Since the Class of 2016, we have seen Kentucky’s recruiting mojo slip ever so slightly. The most elite of the elite players have started going elsewhere, none more evident than the triumverate who went to Duke last year and Memphis’ haul for this upcoming season. Cal used to feast on Top 10 players but now much of his classes are centered in the 11-25 range. According to Rivals, he hasn’t gotten a Top 5 player since the Class of 2015 (Skal). So why does this really matter? Is there that much of difference between the guy ranked #7 and the guy ranked #17?
Well, for Calipari recruits, it has meant night and day.
Top 10 Recruits (21)
One and Done (16 of 21): Wall, Cousins, Kanter, Knight, Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, Teague, Noel, Randle, Towns, Labissiere, Murray, Fox, Adebayo, Monk, Knox
Lottery Picks (14 of 21): Wall, Cousins, Kanter, Knight, Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, Noel, Randle, Towns, Murray, Fox, Adebayo, Monk, Knox
1st Round Picks (16 of 21): Teague, Labissiere
3 or 4 Year Players (1 of 21): Poythress
None of the Above (4 of 21): An.Harrison, Aa.Harrison, D.Johnson, Briscoe
Top 11-25 Recruits (17)
One and Done (6 of 17): Orton, Bledsoe, Young, Lyles, Vanderbilt, K.Johnson
Lottery Picks (2 of 17): Lyles, Washington
1st Round Picks (8 of 17): Orton, Bledsoe, T.Jones, Goodwin, Young, K.Johnson
3-4 Year Players (5 of 17): Wiltjer*, Lee*, Killeya-Jones*, Richards, Green*
None of the Above (4 of 17): Ulis, Gabriel, Montgomery, Hagans
In the Calpari era, 14 of his 21 Top 10 recruits have been drafted in the lottery of the NBA Draft, all one and done players. That is a 2 in 3 shot. On the other side, only 2 of 17 players ranked 11-25 in the Calipari era have been drafted in the lottery. That is a 66% chance for Top 10 recruits and a 12% chance for Top 25 players. Significant.
Even getting drafted in the first round shows a large disparity. Top 10 recruits are drafted in the 1st round of the NBA Draft 76% of the time. Recruits ranked 11-25 that number drops to 47%.
The Fox-Monk-Adebayo class was a Final Four caliber class. They just got a bad break in the NCAA Tournament. But since that time, only Kevin Knox has been a Top 10 recruit and the last two seasons have had their struggles. It has still finished with a Sweet 16 and Elite 8 finishes but no one can say the season’s have not been grinds. This season, Tyrese Maxey comes in as the #10 ranked player in the class. Expect him, if the numbers hold, to likely be gone after this year and headed to the lottery. But it will once again be the recruits in the 11-25 range that will dominate this roster. What effect will that have on the season? Only time will tell but if past history shows us anything there could be some bumps in the road in the 2019-20 season.