The Drive with Jody Oehler

The Drive with Jody Oehler

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One and Done For Good

I don't know what took me so long but I'm done with one and done's forever.

This isn't a personal shot at Nico Mannion or Zeke Nnaji or Josh Green or any other young athlete who decided to pursue their dreams of being paid to play basketball.

This is a college basketball fan that has had a front row seat to watching as a parade of one and done college basketball players have slowly but surely sucked the joy out of being a college basketball fan.

Nico Mannion is just the latest example but he's also the perfect example. The best part of Nico Mannion's University of Arizona basketball "career" was the twelve months between when he committed and when he actually started playing.

And this has been true for virtually every one and done player at Arizona. The time between their commitment and their actual season of work when we can wildly dream about the immediate impact, their ability to recruit other five star players and be the one to get Sean Miller and Arizona (finally) back to another Final Four has been the most memorable part of their time as a Wildcat.

Then the season rolls around. And without exception, the players and/or the season ends up being a bitter disappointment.

From 2008 to 2020, Arizona basketball has produced a total of 10 one and done players, including 9 recruited by Sean Miller: Jerryd Bayless, Grant Jerrett, Aaron Gordon, Stanley Johnson, Lauri Markkanen, Kobi Simmons, Deandre Ayton, and presumably Nico Mannion, Zeke Nnaji and Josh Green.

Bayless was bounced in the first round by West Virginia during Kevin O'Neill's disastrous tenure.

Jerrett scored 7 points in a Sweet 16 loss to Ohio State, Aaron Craft and his rosy cheeks.

Gordon was a starter for the heartbreaking last second loss to Wisconsin in the Elite 8. He scored 8 points on 3 of 11 shooting and when Arizona had to get a bucket, they went to Nick Johnson.

Johnson was a starter the next year in yet another tough loss to Wisconsin in the Elite 8 and took a total of four shots and made two of them.

Markkanen could never get it going from long range in an embarrassing Sweet 16 loss to Miller's old school Xavier, connecting on just 1-6 from the three point line and finishing with 9 points.

Simmons played five minutes and scored five points in the same Xavier loss.

Ayton was repeatedly exposed defensively by quicker front court players in a humiliating loss to Buffalo in the first round. Despite being considered the best player in college basketball, he couldn't prevent Arizona from losing by 21 to BUFFALO.

This years trio was spared from any tournament shortcomings by the total cancellation of the entire college basketball postseason by the onset of the insidious Covid-19 pandemic.

Were any of those seasons worth it? The cheapening of the experience of being an Arizona basketball fan?Selling out more than two decades of tradition to repeatedly hand the keys of the kingdom to baby faced freshman who barely had enough time to figure out who Miles Simon, Damon Stoudemire and Jason Terry were?

Of course its not their fault. Its Sean Miller's.

Miller has repeatedly doubled down on a strategy that has not proven to work here or anywhere consistently. Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett couldn't get to the Final Four in their one year at Duke!

Here's a coach who's style is custom made for three and four year players who has decided to bet everything, and I mean everything, on riding a freshman's coattails to the promised land he and Arizona basketball fans so desperately seek and have failed at attaining; the Final Four.

I'm done with it. Instead of a sign that welcomes one and done's, Miller needs to hang a new sign straight out of a 1980's cartoon that says "No One and Done's Allowed".

I don't care that the NBA is likely solving this problem in two years, I want the misery to stop now. Build an entire team of grad transfers. Let Ira Lee take 25 shots a game. Give the keys to the car to Jemarl Baker and lets see what happens.

Recruit some long term players that can be around for more than two years and build a real culture and a real identity instead of a roster filled out with disappearing ink.

Sure, it may take two or three years to get back to the tournament and cost Miller his job but let's take the medicine and do it the right way.

On second thought, who's got time for that. Let's win now. Which five star kid wants to play for the crown jewel of west coast basketball?

I've always kind of liked Gonzaga.

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