The landscape of college basketball has completely changed recently. Even though coaches have no idea how long blue-chip prospects will stay with the program, top programs are still trying to recruit those prospects even if they turn out to be one-and-done players. Those are the kinds of players that win national championships, or at least take programs to the next level. A few years back, Coach K thought he had a guy like that in Kyrie Irving and this past year’s national champions, the Kentucky Wildcats, are a perfect example of winning with one-and-done players.
Mike Krzyzewski joined ESPN Radio with Colin Cowherd to talk about the one-and-done rule in college basketball, people that are transcendent, how he thinks Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant will work together in Los Angeles and how much it helps the Kobe-Nash relationship because of how smart both players are.
On the one-and-done rule in college basketball:
“I think if you’re going to stay in the business, you better be comfortable with it because that’s the environment. The thing about college basketball is the decision’s made above us — not by the NCAA, but by the NBA and the Player’s Union — it really determines the environment for college basketball in that regard. I don’t see that changing. I think the one and done has been really good for the NBA. I’m not sure it’s been as good for the Player’s Union, but it’s been good for the NBA because they get to market a high school talent for at least a year. You put him in that NCAA marketing machine that we have, Final Four, NCAA Tournament, throughout the year in college basketball and then they get a chance to see a youngster’s performance, so there are less mistakes made in the draft as a result of it and much, much more marketing. Overall I think it hurts our game, the college game, a little bit because it kind of ruins, or can hurt, the relationship we have. You know we are all members of academic institutions and it kind of throws the academic side of it down because you’re not there for a total education, you’re there for six or seven months. I would like to see kids still be able to go out of high school and then if they didn’t go straight out of high school, then at least stay two years, which would validate their existence in an NCAA academic institution. And then if they could go earlier, you know I’ve had a few guys that I have coached with the national team — Dwight Howard, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James — they came out of high school and didn’t go to college and … I think they’re doing pretty well the last time I checked.”
On having people that are transcendent:
“Well there are. It happens in other sports. Baseball does it right because they have a great farm system and, really, the NBA is starting to have it’s farm system with the Developmental League, so I’m not sure why it’s done for basketball this way, but I do think the one organization that can have the most influence on changing that is the Player’s Union and what they feel is best for their current and incoming players. I would hope they would look at allowing some kids to come out of high school and keeping kids in college at least a year longer.”
How Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant will fit together:
“I think it will fit really well because you have two brilliant players, not just talented players, but brilliant players. The thing you have to give time for though is for them to mesh together, their abilities and their knowledge, and to get to know one another. They both know the game and they see it from the teams they’ve been on. Now they’re on the same team and it’s kind of like our Olympic Team, it takes a little bit of time for them to mesh as far as using all their talents so they can instinctively react to what is going on on the court. That’s really the key, is to instinctively react. And they’re both older players, veteran players, so people have more or less instinctively reacted to them their entire careers. Now you put the two of them together, you don’t want to lose that, but you have to get as much familiarity as possible so they’re not holding anything back while they’re playing with one another. It takes a little bit of time but having (Pau) Gasol and Dwight Howard on the team with them is not a bad way to go.”
I’m sure it helps to have smart players like that:
“Those two guys are brilliant. They’re not smart, they’re brilliant, and they know the game and they know it even better than most because of how many games they’ve played and the level of game they’ve played in.”
Listen to Mike Krzyzewski on ESPN Radio here (Audio begins 38:30 into the podcast)