The year was 1997, and Arizona coach Lute Olson conducted a question-and-answer session with the campus newspaper, the Daily Wildcat. The topics ranged from his career in general to the possibility of repeating as national champions, and all things in between. But the part I remembered hearing about -- and decided to go look up again this week -- pertained to players leaving early for the NBA Draft, and the pros and cons of taking a one-and-done prospect.
|Sorry Lute Olson, you had this issue all wrong. (Getty Images)|
That's what Olson told the newspaper, but this isn't a column designed to poke fun at something he believed 10 years ago. Hell, I once bought a book of poetry written by Jewel. We all make mistakes. But there's no denying the past decade has shown that the idea of one-and-done players being bad news is nothing more than a myth, and you need look no further than the pictures of Carmelo Anthony and his hard hat for the latest example.
You saw the pictures, didn't you?
The ones of Anthony and that shovel?
They were taken this week when Syracuse broke ground on a $19 million practice facility that is only possible because Anthony donated the initial $3 million and kick-started the fundraising. Add that to the national title he brought the Orange in his first and only year of college, and it's pretty clear Syracuse was helped in the short and long term by the presence of a one-and-done phenom who used the Carrier Dome as a launching pad to the NBA.
Far as I'm concerned, that's game, set and match.
Any argument against one-and-done players will always be trumped by Anthony, who has proved to be a wonderful asset to Syracuse on and off the court. Yeah, he was stupid to be in that anti-snitching video. And yeah, the way he sucker-punched Mardy Collins last season was chicken-you-know-what. But there's no way to dispute the Orange have benefited greatly from their association with Anthony, and every program in America -- Arizona included -- would've been lucky to have him.
Or, if not him, then Marvin Williams.
Or Kevin Durant.
Or Greg Oden.
Williams, in his one year of college, helped North Carolina win the 2005 national title by scoring the game-winning basket against Illinois. Durant, in his one year of college, helped Texas compete for last season's Big 12 championship. And Oden, in his one year of college, led Ohio State to the title game of the 2007 NCAA Tournament, and it's worth noting he was aided by two other one-and-done players, Daequan Cook and Michael Conley Jr.
So see, this isn't just about Anthony.