One-and-done isn’t a one size fits all.
Colleges and coaches have had seven draft cycles to navigate the NBA’s rule that a player must be one year removed from high school to be eligible for the NBA Draft.
As the NBA sifts through the latest batch of college prospects, young and old (relatively speaking), we decided to look through how the college game has handled the so-called one-and-done phenomenon.
Roughly 40 to 50 underclassmen have declared for the draft (and kept their names available to be called) each season since the rule was put in place in 2007, the season Ohio State’s Greg Oden and Texas’ Kevin Durant starred for a year in college before becoming the Nos. 1 and 2 picks in the draft.
Of the 473 Division I players to make themselves available for the NBA Draft, only 37 percent are true one-and-dones, followed by 33 percent sophomores and 29.6 percent juniors.
That breakdown may surprise casual observers who think of this period of college basketball as a glorified weigh station for freshmen before the Draft. Part of the credit (or blame) goes to John Calipari, who has operated within the new landscape like none other.
Of the 177 players to go one-and-done since 2007, a dozen played for Calipari at Memphis or Kentucky. No other coach had more than five players stay for a year and bolt for the draft.
Here are a few other things we learned in our look at the NBA Draft early entry numbers since 2007.
A few notes on how we compiled the numbers:
• For the sake of consistency, the players we counted were those who were on the NBA’s underclassman list. That includes some players who declared for the draft before electing to play overseas.
• In the conference tally, programs were counted for the conference in which they will play in 2013-14, so Syracuse and Pittsburgh count for the ACC, Memphis and Louisville count for the American and so on.
• In the coaches’ tally, the coach listed is the one who had the job full-time in the player’s final season. For example, Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie played their first season at Georgia under Dennis Felton but declared for the draft under Mark Fox. Both count toward Fox’s total.
• The “years lost” column refers to the seasons of eligibility a school, conference or coach lost when a player declared early for the draft. A freshman counts as three years lost, a sophomore two and a junior three.
• Calipari has owned this era, as expected. It's not even close. The 18 early entires doesn’t stand out quite so much as the 44 years of eligibility lost. Calipari’s 18 draft-bound underclassmen at Memphis and Kentucky left after playing an average of 1.5 seasons. Texas’ Rick Barnes and Ohio State’s Thad Matta were in a similar spot with 1.6 seasons on average out of their early entry candidates.
• Kansas’ Bill Self, the only coach besides Calipari with double-digit early entires, got an average of 2.3 seasons out of his underclassmen. Kansas sent only three freshmen to the draft, Darrell Arthur, Josh Selby and Ben McLemore, and McLemore was a redshirt freshman. Six of Kansas’ 10 early entries left school as juniors.
• Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has an identical early entry profile (four players gone, nine years of eligibility lost) as former Oklahoma coach Jeff Capel and Washington coach Lorenzo Romar. Fired with the Sooners, the former Blue Devil Capel is now an assistant on Krzyzewski’s staff.
• One surprising name among the "leaders" is Georgia coach Mark Fox, who had three underclassmen declare with the Bulldogs (Travis Leslie, Trey Thompkins, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope) and two at Nevada (Ramon Sessions, JaVale McGee).
• Duke's 2010 national championship team was the only title winner without an underclassman who left for the following NBA Draft. Michigan State's 2009 national runner-up was the only other team to play in a title game duirng the one-and-done era without an underclassman who immediately went to the draft.
• Something interesting is going on in Los Angeles. UCLA and USC each had nine players leave early for the NBA Draft, more than any school besides Kansas and Kentucky. The Bruins aren’t a surprise, but the Trojans are, even considering USC landed on probation for NCAA violations. UCLA lost four underclassmen to the draft off two Final Four teams compared to five on the since 2009. At UCLA, Howland’s replacement Steve Alford lost only two underclassmen to the draft, both juniors.
• Who is getting the least out of underclassmen going to the draft?Of the eight teams that have sent eight or more underclassmen to the NBA Draft, only USC and Texas failed to reach a Final Four since 2007. One of the Trojans' early entries was counterproductive with freshman O.J. Mayo at the center of the NCAA investigation that landed the Trojans on probation and ended up with coach Tim Floyd fired.
• Connecticut also had a surprisingly low amount of players who declared early for the draft. The Huskies lost only four early entries and one freshman (Andre Drummond). During the same amount of time, DePaul lost three early entries. Granted, in the 2006 NBA Draft, Connecticut had three underclassmen selected in the first round, plus one more senior.
• Among notable programs with just one underclassmen leaving early: UNLV (Anthony Bennett) and Marquette (Vander Blue) lost their early entry candidate after the 2012-13 season.
• Florida State and Gonzaga lost as many players and seasons of eligibility to the draft since 2007 as Florida International did in three years under Isiah Thomas.
*Tallied by schools in the 2013-14 conference alignment
• Take Kentucky out of the SEC tally, and the league slips behind the ACC and Pac-12 in terms of early entries. Removing Calipari’s tenure at Kentucky, the SEC accounts for 31 early entries, staying for an average of 2.5 seasons.
• The Big Ten is a veteran league for a major conference. The 18 early entries are as many as the upcoming lineup in the American Athletic Conference and one more than the new Big East, alarmlingly low totals for a major conference.
• One reason the Big Ten's numbers are much lower: Three Big Ten powers were among those who haven’t produced an early entry candidate during the one-and-done period, much less a freshman: Michigan State, Wisconsin and Purdue. Other notable programs that haven’t produced an early entry candidate since at least 2007 include Oregon, Temple, Creighton and the entire Missouri Valley Conference.
• Should this be a sign the reformed Big East will have trouble attracting NBA Draft talent? Georgetown (five) is the only program in the league that has produced more than four early entries to the NBA Draft. The American Athletic Conference includes Memphis, which produced three early entries (all sophomores) under Josh Pastner plus four more from UConn. Remove ACC-bound Louisville from the American and the remaining lineup has produced 14 underclassmen heading to the draft, as many as the Mountain West.