Sonny Vaccaro, the so-called godfather of grassroots basketball, checked in with TrueHoop's Henry Abbott to point out that the Team USA which just won gold at the FIBA World Championships consisted mostly of players who didn't need to play a lot of college basketball to become elite players.
Long a thorn in the side of the NCAA, Vaccaro of course is happy to provide the reminder since some have claimed that it was the culture surrounding the amateur hoops system he created that was in part to blame for Team USA's drop-off in previous years.
"Look at the players on this team!" says Vaccaro. "You can go down the list. The NCAA would tell you that the solution is for players to spend more time playing for a college but these great players spent very little time in college."
World championship MVP Kevin Durant took the road that has been called broken. "Kevin is the youngest of them all," says Vaccaro. "It's not like his year under Coach [Rick] Barnes at Texas made him who he is. He's had these skills forever! He's the same great kid who played for some Washington AAU team a few summers ago."
"I get what David Stern is doing. He's a businessman. By forcing kids to go to college, he's delaying paychecks to them, and helping owners decide who should be drafted high," says Vaccaro. "But for the life of me, I can't figure out why the general public thinks the NCAA should have these players."
Judging from the exclamation marks, Vaccaro appears downright giddy regarding the success of one-and-done players like Durant, Derrick Rose (Memphis), Kevin Love (UCLA), and Eric Gordon (Indiana).
Clearly, he doesn't like that players don't have the option of declaring for the NBA draft right out of high school. We get that.
But did college basketball really have as little to do with their pro success as Vaccaro believes? Did these players really not need seasoning in college under Barnes, John Calipari, Ben Howland and Kelvin Sampson to get to where they are now?