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Prized South Florida Recruits Create Quandary for College Coaches

Maybe the best high school basketball players in the country come with a curse. Those elite players tend to stay in college for only one year, which isn't much time to develop the kind of team dynamic that comes in handy in March.

Kentucky's roster boasts two players who came with one-and-done talent in John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins. But the Wildcats lost in the Elite Eight. Kansas had a freshman star in Xavier Henry, but the Jayhawks were upset in round two. Georgia Tech's stud rookie, Derrick Favors, couldn't get the Yellow Jackets past the second round either. Now all those players are likely headed to the NBA lottery, while the Final Four belongs to teams that don't have a single lottery prospect among them.

So here's the question: If you're a college coach, would you rather have the nation's best player, Brandon Knight of Pine Crest High School in Fort Lauderdale or Fabrecio de Melo, the towering Brazilian of Sagemont High School in Weston, who is merely an All-American?

Most coaches would pick Knight, of course, who's a much more polished player. But due to that extraordinary skill set, Knight's a near-lock to leave school after only a year. He's going to pick that school at the conclusion of the McDonald's All-American game Wednesday night. (Kentucky is the favorite.)

But Melo is also a McDonald's All-American, and because he lacks that same polish, he's much more likely to stay in college for a few years, during which time he can develop his game as well as some cohesion with his Syracuse teammates. With Melo, then, Syracuse gets to take multiple shots at a tournament run, whereas Knight's school gets just the one.

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Thomas Francis

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