2018 NBA Draft: Are Duke and Kentucky doing more harm than good?

(Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images)
(Chris Lee/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/TNS via Getty Images) /

While many players from Duke and Kentucky will go high in the 2018 NBA Draft like years prior, we tend to gloss over the prospects they aren’t helping.

When Marvin Bagley III goes high in the 2018 NBA Draft, it’ll be another cornerstone for Coach K’s Duke program. Kentucky’s John Calipari will likely be in attendance on draft night. He prides himself on how many of his players get drafted. These two are the kings of the one-and-done era. There’s no doubt about it. However, if we took a step back and looked at the big picture, they might be hurting more prospects than not.

Under the one-and-done rule, it’s harder than ever to know whether a player should go or stay. What doesn’t make it any easier is going to a recruiting powerhouse like Duke and Kentucky. No matter what kind of year you had, there’s a four- or five-star prospect coming in at your position.

For guys like Wendell Carter Jr., Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Bagley, that doesn’t cross their minds. They’re declaring and likely going to end up in the lottery. But for everyone else, it makes their choice harder. We’re talking about guys like Trevon Duval and Hamidou Diallo. Rather than adding a couple more names, we’re going to focus on these two.

Duval and Diallo are projects, and they’re not ready to compete in the NBA yet. In general, they might’ve done better with another year in college. However, when Duke signs a top point guard in Tyus Jones‘ brother Tre Jones, Duval’s decision was made at that point. The same is true of Diallo when Calipari locked in two five-star shooting guards in Tyler Herro and Keldon Johnson.

Now, maybe it’s not such a bad thing for prospects like Duval and Diallo. They have incredible tools and would likely get a lot better working with NBA staffs, even in the G League. There ‘s no 16 units and early morning workouts to balance in between practice and games. However, it’s still a risk to make the jump when you’re not quite ready.

It’s not just about guys who declare either. Derryck Thornton transferred from Duke because of Frank Jackson‘s impending arrival. He had to lose a year of basketball because he knew his minutes would likely decrease as a sophomore. Duke and Kentucky recruit as many top kids in the nation, but see plenty transfer in this carousel of high-end prospects.

Now, this isn’t meant to be a dig at Coach K and Calipari. The NBA and NCAA have refused to re-establish high school eligibility for the draft (for now) and we’re stuck with these six-month rentals of future NBA players. These two coaches aren’t necessarily being cynical, they’re doing what’s best for their programs within these rules, we live under in the college game.

Next: Full two-round 2018 NBA Mock Draft

There isn’t a clear solution. These coaches shouldn’t stop recruiting kids at similar positions because some might come back to school. Recruiting is too fluid. Who comes and goes after one season in college is unpredictable. That being said, the successes of players like John Wall get the spotlight over what happens to guys like Marquis Teague. These are the realities that players in high school need to think about more before picking Duke or Kentucky.