Welcome back to some semblance of (a really, really good) reality. Since Calipari’s arrival in Lexington, I think Kentucky fans may have lost touch with what basketball recruiting is really like. For the past few years, John Calipari has had his pick of the litter when it comes to top-flight high school basketball prospects. Basketball recruiting–which I used to follow religiously–became boring. The Kentucky fan no longer needed to obsess over which players in the top 100 would hopefully pick the Cats. Coach Cal and his crew took care of it for us, and we were able to put our armchair recruiting tactics to rest. Not surprisingly, the outrageous streak of number one classes that Cal has put together has (probably) come to an end. It had to at some point. Cal cooled off. But guess what? He didn’t cool off much. Judging by the reaction by some of the faithful over Kentucky’s recent recruiting losses, one might think we were back in the dark days of fretting over which pre-schooler Billy Gillispie would sign next.
The reality is this: Kentucky has commitments from three of the premiere basketball players in the country at their respective positions. What’s more, each of these guys probably aren’t of the one-and-done variety that some of us complain about. These are three players that could provide a foundation to a more steady Kentucky basketball program. That isn’t to say they won’t all provide an immediate impact (let’s be honest–they will have to), but at this juncture, I think we all would agree that they will be around for longer than a year. While Kentucky did miss on a few guys this year, the cupboard is not yet bare. Trey Lyles, Stanley Johnson, and a handful of other talented players still remain. The wind may be blowing in the direction of Arizona for Johnson, but I think we can all give Cal the benefit of the doubt if he pushes all the chips to the center of table. Even if we miss on Johnson, and despite what Kentucky fans may now believe, good players do exist outside of the upper-echelon of the rankings.
Things are still very good in the world of basketball recruiting. If you want some real excitement, and you aren’t already, start keeping tabs on the other recruiting gurus in Lexington–Mark Stoops.