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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Tubby’s Recruiting, Was it Really Bad?

Yesterday I posted an article about how much NBA money each of the recruited players the last 4 UK coaches had brought in.  Obviously Pitino and Calipari have a significantly higher amount of money, or soon to be money, than Tubby Smith.  But I was actually surprised to see Tubby had over 50 million in NBA dollars to his credit.  Prince, Bogans, Hayes, Meeks, and Rondo were all Tubby recruits and have many years left in the NBA.  So, was Tubby’s recruiting really that bad OR were his bad recruits just the ones we remember and leave a bad taste in our mouth?  Below you find each of Tubby’s classes with recruiting ranking, plus a little analysis from me:

Tayshaun Prince (#12 overall)
Jules Camara (#31 overall)
Desmond Allison (#61 overall)
Todd Tackett
JP Blevins
Recap:Three players ranked in the Top 75 and the other 2 being Kentucky high school elite players.  Should have been a very good class.  Unfortunately, Prince was the only one who exceeded expectations.  Camara became fairly productive his last 2 years.  Allison showed average skills and poor behavior and left.  Tackett and Blevins were never seriously productive.  On paper, this class was very good.  On the court, average at best.

Keith Bogans (#2 overall)
Marvin Stone (#5 overall)
Marquis Estill (#91 overall)
Nate Knight (Junior College Transfer)
Recap: This class was very solid.  Bogans turned out to be one of the 5 most productive players in UK history.  Estill became a very good player after redshirting with knee problems his first year.  Stone became the disappointment of the class, eventually transferring.  Knight was never going to be a serious contributor and transferred after 1 season.

Cliff Hawkins (#36 overall)
Jason Parker (#41 overall)
Erik Daniels
Gerald Fitch
Recap:  On paper, this class was not elite.  Only 2 Top 100 players.  When they left, they had 105 wins and two Elite appearances.  Each guy had a significant impact on the program, with Parker being the only player not able to stay 4 years, due to knee injuries and some conflict with Tubby.  I think you would have to call this class overachievers.

Rashaad Carruth (#21 overall)
Chuck Hayes (#46 overall)
Josh Carrier
Adam Chiles
Recap:If Carruth hadn’t been such an idiot, he was a very good player.  That doesn’t give Tubby a pass for recruiting such a poor character guy, but you can’t say Carruth didn’t have talent.  Hayes became a legend.  Carrier was a disappointment and Chiles only lasted 1 season.  Without Hayes, this would be a horrendous class.  With Hayes, its become mediocre.

Kelenna Azubuike (#31 overall)
Antwain Barbour (Junior College)
Brandon Stockton
Bernard Cote
Ravi Moss (walk-on)
Recap:As became habit under Tubby, recruits were either all or nothing.  Azubuike had a very good career.  But Barbour and Stockton produced very little at UK, and Cote produced nothing and transferred.  Tubby does get some extra credit for bringing in Ravi Moss in this class.  Average class.

Shagari Alleyne (#48 overall)
Bobby Perry
Woo Obrzut
Sherray Thomas
Patrick Sparks (transfer)
Recap: The lowest point in the Tubby recruiting era up to that point.  Sparks would go on to give UK 2 semi-productive years.  But Alleyne was rarely a factor and transferred.  Perry, Obrzut, and Thomas stayed 4 years but struggled throughout to produce heavily.  Perry would have a pretty good senior season.  Still, a very underperforming class.

Randolph Morris (#10 overall)
Joe Crawford (#14 overall)
Rajon Rondo (#21 overall)
Ramel Bradley (#85 overall)
Recap: After having his worst recruiting year, Tubby followed with his best.  All 4 players became key cogs in the program for the next 2-4 years.  While never as much team success as the fans would have wanted, these players were all very successful individually.  I would call this a high level recruiting class.

Jared Carter (#99 overall)
Adam Williams
Rekalin Sims (Junior College)
Recap: Pretty sad how bad this class was.  2/3 of it was gone after 1 season.  And Carter was basically gone before he stepped foot on campus.  Carter and Williams scored a combined 44 points in their careers.  Sims actually showed flashes of talent, but would rather sell crack and attack people with machetes.

Derrick Jasper (#52 overall)
Jodie Meeks (#56 overall)
Perry Stevenson (#57 overall)
Michael Porter
Ramon Harris
Recap: Not a highly touted class, but Jasper and Meeks proved to be top talents and would have become huge successes if Gillispie hadn’t ruined them, either physically or mentally.  Stevenson struggled most of his career, but still played serious minutes.  Porter never played his correct position.  And Harris was a late season addition and became a decent player.  This class, with a little development, would have become very good.  Probably ended up average though.

