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Ranking John Calipari’s top 20 freshmen


Athlon Sports took a break from tournament talk, and I think we should too. John Calipari has long been established as one of, if not the best recruiter in the game we all know and love. His ability to reel in star-studded talent year after year is something most schools only dream of.

Athlon ranked John Calipari’s top 20 freshmen of all time — going all the way back to his days at Massachusetts. Twelve of the 20 have come in his four years at Kentucky.

1. Anthony Davis
2. Derrick Rose (Memphis)
3. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
4. John Wall
5. Brandon Knight
6. Nerlens Noel
7. Tyreke Evans (Memphis)
8. Dajuan Wagner (Memphis)
9. DeMarcus Cousins
10. Marcus Camby (UMass)

Check the rest of the list at Athlon Sports.

It’s not fun dwelling on the current state of the basketball team. Sunday evening is going to be a nail-biter, for sure. But just remember how magical the ride has been in Calipari’s tenure. If it meant missing a tournament every four years in exchange for deep runs in March, including back-to-back appearances in the Final Four and a National Championship, I think that’s a deal we’d all take.

I just wonder how many more Kentucky guys would make this list next season.

Julius Randle decides in four days…

Article written by Stuart Hammer

B.S. Broadcast Journalism from the University of Kentucky. @StuartHammerKSR

42 Comments for Ranking John Calipari’s top 20 freshmen

  1. Dave
    2:35 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    Camby is much too low. MUCH MUCH TOO LOW.

  2. 3
    2:43 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    Noel way too high

  3. Gossie21
    2:43 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    I’m surprised Camby made the list. His freshman year was okay, but not nearly as great as his junior year.

    The lust is far too generous with Poythress and Goodwin @ 19 & 20.

  4. UKalum
    2:44 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    Don’t get me wrong Noel was awesome but I’d rather have Cousins or Camby over him.

  5. Gossie21
    2:44 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink


    2:45 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    If we’re talking about just freshman year Camby is about right. He averaged 10ppg 6rpg 4bpg on 22mpg

  7. StoopsTroops
    2:57 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    52. Kentucky Football coaching job rank

    Kentucky has announced desperately needed facilities upgrades, while the pay scale for new head coach Mark Stoops’ staff is significantly higher. So on the surface it appears the school is finally making a commitment to the football program. That said, pigskin will always take a backseat to basketball at UK and unilke other SEC members, the Bluegrass State doesn’t boast near the quantity of elite high school prospects. Those two disadvantages alone make winning consistently difficult at Kentucky, especially considering it’s in the nation’s toughest and most cut-throat conference

  8. StoopsTroops
    2:59 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    29. Louisville Football coaching job rank

    Pros: Louisville has solid facilities and is in a good spot geographically to consistently attract top recruits. Kentucky is not a great talent producer, but Louisville can recruit Ohio and Illinois due to its proximity to those states and has always done a good job recruiting Florida. Also, the school “survived” the realignment wars, finding a home in the ACC beginning in 2014.

    Cons: The school lacks football tradition and doesn’t have the fan base that most of the other schools have ranked in the top 50 of this list. When the Cards are good, they draw well. But in 2009, in the final season of the Steve Kragthrope era, they ranked 71st in the nation in attendance, averaging 32,540 per game.

    Final Verdict: Like many of the schools in the Big East, Louisville is only as good as its coach. Bobby Petrino won big in his four years. Kragthorpe flopped in his three seasons. Charlie Strong has done well in his three seasons. With the right fit, Louisville competes for league title

  9. Big Dog
    3:00 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    Poythress at 19 are they joking? I remeber Noel reaching out to Harrell on twitter but apparently Coach Cal didn’t want him.

  10. Way Off!!!
    3:00 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    1. Anthony Davis – without doubt
    2. Derrick Rose
    3. John Wall
    4. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (he’s my favorite Wildcat of all time but no way he was better than Wall as a Freshman)
    5. DeMarcus Cousins
    6. Nerlens Noel
    7. Brandon Knight (am I the only one that remembers how inconsistent Brandon was early in the season???)
    8. Tyreke Evans
    9. DaJuan Wagner
    10. Marcus Camby

    ***side note Daniel Orton should be on this list in place of Alex Poythress (what a joke he’s been – next Mashburn??? whatever)

  11. StoopsTroops
    3:00 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    DeVante Parker, Louisville #4 ranked receiver in the country
    With Teddy Bridgewater back under center, Louisville is the heavy favorite to win the Big East in 2013. While Bridgewater gets most of the publicity, Parker has quietly emerged as one of college football’s top deep threats. As a freshman, he caught 18 passes for 291 yards and six touchdowns and improved those totals to 40 receptions for 744 yards and 10 scores in 2012. For his career, Parker is averaging 17.8 yards per catch. After earning first-team All-Big East honors in 2012, with another big season in Louisville, Parker could be an All-American candidate at the end of 2013.

