Kentucky coach John Calipari: D-League instead of college is bad idea for high school players

Kentucky head coach John Calipari calls out to his team during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Ohio State Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Kentucky head coach John Calipari (Photo: Frank Franklin II, Associated Press)

Kentucky coach John Calipari says he wishes he could keep his players who are one-and-done for all four years, but he also has long defended players leaving after one year to help their families and the benefits of the college experience.

Calipari and Dan Patrick debated the issue on Calipari’s podcast. What Calipari doesn’t want to see is the D-League become a quasi-minor league for high school players who don’t go to college, even if the salaries in the league are increased.

The D-League restructured its salaries for this season with two tiers $19,500 and $26,000 with a team salary cap of $209,000.

Calipari wonders how many players would go to college if they could make some money immediately in the D-League and where that might leave them if they don’t get a call-up to the NBA. Here was his response, as noted by

If you want them out of high school — here’s what I don’t want. If they let kids — if they raise the salaries in the D-League and they encourage high school kids to go to the D-League instead of college — what would you have been doing as a sophomore in high school? What would you have been doing as a ninth grader? You would have been doing calculus? Or would you have said, I’m going directly to the D-League and I’ll make $80,000 or $100,000 and then you do it for two years and all of a sudden you’re out because it’s not minor league baseball where you’ve got A, AA, AAA and you can make that run for 10 years.

You will have a two-year run and my prediction, if we go that route, what will happen is, a whole generation of kids will pass on academics thinking that, ‘I can go to the D-League and make it.’ …You go to a college that says you’ve got a lifetime scholarship and you leave after a year or two and you don’t make it, you come back and you’ve still got your scholarship.

If you want a kid out of high school to be professional, let him go to the NBA and pay him. Draft him. Give him $15 million. So, if you’re wrong, he has $15 million and will figure out what he’s going to do. Don’t put him in the D-League for $100,000, $80,000 and two years, after taxes, he’s left with $15,000, no education and he’s done. Well, he’ll go to Europe and play. What are you talking about? There will be hundreds of kids.