Staff Writer, Griffin Bennett, takes a look at the #&@* show that end with yesterday’s sad news of Terrence Jones committing to Kentucky.
Husky Nation was just punched it the gut by a 5-star All-American. After going toe-to-toe with Kentucky and John Calipari, the Huskies were just knocked out by 6’9’’ recruit Terrence Jones. Wednesday night he signed a financial aid agreement with Kentucky instead of U-Dub while most reports were predicting the opposite all week.
This is just the latest blow delivered by Coach Calipari in the last few years as five-star caliber players like Enes Kanter and DeMarcus Cousins have also chosen the Kentucky coach over Coach Romar. Jones’ decision has left Husky Nation in a state of shock. What did we do wrong? Why did he change his mind? Where does this leave the team for next year?
First, I’ll give my opinion on the matter and then I’ll try to get into some useful analysis on how this affects the Husky team for next year. First and foremost, this just makes me disgusted at the college recruiting system. There is something insanely wrong with the way that we allow this system to function with no repercussions.
Ten years ago, the Terrence Jones Saga would not have happened. The blog/Twitter/Facebook era has allowed the recruitment process to balloon into a creature that can’t be stopped. Every rumor, no matter how small, will now be analyzed and dissected until the next one emerges. Ten year ago, Terrence Jones would have made a soft verbal to UW and then surprisingly changed his decision three weeks later with limited fanfare. If I was in Terrence’s position I would have milked every opportunity for the spotlight that I could get too.
Call me a drama queen if you want, but I love being the center of attention. If 25 thousand people tuned in to watch you pick up a hat, would that not make you feel like a celebrity? Don’t lie — you would think your farts smell like roses too!
Unfortunately, it’s 2010 and college recruitment has grown into a multi-million dollar business where coaches are now hired for their recruiting ability over their actual basketball coaching skill. Let’s not kid ourselves, John Calipari is the best recruiter in the nation.
College basketball has been forever changed by Coach Cal and it will, most likely, never be the same again. The “one and done” rule from the NBA has turned some college basketball teams into the AAA teams of the NBA. John Calipari has bought into this ideal and aggressively goes after these future NBA stars that are forced into a year of college basketball servitude with the promise of the path of least resistance to their ultimate goal. That goal is the “glitz and glamour” that only the NBA can provide. Gone are the years of teams of future NBA Hall of Famers that play all the way through their senior years.
In my opinion, the elite teams of the 80’s and 90’s of college basketball would destroy the elite teams these days because the skill level of the juniors and seniors is so inferior. We are left with a college landscape that is more popular than ever, but the fundamentals of the institution have changed dramatically since the 2004 “one and done” rule was implemented by the NBA. Being unbiased, I can’t get mad at Calipari. He followed every guideline set forth by the NCAA and he won. Game over.
However, I do have a problem with the public image that UK’s Calipari tries to project. His record low student GPA, and wake of institutional destruction that he has left behind at UMASS and Memphis suggest that his priorities are not in line with those set forth by the NCAA. He cares more about wins and money than he does about the collegiate success of his players and his university. The Terrence Jones saga only further accelerates this idea.
First, Coach Calipari convinces UW verbal commit Enes Kanter to leave UW for the Kentucky limelight. Next, Terrence Jones chooses UW in a web-aired ceremony where 25 thousand fans either cheered or jeered his decision. Later, in an interview, Coach Calipari declares that he does not continue to recruit a player until “he publically de-commits” which neither Jones nor Kanter ever did. It’s one thing to follow the rules (which allow a coach to continue to recruit a committed player) but it’s a whole other beast when you begin to preach something other than what you practice. Shame on you, John Calipari. Just admit that you’re a “no holds barred” coach who will do everything that he legally can do to gain an advantage, but please don’t pretend to be some sort of “holier than thou” figure that succeeds based on his morals.
The whole country knows this isn’t the case and it only adds to your already stained legacy. Adding a morally limited coach in John Calipari to a national powerhouse in Kentucky is a recipe for destruction. By destruction, I mean it will either end in the most successful college program in history or the largest scandal in NCAA history. If this marriage lasts for years to come, I feel that the latter is more plausible. The best analogy I have ever heard came from my friend Ben today: You know the scene in Billy Madison when the principal asks Eric about business ethics? Calipari couldn’t get through the question without pulling out the gun either.
At least now this drama is finally over, right? Wrong. Terrence Jones only signed a financial aid agreement which binds the University to the player and not the player to the University. Technically, Jones can still leave Kentucky before he enrolls in school and go to wherever he wishes.
After a month of excruciating drama, he STILL has left the door open for speculation. I’m sure we’ve all heard the “Calipari to the NBA” rumors by now. If he was to actually bolt to the NBA this summer, Jones could choose to leave Kentucky and would most likely try to come to UW. Although this is very unlikely, I hope that Coach Romar and UW would have the pride to say ‘no’ and force Jones to stick with his decision. Even though he is an elite talent, UW prides itself on its ethics and we have no need for spotlight-seeking stars.
The most important thing is the team that we have right now. This is a team that has an immense amount of talent and is poised for a deep tournament run without Jones. As mentioned by Craig earlier, this team may have the most talent in Husky history. Here is my projected starting five:
PG: Abdul Gaddy
SG: Isaiah Thomas
SF: Justin Holiday
C: Aziz N’daiye
I kept debating this line-up, but I think when you put all of the cards out on the table this is the line-up that will end up producing the best numbers. You could argue that Aziz may not be ready and Gant could play the PF spot and put MBA at C, or even play Wilcox/Suggs at the SF spot and force Holiday to play PF, but I believe that this is our best option until Gant/Wilcox/Suggs shows us that they are willing to step up. I’d love to hear everyone’s opinion on our starting five for next year as well in the comments section.
We are U-Dub and we don’t need any high schooler to validate our team. We already have a team that is full of elite talent and I believe this year has a potent combination of senior leadership and young talent. Everyone better prepare themselves for one of the most exciting seasons in recent history.
And let’s pray for a Maui Invitational match-up with Kentucky so we can settle this on the court, where Romar prefers it to be settled. In Romar we trust and we must never forget that. Our ethics are more important than this game of basketball. Even if the rest of the college basketball has lost their way, we must continue to hold our ethics higher than the rest. It will only make our trip to the Final Four that much sweeter — whenever it comes. We are on a mission and soon all of basketball will know what Bowing Down feels like.
Thanks for coming!