In NCAA title game, the one-and-done is done



April 2, 2018 - 11:00 PM

NCAA Tourney: Column

SAN ANTONIO — This is how Villanova in particular, and college basketball in general, want to be influenced by the NBA.

The Wildcats, who meet Michigan in Monday’s national championship game in a bid for their second title in three years, have been likened in style to the creative Golden State Warriors.

Bigs Omari Spellman and Eric Paschall can shoot from deep, weapons Kansas couldn’t solve in the national semifinal on Saturday.

“This is a Draymond Green-type of thing here where guys can shoot it, pass it, they can do everything,” Michigan coach John Beilein said.

The Wolverines have a player like that as well, in 6-11 forward Moritz Wagner. Both teams draw ideas from the next level.

“We all watch the best players, the best coaches and see what we can learn,” Villa-nova coach Jay Wright said.

Talk of colleges emulating NBA teams, and not serving as a one-year gap for their top prospects, is where the game is this weekend, and that works for Villanova and Michigan.

The one-and-done sensations are the joy and angst of college basketball. They are the game’s biggest drawing cards — ESPN carried a running total of guard Trae Young’s statistics during Oklahoma games — and root of its biggest problem.

The FBI investigation that has rocked college basketball centers around gaining influence of budding stars. This year’s mock draft boards are loaded with first-year players projected as lottery picks, such as Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr., Texas’ Mo Bamba, Kentucky’s Kevin Knox and Alabama’s Collin Sexton.

They could all be selected before any college upperclassmen. All of their teams participated in the NCAA Tournament. None reached the Final Four.

Change that could come to college sports by a commission assembled in the wake of the scandal figures to specifically address one-and-dones.

Villanova starts four juniors and a redshirt freshman. Michigan starts a senior, two juniors, a sophomore and a freshman. Junior point guard Jalen Brunson drives the Wildcats. Wagner, a junior, leads the Wolverines.

Recent title games have produced outstanding performances by one-and-done players. Duke won the 2015 championship with Jahlil Okafor, Justise Winslow and Tyus Jones. Kentucky’s Anthony Davis was the force in the 2012 title game victory.

But Villanova and Michigan have gone about their business differently, although not necessarily by design.

“We can’t get the one-and-done guys,” Wright said. “We’re trying. We really are.”

Brunson might have been one. He was the MVP of the 2015 FIBA 19-under World Championship, and there was talk of him leaving after one year of college. He wasn’t interested.