By James Howey
As the sports world gears up for another Final Four, the one-and-done rule continues to be a polarizing and controversial issue surrounding college basketball and if it’s good or bad for the sport. This year was touted as the year of the freshmen with players like Duke’s Jarbri Parker, Kansas’s Andrew Wiggins and the freshmen class that Kentucky brought this year. This was one of the most anticipated college basketball seasons in recent memory with tons of pressure on the freshmen this year. Both Parker and Wiggins had great seasons however both their seasons ended horribly. Parker only scored 14 points in Duke’s first round loss to Mercer and Wiggins went 1-6 from the field in Kansas’s second round loss to Stanford.
The one saving grace for the freshmen has oddly enough been the Kentucky Wildcats. Kentucky was without a doubt the most disappointing and underachieving team in the regular season. The Wildcats went 24-10 in the regular season when many expectations called for 30-plus wins. Now Kentucky is the hottest of the four teams remaining. Twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison along with James Young are shooting lights out and Julius Randle is a man amongst boys down low right now. Kentucky is the first team to start five freshmen in an elite win since the famous fab five Michigan squad. The man responsible for getting Kentucky turned around this season is Wildcat head coach John Calipari. Calipari’s teams have always been made of one and done players and because of this he and Kentucky have become looked at as the evil face of college basketball.
Most people seem rather annoyed with the one and done players and think it is hurting college basketball but this year’s NCAA tournament was the highest rated in years and has had the most overtimes ever in the tournament. Now I will say that having players stay two years is better for a player and developing his skills for the NBA but this idea that the one-and-done is evil and is ruining college basketball is ridiculous. Having Kentucky in the Final Four is ideal for college basketball. They are the most polarizing program, with the most polarizing coach, and whenever they play, everyone will watch whether they want them to win or lose.
The bottom line is that power programs like Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, Michigan State and North Carolina will always recruit one-and-done players because if you want to win in basketball you need great players. Yes chemistry is important, but talent always matters as well, especially when you have a coach like Calipari who knows how to coach that talent.
My prediction for the Final Four is a SEC title game with Florida and Kentucky, facing for the fourth time this season, with Darth Calipari and the evil empire winning and proving once again that you can win with one-and-done players.
Contact James Howey, sports editor, firstname.lastname@example.org.