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Kentucky’s John Calipari calls transfer portal ‘same as one-and-done’

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Coach Cal’s idea to fix the transfer portal (2:00)

Kentucky coach John Calipari joins “SportsCenter” to discuss the transfer portal and how it can be improved in college basketball. (2:00)

  • Myron Medcalf, ESPN Staff WriterAug 29, 2023, 04:59 PM ET

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    • Covers college basketball
    • Joined ESPN.com in 2011
    • Graduate of Minnesota State University, Mankato

After the NBA changed its age requirement for draftees to 19 years old in 2006, John Calipari became perhaps the biggest proponent of the one-and-done era, a polarizing chapter in college basketball in which players have leaped to the pros after just one season.

With the growth of the transfer portal in recent years, Calipari said a similar trend is happening again.

“It is one-and-done, too,” Calipari, appearing on “SportsCenter” on Tuesday, said of the portal. “Everybody was mad about a young player coming in and only staying one year. Well, now we’re doing it with older players. It’s the same as one-and-done.”

Calipari said hundreds of players who entered the transfer portal this year were left without scholarships. He also said head coaches are holding on to extra scholarships just in case a transfer might be available, which means “300-500” high school players won’t get scholarships, either.

His solution? Allow players to transfer only once without penalty and to play only four years in a five-year window.

According to NCAA data, of the 1,385 Division I men’s basketball players on scholarship who entered the portal last year, 262 of them were left without a scholarship at a new school.

Calipari also said that the transfer portal has created age gaps between teams.

“We’ve got 26- and 27-year-olds playing 18-year-olds,” he said.

The transfer portal has shaped college basketball in recent years.

In 2021, Baylor won a national title with a group anchored by transfers. In 2022, then-Kentucky star Oscar Tshiebwe won the Wooden Award after transferring from West Virginia. And Kansas is projected to be the No. 1 team in America entering the 2022-23 season after adding former Michigan star Hunter Dickinson.

“The issue becomes: I believe a kid should be able to transfer once without penalties,” Calipari said. “You make a mistake or you’re not where you want to be, I get it.”

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