John Calipari explains true value of college basketball, how the NBA might screw it up

The NBA leaked to ESPN some potential changes for how it deals with players at the high school level this week. 

They are mostly terrible and unnecessary if you have any concept of the way things currently work. 

Just ask John Calipari, who seemed pretty fired up about the whole thing during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show this week. 

“Whatever we do, Kentucky is eating first. I'd rather coach guys for four years, but I'm saying, what are we doing for these kids? Do we really trust the NBA to be all about these kids? Or are they going to be about the NBA? Maybe they can come up and give them all signing bonuses when they're coming out of high school and guarantee their education. You know what? I'm for that. Let's go. Sign me up." 

The Kentucky coach said less than that is not enough. 

Why? Because he doesn’t want to put at risk the educations numerous players who won’t make it in the NBA but don’t realize it yet are getting while they pursue that dream. 

(He said Kentucky offers players the chance to continue their education for free throughout their lives and guessed other programs do as well. I know Ohio State has sponsored a degree completion program for at least a decade now for athletes from all of its sports.)

Therefore, he seemed to be against the NBA grooming high schoolers and potentially paying some a little more to play in its developmental “G League” instead of going to college because most would probably not end up better off if they chose that route. 

More likely they would be worse unless the hit rate was a lot higher than when so many players went straight to the pros prior to the league’s setting an age limit a decade ago. 

"Why would we devalue education when that's the one hope to get people to the other side of the tracks? That's the hope, not the dream of (being an NBA player)." 

He asked this question after acknowledging teenagers are inevitably going to focus on the NBA rather than education because teenagers generally have poor perspective on life. 

We were all once dumb 14- and 15-year-olds with an inflated sense of ourselves, right? 

But there’s a difference between a teenager who plans to turn pro at 18 and one who knows he or she has to be eligible for college in order to keep a professional career in their future plans. 

That’s to say nothing of those who might grudgingly go to college then find out how to get the good out of their time there as reality hits from a basketball perspective. 

It wasn’t really clear if Calipari wants to eliminate “one and dones” or not. I think he was more worried about what happens to everyone else anyway. 

“I'm not here to say I want one and done. I'm here to tell you what's best for these kids. Going right out of high school for 15 — do we upset this whole system for 15, 12, seven kids, nine kids? Even if it's 20 kids? We have this thing when you start talking these graduation rates and things that are happening with high schools preparing these kids for college better than they ever have because they have to be eligible to play in college..." 

To further his point, Calipari cited his experience coaching players in the Dominican Republic, where baseball is beloved and youngsters often see that as a ticket to a better life. 

But unlike baseball players who go pro as teenagers then spend years toiling in obscurity in the minors (a far cry from the glitz and glamour of college basketball or football), potential pro basketball players have to be able to get into college in the United States. 

As it turns out, that has a positive side effect. While most great high school prospects don’t make it to the NBA, the ones who got college degrees return to their homes and become leaders in their communities. 

This also applies to the United States, where no one ever points out free college is a much better deal than getting paid little to play in the minor leagues for a while before finding out you aren’t cut out for The Show. 

Of course, there are problems in the current system that need to be worked out.  

Calipari joined the chorus of those who are calling for players to be able to profit off their likenesses while they are in school. 

RELATED: What should the NCAA do about its transfer rules?

He also suggested the NBAPA get involved helping prospects with financial needs by supplying them with loans. 

Those sound like good ideas to me, and I suspect something like this will happen.

More encouraging is hearing someone with an influential voice — and someone who has benefited greatly from the status quo — explain the value of the current system for the overwhelming majority of players rather than calling for the whole thing to be blown up to better serve a few. 

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Sports

Springfield, Miamisburg last two unbeaten GWOC football teams
Springfield, Miamisburg last two unbeaten GWOC football teams

Springfield and Miamisburg are the only two remaining unbeaten high school football teams in the 20-member Greater Western Ohio Conference. Both are 5-0 after Week 5 wins on Friday. The teams are not scheduled to play in the regular season, but could be paired in the playoffs. Springfield improved to No. 2 in the Division I, Region 3 computer rankings...
Archdeacon: One of Ohio’s best-ever high school sports stories is now a book by a Miami graduate. Here’s why he told it.
Archdeacon: One of Ohio’s best-ever high school sports stories is now a book by a Miami graduate. Here’s why he told it.

He remembers how excited the five of them were to come to Dayton. Wil Haygood was just 17. One of his pals was able to borrow a car, all of them pooled their money for gas and they headed from Columbus to UD Arena to see their hero. It was Feb. 26, 1972 and Southwestern Louisiana, the No. 10 team in the nation, was playing the Dayton Flyers. The Ragin&rsquo...
Pirates name Tecumseh grad Brubaker their minor league pitcher of the year
Pirates name Tecumseh grad Brubaker their minor league pitcher of the year

The Pittsburgh Pirates named Tecumseh High School graduate and Springfield native J.T. Brubaker their Minor League Pitcher of the Year on Friday, honoring him at a ceremony at PNC Park. Brubaker, 24, started the season with the Double-A Altoona Curve and was 2-2 with a 1.80 ERA in six starts before being promoted. With the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians...
High School Football Week 5 Roundup: Miamisburg stays unbeaten; Tipp and Fairmont roll
High School Football Week 5 Roundup: Miamisburg stays unbeaten; Tipp and Fairmont roll

In a Greater Western Ohio Conference showdown of unbeaten teams, visiting Miamisburg beat Troy 31-14 in high school football action on Friday.  Tate Vongsy hit Zion Lewis on a 15-yard scoring strike and tacked on a rushing score to help ‘Burg build up a 17-0 lead heading into the half. Lewis added a rushing TD in the fourth quarter to help...
High School Football: Week 5 boxscores, scores
High School Football: Week 5 boxscores, scores

Allen East 50, Delphos Jefferson 6 Alter 45, Fenwick 20 Anderson 47, Withrow 12 Badin 42, Roger Bacon 35, OT Bellbrook 21, Franklin 17 Bellefontaine 14, Ben Logan 6 Brookville 42, Carlisle 2 Butler 13, Xenia 7, OT Celina 42, Ottawa-Glandorf 24 Chaminade Julienne 61, Carroll 30 Cin. Country Day 28, New Miami 20 Clinton-Massie 34, Bishop Hartley 31 Col...
More Stories