OK, so where does this leave Tubby?  Well, not including junior college players and transfers, Tubby recruited 34 incoming freshman to the program in his tenure, and 20 of them were ranked in the Top 100 entering college.  So the question is this: Is having 59% of your freshman recruits as Top 100 good enough?  Well, it was good enough to win 76% of his games.  But, if you are John Calipari, who seems to be batting 100% on his freshman recruits in the Top 100, then I guess it isn’t.  What if we look at the classes individually, ranking them as above average, average, or below average:

ABOVE AVERAGE: 1999, 2000, 2004
AVERAGE: 1998, 2001, 2006
BELOW AVERAGE: 2002, 2003, 2005

Again, it is all a matter of opinion.  Is having 2/3 of your classes at an average or above average level good enough?  People often focus on those 3 terrible classes that Tubby recruited, and those are a big reason he eventually left, but does he not also get credit for the 1/3 of his tenure with very good classes?  I don’t say this to be a huge Tubby defender, but simply try to point out that Tubby was not as bad a recruiter as people try to shape him out to be.  What he wasn’t was a CONSISTENT recruiter.  What he wasn’t was a recruiter good enough for Kentucky.  But is it fair to call Tubby a ”pretty good” recruiter?  Has Tubby been unfairly criticized as a poor recruiter?

Article written by Bryan the Intern

73 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Tubby’s Recruiting, Was it Really Bad?

  1. Bobbysueflay
    9:09 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Look at the other schools classes in those years. And we’re suppose to be a competing for national champs? Not to mention he. Didn’t even develope the players he did get other than rondo that left after two years. Tubby sucks

  2. Happychandlersvocalchords
    9:10 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Find it impossible to believe that Alleyne was ranked #48. Were there only 48 members in that class?

  3. JaredCarterIsMyHomeboy
    9:12 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t think its an unfair criticism. His bad classes were historically bad, leaving the program basically with years void of anything at all. You just can’t have that and expect to be at a high level year in and year out. That being said, Tubbys early years were awesome.

  4. Missed the Point
    9:13 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    BTI, I was at UK during the last 2 years of Tubby’s tenure. I do believe the majority of the discussion wasn’t whether or not Tubby was a good recruiter from a numbers stand point. A blind man could see that he was getting solid recruits based on rankings, etc…. The problem was what Tubby and his coaches would do with the talent once the players showed up in lexington. It often seemed the players and the coaches butted heads and failed to adapt to each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Go beyond the numbers. Just look at what happened to the truly great UK teams in the NCAA tournament. Elite 8s are great, but when you are constantly a top program, including number one overall seeds, failure to make final fours and ncaa tournaments will not suffice.

  5. Jason
    9:14 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Three top 10 kids in his tenure at UK. That is awful! Even an average recruiter could get more top level talent to Kentucky. Tubby was a poor recruiter and average X’s and O’s. And he did have a lot of problem guys too.

  6. J.A.
    9:14 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    YES, Tubby was not a poor recruiter, ppl hear that and repeat it, he obviously wasn’t coach cal but he always put competetive teams on the court. If you remember a large percentage of the good players tubby recruited made an immediate impact, the problem was they never got better in 4 years, but for some reason ppl couldn’t see it then and don’t see it now.

  7. asdf
    9:18 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Tubby was an inconsistent recruiter. The constant good year/bad year pattern was frustrating. He also had trouble connecting with the elite players, and they rarely panned out when they came here. Tubby’s “sweet spot” was turning 50-100 players into high performers. At one time, Billy Donovan publicly praised Tubby for what he did with those kinds of kids and announced that he was going to emulate Tubby. Billy did it even better than Tubby, and the result was Florida’s back-to-back titles without any elite recruits, but a lot of guys from that second-rung of talent.

  8. Real UK Fan
    9:19 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Regardless of how you analyze the situation the facts remain the same. Tubby never kept the program competitive. So he either couldn’t recruit or couldn’t coach or both. The fact that he couldn’t get to the final four is absolute proof.

  9. Elephant In Room
    9:20 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    This site redesign is awesome.

  10. Steve
    9:22 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Article about Tubby at Kentucky and the picture with the article is when the Tubster was at Minnesota. Check the colors of the tie and the colors of the fan dress behind him!!!

  11. DoubleZeroMostel
    9:22 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Yep, he was that bad. With the exception of Billy G., He’s the worst recruiter we’ve had since before Rupp.

  12. Noel Gallagher
    9:23 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    I would rate Tubby’s recruiting as mediocre. He was able to get a few great players every other year or so. I can think of a lot of players he came in 2nd for that led Duke & UNC to a lot of W’s/ Brand, Avery, Hansborough, Brandon Wright, Chris Duhon. If he could have gotten a couple of these guys that he came very close on might have been a lot different.

  13. Joe Statistian
    9:26 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    BTI, perhaps you can list total points scored by each class. This would be one way to quantify the impact of that class as well as to compare.

    In summary, Tubby’s had to many strike-outs. He went all in after some high-level players who eventually choose UNC or other schools. That’s why he flamed out. One example is Brandon Wright, from Nashville, who is actually still in the NBA. If Tubby lands him, this story is much different.

