UK's Calipari rapidly reloads, but is his recruiting impact overstated?
"When North Carolina got
Calipari has been critical of the one-and-done rule (his preference: "I wish they could go straight to the NBA if they wanted to, and if they come to college, they've got to stay two years"), but we have never seen a coach so effectively replace one-and-done players with more of the same. From
Exactly one year ago on Wednesday, in the lead-up to the Jordan Brand Classic, I was in the lobby of the Westin Times Square, first to watch Cousins fax his letter of intent to Lexington, and then to interview Wall as he claimed to be still deciding between Kentucky, Duke, Miami, N.C. State and Kansas (but in retrospect was probably just pretending that he hadn't decided to play for Calipari many months in advance). No matter who else was in the Wall race, it seemed that all the talk was about Kentucky.
This Wednesday, then, seemed like more of the same. I came back to the Westin to see some of this year's crop of Jordan All-Americans, and found them in the same lobby, trying to get the flat-screen TV there changed to ESPNU ... so they could see the press conferences in which Knight and Gilchrist would commit to Kentucky.
Alas, the hotel couldn't accommodate that request -- they don't have ESPNU -- so
"Some of those are educated guesses, some aren't," he said, and he was right on the UK kids and Ziegler, wrong on McCallum (he, like Ziegler, stayed home to play for dad, at Detroit), while Selby, Lamb, Ross and Jones remain uncommitted.
Marshall expressed amazement that Gilchrist, a 2011 recruit who didn't really need to make a decision until
Because of Kentucky's recruiting momentum -- which started when Kanter dominated the Nike Hoop Summit in Portland, Ore., earlier this month, and then picked up with Knight and Gilchrist -- the primary question for many of the uncommitted recruits at this week's Jordan Brand Classic is whether they're considering the Wildcats. Calipari said on ESPNU that he'd ideally like to bring in five players in his Class of 2010, which means there's room for two additional signees.
The heavy speculation this week is that Lamb -- despite Marshall's prediction of Kansas -- is the recruit most likely to choose Kentucky next, although West Virginia and St. John's are making late pushes for the 6-foot-4 shooting guard. (He plans to decide at halftime of the Jordan Brand Classic.)
I sat down with Jones, a 6-8 power forward, just after he flew in from his hometown of Portland, Ore., and he was eager to find out about Knight's decision. "It matters to me," Jones said, "because that's a possible future teammate, and that's a great thing for the Kentucky program."
Jones had reportedly been keeping his options open until Oregon made a decision on its next head coach, but he said on Wednesday that he "wasn't really waiting" for the Ducks, and wants to sign with a team by either April 23 or 30. The Wildcats, Washington, UCLA and Oklahoma are all in the running.
The one recruit who didn't care about the signing day madness was Selby, who's the second-ranked point guard in the Class of 2010, and a target of Kansas (his most likely destination), Kentucky, Tennessee and UConn. He was at the Westin, engrossed in a PlayStation 3 hoops duel between the Nuggets (using his fellow Baltimorean
What he meant by it not having any effect on him is that he feels he's good enough to earn time in any backcourt, whether it be alongside Knight or the Jayhawks'
I asked if I should take that as a sign. Selby said, "Yeah, that's a sign."
Selby's impending commitment to Kansas will make less of a splash in the media than Knight's to Kentucky. But should it really be that way? Should we, like Selby, be more indifferent to Calipari's reloading day? Selby, after all, is more relevant to the 2010-11 season than Knight is; if Selby joins Taylor,
I'm not as sure about Kentucky being in the top 10. Knight is a step down from Wall; Kanter is a step down from Cousins; and the Wildcats won't have the same kind of depth as they did in '09-'10. Might we be wasting a lot of breath on a team that will be
While all of this recruiting business is wildly entertaining, I fear that spring has become the time for overstating the potential impact of a small group of undecided prospects who hope to follow the Wall and Cousins route to the NBA. And I fear that we're paying too much attention to the wrong guys.
Farther down the recruiting rankings are a few names that have been committed for quite some time: Irving, the point guard who'll step into
Irving, Payne, Appling, Johnson and Marshall weren't newsmakers this April. But they're all joining contenders that aren't in reboot-and-reload mode, and therefore have a better chance of playing into