College Sports

Nick Canepa: College basketball is a mess, but there’s a solution to its problems

College basketball's high priests are kidding themselves with kids. Time to cut the cord.

You can have the ones-and-done. Give me college basketball players.

Duke's Mike Krzyzewski was the best coach at the college level – maybe every level – before he caved and brought in McDonald's All-American ones-and-done as if they were Big Macs.

Michigan State's Tom Izzo is the best coach now. He doesn't get ones-and-done – although he's tried – but 23 of his 24 recruiting classes have played in Final Fours. Tom's youngsters stick, and experience can be the muscle of March.

There were no ones-and-done in this year's Final Four. Some found it problematic and boring. I found it refreshing.

Not that I don't enjoy watching great players, such as Duke's Zion Williamson, so great Coach K didn't design a play for him in the final seconds in the loss to Izzo. Zion took one shot over the final 6:42? Zion?

Why, do you suppose? Maybe it's because he had so many other prep all-stars around him who go to college fully expecting to be The Guy. You recruit ones-and-done, you're recruiting tremendous egos – sometimes with parents who have their hands out.

I'm looking at this from a coach's perspective. Do you want to be the sexiest team during the regular season (and regular seasons are becoming more and more meaningless as years go by) or national champion?

Kentucky's John Calipari lives off ones-and-done. He's won one title. A few years back, he had an unbeaten NBA team that fell in the final.

Was it better that he had all these McDonald's kids?

The Virginia-Texas Tech final was terrific and the Cavaliers and Red Raiders won't have many players in the NBA. Chris Beard's Tech roster was loaded with youngsters who weren't highly rated preps, one who received one offer – from Air Force. No McDonald's kids on the floor.

As the Lexington Herald-Leader's Mark Story figured out, 67 of the 80 players who have started the last four Final Fours were juniors and seniors.

As it is, the rule about high school grads sitting out a year before becoming NBA-eligible appears to have the shelf life of a White House Cabinet member. It will be a mistake for many who aren't ready.

College basketball is a mess right now in so many ways. If only the NCAA could reach an agreement with the NBA and do what baseball does. Allow prep seniors to go pro and, if they choose to go to college, they can't get drafted again until after their junior seasons.

It would work. The universities and pros would be so much better.

Of course it won't happen. But watching this Tournament, with so many "stars" not getting it done, this system sure isn't working for the big shots who think they should win but can't.

Kids will be, well, kids.