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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Why The Top 10 Recruits Matter By The Numbers

© Brad Penner | USATSI

© Brad Penner | USATSI

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.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

16 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Why The Top 10 Recruits Matter By The Numbers

  1. Troll Slayer
    10:11 am June 26, 2019 Permalink

    You make it out that the 2016-2017 was superior, but they finished in the elite 8 with a record of 32-6 and final ranking of #5/#6 and the 2018-2019 team finished in the elite 8 with a record of 30-7 and a final ranking of #7. That is basically the same. Sorry to ruin your post with facts.

    • NYCCatsFan
      10:16 am June 26, 2019 Permalink

      So you’re saying that higher ranked recruits are better than lower ranked recruits…


    • Troll Slayer
      11:41 am June 26, 2019 Permalink

      Where did I say that? I’m just saying the evidence he is using to back up his arguement is suspect.

    • Troll Slayer
      11:42 am June 26, 2019 Permalink


    • jr
      12:26 pm June 26, 2019 Permalink

      Well Im just thankful that we are not recruiting, and signing 8th graders anymore, or players not ranked. Cal my have disappointed at times, but glad we have him running our program, and glad we are in the running on most every top recruit. I ill take that everyday..

  2. scott67
    10:52 am June 26, 2019 Permalink

    Can someone tell me how many top 10 recruits we got the 10 yrs before Cal arrived and how many lottery picks during that decade? He probably recruits twice as hard as the any program, I would say we should cherish our good fortune to have the Greatest coaching staffs in ALL sports than any school around, oh yea cudos to Mitch and his staff ALSO !!!

    • nocode96
      11:21 am June 26, 2019 Permalink


    • 4everUKblue
      12:07 pm June 26, 2019 Permalink

      It’s easy to see why a lot of top recruits don’t want to play for Cal, they have to learn to share the ball and play for each other and not just for themselves. They don’t want to be told they will have to compete for and earn a spot, they want to be guaranteed and that’s where dUKe comes in. K tells them whatever they want and need to hear….and then there’s the duffel bag drop.

    • mashburnfan1
      3:05 pm June 26, 2019 Permalink

      4ever and code….no mention of how this shows what I have said all along is accurate. Cal recruits NBA picks and I refuse to count Skal as he was the most overrated recruit in the history of UK. I’ll wait for your apologies. These numbers back up everything I have said about player development and the teams seasons and you two bash me for it. Thank you BTI, this proves my points but I know 4ever will still argue. Facts are optional to him, only his opinion counts to him. Again I love what Cal teaches these young men for life lessons and no coach does that better I just don’t believe Cal is a good game coach and this stupid stuff of anyone developing a player in 8 months is now shown to be false.

    • 4everUKblue
      3:40 pm June 26, 2019 Permalink

      Hey mashbum, did you get tired of playing with your action figures? I know you want so badly to matter to someone other than yourself… you don’t and I have stopped reading your childish bulls!t!

    • Luether
      8:13 pm June 26, 2019 Permalink

      What mash said…

    • 4everUKblue
      8:33 pm June 26, 2019 Permalink

      I have no idea what he said but you, being the suck up that you are, would agree.

  3. 2thepoint
    11:44 am June 26, 2019 Permalink

    Maybe Cal is quietly telling them to go elsewhere. Would Williamson or Barrett have fit at KY? I don’t think so enen though they are great players. How about Trey Young? Nope!

  4. The Professor
    1:41 pm June 26, 2019 Permalink

    Left out are 25+ recruits drafted including Herro, Booker and Ulis, The 4 transfers just show that with great players coming every year you will be recruited over and nothing is guaranteed.

  5. Bluebloodtoo
    3:50 pm June 26, 2019 Permalink

    I think you will have a difficult time getting correlation between high school recruit rankings and NBA draft position. Beyond the fact that they aren’t ranking the same people (international prospects and non-freshman draft entrants), the NBA draft selection process varies greatly between teams. Most teams target positions of need, rather than taking a best available approach. There is too much variation in the data sets to draw any significant conclusions.