Like analytics and newspaper readership, the so-called one-and-done rule sparks different reactions depending on how old you are. The younger you are, the more likely you are to accept college basketball as a one-year way station along the path to an NBA career, view analytics as greater sporting truth revealed and the daily newspaper as a quaint relic.
So former UCLA player Lynn Shackelford’s dislike of one-and-done players was no surprise. Although, it was interesting how he prefaced his opinion.
“I’m old-fashioned,” he said. “I’m an old guy. I’m 68 years old.”
With that said, Shackelford said of the one-and-done rule, “I think it’s dreadful. I think college basketball is corrupt. It’s all straight from AAU ball to one year in college to the NBA. And it has nothing to do with getting an education anymore or developing yourself personally. Anything like that. It’s a shame.”
It might be more polite to say college basketball is “different” than it was when Shackelford played in the late 1960s.
“Different is probably the way to put it,” he said. “For some people, it’s probably great. They make a lot of money. They save money. They give money to their parents who never had money. All positive if they do it right.”
With that said, Shackelford added, “At age 68, I can tell them basketball doesn’t last forever.”
Shackelford steered the conversation to the one-and-done player. The reporter called to ask him to share his thoughts about Pauley Pavilion.
But before reminiscing about UCLA’s iconic arena, Shackelford recalled another interview from two years earlier. The topic was whether Kentucky’s recruiting class of 2013, which included a record six McDonald’s All-Americans, was the greatest ever assembled. Shackelford was in the same UCLA class as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, hence the call.
Shackelford wanted to know: How many of those players were still at Kentucky? How many were in the NBA? How many were not?
He also wanted to know what year in school they would be in if they had stayed at UK? When told they would be juniors, Shackelford laughed. “OK,” he said, “and where are they?”
Well, Marcus Lee is the only one of the McDonald’s All-Americans still at Kentucky. Julius Randle is the most successful, averaging 10-plus points for the Lakers. James Young and Aaron Harrison make only cameo appearances for the Celtics and Hornets, respectively.
Andrew Harrison (Iowa Energy) and Dakari Johnson (Oklahoma City Blue) are in the NBA’s Development League. As of last week, Harrison averaged 14.2 points and 5.0 assists. Johnson averaged a double-double (11.8 points and 10.8 rebounds).
“To have all of them in the D-League or the NBA is pretty darn impressive,” Shackelford said.
Alex Wolff, a longtime writer for Sports Illustrated, agreed that younger people are more accepting of one-and-done players.
“It’s definitely generational,” he said. “The more old-fashioned you are, the more you think four years of college. The purpose of it is education, and it’s its own reward.
“But if you polled by age, you’d find young people more willing to see athletes get paid. They don’t begrudge them anything.”
Coincidentally, on a Charlotte-to-Los Angeles flight Wednesday evening, a teenager wore a T-shirt sporting UK Coach John Calipari’s preferred label for one-and-done: “Succeed and Proceed.”
Wolff offered a sobering opinion: College basketball has changed.
“The college basketball we grew up in and Lynn Shackelford was part of is a very different beast,” Wolff said, “and that’s just the way of the world.”
Wolff then ended the conversation with a happy thought. “It’s good to know Lynn Shackelford is still out there speaking his mind,” Wolff said, “if not launching his jumper.”
Former UK guard Devin Booker is off to a fast start as an NBA shooter. As of the middle of last week, he had made eight of 10 shots from beyond the three-point line.
That made him the league leader in three-point shooting percentage among players who had taken at least 10 shots. And if you’re into analytics, Booker’s overall plus-minus was a plus-20.
As the story on NBA.com reported, Booker’s three-point shooting accuracy had historic significance. He was at the top of the all-time list of NBA three-point shooters, not just rookies, who had shot at least four times from that range.
Here’s how NBA.com reported Booker’s performance at New Orleans last Sunday:
“There is more than three-point shooting to Booker’s game, something he proved in Sunday’s game at New Orleans. Dribble-drives to the rim, leaning bank-shots and earning trips to the foul line were on display as the league’s youngest player needed just 16 minutes to score a career-high 15 points.”
Kentucky’s previous trip to UCLA was anything but humdrum.
Jim Host, then one of five radio play-by-play announcers calling UK games, recalled a bus accident after the Cats beat UCLA on Dec. 4, 1959. A car crossed the center line and T-boned the team bus. The impact sent Host, who always sat in the front of the bus across the aisle from Coach Adolph Rupp, over the rail and onto the steps leading up to the seating area.
