Coaches College Basketball Players Recruiting

The Best Recruiter Gets the Least in Return

The success John Calipari has been able to attain in his first year in Lexington is impressive. No one can argue with this. He has been able to exceed expectations where expectations are rarely exceeded, and has stepped up to the pressure of being the most talked about person in the Bluegrass state. The problem with Calipari is his recruiting. Problem? How can the #1 recruiting class in the country be a problem?

College basketball is unique from the NBA because talent is not the only thing that brings championships. Of course, it is a major factor, but less so than in the NBA. College basketball is about cohesiveness and teamwork. Without these integral aspects, all the talent in the world will still not allow a team to succeed in the long run. The collegiate game is true fundamental basketball. Passing, dribbling, movement, screens, defense, all the less glamorous aspects of the game, are what separates teams. To solidify this point, let us examine one of the most successful college basketball teams of the past two decades: Duke. The Mike Krzyzewski led Blue Devils have won three national championships and countless ACC titles executing the less glamorous aspects of the game better than anyone else. Sure, they have had their talented players, but much less so then some other teams of the past twenty years. Dukies often flounder in the NBA because they simply don’t have the raw skills to keep up. This is proof that it is something deeper than pure talent that drives collegiate basketball.

With the still fresh NBA by-law in place stating that a player must be at least one full year removed from high school before he enters the NBA draft, the best recruits in today’s game are the ones who five years ago would have made the jump straight to the NBA. These recruits aren’t going to college to get an education or to further develop their skills, they are going to college because they have no other choice (except go overseas, of course.) With this said, their plan is to satisfy the year requirement and enter the NBA. As a result, the coach who acquires the top recruits only benefits from a single year of productivity before the players say bye bye. This constant shifting in atmosphere in both the locker room and on the court doesn’t allow the cohesiveness and bond to develop amongst the team, and furthermore, will not lead to championships. While Calipari is spending his time and efforts recruiting players who are giving him and the school a single year of service, other coaches are getting kids who, although not as talented, will most likely be delivering four years to their respective schools. This gives the lesser recruits a chance to develop (both on and off the court), bond with the coaches, mesh with the other players, and engrain themselves into the threads of everyday university life.

Of course, this will not change the environment of collegiate recruiting. Calipari will be gunning for the best of the best next year and the year after that and so on. But, just maybe, if he focused more of his attention on garnering devoted players who don’t plan on bailing as soon as possible, he would be cutting down the nets in April instead of watching someone with a less talented squad do the same.

16 replies on “The Best Recruiter Gets the Least in Return”

WOW – i dont mean to be critical but that article made absolutely no sense.
Apparently, the UK administration disagrees with you since they made Calipari the highest paid college basketball coach. If your really study the Duke teams that were very good, they were stacked with NBA talent. Elton Brand, Mike Dunleavy, Jayson Willians (career injury), Carlos Boozer, Corey Maggette, Loul Deng, etc,.Coach K was so out coached in 2003 against Indiana it was laughable. He had 3 first round draft picks and a 15 point lead and got beat. The NCAA rule has made it so that everybody must recruit the one and done guys or their school wont be able to compete. It will never happen but college basketball should have the same rule as baseball. Go out of high school, go to a JUCO or enroll for 3 yrs at a D1 school. They actually have it better because they can go to Europe if they want to,.

The fact that the UK administration paid him a lot of money means absolutely nothing. They also paid Billy Gillispie a lot of money. They were looking for a big name who could restore credibility to a downtrodden program. Calipari gives them that. He also gives them great coaching and the best recruiting in the game. Let’s be clear, great recruiting is never going to actually HURT a program. The focus of the piece was to highlight the irony in the fact that the best recruiters are getting the least amount of overall production from thier star recruits because they have no intention for staying for more than one year. Lastly, of the players you mentioned, which are NBA All-stars? Maybe Brand, maybe Boozer. But Dunleavy? Luol Deng? These are role players at best. Duke always has talent, but never the top talent, and yet time has proven that they have been the most successful.