  14. Glass half empty....
    9:28 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    You ask is it fair 2/3 of his classes were average or above – I wonder is it fair that 2/3 of his classes were average or below. That kind of performance gets you sent down to the minors in MLB – which I guess is what happened to Tubby.

  15. Jim
    9:29 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    You have lost your mind if you think 1999 and 2000 were above average recruiting classes. In 1999 we recruited 2 guys in the Top 90 players in the country. That means 88 kids were recruited to schools that were rated higher than our 3rd guy. In 2000 he got 0 count them 0 Top 25 players. Let’s put those two classes in perspective. We were coming off a National Championship, Runner-Up, National Championship. In recruiter worth anthing would land nothing but Top 25 kids in his first two classes. From UK standpoint Tubby had 1 average to above average class. From UK stanpoint today, he had all below average classes.

  16. btowncatfan
    9:41 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    For an elite program his recruiting was not what it should have been. Still, loved Tubby and can’t wait till his name is in the rafters at Rupp.

  17. barn
    9:42 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    ditto #5. tubby would have been regarded as a much better coach if he had recruited much better talent. as would most coaches.

  18. yearsendingin9
    9:45 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    He was a bad recruiter.

  19. UKSupporter76
    9:47 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Wow, what a surprise. Almost no one can seem to frame the discussion with any sort of historical perspective.

    No, Tubby didn’t land as many huge recruits as Calipari. No one has. Not now. Not then. If recruiting at the same level as Calipari is the benchmark for “not awful” then every coach in the country is an awful recruiter.

    A few things to think about…

    – Tubby had the #1 recruiting class in the country during the last half of his tenure here.
    – Tubby Didn’t “develop” Rondo, he wasted him. (forcing him into a system that didn’t fit)
    – Tubby landed *most* of the players he went after. He missed on some, but so did Cal (despite what this site might lead you to think)
    – Tubby’s perceived lack of talent wasn’t because he couldn’t recruit. It was because he generally didn’t recruit much himself, he sent his assistants to do it.
    – Tubby didn’t attempt to sign monster classes. His philosophy focused on finding players to fit his style/system, not tailoring his system to fit whatever players were available.
    – People on here act as if Tubby’s teams weren’t competitive. That’s just blatantly false. Tubby’s teams always made the tournament, and just like every other team that gets a lot of good seeds, saw his fair share of upsets, as will happen in a single elimination tournament. (Just ask, Kansas, and Duke, and Syracuse, and the rest of the teams that get lots of #1 and #2 seeds… it happens to all of the great programs)

    Tubby got a bad rap for 3 reasons
    1) He followed Pitino
    2) He sucked at player management. (the stupid DeGrassi crap going on with his teams was ridiculous)
    3) He just got unlucky in the tournament a lot. (player injuries, hot teams, and the front row seat to Dwyane Wade’s coming out party)

    In closing, BTI sucks.

  20. classof68
    9:49 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Toward the end, Tubby’s recruiting was pitiful. I don’t think he even tried. I remember everyone hoping he could get Dan Werner who picked Florida. He was barely in the top 100 and was a big flop there. And that kid who picked a prep school over UK. They should have let Tubby go and gotten Cal years ago.

  21. Stop It
    9:49 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    All of this Tubby Love from KSR is sickening. Let him go, he is not one of us and did not want to be one of us. Isn’t it interesting that ALL of the names listed above, recruiting by Tubby, never went to a Final Four under his coaching. None. End of story. Tubby Smith was an ordinary coach. Look at his non UK record. Let’s celebrate our greatness, not a man who was only along for the ride and hung on to someone else’s coat tails. If he goes up in Rupp’s rafters, the fan base will split down the middle. But maybe that is what KSR wants.

  22. Brian
    9:49 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Calling some of those classes “average” at UK is the biggest stretch I’ve ever seen. 2002 an average class? Azubuike was OK, not great and he was the only person from that class to contribute (the fact that Moss had to play is only a testament to how bad the recruiting was) That class was a train wreck.

  23. Big Blue Coming At You
    9:50 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Tubby’s recruiting was bad enough to keep him in the Elite Eight even with his best teams. Had he recruited talent consistently, he would have gone further in the tournament imo. But he can’t handle elite talent which is why he struggled with the 2004 class and why he chose not to recruit elite talent like that every year. It eventually caught up with him and UK was no longer elite.

  24. theWilkman
    9:55 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    He was a mediocre-at-best recruiter, which he received a pass on after winning a championship. Those good graces can only last so long though, so if you aren’t perennially over-achieving, like the 2000 class, then eventually you will get the boot here. We aren’t Minnesota, we expect Final Fours.

    One comment you made, BTI, that I’d like to point out is “Not a highly touted class, but Jasper and Meeks proved to be top talents and would have become huge successes if Gillispie hadn’t ruined them, either physically or mentally”. I will agree with Jasper, but I don’t think Billy G ruined Meeks. Yes, he would have faired better under Tubby and MUCH better under Cal (no doubt we win the whole thing in 2009-10 if he stays) but he wasn’t ruined. With that beautiful shot, he will have a long NBA career.

