Pitt’s Jeff Capel believes talented high school players have the right to go straight to the NBA
When he was an assistant at Duke during the 2017-18 academic year, Jeff Capel helped recruit freshmen Zion Williamson, R.J. Barrett and Cam Reddish. All three will be first-round picks in this year’s NBA Draft after spending one season in college and helping the Blue Devils to – at minimum – a No. 1 seed in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.
That said, Capel – now the first-year head coach at Pitt — would have no problem if the NBA eliminated the one-and-done rule and allowed sufficiently gifted high school players to go straight into pro ball. The rule that mandates a high school player spend at least one season in college drew criticism last Wednesday after Williamson — only four months before the NBA will make him a rich man — suffered a sprained knee when his shoe split. He missed his second consecutive game Tuesday night when Duke visited Virginia Tech.
“I think they should have the opportunity (to go straight to the NBA),” Capel said. “I don’t think it’s our job as adults, coaches or whomever, administrators, to make a decision of what we think is best for a kid.”
He said, as an example, he won’t allow his own children – he and his wife Kanika are parents to daughters Cameron and Sydney and son Elijah – to be ruled by an outside agency, if and when the time arrives.
“As my kids get older, no one will make decisions for them, except my wife and I and them, obviously. No one will influence what they do.”
Capel, who’s been a head coach or assistant at four universities since 2002, said he doesn’t believe there will be a great number of players able to go straight to the NBA.
“But there are guys who have the talent,” he said. “If the NBA wants to deal with that, I think they should.
“I don’t like the way the rule is now. You have to go (to college). But also at the same time, these kids do have opportunities where they can go overseas, they can go to (the NBA’s) G League. “
Capel also doesn’t believe college — even a one-year stay — is necessarily bad for a talented athlete.
“I don’t think it’s smart for them to do that (skip college and take an alternative route), necessarily,” he said. “Especially for a guy like Zion or an R.J Barrett because the attention they get going to Duke, they do get something out of it. It’s not total exploitation.”
In the end, he said he believes the rule will be changed “in a couple years.”
Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Jerry by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter .