Laettner, Lynch, Del Negro: ACC legends sound off on today’s one-and-done

jalexander@newsobserver.comApril 19, 2014 

— Former college legends from triangle schools played basketball for charity in the Big Three Legends game at American Tobacco Campus.

Among those representing the three schools were Christian Laettner, Gene Banks and William Avery for Duke; Vinny Del Negro, Julius Hodge, Rodney Monroe and Chris Corchiani for N.C. State; George Lynch, Melvin Scott and Donald Williams for North Carolina.

We asked some of the players a few questions based on what’s happening in college basketball today. Each had different answers, but most seemed to favor how the game was played when they were in college.

CHRISTIAN LAETTNER (DUKE)

Q: Most of Coach (Krzyzewski‘s) championship teams have been led by juniors and seniors, for instance you, and now the trend is “one and done.” Do you think Coach K will be able to win with “one and done” teams?

A: It’s harder to have that super super high level of success when kids are only staying in your program one or two years. I wouldn’t have won any championships if people would have left after one or two years. So it’s really important to get the kids to stay if you want that super high level of success, and it seems like in today’s day in age, it’s just harder and harder because the great, great players go. So I think coaches have to adjust a little bit and just go for results instead of teaching kids how to play the right way. The atmsosphere is changing a little bit, but coach Calipari is having success with it, Coach K is still having plenty of success with it. But I just think it makes it all a little more challenging. I hate to see it, and I wish they would make a two-year rule.

Q: So you are in favor of the two-year rule NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said he is considering. Why?

A: I’m in favor of the two-year rule because if you think about the players who came straight out of high school or even went to the NBA after one-year, there’s only a hand full of them that were really, really good in the NBA right away. LeBron James, Dwight Howard. But even Kevin Garnett, he needed a few months. Kobe Bryant needed a few months. So I think it hurts the college game to have the great players leave too early, and I think it hurts the pro game to have these young kids come in, sit on the bench and develop for a year before they start producing at a high level.

Q: How do you make it attractive to a young kid to stay in college longer? Is the last resort to pay them?

A: It’s impossible when all that money is on the table. And the only way they’re going to stay is if they don’t necessarily need the money. I didn’t necessarily need the money after my junior year and that’s why I didn’t leave. But at the same time, I loved what I was doing and I wanted to play for Coach K, one more year. It seems like now they’d rather go get the money than play for a good coach one more year.

GEORGE LYNCH (UNC)

Q: With the “one and done” becoming a trend for some players, does it hurt the NCAA?

A: It’s tough when you see a kid needing to stay more years make the wrong decision and come out early and don’t get drafted, can’t go back to school or choose not to go back to school to further their education. That’s the most disappointing part of it. But basketball is a big sport in America. I don’t think it hurts the NCAA too much, but you just wish kids had the right advice. They have people telling them to come out and to play in the NBA but are getting advice from other people who have never played the game. The four years of college prepared me to be a pro, and not just for one year, but it prepared me to be a pro for 12 years.

Q: Are you more in favor of the two-year rule?

A: I’m not in favor of it. If the kid is ready to come out, I think it’s great. If the kid comes out to support his family, I think it’s that kid’s choice.

Q: Do you think students would stay in school longer if they received a stipend?

A: No, because the kids are talking about coming out before they leave their family’s homes and before they even step on the college campus. As far as a stipend, I think the NCAA should do that. The TV contracts are getting bigger. With the student-athletes that go to the bigger universities, they don’t have time to work a job. You’re asking a lot from a student-athlete that travels and has to do all the catch up work in his classes. So if they can give the kids something I think it would be great. What that number is, you never know.

VINNY DEL NEGRO (N.C. STATE)

Q: What do you think about the two-year rule NBA commissioner Adam Silver is considering?

A: I’d love to see kids stay in school for the education, for the experience. I think it’s better for the college game, better for the pro game, but more so just better for the student-athletes.

Q: Connecticut’s Shabazz Napier said earlier this month that he sometimes starves at night because he doesn’t have enough money to buy food. Do you think players should be compensated?

A: I’d be surprised if players at major universities are starving, with all the facilities and things that are available to players, but I understand his point. And I’m sure the NCAA is looking into different things because times have changed and things have changed. But at the end of the day you have to abide by the rules, and everyone plays on the same playing field.

Q: The ACC has probably doubled in size since you have been there. How do you feel about that?

A: I’m an old school guy. There’s reasons that it’s gotten bigger with football, the facilities, TV, and all the different things going on. But I really loved my time at State when the rivalries were very intense, not that they’re not now, but it’s different because there are so many teams and there isn’t as much history as it was when I played.

Alexander: 919-932-2008; Twitter: @jonmalexander1

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