  25. unreconstructed
    10:01 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    # 21—-Well stated and well put!!!!! It hits the nail on the head.

    Tub’s is/was a mediocre coach, less than halfarse recruiter and couldn’t develope talent with written instructions.

    Hell, no wonder Gillispie drank. Look what “talent” he inherited from TLT’s stellar recruiting. That would make anybody take to the bottle!!!

  26. lex native
    10:06 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Has Tubby been unfairly criticized as a poor recruiter? POOR is the wrong word, just failed to recruit at the expected UK level.
    Was Tubby a nice guy, a very good coach, and represented the university well? You bet!

  27. Jatt Mones
    10:09 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    His recruiting was fine. It was his coaching that was (and still is) overrated.

  28. barn
    10:14 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    tubby might have fared better if he hadn’t force fed us saul as our starting pg–who averaged 5pts a game and couldn’t shoot ft’s (67%). we missed on a 5 star recruit, whose name I can’t remember, because saul was locked in at that position.

  29. Kitchin24
    10:20 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Pretty terrible recruiting classes for Kentucky standards. Kentucky Basketball should pull in at least one 5 star recruit every year, no matter who the coach is. Some of those classes would be bad for mid and low level SEC teams. Road the momentum from Pitino on his first few classes. The Fitch, Hawkins, Daniels class fortunately worked out. Unfortunately, attempts to repeat success with those level recruits caught up to Tubby.

  30. Hagkat
    10:22 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    How many came here bcause this IS Kentucky. Need to look and see how many top 100 recruits he got at the other schools he’s coached. Tubby was not a good recruiter IMO. But is a good coach and to this day I don’t think, had he stayed, that Pitino would’ve won 98 championship. It may have been Pitinos kids but it was Tubby’s coaching.

  31. PhilUK18
    10:28 am August 23, 2013 Permalink


    Got it exactly right I think. Some of those classes are just disgraceful. I mean, there was really a class where Jared Carter was the highest ranked guy? I wouldn’t expect Calipari level recruiting from anyone else, but some of Tubby’s classes were just inexplicably bad

  32. TCBMan
    10:28 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Also Tubby give us AJ Stewart and the Member(Morakinyo Williams) as well. We know what great players they were.

  33. kadizkat
    10:32 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    We all have an opinion, here’s mine. Very good coach, fair recruiter, good man, should have let Saul walk on or go to another school.

  34. just saying
    10:43 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Way to look at it from a “glass half full perspective”. While saying 2/3 of his recruiting classes were “average or better”, I say a man coming off a NC at the university of Kentucky had 66% of his recruitng classes “average or worse”.

    He was here 10 years, had one top 5 recruiting class and the rest were busts, or over achievers. His recruiting was TERRIBLE. Dont forget year 10s recruits (AJ STewart and Morakinyo Williams). So 70% of his classes were down right terrible

  35. LA
    10:45 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Call tubby what you will, but he was the worst recruiter in UK history, no doubt about it.

  36. Tom Paine
    10:50 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Tom Paines Rants: Run-on Sentences and Over-Capitalization, A Threat to the Future of Humanity?

  37. Tennessee Wildcat
    10:59 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Tubby’s recruiting wasn’t the same after George Felton left as one of his assistants around 2001. Yes, he had a couple of pretty good classes, but he was nowhere near the league of Joe B., Sutton or Pitino involving recruiting. Too many diamond in the rough projects and not enough substance. That is why Tubby didn’t last longer as our coach.

  38. Mark
    11:01 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Let’s put this into perspective. Tubby’s best class (#10, #14, #21) would still be Cal’s worst class.

    2009 (1,2,22,23); 2010 (3,6,13,21,33), 2011 (2,3,5,22), 2012 (2,8,14,40), 2013 (2,5,7,9,11,19 – Can you just say WTF?)

    I know that Cal is on a different level than Tubby when it comes to recruiting but even when Tubby landed top 50 talent, they were typically under-developed by the time they left Kentucky. Rajon Rondo has blossomed in spite of Tubby and Randolph Morris was a bust and a half. Bogans and Prince both came in on the heels of the 96,97,98 wonder years under Pitino. In my humble and non-professional opinion, they came to Kentucky not to play for Tubby and there is a difference. I think had they come out of high school a couple of years later they would have gone elsewhere. Thankfully, Kentucky still had a great reputation for success in the late 90’s and players were still attracted to Lexington.

  39. The Nature Boy Ric Flair
    11:06 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    YES I DO



  40. I understand now
    11:08 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Tubby had 5 good recruits in 10 years. At Kentucky. And you ask if Tubby was REALLY that bad at recruiting? Now I know why people say you suck BTI. Tubby stopped recruiting. He let his assistants do all of it and they were horrible at it. David Hobbs, Scott Rigot, and Reggie Hanson just ain’t cutting at a place like UK, or NKU, or Cincinnati State for that matter..

