The ‘One-And-Done’ Predicament

John Steigerwald Contributor
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Who do you like in the NCAA basketball tournament?

I’m going to go with the team that has nine McDonald’s All Americans on the roster and that, as of this writing, hadn’t lost a game yet.

That would be your Kentucky Wildcats under the tutelage of the John Wooden of the 21st century, John “One and Done” Calipari.

He makes no apologies for taking advantage of the NBA’s rule that requires a player to be at least 19 and a year removed from high school before being allowed in the league.

He has so much talent that he tries to run a two-platoon system of five man units to keep everybody happy.

And what does Calipari think the NBA should do to fix the one and done problem? Make them wait at least two years after high school before getting into the NBA, of course.

In his book called, (of course) “Players First: Coaching From the Inside Out,” he wrote, “ I want us to do right by the players.”

He wants them to get closer to a degree before they leave for the NBA and the $10 million in guaranteed money that comes with being a first round pick.

Here’s what I don’t understand: How important is a college degree to someone who will make $10 or $12 million in the first three years on the job?

And if the degree is important, wouldn’t $10 million make it pretty easy to afford even today’s ridiculously high tuition costs?

So, isn’t Calipari wasting his time and insulting everybody’s intelligence by talking about the importance of an NBA player-in-waiting getting a degree?

Another question I ask every year without ever getting an answer is, why not let a kid declare for the draft, see where he is picked and then give him the option of returning to college to get that all important degree?

Ridiculous, you say.

How is it that 39 players in last year’s NCAA Frozen Four hockey championship were already NHL draft picks? There were 13 NHL draft picks in the Minnesota-Union College championship game. Some of those kids are pros today and some of them are back in college still playing NCAA hockey.

If a college basketball player is found as much as looking at an agent before he “graduates” he’s in danger of being sanctioned by the NCAA.

The lawyer for the NBA players’ union has his own unique take on the NBA’s age limit.

He blames it on race.

Okay, so maybe that’s not such a unique take.

Greg Kohlman told the Associated Press, “If they were white and hockey players they would be out there playing. If they were white and baseball players they would be out there playing.”

Kohlman got it exactly right except for the white part.

Being white has nothing to do with it. Being a hockey player or a baseball player (neither sport prevents black athletes from participating) has everything to do with it for one simple reason.

The NHL and Major League Baseball have their own farm systems. They don’t depend 100 percent on colleges to be their minor leagues like the NBA and the NFL.

You would think that a guy would have to be pretty smart to be the National Basketball Players Association general counsel, but Kohlman’s playing of the race card is about as moronic as it gets.

The NBA Players Association says it will push to return the eligibility age to 18 in the next collective bargaining agreement. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver agrees with Calipari. He’d like to see the age limit raised to 20.

Adam obviously shares Calipari’s interest in “Doing right by the players.”

Money and preserving a free minor league system have nothing to do with it.

Pittsburgh ex-TV sportscaster, columnist and talk show host John Steigerwald is the author of the Pittsburgh sports memoir, “Just Watch The Game.” Follow him on Twitter and listen to his podcast at pittsburghpodcastnetwork.com