So, if you haven’t heard, the men’s basketball version of the Kentucky Wildcats is turning over their entire roster. Again. Well maybe not the entire roster, but the meatiest and most important parts. As NickiSue's view told you, no fewer than five now former Wildcats are expected to be selected in the first round of the NBA draft this summer. Also, their top six players in terms of MPG, accounting for 93 percent of their total points, are departing Lexington. Three of them leave after just one year in Rupp, bringing the total number of players spending just one season getting to know Big Blue Nation to eight (not counting none and done Enes Kanter). What all this means is that next fall, once again, NickiSue's view will have to get to know all the people she will be screaming and cheering for on the fly.
And I think that stinks.
At the risk of sounding like the stereotypical old man (I’m not that old yet) telling stories to his grandkids, I like college basketball better when the players stick around awhile. Now before you tell me that the times change, let me tell you, it doesn’t change everywhere. At the vast majority of division one programs, the players stay all four years, and it is my contention it is better to be a fan of those teams than to be a fan of Kentucky or any of the schools that rely on a new group of players year in and year out. You know the players, they put themselves into the fabric of the school by climbing all-time lists. You know what your team will do well. It is part of what makes being a fan fun.
Next, you can analyze what it is that the team needs, then get excited about the freshmen or jr. college transfers and their roles with your team. FMD went to such a school (same as NickiSue's view was at UK), Kent State in Ohio. Before you demean them as small potatoes, they have won 20+ games in 13 straight seasons and played in the post-season in 12 of those (and were an NIT snub despite winning their regular season title and 20+ games the year they missed.) While they are not on the same level as Kentucky, they are an exciting and winning program to follow. I think I get, and got while I was there, more enjoyment from my overall fan experience than you.
NickiSue's view: With all due respect Fan Man Dan, I completely disagree with your opinion. I am glad that you love your team and I am happy that you had a wonderful experience following your team in college. Let me just start my arguments by using your own words.
You said that players who stay all four years “put themselves into the fabric of the school by climbing all time-lists.” It’s too bad modern day Kentucky players don’t climb all-time lists…oh wait they do! “One and done” Anthony Davis broke the school’s single-season record for blocks and then went on to break the NCAA freshman block record with 183 on the season. In my time as a student at UK I saw Jodie Meeks, who left after his junior season, break Dan Issel’s scoring record in a single game when he scored 54 points against Tennessee. (Side note I saw Jodie Meeks on campus taking summer classes after he entered the NBA) Davis and Meeks are just two examples of players climbing all-time lists.
Nothing says that players have become the "fabric of the school" like winning a National Title, period. UK players are not only an important part of the campus but they are important to the city of Lexington, the state of Kentucky and Big Blue Nation. These players are bigger than The Beatles to Kentucky fans. And let’s be honest, would you ever let a Kent State college basketball player sign your baby?
Now let’s get personal. You said that you think you got “more enjoyment from [your] overall fan experience than [me].” I don’t know what it was like being Kent State student but let me give you a little taste of my career as a student. I attended the same games as LeBron James, Drake and Magic Johnson just to name of few awesome people that I’ve seen at Rupp Arena. I literally shed a tear of joy when Magic Johnson walked out on the court in front of me. I was a front row witness to the first NCAA basketball program reach 2,000 wins. I have the confetti and I’m in the poster sold around the country to prove it. Because of the success of my school’s basketball program I had the opportunity to report nationally for ESPNU and ESPN First Take. These are only a few of the wonderful events that came with attending a school with a successful “one and done” program.
Not to sound cliché, but I am a firm believer in living you dreams. How can you blame talented athletes for wanting to play at a “player first program?” If they have the skills to play in the NBA then they need to go. Why risk injury by staying another three years? Not to mention the fact that these young “one and dones” have the opportunity to earn more money in the NBA than most people will ever earn in a lifetime. As a fan I am happy to have these young players on my team even if it is only for a year. I didn’t even stay in college for all four years, I worked hard and graduated a year early.
FMD: So…you list a series of single game accomplishment and expect me to believe that’s the same as the marks four year players make. I can understand that you wouldn’t know what it’s like to countdown how many of “X” stat a player needs to catch the all-time school record, because you are young and the team you cheer for doesn’t have players that do those things. A series of moments is not a memorable legacy. You can’t claim Meeks in your one and done support- three years makes him a candidate for PhD in the one and done atmosphere at UK.
And winning one national title then bolting is not the same thing as playing three or four winning years. First of all, 2012 is the first time in, well ever, that the one and dones produced that “immortal championship” that puts a player into the fabric of a school. Hardly a track record for creating the type of atmosphere we are talking about with these one and dones.
These guys seem so “Blue” right now, because it’s fresh and feelgood, but there is no way these guys will be remembered like Dan Issel, Kenny Walker, Keith Bogans, Rex Chapman or Jamaal Mashburn. In the long run, Anthony Davis will be DeMarcus Cousins will be any other player who passed through Kentucky won some games, provided some thrills and didn’t stick around long enough to be true “Cats.” Just look at who the most beloved Cats have been on the last two teams (Harrellson and Miller) and imagine a plae where there are 3-4 players like this every season- except they are also the unquestioned stars of the squad. Sounds great I know.