  41. Ryne
    11:10 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Tubby got the players, no doubt. He just held them back when they were here. Plain and simple, just look at Rondo.

  42. UKFan284
    11:13 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    I don’t see how so many people can say Tubby was a bad recruiter AND was bad at coaching. If he was as bad as most people ‘remember’ then how in the world did he win 76% of his games here? Did teams just step aside and let us win out of fear because we were Kentucky?

    You can definitely say his recruiting was not good enough for Kentucky quality which should probably have one top 10 player every year at the very least but you cannot say he couldn’t develop players or that he was terrible at x’s and o’s. The man took lower rated players and did a heck of a lot with them. He may not even have gotten to the championship game after his first year but he at least made the tournament every year, was usually competitive, and had a really good year in 02-03.

    Bottom line: if he was terrible at EVERYTHING like most want to claim, then how did he win so many games? You have to give me man credit for something. Call him a bad recruiter if you want. Few will dispute that but don’t say he couldn’t develop players or coach either!

  43. ChicagoCat
    11:30 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    I think we are all just so spoiled now with the ridiculous success of Calipari that we look at Tubby’s overall recruiting as not good. Tubby had some great classes but he also approached it differently. He looked for guys that would fit his system and be team guys and stick around. It was a different recruiting philosophy.

    Most people tend to remember the 2003 and 2005 classes most and forget all the rest. Now that we are dominating recruiting every year it is easy to say he was terrible, but don’t forget we won a LOT of games under Tubby, one championship, and probably should have won 1 or 2 more if the ball had bounced the right way.

  44. Travi
    11:39 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Wow, looking at this really makes you realize how bad the recruiting was. How did this happen?

  45. HaysC.
    11:50 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Tubby was a mediocre recruiter and his tournament results showed that(obviously other than 98). I get the idea that Tubby recruited to his style, but that style was set to play in the 70’s and 80’s. He didnt bring in the athletes we needed to truly be competitive at the turn of the century.

  46. MustangCat
    11:54 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Tubby Smith was given the keys to THE BUGATTI of College Basketball. And he ran that car into a dead-end street. Then just parked that thing. If you don’t know what a “Bugatti” is, then your obviously Amish, and your all into drag-buggy racing. Two words say all that needs to be said about Tubby and recruiting. Kevin Durrant. You guys at KSR should know all about KD and Tubby. I think I feel like writing today, so sorry about your luck here.
    If you compare Tubby to Pitino, the thing that stands out the most is PPG average. Tubby took the fastest car in the world, and decided he’d rather drive Miss Daisy. Being a BLACK coach – in college basketball – at KENTUCKY? Tell me he didn’t step into THE best case scenario!? He SHOULD HAVE been able to recruit and never leave campus. He should have had the pick of the litter, every year. He should have had, at the very least, a top 5 level class every year. Pitino shot his own recruiting feet himself, because he couldn’t stop looking in that mirror! ( to see if he really got better looking each day!) Research how many and who would have been in blue and white for Pitino, if he’d have just gotten over himself and stayed put. Hint: The Dukies and Coach K wouldn’t be where they are today if he had. Quite a few of Dukes LEGENDARY players would have been in Lexington, if they felt like they could have trusted Pitino, and several said so publicly. But, we digress when we speak of a coach that i would only take back if Bobby Knight were my only other choice! Pitino ran teams into the ground. Tubby wanted to lull all of us to sleep. No coach will ever have a BETTER opportunity then Tubby Smith had here. There’s no way. And he failed miserably. When he settled for his own son at pg over that Cook kid, i knew we were in deep trouble. I have a friend that called the shot on Tubby from day one! He even wanted to cry when we won that title for Tubby in year one! He said, and I quote :now we’re stuck with him for the next 10 years”! Prophetic! Everything about him screams AVERAGE. ANd that won’t cut it at UK. Mitch better choose wisely the man that follows Cal!!

  47. Winston
    11:57 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Seeing it in writing reminds us how bad it was. Appreciate what we have now.

  48. KnowYourHistory
    11:59 am August 23, 2013 Permalink

    My favorite story/legend about Tubby and recruiting is the following: Tubby and two assistants are at the Super 64 in Vegas watching a game. There is this skinny 6’9″ kid that looks like the next coming of Larry Bird but with 1000 times the athletic ability. Tubby asks the two assistants which coach is recruiting this kid. The two assistants look at each other, dumbfounded. The player was Kevin Durant.

    Tubby expected the top kids to come to Kentucky without the staff making any effort, like in the day of Rupp’s tryouts. Tubby did not realize that the whole recruiting culture changed in the 1980s.

    My question to KSR about Tubby’s recruiting is: What if Patrick Sparks does not transfer to UK (afterall, it took Sparks embarrassing UK in Rupp as a freshman to get UK interested), Ravi does not walk on, and Erik Daniels does not grow 6 inches his senior year in high school? Now think about how bad those teams would have been.

