Hypothetically speaking, if Kentucky had just one more scholarship to give and Andrew Wiggins decides to play elsewhere, who would you most want to take the final spot? This is purely a hypothetical situation, and of course Andrew Wiggins is Kentucky’s priority right now and very well may end up a Cat. However, if Wiggins doesn’t end up a Cat, do you go with the best available player for the short term or do you consider someone who may be a better long-term option? In most cases, I think most would agree that recruiting the best players is usually always the best option. An Elite Eight, Final Four and National Title were won in Calipari’s first three years by recruiting the best available players. Andrew Wiggins is one of those players that can help, and maybe even assure that a ninth National Championship banner is raised from Rupp’s rafters next spring.
But lets just pretend for a second that Wiggins may decide to play elsewhere. Beyond Andrew Wiggins, should UK take another blue-chip prospect, or would the Cats be better off signing someone who could develop into the next Darius Miller? With what is already considered the best recruiting class in the history of the sport, which type of player would be more valuable to the program? If it is down to only one spot (hypothetically, depending on what happens with the NBA Draft) would it be best to give that scholarship to someone who is assured to be playing here beyond the 2013-14 season? Kentucky could lose about nine players in next year’s NBA draft and Aaron Gordon could add to the list, but then what happens in 2014-15 and beyond? Is Dominique Hawkins, an in-state kid with dreams of playing at Kentucky (and offers from elsewhere, including the SEC), worth consideration for a final scholarship offer over a more talented player who could be the eighth, ninth or tenth to leave Lexington for the NBA next spring?
It’s not an easy question to answer, but ultimately the answer depends on a number of variables. Who leaves for the NBA Draft? How would Aaron Gordon fit into the rotation next year? Does Gordon’s impact on next year’s team outweigh what Dominique Hawkins impact would be over four years? Could UK win the National Championship without him, and if so, is it worth taking on another very talented player who could be gone after a year when he may not be a necessary piece of the puzzle? Possibly, Gordon takes longer to make the next step to the NBA, like Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb and some members of this year’s team. There is no guarantee that Gordon stays only one year if he comes to Kentucky, but Dominique Hawkins would provide some stability in the program along with Derek Willis and possibly Kyle Wiltjer and Ryan Harrow beyond next season. I’m not suggesting Calipari should change his recruiting strategies. In fact, Cal has made similar moves in the past (signing Wiltjer and Willis) with the future in mind.
Whatever Kentucky would do in this situation, it’s probably a win-win situation either way: add to the most talented recruiting class in history with another top-10 player, or add some stability to the future? Maybe it all works out and Calipari somehow adds both. Or maybe we just sign Wiggins. Kentucky has a lot of options to consider, and options A, B and C are better than any other school’s option X, Y or Z. Whatever the outcome, Kentucky will have the best recruiting class in history and Big Blue Nation has a lot to be excited about.