Editor’s Note: University of Kentucky Head Men’s Basketball Coach, John Calipari nor the University of Kentucky enacted the so-called “One and Done Rule” for college basketball. The National Basketball Association (NBA) and it’s players union agreed in 2005 that anyone entering the NBA must be at least 19 years old and one year removed from high school. – Thanks
Russ Smith is returning to play his senior season at the University of Louisville. And praise has come from all corners. And that’s a good thing. I think players staying in school is a very good thing and I know that the majority of us would like to go back to campus for one more semester of that carefree college life. But, I don’t think it’s fair to characterize Smith’s decision as everything good and holy and sacred about college basketball, as some have or take cheap shots at the University of Kentucky and its head basketball coach, John Caliparo, as the Louisville Courier Journal did.
“Some schools can go for “one and done.” But U of L and Mr. Smith both won with this decision.” – Louisville Courier Journal, editorial dated April 27, 2013
Comedian Chris Rock once joked that a man is only as faithful as his options. Likewise, a college athlete deciding whether or not to leave school early and pursue his dream of playing a professional athletics should be viewed in much the same way. If a player, like Russ Smith, who isn’t projected by anyone to be selected in the first round of NBA draft and is barely in most second round projections to be viewed the same way as Oklahoma State’s Marcus Smart, a lock for the top 5 in the NBA Draft? I say no. I love Russ Smith, but I think returned to Louisville, in large part, because he had nowhere else to go.
What the sports media, and the Courier Journal fail to see is that Coach Cal is honest with his kids. He tells them that he won’t get in the way of their dreams. In fact, Cal will go out of his way to make a kid’s dream come true. For all the talk of Kentucky and Cal’s “one and dones” I haven’t seen, as what happens at other places, a player leave a school and not get drafted and get stuck in no man’s land. Has there been one player that has left Kentucky with eligibility remaining and not had a legitimate opportunity to succeed at the professional level? Have any of the recent Cats been left in the cold?
Bledsoe? Wall? Cousins? Knight? MKG? Davis? Lamb? Jones? Liggins? Even Daniel Orton was drafted in the first round.
So, if you want to praise Russ’s decision, which I wholeheartedly do, do it for the right reasons, not because it somehow makes Coach Pitino and the University of Louisville somehow more holier than Coach Cal and UK. Calipari didn’t make the rules, but he’s certainly successful with the confines of the rules.