If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News is without a doubt, the best college basketball writer currently working. He is smart, writes thought-provoking articles, and operates without bias. And if you have not noticed, he probably gets John Calipari better than any writer working today. And if you are a Kentucky fan and do not follow him, you need to immediately.
And this weekend, he wrote a piece that I have been dying for someone to write for a while. Part of the reason most college basketball scribes and fans view Kentucky and John Calipari as evil is because he recruits the evil “one and done” players. With Coach K’s success in the 2014 class and his recent string of one and dones (Kyrie Irving, Austin Rivers), DeCourcy wonders if the hypocrisy towards Kentucky will end and transfer to Coach K. And I add Bill Self to the conversation as well.
So what will they all say? If Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones and Justise Winslow and the Duke Blue Devils arrive onstage for the 2015 Final Four at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, one year into college careers that very well could last only one year, will their coach, Mike Krzyzewski, face a question such as the lengthy one presented to Calipari in New Orleans in 2012 that included the phrase “Your best players aren’t here by choice” and suggested winning the championship wouldn’t mean all that much to them?
Will NCAA president Mark Emmert be asked at his annual state-of-the-association news conference to discuss the “Duke-and-done” culture?
Those of us who’ve endorsed the NBA’s age limit rule since its inception are in position to chuckle now at all the moralists who behaved as though it were some sort of affliction, a festering wound upon the soul of college basketball. It was an easier position to take when Calipari could be held as the singular villain, because he was a common media target years before the NBA instituted its age limit rule for the NBA Draft in time for the 2006-07 season.
I know that we have discussed Tyler Ulis in depth and that a portion of the BBN is iffy on Ulis due to his 5’9 height. Don’t be concerned about Ulis. Check out this preseason preview of him.
That’s why Marian Catholic will begin the season as No. 1. Of course, the Spartans are talented. Ulis is the best player in the area, and I believe the seasoned, experienced supporting cast of Ki-jana Crawford, Josh Cohn, Terrone Parham and John Oliver will be even better this season.
Here’s what sets Marian apart: The Spartans realize Ulis is the star of the show and are willing to play Robin to his Batman. Ulis, in turn, is just as pleased to register the assist on a game-winning shot as he is burying a buzzer-beater.
Ulis has gotten noticeably stronger, according to Taylor, and that should scare the daylights out of opponents.
Dante Exum is probably the John Calipari recruit that we know the least about. And it is looking more and more like we will never get to know him. Exum has finished school in Australia and it is looking like he is taking a direct path to the NBA.
The 6-foot-6 Exum may take some visits to American colleges in the coming months, with Indiana, North Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan and Oregon making his list of finalists.
Even if he visits schools, however, he may still end up in the 2014 NBA Draft, where he is projected as the No. 3 pick behind Andrew Wiggins and Julius Randle by DraftExpress.com.
“It’s been one of my dreams for a while. I always look at results and try to put myself in that situation in a way,” Exum told Australia’s Herald Sun of a future in the NBA.
Exum was recently quoted as saying that “wants to be picked Top 10.”
One NBA executive told ESPN.com’s Chad Ford that he would actually take Exum No. 1 overall — ahead of Wiggins, Randle and Jabari Parker.