  12. Doc
    3:01 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    The NCAA will likely have uk as the play in game in Dayton. I say this for several reasons:
    1. Revenue
    The BBN has become a revenue industry and the uk brand will double the price of tickets at UD arena and have a huge tv media economic impact
    2. Noel
    NCAA is not Lunardi, and the Noel factor to keep as out is not historic in terms of prior years selections. Cal will push for uk based on the RPI historic calculation-48 etc
    We arein if Noel was on team with same record
    3. appeal
    It is just better if uk is in as when ucla and unc are in. Our presence is like the tiger wood’s factor for golf
    4. Body of work
    Tied for second in SEC
    5. persuasion
    Time to get positive, if we believe the NCAA and media can help us
    FYI life lesson here don’t put yourself down and accentuate your positives
    Watch and follow coach cal now!

  13. deanadams
    3:07 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    Cousins was a 1st team All-American, should easily be top 5.

  14. World Wide Wes
    3:09 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    All those players cost me a lot of scratch.

  15. BluKarma
    3:10 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    #12, Yes we travel but i don’t think without UK, in the tourney this year. It’s going to go broke. “The BBN has become a revenue industry and the uk brand will double the price of tickets at UD arena and have a huge tv media economic impact or be watched let alone attented.”

  16. Delk for 3
    3:11 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    My rankings:
    1. Anthony Davis
    2. Derrick Rose
    3. John Wall
    4. Brandon Knight
    5. DeMarcus Cousins
    6. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
    7. Marcus Camby
    8. Nerlens Noel
    9. Tyreke Evans
    10.Dajuan Wagner

  17. Delk for 3
    3:13 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    12 — Kentucky is not going to make it. Realize that now so you’re not let down.

  18. BluKarma
    3:13 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    We are just not that good this year. We have too except this. You cannot always be the shinning star in life.

  19. jumpmqn78
    3:18 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    Who in the hell would take missing the tournament every few seasons? Are you tucking crazy? A deep run in March does not forgive missing the tournament. God, there are some hack writers, I mean bloggers, on this site.

  20. I WOULD
    3:24 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    I’d take missing the tournament one out of every four years if it also got us a title one out of every four years. Anyone that says differently lacks intelligence. Championships are much more valuable that a legacy of merely being competitive.

  21. GoForIT
    3:25 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    Exactly 19.

  22. One Man Wolfpack
    3:28 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    Missing the Dance every four years is not acceptable or required to have deep runs in March. You have to figure out a good mixture of long-term and short-term players. Here is to hoping Kyle, Ryan, Alex, and Will all come back next year. Go Blue, even if they lose I hope they make it into the play in game.

  23. RicksPrematureEjaculation
    3:37 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    Missing the tournament is certainly acceptable after an Elite 8, Final 4, and Nat’l. Championship. Especially since next year the Cats will be as strong as any team in the nation.

  24. lol
    3:46 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    18. accept, moron

  25. jumpman78
    3:48 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    If it is so acceptable then why are so many people complaining about missing it this year? And number 20 just because someone doesn’t share your opinion doesn’t mean he or she lacks intelligence!

  26. John
    3:51 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    Big Cuz should be near the top.

  27. Kevin C.
    3:56 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    Why the f*ck is the lazy, no-show failure known as Alex Poythress on this list???? Put him in the top 3 of biggest freshman busts of all-time.

  28. Cats in the NBA
    3:57 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    John Wall was First Team All-America and got robbed of NPOY.

  29. Kelkat
    4:00 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    1. Anthony Davis
    2. Derrick Rose
    3. John Wall
    4. Archie Goodwin
    5. Alex Poythress
    6. Demarcus Cousins
    7. Tyreke Evans
    8. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
    9. Brandon Knight
    10. Nerlens Noel
    11. Marcus Camby
    12. Dajuan Wagner
    13. YaKnowIwas KiddingAboutFourNfive

  30. oldschool
    4:07 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    Missing the tournament every four years means quite likely surrendering our place on top of the all-time wins list and ultimately – also losing the winning-percentage crown as well.

