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Friday, April 9, 2010

One and done? The new NCAA crave

Think your college basketball team has what it takes to win it all? Well, if recent trends hold up, they had better win now, or you might be looking at an NIT championship the following season. There is a new fad among the college ranks called one and done, whereby an athlete enrolls at a university for his freshman year, plays one season of ball for the university team, and after the season is over declare himself eligible for the NBA draft. This is a direct result of the NBA's recent collective bargaining agreement that states an individual must be at least one year out of high school before he can enter the draft. The league and David Stern created this rule to encourage players to stay in school; the results have been mixed so far, with many players taking advantage of this one and done philosophy. This year Kentucky was the winner(or perhaps the loser) in the one and done sweepstakes: freshmen John Wall, Demarcus Cousins and Erik Bledsoe all declared themselves eligible for the June draft and will likely be lottery picks. Even a storied program such as Ohio State has not been exempt from this phenomenon. A year after they lost to Florida in the final, the 2006-2007 OSU freshman class lost Greg Oden, Mike Conley, and Daequan Cook to the NBA the following season. Centers Kosta Koufos and BJ Mullens would follow suit for OSU and become one and dones as well. This has put pressure on many programs such as OSU and Kentucky to in some cases overrecruit in the hopes that one or two of the players they have an eye on will sign a letter of intent. The effect it has on fans could not be more polarizing, however. On the one hand, you have many fans such as those rooting for Kentucky(or OSU in 2007 for that matter) who are just glad to have even one season of success. When a player such as a BJ Mullens leaves early and struggles, however, many fans are quick to dismiss that player as even having attended their school. In fact, in Columbus, a couple of sportsradio dj's have even gone so far as to say that if Mullens had returned to OSU, the Buckeyes might have been worse off, an interesting point but one will never truly know the answer to.(They also believe that Mullens won't make it in the NBA; try to guess what they said he'll be doing). This phenomenon is not limited to college basketball, either. At my place of employment, the Cardinal Health National Logistics Center in Groveport, Ohio, we are not exempt from the one and done fad either. In fact, one of our star performers (a guy we nicknamed Ken-rod, in part because he called me J-rod and then proceeded to add -rod to everyone else's name as well) had only spent six months with the company and now he is headed off to corporate. And how can you blame him? I mean he's guaranteed thousands more than he would make at the NLC (I mean he probably does, I never really asked him), he gets to sit in a nice comfy chair all day, and can come and go as he pleases. What's not to like? In my opinion, this one and done fad is far from over, and recent failures of players such as Koufos and Mullens will do little to deter future college prospects from repeating the same mistake. This one and done will not stop until the NBA realizes that the risk with such players might be more than the reward that comes from drafting them. And the real losers in this battle are not the players themselves but the fans, who will continue to go these guys' games hoping they bring home a championship, only to leave the game with a sense of "what if' when they fail to win it all and then leave for the NBA. For that reason, my hat goes off to Duke University, whose team not only won it all, but more than likely every player will graduate with some type of degree and do something more than make three pointers in Tulsa, Oklahoma before applying to work at Citgo.

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