Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: Is the media creating a self fulfilling prophecy for one and done players?

One and done players in college basketball.

Being the editor of a Kentucky Wildcats basketball website, I think we have written volumes on the “one and done” players and I think we can all come to a conclusion. No one really likes the “one and done” rule. John Calipari has expressed his disdain for it. Kentucky fans certainly don’t like it. And I’m sure that if you had a poll of the players that are not destined for just one year, most of the players probably don’t like it.

It used to be that “one and done” was reserved for the truly special “once in a lifetime” player.

Like Kevin Garnett. Kobe Bryant. and LeBron James.

We knew early one that these players were special and had a destiny to go right to the NBA out of high school. Hell, the NBA would have taken them out of middle school if they could have.

But now, the “one and done” tag is bestowed on kids in high school regularly by the media and they are looked on as some sort of failure if they don’t spend just one year in college. Terrence Jones was roundly questioned by the pundits when he did not become a one and done and the media scribes said that he would hurt his draft position by staying in school. Every year there are a few players who could be served by staying in college, but when you turn on ESPN, all you hear is “So and so needs to declare now because he is not a first round draft pick in next years loaded NBA draft”.

Instead of “stay in school”, the refrain becomes “Get while the getting is good”.

And I get it. I have no problem with the players leaving early. As a Kentucky fan, I have learned it as a rite of passage. But as the season goes on, it seems that the various medias spend way too much discussing the “one and done” status of certain players. And in a way, it can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy that a player has to succeed in one year or they may lost millions of dollars by staying in school.

Don’t believe me?

In an insiders piece, Jeff Goodman at ESPN co-authored a piece entitled “Top One and Done Flight Risks”. On September 20. About six weeks before the actual freshman season begins. Too much hype? Probably. I mean, it is no news to anyone that follows college basketball that Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle are probably one year players. But it just seems over-hyped to publish this list in September.

The list of course includes all six of Kentucky’s McDonald All American players.  Despite the fact that two of them may not even start.  There are twelve players on the list however, which kind of presents a problem.  In my opinion and if I were a college coach (I am not), I would think the only reaseon for being a one and done would to be a guaranteed lottery pick.  There are only eleven lottery picks and twelve players on this list.  So even if these were the top twelve players in the draft, one player would be left out of the lottery.

I know that John Calipari has said that if a player can be a first round pick, he may encourage him to leave.  OK, well there are thirty first round draft positions available.  And last year, there were forty eight players that left college early.  Throw in all the college seniors and the annual influx of foreign players and you are going to have early entry players that don’t get drafted at all.  While the “one and dones” will probably get drafted, they may find themselves in the position where another year or two would have improved their draft position considerably.  Case in point is Daniel Orton.

In the end, what Goodman is doing is not anything different from what any other sports outlet is doing.  He is not the only one to be labelling and pre-determining the one and dones.  But fact is, these are a bunch of seventeen and eighteen kids that are already being told they need to play just one year in college before they even have their first official practices.  Or before they even commit to a school.

Sadly, that is the state of college basketball now.  And Kentucky has benefitted from the one and done mania more than anyone.  It just seems odd  (and sad as a fan) to see these predictions in September before the season even plays out.


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