College Basketball has developed an interesting dynamic in comparison to the rest of collegiate athletics and sports in general. The concept known as 'one-and-done' refers to the common practice of elite college basketball players spending only a season in the NCAA before entering the NBA Draft. This phenomenon was a result of the NBA eliminating the possibility of high school players jumping straight to the league, although Carmelo Anthony was a notable one-and-done despite having the option of foregoing college. Most players that fall into this category are identified before they even start their collegiate careers, especially with all of the high school recruiting coverage at our fingertips.
There are certain schools that are known for attracting these players, with Kentucky the most obvious example followed by Duke and Kansas in more recent years. Kentucky appears to have a completely new team every year due to players with immediate NBA prospects seeking out the opportunity to take the quick route under Coach John Calipari. Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Lonzo Ball, Markelle Fultz, Devin Booker, De'Aaron Fox, and Jayson Tatum are all examples of players who transitioned to the league using this template. Whether the system works or needs to be changed is a debate that could and has been argued for years, so we'll save those thoughts for another time. What is worth noting is that these players end up at the top basketball programs in the country (save for a few unique player/coach relationships), and now that list includes The U.
Lonnie Walker IV is a shooting guard from Reading, Pennsylvania whose high school accolades include: McDonald's All-American, Jordan Brand Classic All-American, Pennsylvania AP Player of the Year, and Pennsylvania 6A State Champion. Walker was a 5-star recruit ranked as the #14 overall prospect on 247sports.com. He selected Miami over offers from Kentucky, Arizona, Villanova and Syracuse. Walker has already been ranked as the #7 NBA Draft prospect by Bleacher Report where they said the following about the talented freshman:
Walker passes the NBA eye test with 6'4", 192-pound size, an impressive 6'10 ½" wingspan and plenty of athleticism.
He'll enter the one-and-done discussion with a smooth three-ball, slashing ability and defensive tools that point to two-way potential.
This is new territory for the Miami Basketball program which can be attributed to the sustained success of Coach Larranaga. Big-time players want to play here, and it's awesome.
With our program now attracting top level talent, you can begin to see what it takes (or what can help) to close the deal with the top recruits. This Wednesday, the Canes will be traveling up north to take on La Salle University, an Atlantic-10 school from Philadelphia. The Canes won't be playing in Philadelphia, however, but instead in Reading, a city over an hour outside of Philadelphia, which happens to be the hometown of our heralded recruit. Those 63 miles have made this a neutral-site contest both literally and figuratively, as Lonnie Walker IV's supporters are sure to come out in droves to see their city's star. I don't believe I've seen anything like this in College Basketball, but I'm excited to see Miami's willingness and ability to bring in talent of this caliber, instead of just hoping lower-ranked players develop enough to compete with the top recruits when they go to other schools. I understand the difficulties that having multiple players leave early for the NBA could cause, but one thing you'll notice about schools who bring in one-and-done players regularly is that they don't struggle making runs in the tournament, or even winning national titles. If the Canes take advantage of the talent we currently have and keep winning, we can expect to see more high-level talent like Lonnie Walker IV to come to Coral Gables.