INDIANAPOLIS - There could be as many as eight one-and-doners in the first round of the June NBA draft, freshmen who - generally because it is a prerequisite - used the college game as a brief stopover before becoming eligible to play for pay.
There will likely be four upperclassmen - and we use the term loosely to include gray-bearded sophomores in the mix - who will be taken among the Top 10 picks.
No matter the group in which they fall, they include most of the perceived top players in college basketball today. Kentucky freshman John Wall and Ohio State junior Evan Turner were player-of-the-year caliber. Wesley Johnson of Syracuse was the Big East player of the year. Kentucky's DeMarcus Cousins and Georgetown's Greg Monroe were All-America caliber.
But here's another group they all fall into: They play for teams whose seasons are over.
Finished. Done. Kaput.
That's right. Despite all the high praise and all the publicity, there's not a likely lottery pick to be found among the teams in this year's Final Four. There's not a single freshman playing this weekend who will call it quits and strike it rich.
Instead, there are four teams with a nice mix of veteran players and talented - but not that talented - freshmen who have gotten this far not because of what they are individually, but what they have become collectively.
Kind of a nice thing for college basketball, huh?
"I think it's going to be this way, which isn't bad,'' Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said Thursday. "Our game, if you have good talent and experience together, can beat talent that doesn't have as much experience.''
OK, so this isn't a cut-and-dried issue by any stretch of the imagination. Until and unless the NBA changes the requirement that players be a year removed from high school before becoming draft eligible, those players are going to continue to have a huge impact on the game. Just look at Kentucky this season, which had perhaps five players in one of those categories.
The Wildcats had the best record in college basketball. It was no fluke. But the team that John Calipari recruited couldn't get past West Virginia and into the Final Four.
Still, that's not going to stop coaches from recruiting one-year wonders.
"I think a lot of people,'' WVU coach Bob Huggins said, "wouldn't mind sitting where Cal was sitting.''
The absence of those perceived elite players from the Final Four, though, raises the obvious debate. Which is better, talent or experience? The obvious answer is a nice mix of both, but with the way the rules are set up today that's not an option for the coaches who are able to attract that elite player.
Still, there is no denying the value of experience and growth within the college game when it comes to team success.
Krzyzewski says it's not just limited to college basketball, either. He coached the 2008 United States Olympic team and in the lead-up to that the U.S. played in the World Championships two years before.