Steve Kerr frequently expresses his good fortune to be coaching a Warriors team blessed with an abundance of talent.
He also considers himself a beneficiary of good timing, given what’s coming.
We’re creeping ever closer to the day when, according to Kerr, gifted high school players routinely bypass college and go directly into the professional ranks.
“Oh, yeah, for sure, I think that’s inevitable,” Kerr said on the NBC Sports Warriors Insider Podcast. “That’s going to happen. And the NCAA is probably unwittingly helping foster that with the way they treat some of these kids.”
Kerr recalled the story of Billy Preston, considered among the top 25 recruits in the 2017 class. He signed with Kansas, practiced with the team in October but was suspended for the opener by coach Bill Self for disciplinary reasons. Preston missed the Champions Classic win over Kentucky because he was involved in a single-car accident.
What followed was an NCAA investigation, regarding ownership of the vehicle, that dragged through the rest of November, through December and into January.
After 67 days without resolution, Preston decided enough was enough. He signed on Jan. 19 to play for a professional team in Europe.
Preston wanted to play for Kansas, but didn’t know if he would have the chance.
He also wanted to be a pro, and couldn’t resist when given the opportunity.
“The NCAA, the way they handle their business, they’re unwittingly sending kids to the professional ranks, whether it’s overseas or the G-League, as the G-League continues to grow,” Kerr said. “They’re making going to college, even for one year in the ‘one-and-done,’ less appealing to a lot of these players.”
In the here and now, though, Kerr credits college experience as one of reasons the Warriors have been so successful in recent seasons.
“One of the reasons we’ve have had a lot of success here with the Warriors is that we’ve got a lot of guys that do have that college experience,” Kerr said. “Draymond Green? Four years learning under Tom Izzo, has helped make Draymond an All-Star. Steph Curry? Three years in college basketball, honing his craft and getting ready for the NBA.”
Klay Thompson, who spent three seasons at Washington State, was another player cited by Kerr. David West spent four years at Xavier, Nick Young three years at USC, Andre Iguodala two years at Arizona and JaVale McGee two years at Nevada.
Shaun Livingston is the only Warrior who made the jump to the NBA directly out of high school, in 2004. Kevin Durant, who attended Texas for a year, is the only member of the one-and-done club currently on the roster.
“Now Kevin Durant and LeBron James, those guys are outliers,” Kerr said. “They’re physical freaks of nature that just don’t exist.”
They’re precisely the kind of talents likely to go directly from high school to the G-League, if not higher.