Since John Calipari arrived in Lexington as head coach of the University of Kentucky’s men’s basketball team five years ago, the critics, both national and local, have been vocal about his recruiting tactics. More pointedly, Calipari and Kentucky have been chastised for embracing the “one and done” recruiting system. Since the NBA mandated that players must be one year removed from their high school graduation before becoming eligible for the NBA Draft, many top high school prospects have only spent the bare minimum time (one year) in college before departing for the NBA. And as Calipari has recruited five straight number one ranked recruiting classes, there have been a fair amount of players that have only spent one year in Lexington before moving on to play professional basketball. As a result of the high number of “one and done” players, John Calipari and the University of Kentucky have become the case study for what is wrong with all of college basketball.
That is, Calipari and Kentucky were the case study. Along with all the negativity about the way Calipari recruits, many pundits have opined that the “Calipari Way” simply couldn’t produce sustained success. Five years, three Final Fours, a national runner up and national championship later, that theory has been disproven. In fact, more high profile coaches have begun to heavily recruit “one and done” high schoolers to remain competitive. Just this past college basketball season, freshmen sensations Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid at Kansas, Jabari Parker at Duke and Tyler Ennis at Syracuse were all “one and done” players. And if Bill Self, the beloved Coach K and Jim Boheim are getting into the “one and done” business, it can’t be all bad, right?