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2017 Final Four Teams Show You Can Still Win Title Without One and Done Players

The world premier of ESPN’s 30 For 30 “One and Not Done” takes place on Sunday in Phoenix as the Final Four finds UNC and Gonzaga in the championship battle to see who will win it all. “One and Not Done” speaks to the controversy surrounding Kentucky coach, John Calipari, who has won March Madness with players who completes their freshman year of college to satisfy the NBA rule that no one can go straight from high school to the pros.

Duke also won the national championship with one and done players, but this year’s Final Four saw all teams consisting of leaders who were all upper classmen. In fact, 2016’s Final Four also saw not a single one and done player in any of the teams. Teams like Duke and Kentucky consistently get the best players, but  The controversy comes, of course, because the NCAA makes multi-million dollar cash outs every year on student athletes, while the athletes are thanked with a scholarship as payment. However, with back-to-back years of no one and done players, this could mean a new trend in March Madness where winning comes with experience.

Kentucky’s roster consists of 7 freshmen, while Duke’s has 6. Duke was highly touted going into the tournament, but didn’t even make it past the first weekend. The stars for both of the final teams in Saturday night’s square off were Kennedy Meeks, Justin Jackson and Nigel Williams-Goss and all either in their junior or senior year with their respective schools. Jackson spoke on why he felt it was better to not be a one and done, especially since the Tar Heels have now accomplished the daunting task of going to the championship game two years in a row.

“You know, there’s nothing bad about schools that might have a lot of one-and-dones,” Jackson said. “But coming to a place like this, with a coach like coach (Williams), and brothers that you can call family for the rest of your life, you know, there’s nothing better than that. At the end of the day, this is the second Final Four that I’ve been to in my three years, and it’s the second that he’s been to.

“And so there’s nothing better than winning. And coming to a place like this where you have family, education, you know, the best of the best when it comes to basketball, I don’t think it can really get much better.

Meeks started his college career as a 335-lb freshman and has vastly improved over the years and is now a 260-lb senior. The love affair with the one and done teams may not be over, but the Final Four isn’t any less exciting without one and done squads. Both Final Four matchups Saturday night came down to the wire and had fans on pins and needless. UNC missed 4 free throws in the final 5 seconds but still managed to win the game. Gonzaga took away the chance of allowing South Carolina to make the game tying 3-point shot in the final seconds and it paid off as they went on to win 77-73.

There is only one freshman on the roster of either of the final two teams, Zach Collins. Collins could make the move to the NBA, but the Zags is so loaded on their roster that he only averages about 17 minutes per game. With that being said, the lack of freshman “star power” hasn’t diminished the excitement of this Final Four and the result is showing that experience may just outweigh one and done when it comes to winning it all.