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Why Do We Go Crazy Over Recruiting?

Yes, you.

Can you believe it’s already been two weeks since we won the national championship?  It seems like both more and less than that.  But now that the sheer pandemonium is dying down a little bit in Lexington (only 65% of people are wearing UK gear on a daily basis), it’s pretty obvious that the offseason is in full swing.

With the offseason comes a different type of excitement: recruiting.  Instead of a persistent weekly activity like watching a game, we have maybe months of build-up and anticipation leading toward a single moment when a highschooler says, or shaves into his hair, on national television where he’s going to school.  In many ways the offseason has higher, but fewer, highs than the regular season.  There may not be any other states where that’s the case, but it’s certainly true here.  Look at last Wednesday as an example.  There was applause in Willy T, during finals prep time.  Distracting, but awesome.  But it got me wondering, why is recruiting so much fun for us?  It’s not like we won an actual game or anything.  And, frankly, I don’t remember it being so exciting ten years ago, or even four years ago.  So why the change?  To me, there are three fairly basic prongs to consider why the interest in UK’s recruiting has skyrocketed over the last few years.

We’re Good At It.

I’m a fan of board games, and there’s an easy way to figure out which ones I like the most.  I’ll give you a hint: I like any game I can win.  And if I lose?  Well, that game sucks.  Recruiting is the same way.  There’s a widely held belief that John Calipari gets whoever he wants.  I have no way to tell how true that is, but the results speak for themselves quite a bit.  We’ve had four consecutive number one recruiting classes, with three of those four years including ESPN’s overall number one player (Cousins, Davis, Noel).  If that’s not a record of success, I don’t know what is.  So it’s easy to like something when you’re better at it than everybody else, and it’s easy for others to say they don’t like it.  Sour grapes, and whatnot.  Regardless, right now there’s nobody better at the recruiting game than Kentucky, so naturally we like it a lot more.

It Determines Next Year’s Success.

We have a higher interest in the recruiting period because, frankly, we need it more.  If all six guys leave this year, then we’ll have averaged 4.67 players going pro every year that Cal’s been the coach.  We can all acknowledge that that’s a pretty ridiculous number.  It works, but it’s insane.  Because we annually lose so much more than everybody else, we need the recruiting period more than any other school.  Hypothetically, if John Calipari ever gets a dud recruiting class, then we’re basically out of luck for an entire year.  It won’t happen, but it’s a sobering thought.  Louisville, meanwhile, has gotten dud recruiting classes for the last ten years, and still managed a couple Final Fours.  Why?  Because nobody wants to is allowed to leave.  UK, on the other hand, is a conduit for hyper-talented players, and their tenure is inherently transient.  This is neither good or bad, but it does mean that the offseason has much more risk/reward in Lexington than it does anywhere else.  So not only are we good at it, but it’s a high-stakes game for us.  Those two factors will make anything pretty exhilarating.

We Care About the Players.

“After all, life hasn’t much to offer except youth, and I suppose for older people, the love of youth in others.”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald

This is the one that took me a while to figure out.  Not because I didn’t think we liked these guys, but because I had to realize that this is an entirely new phenomenon.  Before the advent of online recruiting information, we really didn’t know these kids until Big Blue Madness.  That late practice in October used to be an unveiling of sorts for the freshmen, the first time that many had seen them; now, it’s just a chance for already-familiar faces to show off their dance moves.  And I’m okay with that.  But we’re able to know more about these players than at any time in history.  Heck, this site wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the highschool decisions of Patrick Patterson and Jai Lucas.  As a result, by the time any player make a decision, we already have opinions of them as players, and as people.  This was most apparent with the decisions of MKG and, recently, Noel.  Basketball aside, those kids had personalities and attitudes we liked, and we wanted to see them in Kentucky blue.  Was that ever the case under Tubby Smith or BCG?  Did we even know that much about Antoine Walker or Tony Delk before they signed?  Somebody who born before 1986 will have to correct if I’m wrong, but I doubt it.  At least not at the level we know recruits today.  The increase in knowledge regarding these kids lets us get a lot more attached to them, and a lot more excited when they announce.  It’s a double-edged sword, and hopefully we don’t get carried away and talk poorly of a kid we all liked before his decision (see: Shabazz).  But getting to know and care about the players, maybe more than the other two prongs, is what make recruiting so exciting these days.


So as the summer’s few remaining twists and turns approach, enjoy what has become almost as exciting as actual basketball.  Here in Kentucky, the offseason is the new regular season.


Edit: Whoops, Cousins was actually #4 in 2009. I thought I remembered him being #1, because I knew he was higher than John Wall. Seriously though, Avery Bradley? Safe to say ESPN was a little off on that one.

