Olson won't pursue 'one-and-done' players at Arizona, report says

Updated: July 11, 2008, 6:58 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Former Arizona signee Brandon Jennings' decision to play in Europe may have sparked a fundamental change of heart in coach Lute Olson.

Jennings, who wasn't certain to play for Olson, announced his intent to begin a professional career in Europe on Tuesday.

Two days later, the 73-year-old Hall of Fame coach all but turned off his program's radar for top-tier NBA prospects.

Lute Olson
Rick Scuteri/US PresswireLute Olson would like to see NBA rules governing young players' entry into the draft rewritten.
"It's a situation now that if someone's a 'one-and-done,' we're not going to pursue them anymore, no way," Olson told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday.

Jennings was expected to be the starting point guard for the Wildcats after Jerryd Bayless left for the NBA draft. Bayless, the 11th overall pick who landed with the Portland Trail Blazers in a draft-night trade with the Indiana Pacers, played one season at Arizona, averaging 19.7 points, 2.7 rebounds and four assists.

But Jennings' eligibility had come into question when the results of his second SAT exam were flagged by the NCAA. The scores from a third SAT were due this week.

According to the report, Olson would like to see the NBA rules that govern young players' entry into the draft rewritten. The rules, which expire after the 2010-11 season, make players eligible for the draft after they're 19 and one season removed from their senior year in high school.

"Jerryd said all along he wanted to stay here two years," Olson told the Times. "But then you get the agents working on the kids and parents all year. You might have the kid in your controlled environment for some time, but when [outsiders are] on the parents, you have no idea what's going on."

Olson, who led Arizona to a national championship in 1997 and took the 2007-08 season off as he was amid divorce proceedings, called the situation with one-year players a "farce." He told the Times he planned to use his position as a member of the National Association of Basketball Coaches to seek reform.

"We said at the time it'd be a disaster, that agents would be swarming all over -- not only over these kids, but their parents -- telling them the kid needed to score a ton of points in the one year and get out," Olson said of the time after the 2005 season when the NBA and the players' union agreed to implement the rules. "I'm not saying that's the case in every situation, but you've already seen the danger. What we predicted is happening. This is agent-driven, and it's a horrible rule."

Are you crazy?

-- Jim Boeheim, in reply to the Los Angeles Times when asked if he would follow
Lute Olson's mantra

Olson said players should be able to declare for the NBA draft immediately after high school or be subject to a two- or three-year commitment to college.

Several coaches agreed with the principle of Olson's claims, but none could foresee denying a star player a freshman season because he was assumed to be of the "one-and-done" variety.

Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim, who is also a member of the coaches' association, told the Times, "We can't do anything about this rule. … We're stuck with it."

"Are you crazy?" Boeheim replied when asked by the paper if he would follow Olson's mantra.

"We don't know who's going to go," Boeheim said. "You try to get the best 11 players you can. Guys will leave … it's a fact of life … But you still have 10 guys. When we recruit, we try to get the best one we can and hope he's good enough to win you a national championship, like Carmelo Anthony. But you have to be prepared for guys leaving, like Carmelo did."

Minnesota coach Tubby Smith, who sits on the association's board of directors and led Kentucky to the 1998 NCAA title, said he expected some kind of change, but wouldn't ignore supposed one-and-dones.

"Everybody wants the opportunity to coach a great player," Smith said, according to the Times.

"Even if it is for one year, they can do a lot for you."

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