well, I think it’s been good for those kids, what do you think?”
LOL. Listen to that awkward exchange below.