NCAA at Rupp: The Rev. Jesse Jackson not a fan of "one-and-done"

jtipton@herald-leader.comMarch 21, 2013 

Add the Rev. Jesse Jackson to the list of people who dislike Kentucky basketball's signature approach: reliance on the so-called one-and-done player.

"I'm very concerned with the one-and-done," Jackson said at halftime of Louisville's NCAA Tournament game Thursday night against North Carolina A&T. "... March Madness and May Sadness at graduation time. I want March Madness and May Gladness at graduation."

Jackson, an icon of the Civil Rights movement and a former presidential candidate, did not mention Kentucky by name. He was in Rupp Arena to cheer for his alma mater, North Carolina A&T.

Jackson proudly noted that A&T has seven seniors.

"They didn't do the one-and-done," he said. "They are in the university. They will graduate, and that's real big deal to me."

Jackson spoke to the A&T team at halftime. When asked what he told the players, he said, "Well, the ground is no place for a champion. ... Believe in yourself (and) believe in each other. Do your best against the odds."

A&T trailed Louisville 47-31 at halftime.

"I feel proud," Jackson said. "They're playing against the best team in the country."

Before speaking briefly to reporters, Jackson shook Louisville Coach Rick Pitino's hand as the teams warmed up for the second half.

Jackson noted that an A&T graduate, Al Attles, became the first African-American to coach a team to a NBA title (the 1975 Golden State Warriors). That does not count Bill Russell, the player-coach of the Boston Celtics' title teams of 1968 and 1969.

Jackson did not claim to possess basketball talent as a young man.

"I played football," he said with a smile. "I played quarterback."

How good was he?

"Good enough to have a four-year scholarship," he said. "That was good enough for me."

Jerry Tipton: (859) 231-3227. Twitter: @JerryTipton. Blog: ukbasketball.bloginky.com

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