  49. RowanHunter
    12:04 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Tubby’s problem wasn’t that he couldn’t recruit… he could. His problem was getting the production out of great players. You can’t hook thoroughbreds up to the plow and expect them to perform.

  50. Nate Trump
    12:27 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Tubby was a good coach…for Georgia. And Minnesota. Almost.

  51. Jeff
    12:37 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Yeah, Tubby couldnt recruit could he?
    He only recruited Rondo, Hayes, Prince, Bogans, Meeks, Azibukie, Fitch, Daniels, Estill and Crawford. All of these kids were at Kentucky for much longer than 9 months too! Each one contributed many more points than any Calipari recruit ever has for Kentucky.
    UK wouldnt recruit a Chuck Hayes or Tashawn Price anymore thats for damn sure. I, for one, am getting tired of the Tubby bashing that some supposed Kentucky fans spew. Its called ignorance.
    I can only imagine if Tubby Smith had the number one recruiting class in the land and had taken the team to the NIT, like UK went last year, all the gripping that would have happened. But nothing was said last year when Cal took the Cats, with their number one reruiting class to the NIT, somewhere where Tubby never did.
    Some UK fans need to simply grow up! Ignorance is a terrible thing.

  52. RobbyCincy
    1:05 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Why do people always say that Tubby rode in on Pitino’s talent to win the title in 98? People who say that forgot who exactly was on that championship team, how much NBA talent was there? Allen Edwards? Cameron Mills? Hesheimu Evans? Scott Padgett? Jeff Shepard? The only NBA talent on this team was Nazr Mohammad, pretty hard to say Tubby won the championship with pure talent, this was not the UK 96 team, Tubby coached that team to victory. Give Tubby credit !

  53. Tonyroma
    1:07 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Off topic, but were t we promised a site redesign today?

  54. Joe
    1:07 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    One of the happiest days of my life was the day he left. He was lazy and took UK from the pinnicle to a team that could barely make the tourney, much less win a couple games in 10 years. Actually quicker. Tubby sucks.

  55. NKYCat
    1:25 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    #51….. Couldnt agree with you more. Everyone else, compare Tubby’s numbers to that of Joe B. I have… they are almost identical. Also… so those who keep saying how bad Tubby’s classes were….. his classes ALAWAYS made the tournament…. Cal’s 2012 class… 2012 ranks (2,8,14,40)… they lost in round 1 of the NIT to Robert Morris. Just admit it…. the game has changed A LOT since 1998. HELL… it has changed a lot since 2008.

  56. Andrew
    1:37 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Desmond Allsion didn’t show average skills and bad behavior. He started as a freshman and played well.

  57. barn
    1:56 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    55–joe b also took us to 3 f4s including 1 title & 1 runnerup, plus 3 e8s.

  58. MustangCat
    2:12 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    LOL!! Tubby gets credit for his title because – now listen, and I’ll speak real slow – because of the winning mentality Pitino left behind! He had a TEAM, and that team had some pretty good talent, but most important, they had a WILL TO WIN. Heck, that team almost didn’t know how to lose! Tubby would teach the teams that followed after on that one! What you people don’t account for is that when you play slow, when you score low, you play back into the hands of your opponents. It is very hard to score points at the major college level. When a team scores 80+ a game, that starts the winning of the mental warfare! The team that struggles to score 70 a night, knows full well that the odds just doubled! First, that they can manage to score 10-15 over their average. 2nd, that they can hold that team below their average. Pitino had teams score in the 90’s! Tubby’s BEST team was his first, and they averaged i think it was 80.1. His only team to average 80. You automatically give your opponent HOPE when you score 75. You add fuel to that fire when you get down to the low 70’s. Even a bad team knows they have a better chance if you can keep the score lower. THEN, you factor in points differential. Which is another word for – great defense. If your opponent knows going in that they are going to be in for a struggle just to get 65 on the board tonight?! They aren’t even thinking about 80-90. That’s mind games folks. Tubby never scared anybody. Almost anyone knew they had a fighting chance against us then, because they knew we were going to struggle to score 70. They were going in game-planning on the game being in the 60’s! Few worried about UK lighting them up for 100, or even 90.
    Tubby was the king of winning UGLY! He lost ugly too! His teams consistently struggled to score points, played slow and slower. He had SOME talent, sure. Half of his best recruits came in ONE year! And that bunch didn’t pan out very well for him on the court, did they?! Head cases most of them. Kind of like Cals bunch last year. Last years team was the result of no returning talent. He had to rely on the freshmen almost exclusively. Betcha he don’t make that mistake again.

  59. Cincy Cayt
    2:21 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Can’t remember who said it first, but UK fans are addicted to fabric (or whatever banners are made from). If Tubby somehow pulls off 3 more W’s (yes THREE) in the Elite Eight (1999, 2003, 2005) then he is responsible for four banners hanging up in Rupp and could very well still be here today if he adds something from 2008-now. I was at UK from 04-08 and it was discouraging looking up there and seeing 1998 staring right back at me, especially in 06 and 07 when we ran into two #1 seeds that toyed with us in the Round of 32…with no “hope” coming in recruiting.

