By Cullen Hamilton
School is officially in session, so Kentucky basketball Coach John Calipari is back at it again. Coach “Cal” is attempting to do the unprecedented, complete his fourth straight year of having the top recruiting class in college basketball. He might have just moved a little closer by landing his first commitment of the 2012 class, Archie Goodwin. This commitment surely adds to the excitement of Kentucky, but also continues the disturbing trend of young NBA dream chasers.
And what a commitment. On the evening of September 20, five-star recruit Archie Goodwin announced via twitter, that he would be attending the University of Kentucky, to play for the Wildcats. The 6-foot-5, 185-pound guard from Sherwood, Arkansas, is ranked thirteenth on the ESPN Top 100, and he is exactly the type of recruit Coach Calipari can use to lure other elite players to the Wildcat program. It is undeniable that Calipari is in uncharted waters, having only one commitment with less than two month before the November signing period, but with the addition of Goodwin, other recruits are predicted to follow suit.
In the meantime, Big Blue nation isn’t complaining; they’re more than satisfied with the outcome. Archie Goodwin adds to a long list of extremely gifted players that Coach Cal has brought to the “blue grass” state; all possessing the potential to pursue a NBA career.
Not everyone seems to be thrilled about Goodwin’s decision, especially those from his home state of Arkansas. Throughout his entire recruitment process, even after committing to Kentucky, Archie Goodwin continuously expressed his love and loyalty to his native state. So, the question arises: is Mr. Goodwin using
Kentucky as a first class ticket to the NBA or did he fall in love with the academic institution and its historic basketball tradition?
Good luck persuading Arkansans of the latter. How could they believe Goodwin’s proclamation of love for his state and the Arkansas Razorbacks? He claims to love his Razorbacks, yet he’s going to a conference rival claiming, “I love my state, but it’s a business decision and this is best for my career and my family”.
Did he really say “business decision” and “career”? Are those words supposed to be in a soon-to-be college kids’ vocabulary? Aren’t kids supposed to consider academics, location, climate, other students on campus, etc? And of course (for him), athletics should be a substantial part of his considerations. But “business decision”? “Career”? I thought Goodwin was declaring which college he would attend, not declaring for the NBA Draft. But maybe in today’s world of high-level college basketball, committing to college and declaring for the draft are one in the same.
Goodwin’s future coach and school are prime examples of this new era of college basketball. No one has ever praised John Calipari for giving his players amazing and nurturing college experiences. People have praised him though, for consistently breeding his already good players, into great NBA standouts. Over the past four seasons (dating back to his tenure at Memphis), Calipari has produced fourteen NBA Draft picks, all but five of which drafted in the first round. Five of those players were selected within the top five. Derrick Rose and John Wall were the number one overall picks in 2008 and 2010, respectively. In 2010, Calipari made draft history, having five players drafted in the first round.
You’ve got to give the man his props; he gets the job done. He turns talented high school recruits into productive NBA pros. He grooms his players at the collegiate level, propelling them towards the professional level.
But once again, is that what the college basketball world has been reduced to? Can kids search for a fulfilling and wholesome college experience, while also competing at the highest level on the court? Now days are blue chip recruits solely in an arms race for the NBA and a “business decision” is the only decision worth considering?
It’s quite unfortunate that Archie Goodwin’s apparent tunnel vision and concern for his “business decision” and “career” are actually the qualities that might push him towards a NBA career. In today’s college sports, athletes must become one-dimensional people, only focusing on their athletics careers and give less attention to their social and academic lives. They must become obsessed with their craft.
Therefore, if Archie Goodwin seriously wants to play in the NBA, he can’t allow himself to stay at home and play for Arkansas. Even if Razorback pride courses through his veins, he can’t allow himself to don the maroon and white. Over the past ten years, only three Arkansas players have been drafted. In that same time, John Calipari has had nineteen players drafted. You do the math. It’s a sad reality but if Archie Goodwin wants to play basketball for a living, he’s got to throw away personal preferences, and make a “business decision”.