As the 2010 recruiting season begins to wind do..."/>
As the 2010 recruiting season begins to wind do..."/>

Lineage of elite Calipari guards continues with Brandon Knight. Marquis Teague, Anthony Wroten Jr. could extend it even longer


by Andrew Hardison

As the 2010 recruiting season begins to wind down, John Calipari has continued a trend at Kentucky that he set in stone while coaching in Memphis by signing 2010 prospect Brandon Knight.

It’s no secret that the Kentucky Wildcats have become a national recruiting power once more, a la Pitino’s days as ‘King of Camelot,’ when he pitched players on the idea of playing ‘together’ rather than playing ‘alone,’ a motto Calipari has taken to heart during his short tenure as head coach of the ‘Cats.

It isn’t that Pitino coined the phrase, rather Calipari is using it as a pitch to recruits now, and it is just ironic that it fits the way Pitino recruited while he was head coach at Kentucky: the top talent in the nation could come the UK and play ‘together’ rather than as an ‘individual.’

Pitino won a National Championship in ’96, along with an runner-up finish in ’97.

With four Kentucky freshmen deciding to test the NBA waters, Calipari has had to use every trick in the book to get recruits to come to UK. He did it last year with the likes of Wall, Bledsoe, and Cousins, while keeping a key component—Daniel Orton—from a recruiting class left behind by then head coach Billy Gillispie.

Everyone was convinced that Cal couldn’t get both Wall and Bledsoe to play ‘together,’ simply because they played the same position.

We all know how that turned out.

As those players depart, new recruits come in. It’s a vicious cycle, but we better get used to it.

The tough part however, is replacing the services of Wall which is a tough feat to accomplish.

While many players in the nation would struggle to accomplish that feat, Florida’s Brandon Knight will be as good as anyone to try and make that all possible.

The No. 1 senior in the nation according to is headed to Kentucky to try and do what many couldn’t this year: play like Wall. Knight isn’t Wall, but that statement has a flipside, Wall isn’t Knight.

Calipari clearly has a knack for getting these ‘types’ of guards. The easiest way for me to describe these guys are ‘hybrids,’ simply because they aren’t your protypical point guards, their faster, stronger, more athletic, and generally better than any other guards in the nation because their skills allow them to test the NBA draft process after just one season. They’re that good.

Calipari got it done with Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans first at Memphis, and then replicated that sentiment with Wall at Kentucky. Now with Knight, it’s set to happen all over again.

Knight is as versatile as they come in terms of point guards. At 6’3”, 185 lbs. Knight essentially has the same frame as Wall. Many will be impressed next year with Knight’s ability to rebound, something Wall did at an accelerated rate this past season averaging almost five a game.

As much as they are similar, the two also have things that the other doesn’t. Knight excels at shooting the basketball, something Wall struggled with throughout the ’09-’10 seasons. His jump-shot began to improve as the season progressed, but Knight should adjust sooner rather than later unlike Wall. Something that Knight won’t be able to do that Wall could, was drive the lane and create for teammates. It isn’t that Knight won’t be able to do it, it just may not happen right away, like Wall and his jump-shot.

The simple truth though, is that Knight will start right away and have to produce while living up to the expectations.

Those were set in place by the guy before him.

Knight made his announcement last week and many ‘experts’ around the nation boasted about the fact that Calipari finds ways to get these guys-as if it were a fix to his addiction in having the top guards play for him at Kentucky-much like he got Rose and Evans, to play for him in college.


The 2010 class recruiting clearly isn’t the only one to have these ‘hybrid’ guards littered throughout the Top-100 players, or even Top-25 for that matter.

2011 is shaping up to be one of the best recruiting classes at Kentucky and quite possibly of all-time, due in large part to the fact that it has two more guys that can play like Rose, Evans, Wall, and now Knight.

Those two are Marquis Teague out of Indiana and Tony Wroten Jr. out of Washington.

Both of these guys have the same skills as the aforementioned studs and are both looking at Kentucky as a possible destination to play their college ball.

Teague is impressive as the No. 2 player in the 2011 recruiting class, mainly because he has the ability to play inside lane and behind the arc, capable of knocking down the three-point shot. He is also capable of breaking down his opponent off the dribble, a key ingrediant for a Calipari offense.

Wroten Jr. gets it done as the No.9 player in the 2011 class, and at 6’4″ or 6’5” he’s more in the mold of a bigger guard, like Tyreke Evans who excelled in Calipari’s dribble-drive offense while at Memphis. What makes Wroten Jr. unique is that he is left-handed, quite possibly making it ‘hell’ for opponents to man up against him on defensive.

Both have been said to be Kentucky leans at some point in their recruitment. Teague is said to be ‘60-40’ between Kentucky and in-state rival Louisville, while making his decision known this Thursday. Wroten Jr. recently spoke about his list of colleges and noted that Kentucky is the new favorite with the commitment of his ‘brother’ Michael Gilchrist clearly swaying his feelings toward the program.

Whatever their decisions may be, both Teague and Wroten Jr. could follow in the footsteps of some impressive players that came before them. If Knight, Teague, and Wroten Jr. can produce anywhere near the level of Rose, Evans, and now Wall, Kentucky is in for a long run of the witnessing the best point guards in the nation play for the ‘Cats.

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