Kentucky Basketball: Can You Imagine if There Were No One and Done Players?

Gary BrownCorrespondent IIMarch 30, 2017

Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Arkansas gave the Kentucky Wildcats a tough game Wednesday night, but the Hogs lacked the speed and muscle to finish things up against John Calipari’s team.

With just under a minute left Brandon Knight made a pass to Razorback teammate Julysses Nobles that brought the Bud Walton crowd to their feet as Nobles completed the play with a layup that was challenged by Kentucky forward DeMarcus Cousins. This gave Arkansas their first lead of the second half.

It was short lived though, as Kentucky All-American guard John Wall took the ball on the inbounds pass and knifed through the Razorbacks to regain the lead for Kentucky.

Against the Wildcat press Arkansas turned the ball over as the pressure from sophomore guard Eric Bledsoe was too much for the Razorback back court.

Bledsoe made a steal, fired a pass to Wall and Kentucky never looked back again as they scored nine consecutive points after Arkansas took the lead.  

Too bad for Kentucky fans this was not the headline they woke up to the day after they faced Arkansas in Fayetteville. Instead they saw the actual headline which told the story of an Arkansas victory.

There was no John Wall or Eric Bledsoe on the court for Kentucky. DeMarcus Cousins does not wear Wildcat blue any longer. Wall is busy with the Washington Wizards, Bledsoe wears a Clippers uniform and Cousins is a King in Sacramento.

Brandon Knight did play in the Kentucky game with Arkansas. He was wearing a Kentucky uniform though, not Razorback red.

Welcome to college basketball and the land of one and done players.

Think how much better Kentucky would be this year with not only these the big three and Daniel Orton back in the playing rotation after a year of college experience.  

Would Kansas be better off with Xavier Henry in the lineup?

Have no doubts that Tommy Mason-Griffin would have made Oklahoma a better basketball team. Keith Gallon would also be an asset for the Sooners. Both failed to realize their immediate professional goals and are instead playing in the NBA’s developmental league. Oklahoma would have been a better place to be for both.

One and done players have changed college basketball in ways that are hard to measure.

Think about this. Would Kentucky have three of the nation’s top ten players in their recruiting class if the roster was full of the players who departed for the NBA after last season and the two or three who will go again this time around?

Odds are that one or two of those guys would have headed to a place where there was an opportunity for playing time earlier. This means next season Marquis Teague, Mike Gilchrist or Anthony Davis would be leading another school to a possible NCAA tournament bid instead of replacing another group of one and done players who passed through Kentucky.

Another impact? Kentucky basketball would probably be the team to beat in the NCAA tournament this year with all the returning talent on hand.

This is not a criticism of Kentucky basketball. John Calipari is just doing what the rules allow today. It will be hard to win a national title like this, but he will rack up plenty of wins for the Wildcat faithful.

For the sake of college basketball, these rules need to change. If a player feels he is ready for the NBA right out of high school he needs to be allowed to make himself available for the draft then. If he chooses to bypass the draft and head to college first he needs to be there for a three year window just like baseball requires.

Here is another positive that would be accomplished by a change: The Wildcats will look more like a Kentucky basketball team and less like one of the traveling all-star teams that fill summer AAU tournaments.