Kentucky failure shows how NIL is changing March Madness: Jay Wright


Oakland University pulled off the opening-round day one shocker Thursday, upsetting third-seeded Kentucky 80-76.
The loss continues a troubling trend for the Wildcats: they haven’t made the Sweet 16 since 2019 and have now lost to a 15-seed and a 14-seed in the first round in two of the last three tournaments.
Former Villanova coach Jay Wright pointed to Thursday’s bracket-busting loss as an example of how he believes the college game is changing.
3 Aaron Bradshaw #2 of the Kentucky Wildcats and Trey Townsend #4 of the Oakland Golden Grizzlies dive for possession. Getty Images
“The era of taking these young freshmen and trying to play against older players is over,” Wright said on the “Tournament Central” postgame show, acknowledging the more-heralded Kentucky players will likely have better NBA careers than their Oakland counterparts, “but they’re not as good college basketball players.
“At this point in their career, they’re not as disciplined yet as the guys from Oakland. It’s not [coach John Calipari’s] fault, it’s that they’re 18 years old and they’re in this era where everyone’s telling them how great they are, ‘just show up in college and you’re gonna win’. It doesn’t happen that way. And the more the guys stay in college because of NIL, it’s gonna be tougher for young teams like this to be successful.”
It’s very likely that none of the Oakland players who scored the massive opening-round upset will go on to be NBA stars, while while most, if not all, of Kentucky’s starting lineup will eventually be on NBA rosters.
3 The Oakland Golden Grizzlies pulled off the shocker of the tournament so far, beating Kentucky Getty Images
Players now having the option of staying in the college ranks to maximize their NIL paydays will surely make it harder for teams with one-and-done stars to find March Madness success.
Conversely, Oakland gave fans a star in Jack Gohlke, who in his sixth-year of NCAA play exemplified a veteran presence in with his 32-point performance that included 10 3-pointers.
3 Jack Gohlke hit ten three-pointers in Oakland’s 80-76 win over Kentucky Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports
Five years ago, Gohlke was a redshirt freshman at Division II Hillsdale College, and now he is a March Madness legend — and perhaps a sign of the changing NCAA game.


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