MINNEAPOLIS — One-and-done is an accepted reality in college basketball, and Michigan State coach Tom Izzo understands no coach would turn down one year with Zion Williamson on his roster.
“If the No. 1 player in the country wants to come, we’ll make room for him,” said Izzo, shrugging off the perils of missing out on a roster as experienced as his current model by going for one-and-done talents.
The loose commitment being allowed could be breeding a grass-is-greener subculture in college basketball. Izzo said on Friday that it “saddens” him, saying it reflects a segment of society willing to bail at any sign of adversity.
“In this era of one-and-done and transfer — the one-and-done, I’m fine with,” Izzo said.
“The transfer thing, I’m saddened by because every year of my life, and there’s some good — we’ve had transfers. There’s good reasons sometimes. I hope it doesn’t get to the point where the going gets tough, let’s get the hell out of Dodge, you know. I worry about that. I think that’s what we are.”
Texas Tech lost four starters from its Elite Eight entry in 2018, including freshman Zhaire Smith, but coach Chris Beard scrambled to land a pair of transfers who became starters. They are redshirt senior Tariq Owens, a graduate transfer from St. John’s, and Matt Mooney, who began his career at Air Force, went to South Dakota and left as a post-graduate for Lubbock.
Izzo gave Beard credit for assimilating the newcomers to form a tight 30-win team this season, but doesn’t want to overlook the slippery slope of accepting top talent from other teams.
“Chris did a great job of getting some grad transfers in there and some other people and getting them to buy into his system. That’s hard to do. It’s very hard to do,” Izzo said.
“… I’ve had two transfers, I think, that played any significant minutes in my career. I’m happy for him. I hope the day and age doesn’t come where we’re living on transfers and this and that. That part scares me, worries me for our profession. But I also have great admiration for a guy who can take a group of guys that have experience, though — remember, the key word is they have experience — but mold them together like he has in this period of time.
“I think he deserves to be Coach of the Year, and it was whoever voted did a good job voting for him.”
–By Jeff Reynolds (@ReynoldsJD), Field Level Media