July 17, 2008

Lute Olson

I don't want to turn into Stuart Scott here, but if you looked up the word hypocrisy in the dictionary, you get the following definition:

The act of preaching a certain belief or way of life, but not, in fact, holding these same virtues oneself.

Just when I thought I'd seen it all in college sports, Lute Olson comes out the other day all hot and bothered about one-and-dones in college basketball after Brandon Jennings announced he was going to play in Europe and proclaims the following:

"It's a situation where if someone's a one and done, we're not going to pursue them anymore, no way."

Can you spell H-Y-P-O-C-R-I-S-Y?? Where was all this outrage from Coach Olsen when FRESHMAN point guard Mike Bibby was leading him to a national title in 1997?? He didn't seem to have a problem with mercenary players back then even though it was obvious to anyone following high school recruiting that Bibby wasn't going to be at Arizona for his whole college career. People were talking about Bibby's NBA future when he was in high school, and he'll go down as probably the most sought after recruit in the history of Arizona basketball. Olson didn't seem to have a problem with Bibby going to Arizona back then, but now early entry guys are ruining the game?? He's made millions of dollars and had all kinds of success on the backs of 18 and 19 year old players, but now he's decided that the system is corrupt?? Coach, why weren't you as upset about the system two years ago when you originally offered the scholarships to Jerryd Bayless and Brandon Jennings?? It's awfully convenient that he thinks the system is so unfair after getting burnt a couple times.

Olson even went so far as to say that the one-and-done atmosphere in college basketball is a "farce." What a load of nonsense. If Olson wants to stop recruiting one-and-dones, fine by me. Go ahead. I wouldn't blame him for doing something like that when the risk/reward of one-and-dones is often not all that rewarding. But to cry about how unfair it is that kids are leaving college after one or two years (for multi million dollar paychecks by the way ) is the epitome of hypocrisy when you have been using those type of players to succeed for years. Don't cry about changing the system just because you got burnt. I don't see Thad Matta crying about the four one and dones he's lost in the last two seasons (two of whom blindsided Matta every bit as much as Bayless allegedly burnt Olson). Olson comes off as incredibly self-serving with these comments if you ask me. If Olsen genuinely thought he could rely on these guys for a 3-4 year college career, then he's unbelievably naive and probably needs to start paying closer attention to the reality of college sports today. If he's just spewing sour grapes (which is more likely if you ask me), then he needs to stop whining to the press like it was some grave injustice that a couple guys decided to pursue their chosen professions on the professional level.

It's also hilarious that Lute Olson is acting like the college experience is such a valuable experience for a young person like he's some sort of university professor. Meanwhile, Brandon Jennings isn't even NCAA eligible at this point. Clearly this guy had no business being in college in the first place, and yet Olson had no problem offering him a scholarship. Forgive me if I don't feel a lot of pity for a coach who offers scholarships to guys who probably don't belong in college and then complains about it when they leave him high and dry.

Brandon Jennings was all but announcing his intentions long before making this decision to go to Europe. This isn't some sort of shocking development that he was planning to bail as soon as possible. A quote from him a little while back:

"It's made me mad," he said of the college board's decision to flag his second round of standardized test scores, forcing him to retake them in May. "Even if I get the scores this time, there's no guarantee I'm going to college. No one has answers and the NCAA is a different group.

"Besides I was planning on one year at Arizona."

Do I think it would be nice to see college players staying for 3-4 years?? Yes of course, but I don't mind the one-and-dones over the old system where 10 high schoolers would declare for the draft every year and never play a minute in the college game. It hurts my interest in the NBA because I never got a chance to follow these guys in college and become fans of their game. The recent drafts with Oden, Conley, Rose, Mayo, Durant, and Beasley have been much more entertaining for me because I actually saw these guys play in college and want to follow them in the NBA. It also hurts the college game when the best high school talent never even plays college basketball.

One-and-dones are a risky bet, but they can be great for a team that is already close like Memphis from last year, but you're kidding yourself if you think you can count on these guys as building blocks for a few years. Buyer beware.

As far as Brandon Jennings is concerned, am I the only one who thinks this European experiment could end up being a disaster for him?? He's a talented player and may end up doing well over there, but isn't there a significant culture shock for an 18 year old kid from Compton going over to Rome for a year?? He'll be away from his family playing against grown men with totally different styles of play. If he has a shaky season, his draft stock could plummet. Is it worth it to take the risk of being the first high schooler to go to Europe?? Seems like a lot to risk for a payday of what amounts to be around $300,000 playing over there for one year. That's a lot of money for a kid, but chump change for an NBA player.


GoCubsGo said...

I see what you are saying, but I like that Coach Olson is taking a stand against so-called "1 and gone" players. It's about time someone took a stand against these spoiled athletes for the good of the game. These players are ruining college basketball.

College players should stay in school for 3 years before they go to the NBA. I'd like to see that rule put into place. The A stands for amateur, and these wannabe pros are hurting the sport.

Doug said...

I don't have a problem with Lute Olson not taking one-and-done guys, but it bothers me to see him whining about losing them to the pros. What did he expect?? Has he not been paying attention to college basketball for the last decade?? Guys leave after one year all the time, especially McDonald's All-Americans. If Lute Olson thought Jerry Bayless was playing for 3 years at Arizona and leading them back to the Final Four someday, he's kidding himself. You take a risk with a one-and-done any time they enter your program. If you have a championship team already in place, a great freshman recruit can push you over the top. But if you expect them to be the cornerstone of your program for the next three years, it's not going to happen.

As far as a rule requiring college athletes to stay three years, how do you enforce that?? It's the NBA's draft, so the NCAA doesn't really have a whole lot of say in when the NBA will allow players in. If the NBA keeps their age limit at 19, then players are going to be turning pro at that age. There's not a lot that colleges can do to prevent players from leaving. Scholarships are handed out on a year to year basis, so it's not like college athletes are breaking a contract with their school to go to the NBA.

I know that baseball has some sort of 3 year requirement in place once you enter college, but isn't that a policy that Major League Baseball put into place?? I believe that the eligibility rules for baseball players coming out of college is specifically set up in the MLB collective bargaining agreement.

I would love to see the NBA raise the age limit or make some sort of 3 years out of high school requirement out of high school, but there's not a lot that the NCAA can do to force the NBA's hand. Until we see action out of the NBA (perhaps the NCAA can persuade them into making some changes), players will be leaving after one season in college. The money is too good, and the benefits of getting to the NBA to work on your game are invaluable.

Jimmy said...

I love the shot of everyone's favorite elementary school teacher Gene Edgerson sporting the 'fro, Brian Cardinal's knee pads and calf high 80's socks. What a teammate!