Tayshaun Prince, Keith Bogans, Gerald Fitch, Chuck Hayes, Ramel Bradley, Joe Crawford. All guys that have made a serious mark on UK history. Some guys who may see their names in the Rupp rafters someday. All guys who were recruited by Tubby Smith. There is NO DOUBT that Tubby brought some players to UK, especially in his later years, that just were not good enough. And they led to Tubby’s leaving the school. But, does the overall stigma that Tubby was a bad recruiter actually hold weight. When you look at his yearly classes, you might change your opinion some:
Tayshaun Prince (#12 overall)
Jules Camara (#31 overall)
Desmond Allison (#61 overall)
Recap:Three players ranked in the Top 75 and the other 2 being Kentucky high school elite players. Should have been a very good class. Unfortunately, Prince was the only one who exceeded expectations. Camara became fairly productive his last 2 years. Allison showed average skills and poor behavior and left. Tackett and Blevins were never seriously productive. On paper, this class was very good. On the court, average at best.
Keith Bogans (#2 overall)
Marvin Stone (#5 overall)
Marquis Estill (#91 overall)
Nate Knight (Junior College Transfer)
Recap: This class was very solid. Bogans turned out to be one of the 5 most productive players in UK history. Estill became a very good player after redshirting with knee problems his first year. Stone became the disappointment of the class, eventually transferring. Knight was never going to be a serious contributor and transferred after 1 season.
Cliff Hawkins (#36 overall)
Jason Parker (#41 overall)
Recap: On paper, this class was not elite. Only 2 Top 100 players. When they left, they had 105 wins and two Elite appearances. Each guy had a significant impact on the program, with Parker being the only player not able to stay 4 years, due to knee injuries and some conflict with Tubby. I think you would have to call this class overachievers.
Rashaad Carruth (#21 overall)
Chuck Hayes (#46 overall)
Recap:If Carruth hadn’t been such an idiot, he was a very good player. That doesn’t give Tubby a pass for recruiting such a poor character guy, but you can’t say Carruth didn’t have talent. Hayes became a legend. Carrier was a disappointment and Chiles only lasted 1 season. Without Hayes, this would be a horrendous class. With Hayes, its become mediocre.
Kelenna Azubuike (#31 overall)
Antwain Barbour (Junior College)
Recap:As became habit under Tubby, recruits were either all or nothing. Azubuike had a very good career. But Barbour and Stockton produced very little at UK, and Cote produced nothing and transferred. Tubby does get some extra credit for bringing in Ravi Moss in this class. Average class.
Shagari Alleyne (#48 overall)
Patrick Sparks (transfer)
Recap:The lowest point in the Tubby recruiting era up to that point. Sparks would go on to give UK 2 semi-productive years. But Alleyne was rarely a factor and transferred. Perry, Obrzut, and Thomas stayed 4 years but struggled throughout to produce heavily. Perry would have a pretty good senior season. Still, a very underperforming class.
Randolph Morris (#10 overall)
Joe Crawford (#14 overall)
Rajon Rondo (#21 overall)
Recap: After having his worst recruiting year, Tubby followed with his best. All 4 players became key cogs in the program for the next 2-4 years. While never as much team success as the fans would have wanted, these players were all very successful individually. I would call this a high level recruiting class.
Jared Carter (#99 overall)
Rekalin Sims (Junior College)
Recap: Pretty sad how bad this class was. 2/3 of it was gone after 1 season. And Carter was basically gone before he stepped foot on campus. Carter and Williams scored a combined 44 points in their careers. Sims actually showed flashes of talent, but would rather sell crack and attack people with machetes.
Derrick Jasper (#52 overall)
Jodie Meeks (#56 overall)
Perry Stevenson (#57 overall)
Recap:Not a highly touted class, but Jasper and Meeks proved to be top talents and would have become huge successes if Gillispie hadn’t ruined them, either physically or mentally. Stevenson struggled most of his career, but still played serious minutes. Porter never played his correct position. And Harris was a late season addition and became a decent player. This class, with a little development, would have become very good. Probably ended up average though.
OK, so where does this leave Tubby? Well, not including junior college players and transfers, Tubby recruited 34 incoming freshman to the program in his tenure, and 19 of them were ranked in the Top 100 entering college. That doesn’t include Ramel Bradley, who this service did not include but was included in many. So the question is this: Is having 56% of your freshman recruits as Top 100 good enough? Well, it was good enough to win 76% of his games. But, if you are John Calipari, who is batting 100% on his freshman recruits in the Top 100, then I guess it isn’t. What if we look at the classes individually, ranking them as above average, average, or below average:
ABOVE AVERAGE: 1999, 2000, 2004
AVERAGE: 1998, 2001, 2006
BELOW AVERAGE: 2002, 2003, 2005
Again, it is all a matter of opinion. Is having 2/3 of your classes at an average or above average level good enough? People often focus on those 3 terrible classes that Tubby recruited, and those are a big reason he eventually left, but does he not also get credit for the 1/3 of his tenure with very good classes? I don’t say this to be a huge Tubby defender, but simply try to point out that Tubby was not as bad a recruiter as people try to shape him out to be. What he wasn’t was a CONSISTENT recruiter. What he wasn’t was a recruiter good enough for Kentucky. But is it fair to call Tubby a “pretty good” recruiter? Has Tubby been unfairly criticized as a poor recruiter?