SDBB – The “One-and-Done” Recruit – The Contrast & Similarity of the Approach at Duke and Kentucky …


Duke has been struggling mightily lately, so with Duke off all week until Saturday’s game with Miami at Cameron, it seemed like a good time to attempt to thoroughly examine what the REAL reasons are.  So, tonight, in the first installment of our efforts,  we begin with Bermuda Bob’s thoughts on the “1-&-Done” recruit …

Last June, our friend Brian Horace of Duke Blog wrote a very thought provoking article on his site entitled: “Duke vs Kentucky: Embracing One & Done vs Seeking Out One & Done” in which he explained the difference on how each approached “one-and-done” recruits.  I’ve been thinking about it for a long time wanted to use it in trying to explain my view, when it finally came to me.

Now, before we get started, I feel I must explain my position on the “one-and-done” recruit.  I have never, and still do not support the idea that a student comes to college to just play basketball without fully matriculating.  I believe that as long as the NCAA prefers to refer to each and every kid who plays a sport in college as a “Student Athlete,” he/she ought to be a student first and an athlete second.  College was never intended to be the Developmental League for the NBA.

Before you start to work on your noose-tying technique, please allow me to note that when Duke won their last National Championship with 3 “one-and-done” players, I was pleased that they won.  I have their banner in my office along with the others from 1991, 1992, 2001, and 2010.  I was also dismayed, however, because it signaled that Coach K had successfully ushered in a very different era with this very unique threesome.

Success with those “one-and-done” kids cemented his recruiting abilities with the country’s best High Schoolers.  There are many who believe that such an advantage overrides the moral and ethical conundrum of recruiting a kid who has no intention of matriculating.  These kids simply want to come to the school and coach who can get them to the highest NBA Draft position.  Oh, sure, winning is a nice thing, but not their overriding motivation.

Coach K’s claim that it would be unwise for those gentlemen to not take advantage of a “job opportunity” offered by the NBA Draft, was certainly clever.  I don’t agree with it, and I’d tell him that to his face.  I’m sure he’d call me an idealist.  He’d be right, however, I’m still a fan and I’ll stay a fan.  Maybe this will explain my position a little better …

So, moving on … I’m a huge movie buff.  I am one of those who believe that next to “Casablanca,” the 3 “Godfather movies are the best of all time.  So it is from “Godfather II” that I draw my analogy.  It is no joke that many of the lessons taught in the movie have real life applications.

In that movie, Michael Corleone is the new Godfather, having taken over the “family” for his ailing father.   In an attempt to satisfy a promise he made to his wife, but still maintain his loyalty to the “family” business, he begins to move everything to Las Vegas and the casino industry.

Historically, the Mafia founded Las Vegas.  It was as corrupt as corrupt could be, with politicians doing more than “dipping their beak” into the profits via blackmail and abuse of power.  It stayed that way for decades until multi-national companies took it over after the Federal Government put the squeeze on Organized Crime.

In a scene in Michael Corleone’s home office in Lake Tahoe, on the day of his son’s 1st Communion, he is visited by Senator Pat Geary.  He is there to extort a tidy sum to allow the “family” to establish their foothold in Las Vegas, and be a cash cow to the Senator.  Here’s the Godfather’s reply:

“Senator, we’re both part of the same hypocrisy …

… but never think it applies to my family.”


We did not post the clip here as it contains some saucy language, so, here’s the link to the whole clip:

There you have it … Of course the deeply corrupt Senator Geary is my metaphorical character representing Kentucky’s John Calipari, and The Godfather is my analogy to Coach K.  It could not be any more straightforward.

Kentucky, under Calipari, is willing to take any uber-talented kid who is only interested in bolstering his highlight reel in barter for Calipari’s influence with NBA Scouts.  Remember in 2010 on NBA Draft night when Calipari claimed it was: “… the biggest day in the history of Kentucky’s program …” ???    Really ???

Calipari was quickly and vigorously redefined by Kentucky legend, Dan Issel, who noted: “If the goal is to be a feeder team for the NBA, maybe that was the greatest day …” Issel graduated, then went on to star in the ABA after by the NBA’s disrespected him by drafting him 122nd by the Pistons.

In my mind, the parallel to Senator Geary couldn’t be more succinct.  It was Kentucky who sought out the corrupt Calipari, who had had wins expunged from his record for academic and other violations.  Their fans had tired of mediocrity, so they sold their souls, and lionized a scoundrel to this very day.

Conversely, my correlation of Coach K is equally concise inasmuch as a recruit is only brought into the “family” if they fit the Duke mold.  Rarely could I point to a player who was not welcomed back.

This now, after that National Championship, the “one-and-done” is more the norm than ever before.  Interestingly enough, it was Grayson Allen, a Bench Player, who sealed that win, and is now leading this year’s team as a Junior.  He reports that he was always going to fully matriculate.

The old axiom sez that “Art Imitates Life” but I have to wonder sometimes, especially since the “Godfather II” was released in 1974, and Coach K began his reign at Duke in 1980.  So maybe it’s the other way around ???

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Special Thanks, Brian Horace for the inspiration !!!

Here’s a link to Brian’s his original article:

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Thanks for the read …

We look forward to your comments, and welcome them either here or on our Twitter site:


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