Nick – My point is they are paying him alot of money because he is winning games and taking teams to the final 4. How is he doing this? With one and done guys.
Tyreke Evans and Derek Rose are the guys that lead Memphis to past 2 Final Fours.
Not to mention Greg Oden and Mike Conely Jr. at OSU.( I WOULD CONSIDER THIS PRETTY GOOD PRODUCTION ON THEIR RECRUITING) Coach Cal now has Wall anothe r one and done and is ranked in the Top 5 in the country. Look at the following guys from Duke
Deng 1st rd 7th overall
Dunleavy 1st rd 3rd overall
J Williams 1st rd 2nd overall
Maggette 1st rd 13th overall
Avery 1st rd 14th overall
Brand 1st rd 1st overall
During this era, take out the european players and straight to the Pros from high school, you will not find a program that more players drafted higher in the draft. He was a successful coach because he had the best talent in college basketball.
The fact is Coach K has not been able to compete since the new rule was put in place.

bobby r

Bobby- Show me statistical analysis of teams made up of one and done players that have actually won a National Championship. Talent will lead teams to successful regular seasons and deep into the tournament, but it rarely and so far never leads to championships. Show me a team comprised of one and done players that has been victorious in the NCAA Championship game. Not one that has made it to the Final Four. Not one that has made it to the Championship game. One that has WON. If you examine the history of NCAA Champions, you will find teams made up of veteran leaders and a multitude of returning players. The one and done player comprised teams are not able to attain the compatibility necessary to dig deep and win a Championship.

Finally , the data your provide for the Duke players doesn’t exactly correlate. You are mistaking draft position for pure talent. Every year, there are a large portion of first round draft picks that turn out to be complete busts. Scouts can confuse collegiate success with professional potential and reach for players who have a lot of national exposure but aren’t necessarily the most talented. The fact that these players were drafted in the first round is not as good of a barometer as their NBA statistics, which pale in comparison to what they should be for their respective draft positions.

Nick – The rule was inacted for the High School class of 2006.
In 06- 2007, Ohio State with 3 maybe 4 one and done guys went to the final game.
Greg Oden, Michael Conely Jr. and DaQuan Cook.
In 07- 2008, Memphis with Derrick Rose went to overtime of the final game.
In 08-2009 Memphis was a # 2 seed and lost in the S16
In 09-10, Kentucky lead with a one and done guy Wall is ranked in the Top 3 in the country.
Although they have yet to win the Final Game, the stats show one and done teams do very well in the tournament. You act like recruiting one and done guys is not sucessful when the facts over the past 2 years shows its very successful.
Here are the facts regarding Duke and Coach K — whether the guys I mentioned turned out to be NBA great players while at Duke they put up very impressive records (while most of the good players went straight to the NBA) and now that bascially every kid must go to college for a year they have NOT faired very well
07 – lost to VCU in the first round
08- barely beat belmont in first round and lost to WVU
09- blown out in the S16 by Nova


How can you make the statement, ” and furthermore, will not lead to championships” when Calipari has had a Memphis team in the NC game and Kentucky is arguably the best team in CBB right now. The fact that you are comparing Duke to “Calipari” is funny because Calipari’s teams are better.

You can look at this two ways. You can look at it “my way”. The high end players have a skill worth way more than any degree will ever get them. It is your job to increase their draft stock, which in turn will make them more money, and if they aren’t dumb, have a great life. If you try and force these guys to stay four years, you are adding a lot of risk to the equation to a player that is worth 9 figures.

What Duke does is good…but its pretty clear by now that they won’t be winning an NC’s anytime soon because they do not have the top talent. You need the lottery picks to win a NC, and Duke won’t be getting that talent.

And Cuse won with a one and done with Melo. It wasn’t all one and done’s…but this Kentucky team and Ohio State with Oden, Conley, and Cook are the only 2 one and done teams EVER. OSU made it to the final four, and Kentucky is still playing. I’ll take the team with one and done’s…

What you need to win with lottery picks are glue guys, like CDR, Dozier, and Dorsey, who can handle the pressure in big games (Final four) and help you win. Kentucky has Patterson…I think it will be enough. UK will win it all this year.

This is the best debate in a very long time. You both have very valid point, in order to get to the bottom of this, one would have to look at the rosters all national champions in the last ten years in order to come up with stats, otherwise it’s a matter of opinion. I personally think you need both, one or two one and done’s and a few upperclassmen.


Your argument is inherently flawed. You make the statement “name me a team made up of one and done players that’s won a NC.” The problem is, no team has ever been made up of entirely of one and done players !!! You wouldn’t even have a team if you recruited like that. The other problem is that we have many eras in college basketball and in eras, let’s say pre-KG it was not traditional for players to skip high school or even skip 3 years of college basketball, and went straight to the NBA.

So we have to readjust the argument. We have choices of argument. The first being, Can a one and done lead his team to a NC. Yes. Carmelo Anthony was the prime example for that. In addition, D. Rose would have won a national championship had his team fouled harder at the last second of the game. These two are the most eye-popping in the past 7 years. It’s important to note that other one-n-done have taken their teams pretty far. Rudy Gay got his team to the Elite Eight. Throw in Tyreke Evans….. I also hate to say this, but many people forget that Marvin Williams was a one-n-done, and road the bench all year at UNC, only to score I think the game winning bucket.

