John Calipari has been praised as well as criticized for his recruitment of one-and-dones during his years at Memphis and Kentucky. He has had limited success with one-and-dones, reaching a few Final Fours and Elite Eights. But nonetheless, he knows how to utilize them to his advantage. The one thing critics tend to jump on though, is how his players never build experience.
Experience is the key for Calipari, especially for his bench players. and going into next season, Calipari will have that advantage with both talented freshmen and experienced upperclassmen. Jon Hood, Kyle Wiltjer, and Ryan Harrow to some extent, all have experience from practicing with former starters on a daily basis. Harrow himself started at point guard as a freshman with NC State.
With the departures of this year’s talented freshmen, Calipari was able to reload with the likes of Goodwin, Poythress, Cauley-Stein, and Noel. Sunday he was able to add Julius Mays, who has tremendous upside as a guard and has three years of experience; two at NC State and one at Wright State. And now Calipari and his staff will look at forward Montrezl Harrell, presumably, once he is officially released from his LOI at Virginia Tech.
Believe it or not, Cal has worked with experienced players and been able to make them competitors on the court. He did so with Josh Harrellson, DeAndre Liggins, and most recently with Darius Miller. And despite losing what was arguably his best recruiting class at both Memphis and Kentucky, he was able to reload with a talented group of freshmen yet again. But his work isn’t done. What he is able to do with his upperclassmen and mold them into better players is what will determine how tough these Cats will be next season.