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Question of the Day
He preaches he tries to put together a “players first” program, and the message is attractive to players looking to iron out the wrinkles before becoming millionaires.
“He tells you coming in that he’s going to let you play and let you make mistakes, but he’s going to let you learn from them,” said Washington Wizards rookie John Wall, who played one season for Kentucky before bolting to the NBA. “He gives you an opportunity to go in there and show your talent, and he knows he’s a good enough coach that he can go out and get the same type of guy (the next year).”
The next class of Wildcats are already set to go.
If Knight and Jones go pro later this spring, they’ll be replaced by another talented group led by forward Anthony Davis and point guard Marquis Teague, both of whom could have very short stays in Lexington.
Recruiting talented but highly volatile stars can come at a price. The NCAA ordered Memphis to vacate all 38 of its wins during the 2007-08 season for using an ineligible player believed to be Derrick Rose, who spent a season at Memphis before becoming the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft.
It’s a risk some programs deem too dangerous.
Notre Dame coach Mike Brey is reluctant to recruit a player who may only stick around for a season, citing the school’s academic demands and the entourages that surround some of the nation’s top players.
“A lot of one-and-done guys come with a lot of coaching already from people helping them along the way,” said Brey, who led the Irish to a 27-7 record behind senior guard Ben Hansbrough. “At this point in my career, I don’t know if I want to deal with that.”
The Irish have been successful with a different type of short-term players: transfers like Hansbrough, who came to Notre Dame after two years at Mississippi State.
Still, Hansbrough remained with the school for three seasons, sitting out one under NCAA transfer rules before developing into one of the Big East’s best shooters as a junior and senior.
Besides the outside distractions, introducing a one-year player in a locker room full of veterans could upset the delicate balance of the locker room.
Butler has made consecutive Final Fours “the Butler Way,” using a low-key, humble approach championed by coach Brad Stevens. If the Bulldogs were to bring a hotshot recruit in, the chemistry may change, and not for the better.
“We’re not individuals here, we’re not playing for an individual star or something like that,” Butler guard Chase Stigall said. “We’re trying to build a program. The program was started a long time ago.”
So was Kentucky’s, though Calipari isn’t one to dwell on the past. He caused a stir last June when he called the night five Wildcats _ four of them freshmen _ were selected in the first round of the NBA draft the greatest day in the program’s history, the school’s seven national championships included.
Calipari is unapologetic in his approach. He values experience, but he covets talent.
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