  60. William
    2:33 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Above-average, mediocre, decent, ok, average have no place at Kentucky nor are synonymous for a top 10 program. Maybe if you’re Louisville.

  61. MustangCat
    2:34 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    When you look at Tubby’s entire “body of work”, what do you find? He was a decent coach. Slightly above average. I say that his record in INFLATED! BECAUSE of coaching at Kentucky!! If he had never coached at UK, do you really think he’d have ever won a title? What did he ever do at Tulsa? Georgia? Minnesota? WHat’s his tournament record OUTSIDE of UK? What’s his winning % outside of UK? What’s his recruiting record elsewhere? Do we really think he would be in the conversation about the top coaches in the game today? If he never get’s that 10 year gravy job at UK? I don’t know that he would have gotten the minnesota job, if it hadn’t been for his time at UK. And THAT says it all.

  62. idontflinch
    2:54 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    3 things:
    1. #39 went out of the margin.

    2. Last year proved Coach Cal is mortal. He is still much more immortal than your average college coach, though.

    3. Tubby publicly said he preferred 4 year guys. Hindsight makes me think it was because he couldn’t land the McD AA’s consistenly. Remember UNC’s Hansbrough? Tubby recruited him like there was no tomorrow. That is merely one example. Yeah, Cal misses out on guys, too, but not like Tubby did early in his tenure. Why did Tubby miss out so much? Recruits didn’t like his ball-line defense or his slow offense or because he wouldn’t tailor his coaching style to fit the players he had? Maybe it was all of the above. The main reason I became frustrated with Tubby was how he became a recluse during the off season for the last 2-3 years of his tenure and his answers to questions were all coach-speak. Plus, he never went to a Final Four with his own guys. Yeah, he did have some bad luck (Bogans’ ankle), but there were a lot more years when he simply didn’t get it done. In other words, as good of a guy as Tubby was, during his last few years UK basketball became boring to me.

  63. Tampa Satchel
    6:08 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    After reading this, it is clear that Tubby was much worse at recruiting than I had remembered. ’03 and ’05 would have been embarrassing at Union.

  64. ukbradstith
    6:17 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Wow, I never realized how bad he was until I saw the numbers laid out like this. At UK, anybody could recruit like this without trying. Shows how good a coach and developer of talent Tubby really was, but just not enough consistently good players to work with.

  65. Tom Blevins
    6:55 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Alleyne was the biggest disappointment. He had the talent to be a star at Kentucky, and to be a solid NBA player. Every now and then, you could see flashes of that talent. He just seemed to be unwilling to put forth the effort he needed to be successful. As I recall, he transferred to Rutgers after 3 years at Kentucky on he advice of someone he was associated with before he came to Kentucky. (an AAU coach, perhaps?) He sat out a year after transferring, as required by the NCAA. For that Year, he attended Rutgers, getting free tuition, room and board. Then, instead of remaining to play for them, he entered the NBA draft. He was undrafted in the first round. He was undrafted in the second round. His actions toward Rutgers were both selfish and stupid. I hope he got his degree. Even if he went on to play overseas, I doubt if he would be well paid enough to be set for life. He’ll need to do something else when he gets older.

  66. Blue Boy
    7:03 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    I guess it’s ok to put a nice guy in UK’s Hall of Fame because he wasn’t a great coach and that is what UK needs. Hall was a great recruiter as was Rupp, Cal, Sutton, and yes Pitino. Smith was captain of a sinking ship. From the time he took over till his departure the program peaked and was on a steady decline. The other day I heard Shepard refer to Smith as loyal to his coaches and players but, when he left UK supposedly for not being willing to replace his staff , how many got to go to Minnesota? It didn’t take long for Minnesota to decide that they wanted a coach and not a nice guy. Texas Tech won’t be a long stop either.

  67. Wildcatsteeler
    7:11 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    How you have seasons like 96, 97 and 98 and not have the best players lining up to sign is the real telling signal here. He inherited a gold mine recruiting-wise and did nothing with it.

  68. tubbyblahblah
    7:14 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    My only beef with the post is that you said Patrick Sparks was only semi productive. For a 6 ft tall shooting guard, he played pretty well. Averaged double figures, and could flatout catch fire at very opportune times. Ex: Louisville, UCONN