Article written by Corey Nichols

48 Comments for Why Do We Go Crazy Over Recruiting?

  1. WHOA
    9:07 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    1st on a crappy post!!!! yessss

  2. scs
    9:08 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Cousins was the number one player???? Top 5, but not 1.

  3. DB11
    9:12 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t want to keep putting down his posts, but they are never informative and only vaguely accurate at best. We already know why we like recruiting, were not all sitting around the computer asking ourselves “omg why can i not look away”

  4. barn
    9:13 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    cousins was rivals #1 pwr fwd and #2 overall in ’09. wall was the overall #1.

  5. WHAA
    9:13 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Cousins wasn’t the #1 player in the class. Avery Bradley was I believe. Cousins was 4, Wall was 5.

  6. jggfc
    9:14 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Cousins was not number1 that year. I believe it was Avery Bradley on espn. What a joke that was.

  7. barn
    9:15 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    rivals had john wall #1 and avery bradley #4.

  8. Azubuike's Bicep
    9:16 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    4- I thought Avery Bradley was #1 overall.

  9. cracka
    9:18 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    what he said was espn’s top player … which in 2009 was actually avery bradley, cuz was 4th, wall was 5th

  10. GoCats2
    9:18 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    We go crazy over recruiting because we never want the season to end. Talking about recruits and preparing for the next season is the closest we get to the feeling on a Gameday. Even during the season we go crazy when there is a week between games. The recruiting keeps us all breathing during the offseason.

  11. WHAA
    9:18 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    8 – He’s referring to ESPN in this post. And Cousins was #4.

  12. barn
    9:18 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

  13. Azubuike's Bicep
    9:23 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Why do we go crazy over recruiting?

    See: Comments section of said post.

  14. tltaworl
    9:26 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    While this post is void of facts, reason, or really anything of substance, John Clay is reporting Jones will announce as early as tomorrow. What is a bigger story KSR?

  15. Paducah UK fan
    9:27 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Get over it guys, today is what matters. As for as UK basketball, put your trust in Coach Cal. He is doing pretty good so far. Support when he sends a message to us through his puppet, Mr Jones.

  16. Devastation Inc
    9:32 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    As soon as I read the title, I knew who wrote this. It’s always some swishy feelings hoo hoo. Give us some news or go back to telling tales at band camp.

  17. sc4
    9:33 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Why do Corey’s post all seem like “oh crap, I was supposed to have something turned in by 11:00 PM and it is already 10:45!”

    Sloppy, inaccurate, uninteresting. Sorry.

  18. Addison
    9:41 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Why even refer to overhyping services like Rivals and ESPN? Scout is consistently the most accurate. Their top 5 for 2009:
    1. Derrick Favors
    2. John Wall
    3. Demarcus Cousins
    4. John Henson
    5. Avery Bradley

    That’s much more accurate than Rivals or ESPN’s top 100. (If you save your bias for John Wall and realize at THAT time Favors was better)

    As for the post, we were crazy about recruiting way before Cal made us recruiting kings. Please refer to the Patterson/Lucas case that pretty much catapulted this site past all other UK fan blogs.

  19. El Hombre Juan
    9:42 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Dont listen to the detractors Cory you do good job very much. Juan remembers the days of going to Kroger and getting cat paw uk yearbook to find all out about the players. Those were the good ole days. Yes, Juan remembers countless hours spent sitting on the toilet reading all about John pelphry and mark pope. Good times.

    Ksr commenters – you suck you bunch of bitchy little girls

  20. Go cats
    9:44 am April 16, 2012 Permalink – Emma Watson throws up the three goggles!

  21. Al's IndiCats
    9:45 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    CorEy, my young friend, it’s Kentcky Basketball “ALL THE TIME” 24/7/365. That’s just the way it used to be, just the way it is today, (and if I’m just 35% correct of the time) it’ll be that way in the FUTURE. We live, breath, and yearn for any kind of news about recruiting.

  22. MyronPryorsLivingRoom
    9:45 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    20 – You tell ’em Hombre!

  23. FakeElHombreJuan
    9:47 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Cat’s Pause was better than KSR and free information? Not by a long shot. The only good posts on this site come from Drew, Matt, and Beisner. That’s it. Everyone else, from TT to Rashawn Franklin, sucks.

  24. Sir Sampson
    9:48 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    You savage beasts treat this poor Cory fellow, a Cathood brother, like a common cardinal. You should be ashamed, very ashamed!

  25. UK Fan
    9:50 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Whats the point of this article? Nothing to see here move along

  26. El Hombre Juan
    9:52 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    24 – Juan never say cat paw better, just remind me of being niño. Nostalgia friend. Good times. Misquote me again and I will….type in all caps!!! GRR!!!

