There aren’t many songs about Kentucky. However, Elvis (Presley, not Costello, Grbac or Dumervil) did sing about “the cold Kentucky rain.” But with the way Kentucky’s college basketball team whipped Baylor today, and how convincing they look as the favorite to cut down the nets in New Orleans, and it’ll be “Kentucky reign.”
And Kentucky reign is based on John Calipari
buying recruiting the top-of-the-line prospects; the one-and-done to the NBA guys. Big Blue has become the destination for blue-chip recruits, year-in and year-out, they keep replenishing them. And if UK wins it all this year, expect more teams to copy their style.
So far, no one has won it all in March madness with a strategy of building around freshmen; especially the one-and-done freshmen. Michigan got to the 1992 title game with the Fab Five freshmen, but the Wolverines were absolutely smoked by Duke. And that’s when freshmen really started to become relevant in college basketball.
The Derrick Rose Memphis team came in close in 2008, losing in overtime to Kansas, because they couldn’t make a free throw to save their lives, a problem they had all season in ’07-’08. Of course, that 38 win season has already been vacated, and therein lies the problem with this strategy of being overly-reliant on one or two star freshmen. It leads to further corruption in college sports. These are players ready to get paid, and thinking about getting paid (not school) in another year. And they SHOULD be getting paid because the mandatory one year in college rule is DUMB. It’s a cheap farce that benefits no one.
John Calipari’s first Final Four not to be vacated was last year, when they lost to UConn. Like this year’s team, they relied on star freshmen who left early. This year’s squad is led by Anthony Davis, who will sweep all the national player of the year awards, and then become the first pick in the NBA draft in June. The second pick will be his teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. They should win it all with that duo.
And expect many programs to try and follow that blueprint of Big Blue.
I’m sure, Ashley Judd wouldn’t mind that.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.