    There is indeed something to be said for consistency.

    I want a team that can be a contender year in and year out – and that’s not too lofty an expectation at the University of Kentucky. Settling for three good years and one bad year – that’s lowering the standard.

  31. One Man Wolfpack
    4:12 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    27. I know it is a tough job to be a fan, but when did it become acceptable to blast away at a young man? Alex has not lived up to your dreams this year, but maybe next year he will. Hope these guys stick around and experience a better season next year.

  32. Kelkat
    4:12 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    #30…I think really Stuart’s last comment was meant to give some optimism by instead of just reflecting on the struggles this year…look at what kind of run we have been on the previous 3 years. And also look ahead to what we could have next year. Championship isn’t guarenteed next year but I think we all certainly believe that next year is going to be different.

  33. Rae
    4:19 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    30. No team is a contender every year. Even under the “right way,” some will be better than others. Kansas has had many early upsets to small schools; Duke got embarrassed last year. UNC missed the tourney in 2010. They nearly did this year, and I’d hardly call their record this year the norm for them. Every system has off years. Some systems have more building years, like IU and UL. They will experience a drop off next year and take a few years to be 1 seeds again. Would you rather have 1 good year in 5 or 1 bad year in 5?

    4:30 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    Come & get you some HILLBILLIES

  35. Matt Jones
    4:35 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    Don’t know what I am going to say or do Monday @ the Mall…..I.U. & U.L. Rocking out 1&2 seeds & we don’t even get invited to the BIG DANCE…… Maybe I will talk about next year..Na I can’t do that it would be to obvious on how bad we suck…Guess I will check out mens crotches & see who’s available.

  36. Hey #30
    5:05 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    So you value winning enough games to make the tournament every year over national championships??? If that’s the case go buy you some Minnesota attire because that’s exactly why Tubby Smith was pressured out of Lexington. We brought Cal in to win titles. I’ll take the crappy season every now and again to get more titles. The 35+ win seasons will more than make up enough ground to stay on the top of the all-time win list. Even if it doesn’t I’ll take having the most titles over most wins any day.

  37. Are UKidding me
    5:19 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    Here’s a deal for you…. Any UK coach should not be excused for missing the NCAA Tourney. You know, like it has been forever. Tubby got the same loyalty and killed the program. Kentucky first, NBA second. Calis awesome, but this isnt okay. Wake up morons.

  38. Are UKidding me
    5:45 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    I specialize in BLOWING things out of proportion. I have been asleep for the past 3 friggin years while Coach Cal has absolutely dominated NCAA basketball.
    Anyway I have to go now because my Mommy wants the ipad.

  39. kelkat
    7:11 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    UK fans, they are great…and at times they suck. This team struggled…you can tell by watching Cal’s news conferences that he was having a hard time with their struggles too. No one expected this. We all expected that these 18 yr. old kids would come in and all play like Wall, Cousins, Knight and Davis. Instead, they played like what 90% of freshmen play like…up and down and inconsistent…

    So now people want to question Cal…want to question what??? Don’t want to bring in the best of the best? Pissed off cause a couple of players didn’t live up to potential as freshmen? I think we have all seen how well Alex, Archie and Ryan can play…but they were inconsistent…so now there are a lot of UK fans that HATE them. Hating a bunch of 18 and 19 year old kids because they struggled adjusting to big time college basketball…. Nice…

  40. Newt
    7:38 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    Camby was National Player of the Year when the Cats won in ’96. His almost 20-year NBA career aside, he’s way too low at #10. Boogie could be a spot or two higher, too.
    As for the season…step back from the ledge. It was a disappointment–that dbag Pete Thamel was proven right about us flopping, and a great kid went down with a bad injury. Everybody gets humbled from time to time. Sleep on the fact that some of the best coaching years of Cal’s career are still on the way if you want to.

  41. J Cole
    9:40 pm March 16, 2013 Permalink

    Kelkat, I like what you had to say about the expectations for this year’s freshmen. In the player rankings, I’d put John Wall ahead of MKG and move Cuz up a spot or two.

  42. MJ
    9:28 am March 17, 2013 Permalink

    Cousins should definitely be ranked higher than Nerlens!
    1. Anthony Davis
    2. Derrick Rose
    3. John Wall
    4. Dejuan Wagner
    5. Demarcus Cousins
    6. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
    7. Tyreke Evans
    8. Marcus Camby
    9. Brandon Knight
    10.Terrance Jones