No. 1-And-Done: How Kentucky Has Changed The Recruiting Landscape

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John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats are off to a 30-0 start, thanks in part to the unexpected returns of sophomores Andrew (left) and Aaron (middle) Harrison. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
John Calipari's Kentucky Wildcats are off to a 30-0 start, thanks in part to the unexpected returns of sophomores Andrew (left) and Aaron (middle) Harrison. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Traditionally, the University of Kentucky has benefited from the one-and-done rule. For each of the last five seasons, their top scorer has been a freshman who didn’t stick around to become a sophomore. But heading into this weekend, this year's team is undefeated, thanks in part to sophomores who returned in hopes of winning a championship and improving their draft stock.

Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports joined Bill Littlefield to take a deeper look at the team.

BL: Most people thought twin brothers Aaron and Andrew Harrison would try to make to the jump to the NBA after last season. But they’re back, and the sophomores combine for an average of about 20 points a night. Are the Harrisons better off for having stayed in school?

It’s a high-wire act, and sometimes it doesn’t work.

Pat Forde, Yahoo Sports

PF: Oh, I think so. They were not ready to be productive NBA players by any stretch. And I think it was a good decision for them, and it's worked out splendidly for Kentucky. Not only them but Willie Cauley-Stein, who's a junior who came back, and thus this is a grizzled, veteran team by John Calipari's yardstick.

BL: Well, let's put that into perspective. There are 16 players on Kentucky's roster. There are just three seniors, two juniors. How much credit do the sophomores who stayed around deserve for the Wildcats’ 30-0 record?

PF: They deserve plenty. I don't think there's any doubt. I think they have all the building blocks for a dominant team this year, whereas before they just had the best talent, which usually is enough but now they've got the best talent and the most guys.

BL: During coach John Calipari’s tenure, the Wildcats have flourished with freshmen, like New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis. These players leave school after a year to enter the NBA draft. Why aren't other schools trying to take advantage of one-and-done players?

[sidebar title="Wake Forest President On One-And-Done" width="630" align="right"] Wake Forest President Nathan Hatch explains why colleges were better off before the one-and-done era began.[/sidebar]PF: I think some of 'em are. I think you look at Duke. Duke's had a few of those, and they could have as many as three of them after this year. Kansas last year had two guys go after a year, so there are some that do it. Calipari's been the guy who's been able to get those players year after year after year.

It's a high-wire act, and sometimes it doesn't work. You go back a couple years, Kentucky missed the NCAA tournament because the reload didn't work that time.

BL: Pat, the NBA currently requires players to be one year removed from high school before they can enter the draft. If the league expanded that rule to two years, would that have any effect on Coach Calipari's recruiting advantage?

PF: It might even be more pronounced. Because what if Anthony Davis were a sophomore? And what if Karl Towns were going to be a sophomore next year? Now, you know, maybe some other teams get in on some of these guys, but for now he's re-invented the recruiting model, and it's working tremendously. And I think adding another year would only benefit him.

This segment aired on March 7, 2015.



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