“Knocked me out,” Host recalled last week. “As I was coming to, I heard Coach Rupp say, ‘My Gawd, is he dead?’”
Four passengers in the car died.
Host was taken to the hospital, where doctors stitched up his wounds. With his head heavily bandaged, he called Kentucky’s game the next night against Southern Cal.
Which is the other interesting thing about the trip. Kentucky played at UCLA and at Southern Cal on back-to-back nights.
The following weekend had games at Saint Louis and at Kansas in a three-day period. Then Kentucky came home for the UKIT to play North Carolina and Jerry West-led West Virginia on back-to-back nights.
Whew! That’s six games in 15 days with opponents including UCLA, Southern Cal, Kansas, North Carolina and West Virginia. UK had a 3-3 record in those games, which explains why nobody plays such a gloriously challenging and entertaining schedule anymore.
With the arrival of heralded freshman Malik Newman and new coach Ben Howland, Mississippi State basketball generated a buzz going into this season.
The Bulldogs had a 4-3 record going into this weekend.
Howland, who has guided 10 teams into the NCAA Tournament, cited two factors for State’s start:
▪ A turf toe injury sidelined Newman for more than two weeks. “He’s just rounding himself back into shape right now,” Howland said.
▪ State’s first seven opponents had made a robust 46.8 percent of their shots. That number jumped off the page given Howland’s reputation for teaching tough-minded, physical defense.
The mind immediately went to the new rules, which are designed to reduce physical play. At SEC Media Day, Howland made no secret of his misgivings about the new rules.
When asked if the rules were a factor in how well State’s opponents had shot, Howland said, “Early on, our mantra is to play good defense without fouling. And that’s what we have to do. And it has affected us.”
Former Rupp Runt and now Hall of Famer Louie Dampier made a lasting impression as a shooter. Lynn Shackelford recalled being on the Miami Floridians and watching Dampier shoot in ABA games.
Later, Shackelford did the same as a color analyst on Los Angeles Lakers broadcasts as Dampier finished his playing career with San Antonio.
“If you left him open from three-point range, it was automatic,” Shackelford said. “That’s the way it seemed to me. He was an amazing shooter.”
H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, two key advisers to President Richard Nixon, were UCLA graduates. Each went to prison for his involvement in the Watergate scandal.
To which former UCLA basketball standout Lynn Shackelford quipped, “USC has their O.J. Simpson. I guess we have our crooks.”
‘It’s an arms race’
UCLA expects to move into a new practice facility in the fall of 2017.
“Nothing’s more important, in my opinion,” Coach Steve Alford said.
Alford then immediately amended that. Coaches fostering a relationship with players and recruits was most important, he said. Facilities, the gaudier the better, come next on the priority list. Exhibit A for UK fans: the “new” Commonwealth Stadium.
Alford, a star shooter on Indiana’s 1987 national championship team, reminded reporters of how times have changed. He said he was happy to get a pair of “short shorts” and a T-shirt.
“That sufficed,” he said. “That’s not the case anymore. It’s an arms race. You’re in an arms race, and you’ve got to understand that.”
Students and athletes
In the late 1960s, Lynn Shackelford was UCLA’s perimeter shooter (his specialty seemed to be the corners) who stretched defenses, allowing Lew Alcindor/Kareem Abdul-Jabbar more room to operate around the basket. And, of course, vice versa.
Shackelford and Alcindor were freshmen when UCLA moved into Pauley Pavilion. An increase in student activity fees helped pay for construction. Shackelford recalled the reward being one whole side — from courtside to the top row — reserved for students.
“That, as you can imagine, created a great atmosphere in the building,” Shackelford said.
In the remodeled Pauley Pavilion, there are nine sections — or about a quarter of the seats in the lower bowl — set aside for students. There is one section for students in the upper bowl.
“We want Pauley Pavilion to continue to be a magical place,” UCLA Coach Steve Alford said in 2014. “And we know that our students play a major role in accomplishing this goal.”
UK announced the attendance for the Illinois State game as 21,894. That seemed generous given Rupp Arena’s listed capacity of 23,000 and the many empty rows in the upper level.
According to Rupp Arena’s turnstile count, the attendance was 15,800.
To Hall of Famer Cliff Hagan. He turns 84 on Wednesday. . . . To Terry Mobley. He turns 72 on Wednesday. . . . To Sam Malone. He turns 24 on Sunday (today). . . . To Eric Bledsoe. He turns 26 on Wednesday . . . To Randy Noll. He turned 66 on Saturday. . . . To former Auburn Coach Cliff Ellis. He turned 70 on Saturday.