Chris Fischer of Kentucky Ink (which in my view is, after the addition of Jeff Drummond, the most underrated of the UK sites) made a good observation on Twitter yesterday. Since John Calipari has arrived at Kentucky, he has gotten commitments from nine five-star recruits in just a little over a calendar year. Calipari has brought to Lexington, John Wall, Demarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton (with a little Clyde help), Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter, Doron Lamb, Michael Gilchrist and now, Marquis Teague. Think about that for a second….NINE guys who will likely find their way to the NBA and Calipari has signed them up in 12 months. For sake of comparison, Rick Pitino had six in eight years at Kentucky (Jamal Mashburn, Roderick Rhodes, Antoine Walker, Tony Delk, Jared Prickett and Ron Mercer) and Tubby Smith had seven in ten years (Tayshaun Prince, Keith Bogans, Marvin Stone, Rashaad Carruth, Randolph Morris, Joe Crawford and Rajon Rondo). In one year, Calipari has passed both coaches and brought unprecedented talent to Lexington.
Lets face it…if Calipari stays on this roll, within seven years, Kentucky will have 20 players in the NBA. He has taken Kentucky to a height that as of today, only North Carolina really reaches…the ability to get virtually any player it wants, whenever it wants. Duke was once there, but its ability to get ALL players has taken a step back, even though it still has a good overall percentage. But for Kentucky under Calipari and North Carolina under Roy Williams, you get the best and you do well with the rest. Last season Kentucky put a lineup on the floor that at times, held five future NBA players. In the coming season, that number may go down, but in 2011, five future NBA stars will likely take the court again and a championship is a distinct possibility. It is truly mind boggling.
I was on the radio with Lachlan last night and he wondered if this was a magic run or if it could continue. There is nothing to suggest that these recruiting hauls wont simply keep coming. It would almost be criminal negligence for any top PG’s advisors to suggest he go anywhere but play for Calipari and as long as the DDO is the hit that it is now, guys who want to showcase their skills will come.
There was a time that it was said that the best basketball games player in America were in Chapel Hill during the summers. Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Sam Perkins, Kenny Smith, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and others would meet up and showcase a virtual who’s who of the NBA on a daily basis. Now the NBA will be coming to Lexington. In three years a pickup game in Lexington could have Tayshaun, Bogans, Hayes, Rondo, Azuibuke, Wall, Cousins, Patterson, Bledsoe, Knight, Kanter, Gilchrist, Teague and others and if Lebron comes as well, it is THE place to be in the summer. What a change from just 14 months ago and proof again, that when the Cats hired Calipari, they got the perfect coach for the UK program.