Calipari defends one-and-done athletes

Kentucky coach John Calipari is against forcing college players to spend two seasons in school...

Kentucky coach John Calipari is against forcing college players to spend two seasons in school before electing for the NBA draft. (GETTY IMAGES)

Ryan Wolstat, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 9:50 PM ET

NEW ORLEANS - NBA commissioner David Stern wants college players to stay in school longer, the vast majority of general managers do too and NCAA president Mark Emmert joined the bandwagon on Thursday.

The NBA tried to extend its one-year in school policy to two during collective bargaining talks late last year, but the NBPA fought the move so now it will have to wait until the next lockout.

Oddly, the college coach who would be most impacted by a switch, Kentucky’s John Calipari (he’s seen Derrick Rose and John Wall leave his teams after a year and this group will lose a few more freshman), has maintained he believes players should have the right to decide for themselves.

“Historically, we don’t convince kids to stay that should leave. They are going to get the information and they know that. They are just going to play basketball. During the year, it is all about the team, this has always been a players-first program. That’s what we are about,” Calipari said.

Emmert believes the attention paid to one-and-done athletes is overblown.

“In any one year we’ve got, I don’t know what the numbers are, maybe 15 out of 5500 kids who are one-and-done’s,” Emmert said.

“While (they) get an enormous amount of attention, the reality is they’re a tiny, tiny fraction of the student athletes who compete in basketball and compete in this tournament and will be competing here in this Final Four.

“I’ve made no secret of the fact that I would prefer to have a different model. I think most people would prefer to have a model that keeps young men and women in college as long as you can. That’s to their advantage over the long run, we believe. It would be nice if that were the case.”

Stern has agreed and GMs believe that keeping kids in school longer will help cut down on draft night mistakes because they will have a better idea of what players are capable of and fewer projects will be selected.

TAR HEELS TRIO ENTER DRAFT

The North Carolina Tar Heels didn’t make it to the Final Four, but that didn’t stop the team from hogging some of the spotlight on Thursday.

Sophomore swingman Harrison Barnes, sophomore point guard Kendall Marshall and junior power forward John Henson announced that they were joining senior big man Tyler Zeller in the NBA draft pool.

All are expected to go in the first round and freshman power forward James Michael McAdoo would as well, but he appears to be leaning towards returning to Chapel Hill, according to his father.

Barnes made the mistake of returning to school with his draft stock sky-high a year ago, and now will enter coming off of a disappointing regular season and an even worse NCAA Tournament.

Henson and Zeller have the length and skill to intrigue teams while Marshall, who the Tar Heels missed tremendously in the tourney, will have many suitors despite his wrist injury, since this will be a draft light on point guard prospects.

“It’s a great day for three youngsters who are taking another step toward their ultimate goal of playing professional basketball,” said coach Roy Williams in a statement.

“On a very small stage, it’s a sad day for me because I won’t get to coach them again.”

Barnes and Marshall — who is North Carolina’s all-time leader in assists per game — could intrigue the Raptors, though Marshall would have to come via a trade since he isn’t seen as a top 10 calibre prospect.

KENTUCKY GOOD, BUT NOT NBA GOOD

Charles Barkley certainly got tongues wagging when he said half in jest that Kentucky was good enough to beat the Raptors the other day.

Former Maryland coach Gary Williams said the Wildcats could beat the woeful Wizards — and the Charlotte Bobcats are threatening to finish the year with the NBA’s worst record ever so probably will find themselves mocked any second now — but people are justly throwing cold water on the idea.

First it was Orlando Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy who said while Kentucky has four NBA players: “The other team’s got 13” and Kentucky winning would be “absurd,” and on Thursday, Kentucky coach John Calipari and his players agreed.

“This team could not beat one NBA team, not one. The worst one in the league, we could not beat,” said Calipari, who has also been behind multiple NBA benches.

Senior guard Darius Miller agreed.

“That is a great compliment. I necessarily don’t think that we can beat any NBA teams, but it is good that people feel that way about us,” Miller said.


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