  27. Tvillian
    9:52 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    @24 if you think TT sucks youre a waste of life, tweet beat is the best

  28. John Ellis
    9:53 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Fitzgerald’s quote may be true about basketball players, but what Cal brings to the game isn’t youth. Cal happens to be in my age range. We do bring something to the table. Fitzgerald’s quote about American lives not having second acts is true, but that’s a matter of culture not nature.

  29. NonSexualHarrassmentPanda
    9:56 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    When people call others a waste of life that makes me a sad panda

  30. Bo knows balls
    10:10 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    I like a the smell of the poop – this is normal no?

  31. #9
    10:18 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    We care because it gives UK fans something to look forward to during the off-season (i.e., football season). Barnhart, Joker et al don’t have a clue on how to be competitive in the SEC. I actually think the longer basketball recruits drag out the decision-making process it allows us a little bit of a reprieve from the inevitable lousy play come the Fall. Think last year was bad? Wait ‘til you see this year’s product. Cal saved Barnhart’s butt (at least for now) by getting #8!

  32. Cychologist
    10:19 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    While it is true we have more information readily available about recruits today, it has always been out there. Thirty plus years ago, between two friends and me (all professionals and adults) we subscribed to six different recruiting newsletters. And I was crushed hearing the news Sampson rejected us, on my transistor radio. So the obsession isn’t new, just uncurable.

  33. greg
    10:20 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    ESPN recruiting was on crack that year, I remember that. Avery Bradley? Really? Avery Bradley..Both Cousins and Wall were up in the 1-2 spots with rivals and scout I believe

  34. greg
    10:21 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Is Cal still looking hard at Amile Jefferson? Would be nice to get he and Bennett. What ever happened to Pollard? When did he drop us? Any weight to the possibility of adding the Juco kid, Young?

  35. Mkgistebow
    10:35 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    I never read Corey’s articles but I saw the bolded quotes and they were awful. Again. I implore you to stop torturing us with your senseless babble. Find a new profession.

  36. sc4
    10:35 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Sorry … for those defending Corey, he might be a nice guy, but his posts are just bad. Most of why he writes seems to be him sitting down and writing (loose use of the word) whatever is on the top of his head. No research. Very little effort. And actually, very little thought.

    I hope Corey becomes a Pulitzer Prize winner … but in order for that to happen, he will have to put more into his posts. This one is just flat, lazy, and uninspiring.

  37. john4uk
    10:46 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    The nit pickers are out in force,can’t believe so many people with nothing to do than read a blog can be so critical.Anyway,one point made,if Cal ever recruits some duds the program could definitely be set back.Here’s hoping it never happens,and eventually the one – and – done rule becomes a two-and-done rule as it would have been awsome to keep Davis,Teague,and Wiltjer for two years.

  38. Basketball Recruiting
    10:51 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    I never end because we have nothing to look forward to until Big Blue Madness. Football has become a joke.

  39. REAL BLY
    11:01 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    I think the hate for BTI has been placed on Corey…who is a Big Blue Brother of ours…if you don’t like his posts…STOP F’N READING THEM!!! Go troll on a Cardinal link if you want to spew hate!!!

  40. Truth
    11:05 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    I don’t hate him in fact I am sure I would have a good time drinking beer with him and watching a game. I just have higher standards for this site that’s all.

  41. Bledsoe's Biceps
    11:06 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Wow, ESPN was really on their game with their 2009 rankings. I see they didn’t even list Bledsoe in their top 100.

  42. catsfan65
    11:13 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    FYI, Rivals had Wall #1, Cousins #2, Avery Bradley #4 in 2009. ESPN bumped up Bradley based upon the McDonald’s All-American game as I recall.

  43. catsfan65
    11:55 am April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Rivals had Bledsoe ranked as the #23 player overall, a little low,, but in the ballpark. ESPN ranking Bledsoe as the 13th best PG in 2009 was horrible especially when you consider who he was behind: 1) Wall 2) Abdul Gaddy 3) Maalik Wayns 4) Tommy Mason-Griffith 5) Peyton Siva 6) Elijah Johnson 7) Mfon Udofia 8) Raymond Penn 9) AJ Walton 10) Junior Cadougan 11) Vincent Council 12) Darius Morris. All of the recruiting sites have hits and misses, but I think Rivals and Scout are consistently better than ESPN, but people use their number because they are ESPN.

  44. WildcatFloyd88
    12:09 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    “Somebody who born before 1986″…ouch!

  45. HicksPickSix
    12:43 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    This is the most obvious post of all time. I’m betting Corey’s next piece will be titled “What is the three-point shot?” or “Why are Kentucky fans known as the ‘Big Blue Nation’?”

  46. Dickie Z
    1:10 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    Corey Nichols still sucks! I don’t care about you and your board games!

  47. grownassman
    1:18 pm April 16, 2012 Permalink

    I stand corrected. Corey, bring back the cartoon metaphors.