Question 2, before one-n-dones, were there any big time freshmen to lead their team to a NC. This I don’t quite know, simply because I was born in 84. Its just a better question to ask, because really one-n-dones are all-star freshmen.

Finally, I think the other problem in your argument, is you simply chose the wrong team. Duke has fallen off. They won three national championships, the last one being 9 years ago. They also made an incredible number of Final Fours. But they did it with talent just as much as the next guy. At that time, those players were the best players available as shown by their draft pick (he did have Grant Hill you know).

The better examples are Michigan St. and Lousiville. Both programs successful, with repeated success and one getting a NC. This all happening in the AAU era of CBB. Coach K has not been successful and has even changed up his recruiting. He recruits guys who fit his programs image, but repeatedly get beat by faster teams in both post season and regular season VCU, VT, UMD, NC, etc. Its almost like he chose to be the princeton offense of recruiting, but failed ot realize that princeton in the end never beat Georgetown. Well that’s all for now.

– Big Reg from GTW

I’ve been busy for the last 24 hours, I’ll respond to all the new comments when I a get a chance this evening. Thanks for all the comments.

Bobby: You are consistently missing the gist of my main point. Not once have I said that recruiting one and done players is not successful. Clearly, having the best players in the country is going to bring about success. My point is that with a roster and core group of players made up of primarily one and done’s, it is more difficult, and history has shown, impossible to this point to win a NC. Obviously, “history” is only a few years, so this study has not had sufficient time to produce legitimate results. But regardless, veteran leadership is in most cases necessary to push a team through the entire postseason. I am not saying one and done players can’t be on the team, but there must be some sort of veteran leadership in order to bring a sense of togetherness to the team, rather than having a bunch of all stars that care primarily about showcasing their individual talent. Look at team USA before Beijing. It was a team made up of the best basketball players in the U.S. and without a doubt the most talented team in the Olympics and they won the bronze. Why? Because there was no sense of team and togetherness.

Mess: Has it led to championships? No, it hasn’t. That is how I can make that statement. While I understand there haven’t been any primarily one and done player filled teams, they have existed and they haven’t WON a championship.
Let me try to clarify my position: I am making an observation about what it takes to win a National Championship, I am not bashing Calipari’s method. He would be an idiot not to recruit the best talent in the country. But, you have to understand that these players he is recruiting generally have no devotion to the cause. Yes, I’m sure they want to win. But their main focus is showcasing their talent, boosting their draft stock, and not getting injured. These players are paying their dues because the NCAA by-laws force them to do so. Yes, they could go overseas, but this is a large burden on an 18 year old kid. Going to college is the only real option for a lot of them.

Reggie: What I was referring to when I said “a team of one and done players” was a team whose core group was PRIMARILY one and done players. Obviously, the whole team isn’t going to be one and done’s. Kentucky this season is a perfect example of a team who is primarily made of one and done’s. They do have veteran leadership in Patterson, but he was a Gillispie recruit. Hey, maybe they can win a NC and prove this entire theory wrong, but my guess is come March the lack of leadership and maturity will end up getting to them.
There has been a lot of information thrown around, so if I didn’t address any issue I apologize.

Nick –
I thinkg everybody would respect you more if you came out an admitted that your article was not correct and you made a mistake.
Yout title of the article “Best Recruiter gets the least in Return” is dead wrong.
Coach Cal took a mid major school and turned it into a powerhouse.
He went to overtime in the Final Game and took the team to the elite 8 the following year.
How is that getting “the least of his return” — Any school whether it be a school of one and doners or a school that keeps it players for several years would take that record.
In 3 years of the rule, to have 2 teams go to the final game and another to the elite 8 out of over 240 D1 schools is a pretty good success rate. Regardless of whether a National Championship was won it statisically bears out that it works. Those are facts

On a another note, your opinion that one and doners are selfish and dont care about the team is not fair. Just because they have been given a talent and then worked at their craft to be a lottery pick does not make them lacking in fundamentals, team play and desire to win.
You don’t go to the final four if all your care about your is yourself. Yes, you do need some older players to round out a squad but those guys are a dime a dozen. You need to one and doners or your older role players look really bad.


Nick – great article. I’m glad you took the time out to write an article which highlights cohesiveness and teamwork (two aspects of basketball that really need to be garnered more). I agree with you and Bobby in that college basketball should have the same rules as baseball, football.

Overall, great job and keep up the good work.

I too thank you for writing this article, but you should read over my entire argument as it is not centered on a team being created of all one and dones, but instead answers questions about one and dones and freshmen in general.

