SANDESTIN — Kentucky coach John Calipari has had more than his share of players who lasted just one season before making the jump to the NBA, but at this week's SEC spring meetings Calipari joined a growing number of league coaches who say the NBA's one-and-done rule needs to be revised or scrapped.
Players must be at least 19 to enter the league, meaning many top players who might have jumped to the NBA from high school now head to college for one season. Kentucky had four underclassmen (three freshmen) declare for the June 24 draft, including guard John Wall, expected to be the No. 1 overall pick.
"These kids should be able to go right to the league if that's what they choose to do and this is what I've said for 10 years,'' Calipari said. "Or they should go to college for two or three years, whatever rule they come to grips with. But the way it is right now makes it hard."
The rule, and the problems it is causing college coaches, from recruiting to building a program, was a hot topic this week.
"I don't think it's working well for college basketball," Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl said. "… My problem is that it sends a message and the trickle down is that way too many high school and college kids are now thinking about coming here and how many years am I going to be here before I go. Am I going to be one and done, two and done, three and done, as opposed to coming to college and saying what am I going to major in? What am I going to get my degree in and how many championships can I win? And when I'm done, where will I be drafted? It complicates the issue."
Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury said changing the rule would help players as well as college coaches who are trying to maintain consistency.
"We need the baseball rule where we get them and have them for three years," Stansbury said. "And I think it would help the player. It would relax their minds; they know you've got to coach them, they've got to be there. Because you are going to get a lot of kids now that are going to be there for one year. They may (need to be there) two years, but in their minds they are going after the first year and you really can't coach them the way you want to coach them."
FORGING HIS OWN PATH: Tennessee football coach Derek Dooley has been on the job nearly six months, but he has stayed out of the media spotlight — the complete opposite approach of his predecessor, Lane Kiffin. Dooley said his coaching style will be forged over time, that for now he's just trying to implement a plan that will help the program be successful.
"I've just modeled myself after who I am," he said. "I did come in and it was quite different than the predecessor in that I wasn't trying to make headlines. I felt like our program needed somebody to kind of get their arms around it, and our team needed somebody to get their arms around them and start forging a little plan of where we're going. Because at the end of the day, a good headline in February or March isn't going to win you any football games."
CALIPARI THE POLITICIAN: Despite persistent allegations of academic impropriety regarding former guard Eric Bledsoe, Calipari declined to comment on reports last week that the NCAA is investigating Bledsoe's high school transcripts. Kentucky officials have said Bledsoe was cleared by the NCAA Eligibility Center before enrolling. "One thing I will say is that coaching at Kentucky is like being in politics," said Calipari, who reiterated he plans to be at UK next season, not in the NBA. "You've got your core group that absolutely loves you and the others are trying to unseat you. That's how it is if you're at Kentucky.''