Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski is defending the Blue Devils after Wisconsin head coach Bo Ryan's backhanded comment on Duke's "one-and-done" players who may now head to the NBA after only one college season.
"Duke doesn't rent a player," Krzyzewski said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning. "We have one of the great schools in the world, and when we recruit a young man, we recruit a young man because of three things: One, he has the academic potential to do well at Duke; two, he has the talent to do well; and three, he has great character. All the guys on my team fit that description 100 percent."
After Duke defeated Wisconsin to win its fifth national title in the NCAA men's basketball championship, Ryan said, "Every player that's played through [our] program, OK -- we don't do a rent-a-player."
Krzyzewski said the concept of students leaving higher education early isn't exclusive to athletes.
"In today's world you have to adapt to what's happening. Throughout college, there are many kids who don't go even the whole four years because of opportunities, business opportunities that are available, and they're not just athletes. And so if the opportunity arises for a youngster to leave early from school, whether he's an athlete or she's an athlete or not, it's their opportunity to pursue it," Krzyzewski said. "So I think we're living in the dark ages when we say that it should only be done one way."
To be eligible for the NBA draft, players must be at least one season removed from their high school graduation and at least 19 years old. The Hall of Fame coach said if he could change the rules, however, he would allow "a youngster to go straight out of high school if he was good enough, because they only have the earning potential of about a 15-year period as a player, and you can get a better contract."
If they do go to college, he said he'd like to see them stay for at least two years to be halfway through a degree.
"But you know we have to adapt to what the NBA is doing, and the NBA Players Association. You know, it's not our responsibility, I wish it was, to determine that rule, and we've done well... My guys are great. They go to school, they love Duke, they live with the other students, and the [rent-a-player] thing is kind of harsh,l" Krzyzewski said.
In the title game, 60 of Duke's 68 points were scored by freshmen, including every point from the team in the second half.
"It's amazing," Krzyzewski said. "I have four great freshman, but they're led by a great senior in Quinn Cook. Quinn set the table for these kids, where they always felt comfortable; they always felt like they had a big brother there for them. Our MVP for this team is Quinn Cook."
Coach K also reflected on the heart-stopping game.
"It was nerve-wracking coaching, but that's what makes great games, is the nerve-wracking. Wisconsin is a heck of a team," Krzyzewski said. "Their coach is a great guy, and really we felt that they were the best team in the country coming in. And to win this, we felt that we beat a great basketball team and a great program from an amazing state."
Krzyzewski said he thought the Badgers were more experienced than Kentucky's team coming into the game.
"They probably won over 70 games together these two years and lost just a handful. And they were old together. You have in Kaminsky and Decker two guys who would be in the first round of the NBA draft," he said. "So they're talented and they've played together for two straight years which is uncommon in the college game."
As for his team's comeback during the second half when they were trailing by nine points, Coach K said he's had the most "together group" he's ever had.
"They love one another, they're brothers, it was that way from day one," Krzyzewski said. "They've come back before. We coined the phrase a couple months ago that 'eight is enough.' We only have eight scholarships players, four of them are freshman, and we have confidence in all of them. And Grayson Allen came through for us. But also on the defensive end, Amile Jefferson and Matt Jones, they combined for two points in 42 minutes or 43 minutes, but their defense on Decker and Kaminsky in that second half was huge for us to get back because they gave us stops."