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BY MARK MATHIS Messenger-Inquirer
Rex Chapman has his opinions on one-and-done recruiting and team building, and Chapman definitely has a unique perspective on the subject.
The former Apollo High School All-State star was a major force for two years at the University of Kentucky, and he left after his sophomore season in 1988 to go early into the NBA Draft.
“There was a lot going on at UK when I came out,” Chapman said. “I would have loved to have stayed a little longer, but it was the right time for me to go.”
Chapman was the first player ever selected by the Charlotte Hornets franchise. Chapman went on to play for 12 years and four different NBA teams. Chapman stayed heavily involved with the game after retiring as a player, working as a commentator, director of basketball operations for the Phoenix Suns and as vice president of player personnel with the Denver Nuggets.
He was at the Owensboro Country Club last week for his induction to the Owensboro Walk of Fame. He was asked about the one-and-done recruiting methods that UK coach John Calipari has made a staple of his four years in Lexington.
Former UK standout Jeff Sheppard had weighed in on the one-and-done subject at the UK Convention in Franklin, Ohio. Sheppard, the Most Outstanding Player of the 1998 Final Four where UK won the national championship, said he wanted to see players stay longer at UK.
Chapman was in agreement with that sentiment.
“I wish there was a 20-year-old rule, and I would like to see kids stay longer than that,” Chapman said. “It is hard for teenagers to go in and play against grown men. I would love to see something changed along those lines.
“I don’t want to mince words, but that is a bad rule. Most kids have no business doing it. Now, you’ve got Anthony Davis? Fine. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist? Fine. But you can’t tell me that Doron Lamb and Marquis Teague wouldn’t have enjoyed a better year last year, playing college basketball. Lamb might have led the country in scoring last year. Marquis Teague played on a team (Chicago Bulls) that was without their top player, point guard Derrick Rose, and (Teague) barely got on the court last year. (Teague) is doing fine, but it’s going to take him a little longer, and he could’ve enjoyed a terrific year.”
Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, Lamb and Teague were key players on the UK 2012 national championship team.
It was almost a given that Chapman would play in the NBA when he was at UK, it was just a matter of when he would make himself available for the draft. If he was at the same level today that he was when he graduated from Apollo, there might have been speculation over Chapman being a one-and-done player.
“If I was coming out of high school now, they would’ve talked about me going to the NBA,” Chapman said. “I weighed 165 pounds, there was no way. I would have been broken in two and probably been out of the league in three years. It’s different. It’s a man’s league.”
Chapman also agreed with his friend Sheppard about UK fans wanting to see their players take time to develop.
“For a school like Kentucky, fans want to get to know the players, that is just the nature of the beast,” Chapman said. “It is tougher to do that with the one-and-done rule. That’s coming from a selfish standpoint. But from a realistic standpoint, for most players, you need a couple of years of college to adjust and become a little more mature. I would love to see steps taken by the NBA and the NCAA, but I don’t see it happening.”