One-and-done fresh­men come from all walks

The Washington Times Daily - - Weather -

Is coach Mike Krzyzewski run­ning a bas­ket­ball fac­tory at Duke? Has he turned his back on ed­u­ca­tion? Are his Blue Devils bet­ter role mod­els than John Cali­pari’s Ken­tucky Wild­cats? The cor­rect an­swers are yes, no and no, re­spec­tively.

But (don’t look now), Duke has pro­duced a one-and-done player for the sec­ond con­sec­u­tive sea­son. Fresh­man Austin Rivers is leav­ing for the NBA draft.

“Duke has pre­pared me for the chal­lenges that are ahead both on and off the court,” Rivers said in a state­ment is­sued by the school. “I have learned so much from the coach­ing staff and my teammates that will help me suc­ceed at the next level.”

A cer­tain stereo­type of­ten is at­tached to one-and-dones, much like the cliched im­age of preps-to-pros who pre­ceded them un­til 2006. They all hail from poor fam­i­lies and they’re poor stu­dents, pos­sess­ing poor char­ac­ter and judg­ment. Bas­ket­ball is their only “ticket” out, as they nei­ther ap­pre­ci­ate col­lege de­grees nor have the in­tel­lect to ob­tain one.

We’re com­fort­able with that per­cep­tion draped on Ken­tucky, where Cali­pari’s re­volv­ing-door pro­gram is built on Nba-ready fresh­men. A half-dozen one-and-done Wild­cats were se­lected in the first round of the past two drafts. Cali­pari’s fresh­men have been top-four picks in four con­sec­u­tive drafts, in­clud­ing No. 1 picks John Wall (2010) and Der­rick Rose (Mem­phis, 2008).

The streak will con­tinue if, as ex­pected, An­thony Davis and Michael Kidd-gilchrist leave school early. Davis is the con­sen­sus No. 1 pick, and Kidd-gilchrist is pro­jected in the top five.

His suc­cess at re­cruit­ing and reload­ing has made Cali­pari the bane of his sport, as if one-and-done play­ers are some­how dirty. Never mind that he said Bran­don Knight, the No. 8 pick last year, trans­ferred 23 honors cour­ses upon en­roll­ment at Ken­tucky and left as a fresh­man with 60 cred­its and a 4.0 GPA.

Paint them all with the same broad brush, the bad guys us­ing col­lege as a pit stop at best and a door­mat at worst.

But when it hap­pens at Duke, one of the na­tion’s most-pris­tine pow­er­houses, you have to re­con­sider ev­ery­thing. Rivers, the son of Bos­ton Celtics coach Doc Rivers, isn’t com­ing out be­cause his fam­ily is broke, or Coach K gets on his nerves, or ed­u­ca­tion is mean­ing­less to him.

He’s com­ing out be­cause he wants to play with the world’s great­est ballers. The mul­ti­mil­lion dol­lar con­tract he’ll sign in a few months is gravy.

“Austin had a ter­rific year as a fresh­man and has put him­self in a po­si­tion to pur­sue his dream of be­ing a great player in the NBA,” Krzyzewski said in a state­ment. “He is an out­stand­ing young man with an even more-im­pres­sive fam­ily. We are in to­tal sup­port of Austin, his fam­ily and his decision. We look for­ward to watch­ing him con­tinue to de­velop and ex­cel at the next level.”

Coach K is­sued a near-iden­ti­cal state­ment when Kyrie Irv­ing left as a fresh­man and be­came the No. 1 over­all pick last year. Like Rivers, Irv­ing comes from a sound back­ground. His fa­ther, a for­mer Bos­ton Univer­sity stand­out, grad­u­ated with an eco­nom­ics de­gree and works as a se­nior bond an­a­lyst at Thom­son Reuters. Irv­ing promised to earn his de­gree within five years and took a full course load while the la­bor dis­pute was be­ing ham­mered out last sum­mer.

Irv­ing, the fa­vorite to win Rookie of the Year, and Rivers, a pro­jected lot­tery pick, give Coach K four one­and-done play­ers in his 32 sea­sons at Duke.

Cali­pari had four in the 2010 draft alone.

But it doesn’t mat­ter whether they’re A-stu­dents or strug­gling stu­dents; from well-to-do fam­i­lies or fam­i­lies barely mak­ing it; des­tined to be­come NBA stars or NBA busts; for­mer Duke Blue Devils of for­mer Ken­tucky Wild­cats.

One group isn’t bet­ter or worse than the other. They’re just dif­fer­ent.


Duke guard Austin Rivers is just the fourth player to leave for the NBA af­ter one sea­son in Mike Krzyzewski’s 32 sea­sons at the Durham, N.C., school. Rivers’ fa­ther, Doc Rivers, coaches the Bos­ton Celtics.

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