You ask has it led to championships. Answer: yes. Who: Carmelo Anthony, and his story that highlights when talking about one and dones. Before Melo got there, Cuse was an NIT team. So it does happen. But the other problem is you simply didn’t look at the team’s one-n-done’s lost too. In all honesty, that Kansas team was weak last year, and Memphis should have fouled harder. However, I can’t fault OSU for losing to Florida, cause that Florida team was a back-to-back champion with 4 NBA players as starters.

Also, Calipari did not get the least in return. He went from coaching at UMass and getting to the Final Four, to coaching Memphis to a nc game, and now to Kentucky, one of the most prized coaching positions in college basketball.

Bob, with all due respect, hopefully you will finally read and comprehend this repeated sentence….you are missing the point Nick was making when he wrote this post. Read the first two sentences of Nick’s first spot— “The success John Calipari has been able to attain in his first year at Lexington is impressive. No one can argue with this.” Nick is not claiming that what John Calipari does, recruiting wise, is brainless and getting him nowhere. He is simply stating that Calipari, and any other program that focuses their recruiting on one and done players, are not receiving long term gains. Yes, there are many teams that have made it far into the tournament through the leadership of their one and done, but what happened to those teams the following year when their star player(s) were no longer there? One thing that makes collegiate sports entertaining to keep up with is the simplicity of watching these players and teams grow over the years through coerciveness and maturity. What does a school really want to see, a one hit wonder, or a team that brings something to the table every single year. Duke was obviously only an example, and a prime example of a coach who doesn’t focus recruiting on one and done players, but Duke is also always a contender and always a team to watch. Duke was not the best example to use when talking about winning the national championship or tournament play, considering these past few years, but let’s be honest, Duke always starts out each year ranked in or near the top ten. Always. Therefore, they bring something to the table every single year and are a team to watch out for every single year, no matter what has happened in the previous year’s tournament. Can you say that about Ohio State, Memphis, or Kentucky? When pertaining to those teams and you’re stats of how far they, with their one and done, have made it in the tournament these past years, only furthers my argument, “what happened to them the next year? Or, where were they the previous year. It also betters Nick’s statement—“NOT ONE OF THOSE TEAMS HAVE WON A CHAMPIONSHIP.” Mess, we’re not talking about degrees and forcing these kids to stay four years. One and done players are inevitable, necessary, and extremely useful when having a great team, but in the long run they don’t provide the program with long term benefits<–the point of this post. Big Reg, first and foremost it’s hard to argue valid points when bringing in “if this” and “if that” comments. “Had his team fouled harder the last second of the game?” What? How about, had his team played better and gained a steady lead, and kept that lead till the end. What could have been done won’t, and will never, change the fact they lost. Finally, your argument leads to some legitimism when you begin to realize that Duke was not the best example (once again) to use considering their last few years of complete weakness in the tournament. “Better examples…both programs successful, with REPEATED SUCCESS and one getting a NC.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Nick, this post is legit and makes many, many valid points when considering your purpose of writing it. One and done players, get it done, for that year, but the programs suffer when the coach sticks to focusing their recruiting on these star talents. I will always have respect for the teams, including Duke, that are always competition, always good teams, and always bring something to the table every single year. While teams like Kentucky this year is only something to watch..THIS YEAR. Also, all of these comments about Kentucky‘s team this year…let’s not forget that they did get beat by an unranked South Carolina? South Carolina? Therefore, as good as I believe Kentucky is, and as much I do believe they will be traveling deep into my money making bracket, the upset is there, dangling above, and ready to break this talented, yet young/immature/can you handle the big game team. I would be willing to place my bet at this very moment….Kentucky will NOT win the NC this year.

• NIck – Mike
Over the past 3 years (the years of one and done guys), Memphis won 103 games which ties a record for most wins by a program in a 3 year span and is more wins than any other program since 2006. Memphis was one of only 2 teams to be ranked in the top25 for all 56 weeks of those 3 years. Basically, nobody has done more in the past 3 years that Coach Cal. During those 3 years, Duke lost in the first round to VCU, lost in the second round to WVU after barely beating Belmont in the 1st round and was blown out by Nova in ss16 last year. In one year at UK, he has turned them into a Top 3 program. Everybody acts like you need senior leadership. Please note UK did not make the tournament last year. So, with the addition of the one and doners and role players Coach Cal has coached this to a potential final four. Your willingness to bet UK is quite frankly a stupid statement. Anybody would take a bet in which one person get the entire field and one person gets just one team. These are the facts not matter of opinion. In your regards to your opinion that people would like to see, cohesiveness and maturity is a matter of opinion. Many people may like to see the best player in the country play and not watch all the guys who weren’t good enough to get drafted out of high school (pre 2006). It is a matter opinion.
Please note I am not a fan of Coach Cal, Memphis or UK.

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