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Top Recruiting Classes Since 2002

Something that remains constant in message board fodder, year after year, is comparison of a person’s favorite team to another’s favorite squad.  Once an argument shifts from on field performance, a favorite point of comparison would be caliber of recent recruiting classes.  It’s no secret that John Calipari has mastered that ability, but how do some of his recent hauls compare to the best classes in college basketball since recruiting rankings became wildly popular in 2002?  Regular contributor to and, Drew Cannon, wondered that same question as well, so he devised a simple rating system to compare the best classes since ’02 against one another.  First, note the players counted by Cannon are ones who appeared in Dave Telep’s Top-100, all others were “generally ignored.”  To make his system, Cannon simply created a curve that assigned point values to players; the #1 player was worth ten points, 10th rated players were worth seven, five points for the 25th ranked player, three for top 50, and one point for top-100.  Also, half credit was awarded to players that never took the court.  The article and complete rankingswhich see 2006 North Carolina take the top spot can be found here,


It’s very difficult to find a flaw with those rankings, everything seems to be fair and in order, except for one flaw.  This system not only gives credit for the relative strength of a class, but it also gives credit for sheer number of people recruited, which to me seems unfair.  It’s hardly fair for teams like 2002 North Carolina (who signed three in Telep’s Top-100) to be compared to the likes of 2006 North Carolina who signed six.  So, to correct this issue, I simply went back and divided the total amount of points a respective school scored by the total number of recruits.  Below is the top-10 list of teams since 2002 put on the same scale.

Now that average point total is measured instead of raw total of points, a giant shift has occurred.  The most noticeable changes are 2006 North Carolina who was atop Cannon’s original list, but is now out of the top-10 (finishing 18th, scoring a 5.43), and 2002 Duke who was #4, but dropped to 13th.  One noticeable shift to the top would be the 2004 Kentucky Wildcats, who were 20th originally, but have now moved to the #4 spot  (Ramel Bradley was not a Telep top-100).  Perhaps the most notable change would be 2011’s Kentucky class, rated 2nd previously, who now holds the title of strongest recruiting class since 2002.


Overall, Cannon created a very fair and agreeable system, but it was lacking one final step that would’ve made it even better.  When the strength of a class is measured by average, not addition, an even more effective and unbiased system can be made.  Of course, you may not even need numbers to prove whom the top class of all-time was, so here’s a picture that seemingly does a pretty outstanding job of that.


Article written by Jonathan Schuette

14 Comments for Top Recruiting Classes Since 2002

  1. Giddy
    5:02 pm August 23, 2012 Permalink

    where’s tubby – 1st

  2. 2010 Recruiting Class
    5:07 pm August 23, 2012 Permalink

    Where are we?? We did make it to the Final Four as freshman. Did Enes not qualifying really hurt us that bad??

  3. Truth
    5:20 pm August 23, 2012 Permalink

    2. That is true: According to ESPN’s 2010 final rankings, which is what I think they’ve used for these rankings here is how they stacked up.

    4. Brandon Knight
    9. Terrence Jones
    25. Enes Kanter
    29. Doron Lamb
    51. Stacey Poole

  4. Kansas State
    5:24 pm August 23, 2012 Permalink

    FINALLY, we make the top 10 in something. By the way, wonder how we got all that “talent” to Manhattan friggin Kansas?

  5. Actually
    5:31 pm August 23, 2012 Permalink

    If you’d have the read the post & the article, you’d realize that 2010 class was in the top 5 but when divided by the # of recruits you got an average which was done by Jonathan. Which left the UK 2010’s class with an average of 5.26.

  6. Actually
    5:32 pm August 23, 2012 Permalink

    Not top 5 but top 10 @ 6th.

  7. memphis raines
    5:33 pm August 23, 2012 Permalink

    having a brain lapse, who was #1 player in high school if john wall was #2?

  8. Swami
    5:58 pm August 23, 2012 Permalink

    Derrick Favors was according to Dave Telep’s rankings

  9. katfan888
    6:25 pm August 23, 2012 Permalink

    This system makes no sense. This way you are “punished” for having multiple recruits. If Jon Hood goes to WKU and Bledsoe gets busted for cheating (kidding), the 2009 class would average 7.33 and be the 3rd best class.

  10. JPlo
    6:26 pm August 23, 2012 Permalink

    You used average instead of total so as to not reward teams for having just a lot of players in a class.
    But, using average then penalizes teams for adding extra players. No valid ranking system should have 2004 UK ahead of 2012 UK. that’s (8, 13, 15) vs (1, 13, 15, 40) the 13’s and 15’s cancel each other out, thus this ranking claims that (8) > (1, 40) which is absurd.
    The best way is to use some kind of weighted average.

  11. Not so sure
    6:31 pm August 23, 2012 Permalink

    I think the 2010 class demonstrates one problem with relying solely on the average. Our class would have been “better” if we had not gotten Poole or Lamb, which I think is obviously wrong. (Same goes for UCLA’s class this year if they had not picked up the # 26 and #41 players.) Using the average penalizes you for picking up a couple additional recruits who aren’t top tier but who could still be very good players. I think overall quality and quantity are both important. I don’t agree that this system is “even more effective and unbiased.” I think the answer lies somewhere in between.

  12. DaveUK
    9:59 pm August 23, 2012 Permalink

    Why did he leave out Ramel Bradley from the 2004 class? He was ranked #17 by, plus Patrick Sparks was in as a transfer.

  13. Chicago Chris
    12:36 am August 24, 2012 Permalink

    Average is ridiculous. If you want to average, take only the top three, or have a diminishing weight given so that teams that land five top 100 recruits get a bump over teams that have three. However, a team should not be “punished” for recruits 4 and 5 being out of the top 20.

    Sagarin, Pomeroy would scoff at this.

  14. putinrichie
    5:07 am August 24, 2012 Permalink

    I completely agree these rankings are ridiculous. Whoever put this Top 10 class together should NEVER post another set of rankings for the rest of their life. Just horrible. Also, the 2012 class shouldn’t have made this list.

    Also, Wall-Cousins-Bledsoe >>>> Noel-Poythress-Goodwin