College Hoops: Olson through with ‘one and done’ players
Los Angeles Times
Arizona Coach Lute Olson said Thursday that his program’s loss of standout prep basketball player Brandon Jennings to a European professional league has convinced him to adopt a new recruiting strategy.
“It’s a situation now that if someone’s a ‘one-and-done,’ we’re not going to pursue them anymore, no way,” Olson said from his Tucson office.
Under NBA rules that won’t expire until the current collective bargaining agreement ends after the 2010-11 season, elite prep players such as Jennings, 18, are unable to join the league until they are 19 and a year removed from their final year of high school. That mandate has resulted in a slew of top players, including USC’s O.J. Mayo and UCLA’s Kevin Love, playing one college season before bolting for the NBA’s millions.
Olson, 73, a basketball Hall of Fame member who guided the Wildcats to a 1997 NCAA title, labels the so-called one-and-done situation a “farce,” and is pushing for reform as a member of the National Assn. of Basketball Coaches.
Olson suggests that elite prep players be given a choice: opt to declare for the NBA draft immediately after high school, or be committed to spending a minimum of two years (Olson would prefer three) in college.
The coach, returning to the bench from a one-year hiatus due to his divorce, was poised to add another top recruit to “Point Guard U.” when Jennings signed to join Arizona.
But as Jennings, a Southern Californian and McDonald’s All-American who played the past two seasons at Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, awaited the SAT score that would determine his college eligibility ó Olson said he doesn’t know the outcome of that test ó Jennings began pursuing the idea of earning an immediate income through a contract and endorsement deals as a pro in Europe. On Tuesday, Jennings announced he would play overseas.
So, now Olson will be deprived of both Jennings and guard Jerryd Bayless, a one-season player he lost from Arizona’s 2007-08 roster. Bayless was a lottery pick of the Indiana Pacers earlier this month and traded to Portland. He signed with the Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
“Jerryd said all along he wanted to stay here two years,” Olson said. “But then you get the agents working on the kids and parents all year. You might have the kid in your controlled environment for some time, but when (outsiders are) on the parents, you have no idea what’s going on.”
Olson said the hits to Arizona’s roster culminates a scene he forecast when the NBA and its players’ union agreed to allow one-and-done after the 2005 season.
“We said at the time it’d be a disaster, that agents would be swarming all over ó not only over these kids, but their parents ó telling them the kid needed to score a ton of points in the one year and get out,” Olson. “I’m not saying that’s the case in every situation, but you’ve already seen the danger. What we predicted is happening. This is agent-driven, and it’s a horrible rule.”