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Friday, November 09, 2007

Mike DeCourcy - One-year players aren't bad; just ask Memphis

One-year players aren't bad; just ask Memphis

Somewhere in this glorious world of cyberspace, there has to be a clip or two of Derrick Rose's first two days in a Memphis Tigers uniform. So what I'm asking you to do is rewind the tape. Look again. See what Rose can do on the basketball floor. And tell me why that is bad for college basketball.

We asked you this week in one of our polls whether the "one-year player" is good or bad for college basketball.

You said "bad."

Well, 73 percent of you did.

Not all of you voted, so I can't say most of you feel this way. This was an unscientific survey, also. But 73 percent is a strong statement. And I'd suggest it's flat wrong.

If the one-year player is bad for college basketball, then the thrills Carmelo Anthony brought us in 2003 were bad for college basketball.

If the one-year player is bad, then Luol Deng's contributions to Duke's 2004 Final Four team were bad for college basketball.

And if you're a Carolina fan saying, "Yeah, Luol Deng was bad," then you've got to give up that national championship Marvin Williams rescued a year later with the essential play he delivered in the final 90 seconds against Illinois.

Kevin Durant is bad? Greg Oden is bad? Mike Conley is bad?

That's hard to grasp.

Rose was the first of the 2007-08 phenoms to make his debut, playing for the Tigers in the 2K Sports College Hoops Classic. He may be more athletic at his size -- 6-4 -- than any point guard who has played in the NBA. He has a marvelous feel for the game and a jumpshot that is gradually developing into a serious weapon.

In games against UT Martin and Richmond to open the season, he averaged 19 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists. The opposition could have been better, but Rose could not have been. His jumpshot, once a mechanical mess, is being straightened out by the Memphis coaches and, if it becomes a long-term habit, will complete the package that eventually will make him the NBA's finest point guard.

In the next couple weeks, we will see the debuts of O.J. Mayo at Southern California, Kevin Love at UCLA, Eric Gordon at Indiana, Michael Beasley at Kansas State and Kosta Koufos at Ohio State. It is quite likely that each one of them will be playing only a single season in college

Their presence should be a boon to the programs they chose. Since 2003, there have been 15 players who have become NBA first-round draft choices after a single season in college basketball.

So what good did they do in only a single season of college basketball? Well, their teams posted an average record of 27-8, 12 of them played in the NCAA Tournament, seven reached the Final Four and two won the national championship. Not bad.

And what harm did they do by leaving after a year, with no chance for their coaches to recruit a suitable replacement? The average record for seven whose teams have had a follow-up season was 25-9, and six of the seven teams reached the NCAA Tournament. Perhaps there is a residual benefit to having practiced and played with someone as talented at Chris Bosh or Shawne Williams.

Would it be better if all players had to spend two years in college? Sure. And it also would be better if I won the PowerBall. But sometimes you have to make the best of what you've got.

And what we've got now is a whole lot better for the game of basketball in general -- and college basketball in particular -- than if Rose, Love and their classmates never showed up.

Rewind that tape of Derrick Rose and tell me how that's wrong.

Mike DeCourcy is a staff writer for Sporting News. E-mail him at

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