Notebook

UK notebook: One-and-dones pose quandary for Todd

Herald-Leader Staff WriterApril 4, 2010 

Presumably, Kentucky Coach John Calipari is looking to replace one group of so-called one-and-done players with another this recruiting season. He's selling a fast track to the NBA and holding up past one-and-done players such as Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and, we can assume, John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins as enticing examples of what he can do for a prospect. And how quickly he can do it.

Having to play only one season of college basketball before entering the NBA is a powerful message on the impressionable minds of high school prospects.

"Every player in every class wants to be a one-and-done," McDonald's All-American Josh Selby said last week. "And I can't lie. I want to be one."

Meanwhile, UK President Lee T. Todd Jr. sits uneasy at the head of an educational institution.

"If you don't recruit them, you'll play against them very likely," Todd said of one-and-done players in a recent interview. "It's a system problem, I think."

Todd, who will join the NCAA Division I Board of Directors later this year, said he feels obligated to voice his concerns before that body.

"It is a question being discussed, and we need to be in there telling what we think about it," he said. "I'll be glad to bring it up."

Todd said he had no specific proposals to suggest. But like many in college athletics, the UK president likes the baseball model. In that sport, a player is free to go pro out of high school. But if the prospect chooses to attend college, he commits himself to three seasons.

Basketball has only the NBA rule, which requires prospects to be a year removed from high school before being eligible for the draft.

Through his success at Memphis and now UK, Calipari has become synonymous with one-and-done players. Dajuan Wagner in 2002. Shawne Williams in 2006. Rose in 2008. Evans in 2009. Wall, Cousins, maybe Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton in 2010.

In a Southeastern Conference coaches' teleconference last month, Calipari noted that you recruit the best players you can recruit. It's impossible to predict which players will be draftable a year later. He cited Darius Rice, a McDonald's All-American and supposed one-and-done player who played four seasons for Miami. Then there was Chris Wilcox, who went to Maryland as a four-year player and became an NBA lottery pick after two seasons.

"You try to plan as much as you can," Calipari said. "You can't plan much. Midway through the year, you have a pretty good idea, and you go from there. I don't know if you can do it any other way."

Hall of Fame Coach Bob Knight criticized Calipari earlier this season, in part, because one-and-done players mock the idea of a college education. But Calipari is hardly alone.

"We all want guys who are good enough to go to the next level," Georgia Coach Mark Fox said. "We can't control how quickly they develop into that. How many coaches are going to turn down a guy like that if they thought he'd want to come? C'mon. I'm not."

In saying he'd take a one-and-done, Louisiana State Coach Trent Johnson quipped, "Because my wife likes to shop."

Translation: the best players bring victories, which bring pay raises and contract extensions for coaches.

But Fox and Johnson acknowledged the strain that comes with fitting one-and-done players into an educational system.

"It's not the developmental league for the NBA," Johnson said of college basketball. "Obviously, you have to recruit (one-and-dones) because that kid can make an impact. No way around it till the powers that be have a different rule."

Added Fox: "When they're there for that time frame, they're going to work toward becoming educated young men."

Todd suggested that not all one-and-done players are equal. Some are basketball nomads who pose as college students as they wait out a year before turning pro.

"That's very bad," Todd said.

The UK president held up Wall as an example of a one-and-done player who takes the academic work seriously.

"John Wall really changed my impression of what the one-and-done player is," Todd said. "... The system needs change. But under the present system, I'd take every John Wall I could get, if he's a one-and-done."

Of course, Calipari seeks a fourth one-and-done point guard in four years this spring. Rose begat Evans who begat Wall who will begat, maybe Selby.

"Having three back-to-back one-and-dones impresses me a lot," Selby said. "Not many schools do that. It means he might have a chance to make me a one-and-done."

That's the idea.

"John (Calipari) has a tendency to find these kids," Todd said. "They want to play for him. You'll play against them if you don't play with them. There (were) a few other schools wanting John Wall than just us."

Hood likes UK

A rumor making the rounds since Kentucky lost to West Virginia has freshman Jon Hood transferring at the end of the semester.

Not true, his father, Brian Hood, said.

"Jon's not going anywhere," he said. "He likes Lexington. He likes UK. He likes Cal."

The Hood rumor had him transferring to Vanderbilt. Brian Hood scoffed, noting that Vandy was not among the eight Southeastern Conference schools offering his son a scholarship out of high school. So why would he want to go there?

Brian Hood said it was no mystery why his son did not play a lot of minutes as a freshman. The guard spots were manned by All-American John Wall and All-SEC freshman Eric Bledsoe. At the small forward, there was "a four-person logjam," the elder Hood said, meaning Darius Miller, Darnell Dodson, Ramon Harris and DeAndre Liggins.

"He did what most freshmen do," Brian Hood said of his son. "He sat on the bench and learned."

