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Sorry, Bo: There Is No One-and-Done Solution Out There

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Bo Ryan complained about one-and-dones after his loss last night. His anger was misplaced.

Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, Duke's win in the national championship game brought out some old and tired lines from critics of the one-and-done situation in college basketball.

Wisconsin's Bo Ryan was the most informed and important critic with his comment about it:

But every player that’s played through the program, okay, we don’t do a rent-a-player. You know what I mean? Try to take a fifth-year guy. That’s okay. If other people do that, that’s okay. I like trying to build from within. It’s just the way I am.

He did a pretty good job with this, which you'd expect given his experience. He tried to phrase it like he was simply expressing a personal preference. However by using the pejorative "rent-a-player" term, he showed that he also believes that shunning one-and-dones (along with graduate transfers) gives him moral high ground.

There's a big problem with that line of reasoning when you take it to its logical end. He's saying that Wisconsin, and Duke too for that matter, shouldn't sign players who are likely to stay in college only one season. By extension, he implies at the least that no other power school should sign them either. Does that mean only lesser schools should? Should Jahlil Okafor have played at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi instead in order to increase the purity of the Power 5 hoops? That doesn't make sense. That'd simply mean the big schools are passing corruption of some sort off to the smaller ones.

Or maybe Ryan means that no four-year college should sign a potential one-and-done. If so, then that would mean passing them off to junior colleges, which would make for some farcical games. It also would be passing off that same bad situation to the JUCOs, since they'd then be temporarily enrolling people with little intention to stay longer than one year too.

I guess he wants the one-and-dones not to go to college at all, then. They should just go straight to the NBDL or play overseas instead. If so, then the college game would lose a lot of talented players. There really isn't a reason right now why players shouldn't go to the NBDL or foreign leagues other than the fact that college basketball commands a lot of attention.

If all college coaches somehow colluded to take the stance that Ryan does, then many of the most talented players would skip college entirely. Interest in the regular season, which has already been waning, would decline even further. March Madness would still be a big event, but college basketball probably doesn't want to be an item of interest for only three weeks a year.

Besides, how would the coaches decide who to blackball as a one-and-done guy and who to take as a serious student? Some players who declare early weren't initially pegged as quick exits, while sometimes players expected to leave after a year stick around longer.

I don't really think that's what Ryan is going for here. He's not calling for boycotting the signing of the most supremely talented high school players. Perhaps he's making a reference to the dirty world of recruiting the top players, which is a pond he typically doesn't fish in. I do think he thinks coaches who sign one-and-dones are taking the easy route and are doing something less honorable than what he does. As I said, that makes little sense because someone will end up with those guys.

Ryan really should be ranting against the NBA, whose age rule created one-and-dones. He's probably tired of doing that, so he lashed out at fellow coaches and became a Scooby Doo villain in the process: the title would have been mine if not for those meddling kids!

Those coaches didn't cause the problem, though, and they all would love to see a real solution. None of them have the ability to create one, because again, this is 100% an issue caused by the NBA. If the NBA cared about what the college basketball world thought on the matter, it wouldn't have created the age limit as it exists.

There is nothing the NCAA can do. It can't create a rule to force players to stay in college. The NBA age limit, as well as the NFL's, is out of its control. Even the most reasonable draft rule—that being baseball's, where players can go pro out of high school, but if they go to college, they can't be drafted until either completing three years of school or turning 21—comes from the pro league and not the NCAA.

It's somewhat notable that this criticism came from Ryan, given that his commissioner was one of several who backed the completely bananas proposal to reinstate freshman ineligibility as a solution to one-and-dones. That's not a good solution. There is no good solution from the college side. It's unfortunate, but only the NBA can solve the one-and-done problem. Trouble is, it clearly doesn't even see it as a problem to fix.