For the past nine years, the NBA’s one-and-done rule has dramatically affected college basketball.
Dick Vitale doesn’t see that changing any time soon.
Before speaking downtown at the Renaissance Hotel on Thursday night at a fundraiser for the Boys & Girls Club of Middle Tennessee, the ESPN analyst and college basketball enthusiast said the rule should change.
But he’s not holding his breath.
“The NBA players’ union is the one that holds them back,” the 71-year-old Vitale said. “I think if we had harmony like there is in baseball where you have a scenario where they all unite — the NCAA, Major League Baseball and it works beautifully. If a kid wants to go on from high school to the pros he goes. But once you step on that college campus you have to stay here for three years. It would bring stability and it’d be phenomenal for the game. I’d love to see that but I don’t think we will.”
In a way, the rule hampers schools like Vanderbilt, which Vitale pointed out holds high academic standards.
The Commodores lost the top six scorers off last year’s team and 88.1 percent of the scoring. With no seniors and the entire starting five gone, they’ll need to find new pieces. But the recruiting trail has not been kind.
Vanderbilt lost out on Clarksville Northeast’s Alex Poythress, who signed with Kentucky, and has just two commits for the 2012 signing class with four scholarships available.
“They’re finishing No. 2 in recruiting,” Vitale said. “As [coach] Kevin Stallings will tell you, No. 2 doesn’t make it in the world of recruiting. There is still time to go. The one thing is he does a phenomenal job with discipline and getting the most out of his people.”
In the meantime, though, powerhouses such as Kentucky and North Carolina take advantage.
To Vitale, why wouldn’t they?
“John Calipari’s not a big fan of the one and done but obviously Kentucky played by the rules. The rules say that exists,” he said. “I get a big kick out of some schools and people saying, ‘Oh, they take these kids.’ Well who in the world wouldn’t take Anthony Davis or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist? Everyone would.”
Vitale also touched on various other topics.
• On Cuonzo Martin narrowly missing 20 wins and taking Tennessee to the NIT in his first year:
“I’m not surprised at all. I knew him when he was a player at Purdue. He was a winner then. He was a terrific defensive player. He made my all-Rambo team at that time. He’s also a cancer survivor. This is a courageous young guy. He stepped into a tough situation in Tennessee. He did a phenomenal job. At the end of the year you see the development of the players getting better and better. I think the future is very bright for Tennessee with the leadership of Cuonzo Martin.”
• On Vanderbilt’s 2011-12 season:
“The thing about it, this team here started real slowly but they did win the SEC [tournament] championship. That is quite an honor to say you were the SEC champs, especially the year when Kentucky cut the nets down and won a national title.”
• On his pick for which local mid-major can be next year’s Cinderella:
“Certainly Middle Tennessee State had a great year. I saw where it rewarded [coach] Kermit Davis with a new [five-year] contract. They’ve got some key players returning. They can be a very, very dangerous team. I think a lot of the big guys have found that out. Ask UCLA about Middle Tennessee State.”
• On his passions:
“Probably the dearest thing in my life today, other than my family, is I’m obsessed with raising money —my friends know I’m obsessed — to help kids battling cancer. That is the goal I have. Every year we have a major event but it is an all-year deal trying to raise the dollars to get the million… To see what the families are going through it just breaks your heart. You ask what I do? It is all year trying to raise the dollars.”
• On his never-ending motor:
“I watched my dad. When he retired from work — he was a factory worker — and all he did when he retired was sit in a chair like this, turn on the TV and that was his life. And that’s how he died. He couldn’t walk anymore. So I vowed when I stepped down or I slow down, keep active. This morning I played tennis. I walk a minimum every day — minimum — of an hour. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I couldn’t tell you the last time I had a drink. That doesn’t make me right. ... I never enjoyed it. So I go to clubs with buddies and I’m drinking cranberry juice. People think I’m drinking wine.”