When you think of the current era of college basketball, the “one-and-done” has become a popular way to run things, especially when you want to compete for a national championship. There is not one coach who has embraced that more than Kentucky head coach John Calipari.
He has certainly used the strategy well and has won a national championship and led his team to four Final Four appearances since 2008. However, it looks like he might take exception to teams using his way of doing things, especially Duke and head coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Ever since the team won the national championship in 2010, with the exception of one year, Duke’s best player has been a one-and-done player. Kyrie Irving in 2011, Austin Rivers in 2012, Jabari Parker in 2014 and Brandon Ingram in 2016 all had terrific individual success, even if it didn’t lead to success in the NCAA tournament.
Following the 2015 season, when the Blue Devils won their fifth national championship since 1991, three star freshman, Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow, and Tyus Jones, all left for the NBA and were first-round selections.
On Monday, Calipari penned an open letter regarding high school basketball players and seemed to take a shot at the Blue Devils.
“Some of these kids may only stay a year or two. We must recognize that. I refuse to go in a home and paint a picture saying things like, “If you come with us you’ll be taken care of for the rest of your life by the program and by our alums” even though you may only be in school for a year or two. How preposterous does that sound? What if I say that same thing and the young man decides to transfer for one reason or another? Does that still hold true that we’re going to take care of them the rest of their lives? Our approach is to give them the fishing rod and the lures to help them catch fish, not to just give you the fish.”
It may not be immediately recognizable, but the shot at Duke refers to 2017 recruit Hamidou Diallo saying that the Blue Devils’ pitch to him is that he would be “set for life.”
“Kentucky’s pitch was just the NBA thing,” Diallo told the Courier-Journal. “Duke’s pitch was if you come to Duke, you’re going to be set for life. It’s more than just basketball. [John Calipari’s] pitch was he gets guys ready for the next level. Look at the numbers: it shows. It’s the best place for you if you want to make it to the NBA.”
John Calipari and Mike Krzyzewski have had a pretty good rivalry since the former went to Kentucky in 2008. It certainly looks like that rivalry isn’t going anywhere for a good long while.