The world of recruiting has come to a halt, as coaches are currently not allowed to meet with or host recruits during the coronavirus outbreak. Instead, coaches are only allowed to speak with recruits via text message, phone, and/or video chat mediums such as FaceTime and Skype.
For some schools, it’s a major punch in the gut, as many top tier programs are still scrambling to close out their 2020 recruiting classes with the few elite prospects still on the board. If not high school prospects, transfers and graduate transfers are not allowed to take visits to schools at this tine.
To take it a step further, coaches are unable to visit, host, or watch recruits in in the class of 2021 and future recruiting classes, setting them back in the evaluation process and in developing relationships with prospects and their families.
Luckily for John Calipari and the Kentucky basketball program, they put in the work last year to give themselves an early advantage over the competition in 2020 by signing six high-profile recruits in the fall.
Those signees? Five-star guards BJ Boston, Terrence Clarke, and Devin Askew, five-star forwards Isaiah Jackson and Lance Ware, and four-star forward Cam’Ron Fletcher.
“Thank goodness we’re ahead of the game,” Calipari in a mid-week videoconference with the media. “Fate, it wasn’t designed obviously, but we’re in pretty good shape and anything we add becomes, ‘All right, we have a chance with this or that.’”
Not only has Kentucky signed the No. 1 recruiting class in 2020, they’ve also built a strong foundation in 2021 and beyond, with UK establishing itself as the early leader for the likes of Jaden Hardy (2021), Paolo Banchero (2021), Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (2022, likely reclass to 2021), Skyy Clark (2022), and DJ Wagner (2023), among others.
If this break in recruiting continues into the summer – and it certainly seems we’re headed that direction – it’s actually a scenario Calipari prefers.
According to the Kentucky head coach, recruiting should take place in the spring, take a break during the summer, and then get rolling again in the fall and into the winter during high school basketball season.
“I think what may come out of this, reading tea leaves, which I’ve said since my UMass days, why are we recruiting in the summer? Why are we doing this?” Calipari asked. “Let’s recruit April, May. Let’s recruit some in September and then let’s do it during the school year. We get a chance to be with our own team. We get a chance to lead normal lives, like we are leading now. This is–I mean, it’s not normal, but being able to be home for three days, I mean four days, it’s crazy.”
Instead of spending thousands of dollars recruiting during the summer, Calipari sees a benefit in giving coaches an opportunity to build relationships with their own players during those months leading up to the college basketball season.
“So why are we spending all of this money for that when it may make recruiting a little more localized, which is not all bad?” Calipari asked. “‘Well, you may make mistakes.’ Well, they’re transferring without penalty now. So, they’ll transfer. Tell me. I don’t understand that money spent in June, July and August which if you go across the country and figure out how much that is, it’s a ridiculous number. Let’s just do stuff during the school year. Let’s do it in May. Let’s do it in September and then let’s get down to a more normal life for all coaches. That may come out of this when college presidents say, ‘Tell me why we need this summer now? Because we just went without it and everything’s OK.’ So, that may happen.”