You talk about autographing a baby? That’s UK fanaticism, not one and done fever. That UK fan would have any Wildcat sign their child- one and done or tried and true fifth year senior. In fact if I put on some glasses and walked a little taller, I bet I could convince some folks I am Rex Chapman and sign some babies my own self- no need to be a one and done for that in this state.
That’s fine though- it is nice to see some excitement around the program, but what does Magic Johnson (a Michigan State Alum), or LeBron James (headed to North Carolina or Ohio State if he would have gone to college) or even Drake have to do with Kentucky? Let’s not get “special experience” mixed up with “University of Kentucky experience.” Those people and things are cool, but only UK2K was true blue.
That’s my main point anyway. One and dones can hoop. One and dones are fun to watch, one and dones bring an air of “professional, entertainment” excitement; but mercenaries brought in to win your team a championship for one year just ain’t what college hoops is all about. I am happy UK matters again, and would not want Calipari to bring this brand of winning anywhere else(trust me it is going to playout somewhere), but make no mistake- this brand is Calipari’s and not the University’s.
So now we have arrived at the reason behind the one and dones being the new way to win the college hoops game. I have no problem with the kids, or their decisions to go pro. In fact, I encourage them and you to pursue careers and the money. For this reason, I am a proponent of returning to the LeBron James, Kevin Garnett days of straight to the NBA if that is their choice. Of course then Calipari and the Cats would have to survive on the same “scraps” that all of the rest of college basketball has to try and win with now.
So what do you think about changing the one and done rule? I take it by your above response you would want it done away with so the young men can go pursue their dreams?
NickiSue's view: FMD, you definitely make some valid points. I am a recent Kentucky grad so the fun experiences that I had during my time in college are what matter to me. We have yet to see what the long term implications are for the “one and done” system of basketball because it is still so new.
You say that this is “Calipari’s” brand and “not the University’s” brand of basteball. I get that but the thing is, Calipari is the head coach at Kentucky so he is the face of the University’s current basketball program. I encourage you and whoever is interested to read a recent article by Coach Calipari himself titled, “Being nontraditional is a tradition at Kentucky.”
Calipari points out the fact that Kentucky coaches have pushed the limits of basketball in the past and their actions have helped change the culture of basketball and help make Kentucky the “winningest program in college basketball.” For example, “In the 1940s, Coach Rupp decided we’re not just going to play teams around us and from the South; we’re going to get on trains and go play teams,” (CoachCal.com). He also mentions Coach Hall in the 1970s who decided to build Wildcat Lodge (the housing for basketball players) and, “he was the driving force for an arena like Rupp Arena – the largest arena at that time,” (CoachCal.com).
I know that the “one and done” system is not everyone’s favorite. I have heard criticism from people of all ages, not just older people (and FMD I agree, you are not old). As a Kentucky fan I constantly hear the criticism. Some call it cheating and others criticism comes from an academic standpoint. My opinion is that an athlete’s career is short. If you are talented enough to make it to the NBA then you have to do it! You can and should go back and get your college degree.
This brings me to your question of if we should return to the “LeBron James, Kevin Garnett days of straight to the NBA if that is their choice.” You may be surprised to learn that my answer is no. I think it is good for these athletes and college basketball to make them go to college for at least a year.
Now I know what you may be thinking, I just like it when UK wins, but that is not my reasoning. I think that college is a great learning experience for both students and student athletes. It is important to learn how to be an adult. In college you have more responsibility but you are still in an environment where professors, RA’s and for athletes, coaches have your back. Even if it is just a year, these athletes are away from home but not completely on their own because the somewhat structured environment of college.
Yes it is only a year, but a year could make a big difference in the life of an athlete. Players who go into the NBA are often offered more money than they could ever imagine. Someone fresh out of high school will not know what to do with all of the money. The same thing could happen to a freshman in college but at least they have experienced a little bit of college responsibility. Hopefully they can make wiser decisions and know that their University and coaches are always there for them if things do not work out.
I think with the straight out of high school rule we also miss out on talent. I do not view any college players as “scraps.” Kobe Bryant is an amazing one of a kind basketball player who came straight out of high school. But I can’t help but wonder what other players got overlooked because of where they went to high school or where they lived.
A wide variety of players is part of what is so great about the NCAA tournament. A small unkown team and/or player can rise all the way to the top.
FMD, I don’t think our opinions are complete opposites. We are both college basketball fans who want to see the very best of the sport. I think we both represent the state of college basketball. There is no one correct answer for what is really best for the players, fans and the sport as a whole. Agree to disagree. I’m excited to see what happens down the road in the sport. In the meantime, keep watching and keep cheering for your favorite teams and players.