Once upon a time in a simpler world, college basketball was much different. Players actually appreciated the opportunity to get their college paid for, and their degree was as precious as gold. This theme ran just as true for Kentucky players as it did any.
There was something special about a Kentucky basketball player in the so-called old days. That was because they were there for four years. Back then, they could not even play varsity their freshman year. They only had three years to play varsity. Due to this set up, Kentuckians developed a special relationship with their Wildcats. After fours years of following a Kentucky Wildcat basketball player, they became almost like a member of your family. You had followed them long enough to see them go though the highs and lows of a college career. You became sort of familiar with them. Guys like Tom Parker, Kevin Grevey, Rick Robey and Kyle Macy became household names. Countless babies in the Bluegrass State bear the names of Kentucky players. I personally know multiple men who were named after Kyle Macy. I wonder if this is still happening today. Are people of the Commonwealth naming their babies after 19 year olds that they barely know?
Speaking of changing of the guards. First there was John Wall, then Brandon Knight, and last but not least, Marquis Teague. All were only there for a year, hardly long enough for them to feel like a member of the family.
Now let me interject this right here. I am not blaming Coach John Calipari for his philosophy. He is simply playing by the rules of the game and the way it is today. He has a system going and has it down to near perfection. I went to hear Coach Cal speak at a clinic just before he coached his first game at Kentucky. Someone asked him about recruiting one-year players. Coach Cal said, “What do you want me to do? Do you not want me to recruit the best players in the nation? Do you want me to settle for second best?” Coach Cal has even been quoted several times as saying that he wishes players had to stay at least four years before entering the NBA draft. Therefore, how can you blame him for doing things the way he does? What parent would be unhappy about their child going to college one year for free and then signing a contract guaranteeing them several million dollars for just a few years of work?
So the moral of the story is this. As long as the rules are as they are and as long as Coach Cal is at UK, we might as well get used to it.
As a matter of fact, anyone thinking of naming their coming child Nerlens?
OT: Nerlens Noel is the No. 1 recruit in the nation and it going to UK next season.
Enthusiasm Makes the Difference
Mike Wright is the head coach of boys basketball and cross country at Trigg County High School. Emails concerning Coach’s Corner can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.