MEMPHIS, Tenn. — North Carolina coach Roy Williams hasn’t had a one-and-done player since 2007. John Calipari has coached 18 one-and-dones since he took the Kentucky job in 2009.
Calipari builds teams with supreme youth annually, while Williams takes a long-term approach. But it’s not necessarily by choice as Williams pointed out on Saturday ahead of Kentucky and North Carolina’s Elite Eight matchup.
Williams was asked if there’s a difference in recruiting styles between the coaches.
“Yeah, there’s a difference,” Williams said. “He got them, and I didn’t.”
Williams said he recruited current Wildcats freshmen Bam Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. He also recruited Duke star freshman Jayson Tatum. Kentucky and Duke won the battles, but it’s far from slowed North Carolina’s success.
Williams has a pair of national titles in his North Carolina tenure, and the Tar Heels made it to the championship game last season. North Carolina is 28-8 during the last two seasons in the ACC.
North Carolina hasn’t been opposed to hauling in top recruits — they’ve just tended to stick around. Justin Jackson was a 5-star and top-10 national prospect in the 2014 class, but he’s about to finish his junior season. Harrison Barnes was a former No. 1 prospect, and he stayed two years. Brandan Wright in 2007 was the last North Carolina player to leave Williams after one season.
“I like to coach kids, and I like some stability in the program,” Williams said. “That’s the reason I always say I’d like to have a mix. What John does is just phenomenal to me. To have to change four, five, six, seven guys every year is just phenomenal. What he does is really special there, and I’m not trying to suck up or anything, I really believe that. For me, that would be harder because I like that relationship and watching guys grow and do some of those things.”
Kentucky will add to its one-and-done count after this season. De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Bam Adebayo are projected as first-round selections in the upcoming NBA draft.
“I’m not the only one coaching young guys that are having success, but I think part of the thing for us is that we’re not making outlandish promises,” Calipari said Saturday. “If you talk to any of the kids that we’ve recruited, they’ll tell you he never promises you’ll start or how many minutes you’ll get or how many shots you’ll get.”
But the differing perceptions between Calipari and Williams are distinct. They are considered two of the game’s best coaches, but both have built successful programs using different methods.
“I think probably throughout my career, I’ve been disruptive,” Calipari said. “Like every once in a while, I speak my mind and walk into different leagues and jobs and have to build and go and have to disrupt. With this, it’s disrupting. It’s not the norm.”
North Carolina will sport more seniors than freshmen on Sunday. For Kentucky, it’s the other way around. And that’s just fine with Fox. Freshmen hazing is not too big of a concern these days in Lexington.
“Nah,” Fox said. “There’s more of us than there are of them.”