Ohio State coach’s take on one-and-dones

While John Calipari is widely regarded as the primary proponent of the one-and-done player, he’s not alone.

Ohio State head coach Thad Matta is right there with him. Freshmen Greg Oden and Mike Conley led the Buckeyes to the national title game in 2006-07. This year’s version, ranked No. 1 in the country, has three freshmen (Jared Sullinger, Aaron Craft and Deshaun Thomas) playing essential parts.

“I can relate to the job he’s gone through,” Matta said. “Nobody knows how hard it is. The thing is you have great talent, but you have to coach these guys. It’s a lot easier said than done.”

The biggest issue Matta sees with freshmen stars comes at the end of the season. Right when wins are the most crucial, some will get caught looking ahead – to the NBA Draft, to shoe deals, to a bigger stage than a college arena.

“If it becomes a distraction, that’s where it becomes problematic,” Matta said. “When guys are thinking about the next step. That makes it extremely challenging.”

To prevent that, Matta wants not only talented freshmen, but committed ones.

“It all comes down to the character of the young man,” Matta said. “Where I’m at, I want guys that appreciate the university, have both feet in for the time they’re with us.”

After Saturday’s UK game, John Calipari said again that he preferred talent over experience. Matta has both. He said he loved the fact of having a good mixture of veterans and young talent.

“I do think there is something to it, having veteran players,” Matta said. “I do think it makes a difference.”