|#1 pick, a coach, #1 pick|
It's not. But for this post I'll just focus on the slick-haired Italian not named Pitino who's the lightning rod for all things one-and-done.
John Calipari - Memphis (4), Kentucky (4)
(2002, #6 pick) Dajuan Wagner
(2006, #17 pick) Shawne Williams
(2008, #1 pick) Derrick Rose
(2009, #4 pick) Tyreke Evans
(2010, #1/5/18/30 picks) John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton
So Coach Cal is the evil face of this system, right? He's runs an NBA farming squad that fast forwards guys right into the pros, right? Or maybe his first year at Kentucky was simply an outlier. An anomaly. A crazy happenstance. Calipari coached nine seasons in Memphis and churned out an enormous quantity of ... four freshmen NBAers. He also happened to send one early-entry sophomore and one early-entry junior, Darius Washington and Chris Douglas-Roberts, to the professional ranks. How many pros do you think he had spend a full four seasons in college? None or maybe a single random guy, right? This one-and-done recruiter can't have possibly developed players over the extent of their college careers and put them into a positive position maybe even beyond their natural capabilities, right? Five Memphis seniors under Cal have played in the NBA. Robert Dozier, Joey Dorsey, Rodney Carney, Antonio Burks, and Earl Barron.
And what about Cal's success in post-1&Done seasons? Surely if players leaving too early is such a monumental problem then it would create a noticeable correlation to the following season's detriment. Memphis went from 27-9 NIT Champions with Dajuan Wagner to 23-7 making the NCAA Tournament in 2003. They went from the 33-4 Elite 8 with Shawne Williams to the 33-4 Elite 8 in 2007. They dropped from 38-2 losing the championship game with Derrick Rose to dropping 33-4 in the Sweet 16 in 2009. Calipari left Memphis after Tyreke Evans' single season to start over at UK, remolding a team that went straight to the Elite 8 in 2010.
Then there was the 2011 mass exodus. But I've already covered that enough.
So Calipari hasn't won a championship. If that's your end-all-be-all argument, then you win. If all of Derrick Rose, John Wall, and Demarcus Cousins came back for multiple follow-up seasons, then yes, Calipari probably would've claimed a title by now. But then again, maybe not since proceeding recruits might've looked elsewhere for more prevalent playing time. Then there are always freak injuries, chemistry problems, and situational transfers ... so ... there's no guarantee either way. Calipari has milked pretty much every ounce of blood, sweat, and tears out of his roster every year. I honestly think the only underachievement you can mark him for is his first Kentucky squad not at least making a Final Four. But even with that, you're talking about a team with a brand new coach who's starting three freshmen with a single returning contributor from the previous season. So it's strictly off talent and will that they were a favorite at all.
Bottom-line: There have been two seasons where a one-and-done departure has seriously affected a John Calipari team. 2009 without Derrick Rose and 2011 without Wall, Cousins, Bledsoe, and Orton.
The 2008-2009 Memphis starting five could have hypothetically been Derrick Rose/Tyreke Evans/Antonio Anderson/Robert Dozier/Shawn Taggart ... but is that even a guaranteed championship contender in a year with Hansbrough's Tar Heels stomping the field? The 2010-2011 team would've hypothetically been an all-time juggernaut if any two of the four departures would've stayed ... but then you don't know who stays healthy or if Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones wind up here at all. And we made the Final Four as constituted. Sooo ...
Calipari's career in summary
19 years coaching [8 at UMASS, 9 at Memphis, 2 at UK]
509-152 (77%) record [193-71 (73%) at UMASS, 252-69 (79%) at Memphis, 64-12 (84%) at UK]
13 NCAA Tournaments [5 at UMASS, 6 at Memphis, 2 at UK]
9 Sweet Sixteens [3 at UMASS, 4 at Memphis, 2 at UK]
7 Elite Eights [2 at UMASS, 3 at Memphis, 2 at UK]
3 Final Fours [1 at UMASS, 1 at Memphis, 1 at UK]
1 Championship Game loss [Memphis]
... and Free Enes.