Since the 2010 NBA Draft — the first to include UK players coached by John Calipari — 18 freshmen have left the Wildcats after one season to jump to the pros.
That number of one-and-done NBA Draft picks will likely jump to 21 later this year with the expected departures of projected first-round selections Bam Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk.
In that same time period, fellow college basketball blue blood North Carolina has had a grand total of zero one-and-done players. The Tar Heels have not lacked for McDonald’s All-Americans during that span — there are six on this season’s UNC roster — but that talent hasn’t translated to those players becoming instant NBA prospects.
The last one-and-done North Carolina player was Brandan Wright, the No. 8 overall pick in 2007. The only other such player in Coach Roy Williams’ 14 seasons with the program was Marvin Williams, who was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft after winning a national title with the Heels.
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Ahead of the UK-UNC game in the NCAA Tournament’s Elite Eight here Sunday night, Roy Williams was asked if there’s a difference in how he and Calipari recruit.
Williams basically said that their approach is the same. It’s the results that have been different.
“Yeah, there’s a difference: he got ’em and I didn’t,” Williams said. “I recruit the same guys. I recruited Bam for a long time. I just thought he was great. I went in to see Malik. De’Aaron, we tried to recruit him early but didn’t think we were getting there.
“I recruited (Duke’s) Jayson Tatum for three years as hard as I could. That’s the only difference is they got them and we didn’t. We’ve got to try to figure out a way to compete with them and go from there.”
Later on in the press conference, Williams turned a question about the NBA’s “one-and-done” rule into another opportunity to praise Calipari’s recruiting success. The UNC coach said he’d rather have “a mix” of young stars and veteran leaders, and he wondered aloud how much success he’d have if he had to basically start from scratch every season.
“What John does is just phenomenal to me,” Williams said. “To have to change four, five, six, seven guys every year is just phenomenal. What he does is really special there, and I’m not trying to suck up or anything, I really believe that. For me, that would be harder because I like that relationship and watching guys grow and do some of those things, but I’d like to have a mix of them is what I’d really like to have.”