The more research I do on the 2013 Kentucky Wildcats recruiting class, the more I shudder. It’s scary good and, yes, we all have known that for a long time. But when you look at Scout.com’s Evan Daniels Final 2013 Class Rankings, it’s filthy. It’s almost criminal.
What I’m most impressed with is the eye that John Calipari has for legitimate “one and done” players. For example, Coach Cal has lost the recruiting battle for the likes of Josh Selby, Xavier Henry, Shabazz Muhammad, and now Andrew Wiggins yet Josh Selby isn’t even in the NBA any longer and Xavier Henry loves the bench so much he’s starting to look like it. Shabazz Muhammad wasn’t worth the trouble to UK that he was to UCLA and we’ll have to wait and see how he performs in the NBA after the draft this June. Andrew Wiggins is the faux deflective player who, it appears, decided he didn’t care for the pressure, spotlight or competition that he’d face at Kentucky this season so he went to Kansas, yet he is undoubtedly a consensus #1 2014 NBA Lottery pick. How will he do at Kansas? Who knows but Bill Self has proven he doesn’t know how to handle or use elite talent. Just ask Josh Selby and Xavier Henry.
So, how just how good is John Calipari’s eye for “one and done” talent? Well let’s take a peek at his record.
In 2009 he brought in John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Daniel Orton, and Eric Bledsoe, all of which were First Round selections.
In 2010 we had Brandon Knight, Enes Kanter, Terrence Jones, and Doron Lamb. Knight and Kanter were #8 and #3 respectively while Jones and Lamb put their certain First Round selections on hold in order to win a National Title.
2011 saw the arrival of Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, and Kyle Wiltjer. Davis, MKG and Teague went #1, #2 and #29 in the 2012 NBA Draft after waxing the rest of college basketball en route to banner #8.
John Calipari brought to Lexington the services of Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin, and Willie Cauley-Stein in 2012 and though the season was an utter disappointment, his eye for talent was spot on. Despite tearing his ACL in a game against Florida, Noel is still the odds on favorite to be selected #1 overall even though he can’t likely play until December 2013. Archie Goodwin will be drafted but after a disappointing season and NBA Draft Combine, he’s expected to fall to the Second Round. Many compared him to Doron Lamb in style and scoring ability but he didn’t live up to it. Poythress and WCS were First Round certainties but decided to come back to lead Kentucky to their second (2nd) National Championship in two (2) seasons.
What this highlights for us is that John Calipari has the VERY unique ability to take the best players in the country and help them realize their potential is greater than they realized and he gets them there. He is a master motivator and psychologist of the order that his players respond to in ways that head coaches of other top players in the country can’t touch. Where most coaches make players fit into their system, John Calipari adapts the game to their strengths. It’s masterful and simple. Developmental and educational. He truly runs a “players first” program and with an eye like his, it’s easy to see why our Kentucky Wildcats are a force.
Speaking of a force…
On a day when we honor the memory of those who paid the ultimate price in the service of our country, there are no words to describe both the deep sorrow and profound appreciation I have as an American enjoying the freedoms those who have fallen and will fall in the future. To all the service men and women in all branches of our military, THANK YOU for willingly embracing the danger and mortality of your service. Undoubtedly our military is comprised of the best of the best and baddest of the bad. You do not back down nor do you run from a fight. You are brave. You are valiant. You are a soldier.
You are my hero.
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