Pac-12 Perspective: Desperation plus one-and-done equals penalties

Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

O.J. Mayo and Shabazz Muhammad played only one season at the respective schools but have had long-term impacts on USC and UCLA.

For the most part, as a college basketball fan and blogger, I don't really care about the one-and-done issue in college basketball. I have enjoy getting the chance to watch guys like Kevin Love, DeMar DeRozan and Brandon Jennings (wait... nevermind) play in the Pac-12 when for the majority of my college basketball watching career, I wouldn't have been able to, but if someone said the age limit was going away tomorrow, I wouldn't really care either.

I'm not going to pretend that I can form some great argument about the much larger, underlying issues about the rule that end with the letters i, s and m (this isn't Huffington Post) and I think that is what most people get upset about when they discuss the issue, but that just isn't Pacific Takes.

However, I might be a little bit more perturbed about one-and-done players if I was a fan of one of the LA schools as O.J. Mayo inarguably set back USC and now it looks more and more like Shabazz Muhammad will at least serve as a serious nuisance to UCLA, and possibly much, much more. Actually, Muhammad is starting to look more and more like UCLA's version of Mayo by the hour. Both were actually good players in their year of college (though not as great as fans had anticipated), but were mired in controversy and allegations of off-the-court issues and team chemistry and couldn't get their team a win in the NCAA Tournament.

Just how damaging Muhammad and his one-and-done campaign will be for the Bruins and how it stacks up against Mayo's expensive season at USC has yet to be completely seen, but one thing is for sure, both of their short Pac-10/12 careers and fallouts come not just from greed, but also desperation.

Mayo threw up countless red flags when he committed to USC and Tim Floyd (who was more slippery than a long piece of yellow plastic frequently found in suburban yards during the summer) and for about the only time in college sports history, everything that was suspected by cynical opposing fans was pretty much true. Everyone knew that even though he was coming off of a Sweet 16 trip, Floyd was desperate to do just about anything to lead the Trojans to success which resulted in pulling out all of the stops for Mayo for a one-and-done season and a one-and-done appearance in the tournament.

For UCLA, it was Ben Howland's desperation to hold onto his job at UCLA that resulted in Muhammad coming to Westwood and possibly really harming the Bruins in the long run. Muhammad wasn't the kind of player that turned UCLA into a powerhouse in the mid-to-late 2000s, but he ended up there in Howlands make-or-break season and it was a clear reach for Howland to try and hang on. Muhammad was the kind of player that I think Howland would have passed on, or at least not completely sold out for and ended up riding to a ticket to just moderate success, unemployment and a potential black eye for the Bruin program. But desperate men do desperate things and desperate men usually find themselves in difficult situations.

As a fan, it is hard to blame, UCLA and USC for taking players of Mayo and Muhammad's level, both were regarded as possibly being the best players in their entire classes (Mayo was rated ahead of players like Kevin Love and Derrick Rose and Muhammad players like Anthony Bennett and Marcus Smart), but to me, there are two kinds of one-and-dones - the ones who live up to their potential, come with limited baggage and leave and those that take everything available, don't quite live up to their expectations and in the end, aren't worth it. Obviously, I am not a college basketball coach who can size up the difference in the recruiting process (and maybe it's not even possible), but I have a feeling that when under the gun, coaches are a lot more likely to look past the red flags of players like Mayo and Muhammad and bend over backwards to their demands to get them to sign on the dotted line.

So am I worried about one-and-dones? Not unless my team is desperate.

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