  69. idontflinch
    7:51 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    #51 Jeff There is no doubting Tubby recruited some good players. However, you could make a list almost as long for the guys who, for various reasons, wound up barely producing anything on a single stat sheet. Tackett, Chiles, Nate Knight, Carter, Williams, Sims. This doesn’t include guys like Blevins, Carrier and Stockton who were pretty much career backups. Yeah, you could say Coach Cal has had a couple of those guys, too, but this is about Tubby only and not about Tubby compared to Calipari. To be fair, Tubby coached up several players who otherwise might not have had the success they have had in basketball. To expound on the subject of Tubby I have to ask how many of those guys you named went to the Final Four? Forget national titles, I’m talking simply about a trip to the Final Four. Answer: zero. Tubby had a good run or two at a mid-major and was from the Pitino coaching tree. That is how he got his big break. He did win a national title with another coaches players, which is excellent, but what did he do after that? Bad luck you say? All coaches have bad luck from time to time. That is a part of sports. It’s what you do when luck is going your way and in those instances Tubby didn’t deliver. This is Kentucky. Not Wake Forest or Iowa or Seton Hall or Nebraska where a good season is a 24-12 record and going to the Sweet 16. Kentucky basketball has a proven history of winning at a high level and UK fans can’t be blamed for wanting to sustain that success. What are we supposed to do, root for Duh Ville, too, and hope one of those teams can have a good year? Coaching at Kentucky means you are expected to go the Final Four at least once in a while. And it also means recruiting players who are capable of making it work. Tubby got a some good players, but didn’t consistently get enough good players who could push his teams over the hump with the way he wanted to coach them.

    Tubby was an excellent representative of UK and the national media seemed to like him and that says something about his character. This isn’t about his character, though. It’s about his coaching chops and recruiting is as much about coaching as X’s and O’s. Bottom line, Tubby has never went to the Final Four with his own players. Not at Tulsa, not at Georgia, not at Kentucky and not at Minnesota. Blame it on his recruiting or blame it on his coaching style, but the point is he hasn’t gotten it done.

  70. Willieshouldnothavetwitter
    10:53 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Here’s two words regarding Tubby’s recruiting:

    Team Turmoil (1)

    And as for the 2004 “best” recruiting class he had…..

    “Faxgate” and also the never admitted to Team Turmoil (2)

    And no mention of the Tyler Hansborough recruitment? Really? Roy Williams made Tubby look like an idiot……..

  71. Bunny
    10:55 pm August 23, 2013 Permalink

    Tubby was and still is a class act, a good X’s and O’s coach, but a mediocre recruiter by Ky basketball standards…

  72. Dee W.
    4:26 pm August 24, 2013 Permalink

    It’s amazing how many people can just keep on making comments about Tubby Smith’s tenure at UK which don’t have a grain of truth to them. “steady decline every year”, etc. All nonsense – completely made up. Couldn’t be too big of UK fans as they could not have even been watching UK basketball in the least during those 10 years.

    Oh well…just post this again to speak truth to their fiction:

    Tubby Smith record at Kentucky

    1997 — 1998 — 35-4 overall, 14-2 SEC, SEC regular season champions, SEC tournament Champions, NCAA Champions, SEC Coach of the Year

    1998 — 1999 — 28-9 overall, 11-5 SEC, SEC tournament Champions, NCAA Elite 8

    1999 — 2000 — 23-10 overall, 12-4 SEC, SEC regular season Champions (tied), NCAA Round of 32

    2000 — 2001 — 24-10 overall, 12-4 SEC, SEC regular season Champions (tied), SEC tournament Champions, NCAA Sweet 16

    2001 — 2002 — 22-10 overall, 10-6 SEC, NCAA Sweet 16

    2002 — 2003 — 32-4 overall, 16-0 SEC, SEC regular season Champions, SEC tournament Champions, Granted #1 seed NCAA tournament, NCAA Elite Eight, SEC Coach of the Year, Naismith National Coach of the Year, Henry Iba Award for best national coach of the year, AP National Coach of the Year, first team since 1952 to go undefeated through SEC conference play through both the regular season and tournament (and first and only to do so with 16 regular season games), new record set for highest attendance at a game at Rupp Arena during this season, largest margin of victory (62 points) over an opponent in a game since 1952, first college coach since 1975 to sweep all NCAA recognized national coach of the year honors in the same season

    2003 — 2004 — 27-5 overall, 13-3 SEC, SEC Tournament Champions, Granted #1 overall seed NCAA tournament, NCAA round of 32

    2004 — 2005 — 28-6 overall, 14-2 SEC, #1 recruiting class, SEC regular season Champions, SEC tournament runner-up, NCAA Elite Eight, SEC Coach of the Year, Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year, AP National Coach of the Year

    2005 — 2006 — 22-13 overall, 9-7 SEC, NCAA round of 32

    2006 — 2007 — 22-12 overall, 9-7 SEC, NCAA round of 32

    3rd longest serving Head Coach at UK (10 years — a decade)
    12 total years coaching at UK
    Great ambassador for the program
    Charitable work which continues to have a strong positive impact to this day
    Tayshaun Prince was recently on KSTV and talks a lot about the influence Coach Smith had on him as a player and a person starting at about 5:04 in the video below:

  73. CatBlue in LR
    7:20 pm August 25, 2013 Permalink

    Mediocre recruiting (some years flat-out bad) combined with zero player development equals poor overall coaching. He had Rondo, who was arguably as talented as any player Cal has recruited, and misused him every moment of his two years. That was like hitching Secretariat to a plow — disgraceful.