April 23, 2013
One had to stay at least three years, and was glad the requirement existed.
The other had to stay at least one year, and was glad no further requirement existed.
The two Kentucky players -- senior offensive guard Larry Warford and freshman forward Nerlens Noel -- spoke one after the other in Tuesday press conferences marking their college departures, a juxtaposition of college sports systems and the athletes forced to work within their confines.
Warford said he couldn't imagine a one-and-done system as a college football reality.
"People would be hurt," Warford said. "It's really not fair in football. You go play at college for one year, you're 18, 19. You haven't matured enough. You haven't built enough strength. You don't understand the game well enough. I don't care who you are. You're going to get hurt. I think it's good that we have to stay at least three years. I wouldn’t wish that on anybody."
Meanwhile, Nerlens Noel -- who got hurt in college partly because he was forced to go to college -- said there wasn't any part of him that wishes college basketball made students play at a school for multiple years (although he did say in a Dan Patrick interview that, given the choice between going straight to the NBA from high school or going to Kentucky for two years, he'd opt for the latter).
"Umm, nah," Noel said. "I mean, I loved this year, though. This was one of the best experiences of my life being here at Kentucky this year. Regardless if you have to stay three, four years, these are the best times of your life, whether it's one or four years, regardless."
Both Warford and Noel will be entering the professional realm now. Warford is a projected second-to-fourth round draft choice. Noel is the projected No. 1 overall selection.
Warford said the three years helps football players grasp real-life realities like finances that they wouldn't understand straight from high school.
"I mean, there would be a select few that could as far as financially and being responsible for the money," Warford said. "But for a high school kid to go to one year of college to getting all this wealth, I don't believe you'd have the time to prepare yourself for that. There's a lot of responsibility that comes with that kind of money. People would be wrecking their lives, trying to buy everything and blowing the money, not being prepared for what comes after football. For a lot of people, football is everything and they don't have everything else."
That's a caution Noel sounded prepared for.
"I feel I'm ready for that part of my life where it's going to have a business side," Noel said. "But I'll always be a basketball player first. You always gotta take care of the business on the court before anything with business, because that's where it starts and that's what I love to do, and without the game of basketball, I wouldn't be who I am today."
And so the two enjoy the systems as they stand, Noel forced into one year and Warford into at least three.
When it comes down to it, though, Noel said the debate over the age limit is out of his control. He'll work within whatever system is in place.
"It's a lot of politics," Noel said. "I don't really get into that. Both sides have a reasonable reason for it, why they would want to go out of high school or why they should do a year of college or two. But I don't get into that too much. I just do what I got to do, what I have to do. I have to come to school for a year, I'm gonna do it."