This weekend four teams will duke it out (no pun intended), but really one team trumps all others this season. John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats are poised to not only win their first title in more than a decade, but they are ready to change the landscape of college basketball for good.
The Wildcats undoubtedly posses superior talent as they have cut their way through the NCAA Championship Tournament like a scalding knife through a tender slab of butter. Calipari’s crop of freshman phenoms including Anthony Davis and Marquis Teague, who may end up going first and second respectively in the upcoming NBA draft. No question, this team is loaded with the kind of exceptional talent that makes coaches drool. But come season’s end, the team will undergo a complete overhaul, once again becoming foreign to even the most devoted of Kentucky fans.
Such overhauls have become the norm in the Bluegrass State. Headed by their conniving master John Calipari, the face of college basketball might just experience its own overhaul as the trend of youth over experience continues to progress. Call it the Calipari model.
The three-time National Coach of the Year seems to be more of a businessman than a coach these days. After employing a similar method at Memphis, Calipari is now running Kentucky like a factory, churning out top NBA draft picks year after year. Already, the Calipari Corporation has churned out top NBA talent like Derrick Rose, John Wall, Demarcus Cousins and Tyreke Evans.
This new model of giving exposure to one-and-done freshmen goes against the philosophical fibers of some of college basketball’s most storied programs. Most noticeably, Duke’s coach Mike Krzyzewski runs his tight ship program based off the value of commitment and loyalty. If you play for Coach K, you are there to stay.
Personally, I am completely against Calipari’s model for success. As a fan, you grow with your players. You struggle with them in their early years, only to reap the satisfaction of their success in their later years. To me, the model of churning out players is an artificial means to winning. I can guarantee none of Kentucky’s fans are as attached to Anthony Davis as Cougar fans are to Marcus Capers and Abe Lodwick.
They have not grown with their players like us Cougs have.
The bitter reality of the matter is that high school talent is getting better, and the top talents will continue to seek out programs that foster the opportunity to play for exposure and draft stock rather than school pride and success. Call me crazy, but I will take a CBI championship with Capers and Lodwick over a championship with a bunch of self-righteous, NBA-bound prodigies.
Whatever the cost, victory based off a true foundation is and always will be the sweetest. It may not get you on ESPN every night, but at least it is real.