The day after UK returned from Syracuse, Jon Hood headed to the Craft Center to work on his shooting. But Calipari stopped him by ordering all the players to take a week off and decompress.

Coaches cook

Kentucky Coach John Calipari competed with his counterpart from Notre Dame, Mike Brey, in a cooking competition Saturday in Indianapolis.

Celebrity chef Tim Love supervised as the coaches chopped, seasoned and sautéed.

"My goal is to make them cook as much as possible," Love said on Friday, "so I can make fun of them as much as possible."

The cooking competition is sponsored by LG Electronics, which provided side-by-side fully equipped kitchens complete with four-door French-door refrigerators, induction cooktops, double wall ovens and microwaves.

LG Electronics will make $5,000 donations to the Coaches vs. Cancer charity in the names of the winning coaches.

Each coach had 45 minutes to prepare American lamb chops, mashed potatoes and green beans.

When asked about the menu, Love said, "It's Easter. You've got to do lamb."

Brey won the cook-off despite what spokesman Eileen Earley called a "very strong Kentucky fan presence."

As it ended, Love quipped, "Calapari came in with the crowd advantage, but Brey brought the heat in the LG kitchen."

The cook-off continues Sunday at Indianapolis Convention Center from 2 to 3 p.m. Coaches competing Sunday are Tom Crean of Indiana and Paul Hewitt of Georgia Tech.

Admission is $10.

Cal speaks

Which of the following does not fit: Sustainable corporate strategy platforms, cell genomics, carbon sequestering of greenhouse gasses, John Calipari's Bounce Back philosophy.

Actually, it's a trick question. They all fit in Alltech's 26th International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium set for May in Lexington.

Calipari will be speaking about Bounce Back (the title he gave to his self-help book published last year) and how to make a corporate team a winner. The UK coach will not speak about the agriculture industry, cell genomics or carbon sequestering.

Must-see TV?

Tennessee lost to Michigan State by one point in the Midwest Regional finals. To come so close to the Final Four apparently will eat at Tennessee Coach Bruce Pearl.

During an appearance on radio station ESPN 1000 in Chicago, Pearl was asked whether he would watch the Final Four.

"No, no, I will not be watching it," he said. "I can't watch it; I won't watch it. ... I might listen to it on ESPN 1000, but I will not be watching it."

When asked what you do instead of watching the Final Four, Pearl said, "You drive back to Knoxville, and you pout. I won't put myself through that situation. I have great respect for Tom Izzo and for getting his team there. I was in the Horizon League at one time, possibly one of the poster children for the Horizon at one point at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, so very, very proud and happy for Butler and the Horizon League."

Ask the A.D.

In a feature called "Ask the A.D.," Arkansas Athletics Director Jeff Long occasionally responds to fans' e-mail questions on the school's Web site. In a video segment posted last month, a fan asked a blunt question about John Pelphrey's job security.

"Well, certainly that's been a question raised by some in our fan base," Long said. "But I think, by the time this airs, everyone knows that we're not going to make a change in our basketball head coaching position.

"I've been clear throughout the season — and the end of the season — that we're supporting Coach Pelphrey."

Long reiterated that the administration is asking Pelphrey and his staff to not only win games, but also build a program with quality people, discipline and accountability.

"This is not the time to change course," Long said. "Now is the time to support our program."

Final Four winner

In a random drawing from among more than 13,000 donors, Barbara McFarland of Mayslick, Ky., won two tickets to the Final Four from the Kentucky Blood Center.

According to a KBC news release, McFarland was visiting her grandchildren more than 600 miles away when she learned she won the tickets.

"My grandkids are in school right now but, as soon as they get out, I will tell them good-bye and be on my way!" she said in the news release.

Adding to McFarland's good fortune, she has a daughter who lives in Indianapolis.

"I never thought I would win anything for giving blood," she said. "I am still shaking. I can't believe it!"

One man, one vote

Here was my ballot for the All-East Regional team: John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins of Kentucky, Da'Sean Butler and Joe Mazzulla of West Virginia and Louis Dale of Cornell. I voted for Mazzulla as Most Outstanding Player.

In case you missed it, the All-East Regional team was Wall, Cousins, Butler, Mazzulla and Kevin Jones of WVU. Mazzulla was voted Most Outstanding Player.

Helping Haiti

Meghan Alessi, a senior at Bryan Station High School and president of the school's Invisible Children Club, wants to spread the word about an effort to raise money for earthquake victims in Haiti.

As part of the effort, hats autographed by UK coaches John Calipari and Joker Phillips are available on eBay until noon Thursday. Proceeds go to Food for the Hungry, an organization aiding people in Haiti.

Happy birthday

To former UK forward Erik Daniels. He turned 28 on Thursday.

Jerry Tipton covers UK basketball for the Herald-Leader. This article contains his opinions and observations. Reach him at jtipton@herald-leader.com.

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