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Jon’s Two Cents – College Basketball’s One and Done Syndrome Is Bad for the Game

One and done
Jonathan Daniel, Getty Images

All eyes were on Duke University’s freshman phenom Jabari Parker over the last few days to see if he would return to Blue Devils for his sophomore season or enter the NBA draft. Well, the drama is over and far, far from a surprise….Parker is going to the NBA…I know, it may be hard to wipe the look of shock off your face. This is the new reality in college basketball today….one and done and I personally hate it and think it needs to change. I know it’s about the money and the the opportunity to get what you can while the gettin’s good.

The list of players leaving school before graduation is long, as you would expect it to be, but the value of a college scholarship gets totally lost in the shuffle here. College is on the verge of being unaffordable for non-athletes these days unless they have scholarships, grants or rich parents. Student loans are available, but the debt created by graduation is ridiculous and higher than most mortgages.

What is so wrong with getting a degree? I don’t care how good a player you are, there is no guarantee that you won’t blow out your knee during summer workouts and NEVER actually set foot on a NBA court. I know the same could happen while still in college, but at least if you get hurt in college and can’t play, you will still have opportunity in most cases to keep your scholarship and get your degree.

Back in the 60s and 70s, the only way you could leave college was to declare”hardship” and even then, your case had to be approved . Please spare me the the speech about these kids having the opportunity to score millions of dollars before graduation to be able to take care of their families. That’s another issue….20-year-old millionaires that are clueless about handling their finances.

The number of retired athletes who made millions and ultimately wound up flat broke after retirement is a long one and because some of them left college after their freshman year, have no real skills to market themselves with for a post-basketball life.

Fans want a winning team, but how in the world are coaches supposed to build a program these days, let alone a winning program? Coaches are rebuilding every year anymore. Kentucky’s John Calipari saw that first hand this past year with a mostly freshman lineup that struggled all year, but came into their own at exactly the right time to make it to the national championship game. Calipari has already lost Julius Randle from that squad and could lose more including the Harrison twins, all of whom are freshmen.

Last year Indiana University lost Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller to the NBA. Oladipo has thrived, but he was a junior when he left. Zeller, who was nowhere NEAR ready for the NBA, left after his sophomore season and is struggling big time in the NBA and may never grow into the player he might have been had he stayed in school. Both of Zeller’s brothers, Luke and Tyler graduated from Notre Dame and North Carolina respectively.

Being a college coach these days is hard because you never know from year to year what you will have, or more importantly, what you WON’T have just next year….it’s maddening and it is not good for the fans and especially, season ticket holders and boosters.

A scholarship for a kid who has no intention of staying is a waste of a perfectly good scholarship. One and done prospects are not there for the educational experience, believe me. They are there to play basketball and raise their NBA stock…nothing more and that is just kind of sad and just my opinion.

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