Kentucky basketball: If this is what ‘slipping’ in recruiting looks like, other programs happily would take that dive
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Many of y’all want to talk hoops crootin’, seems like, so we’ll do that. Be sure to check out Joe’s weekly basketball recruiting notebook when it posts a bit later (and every Friday). Meantime …
Writes Josh W: Why does it feel like our recruiting dominance is slipping a little bit? Still really good, but not what it was 5 years ago.
I think it feels like that to some fans because Duke has been gobbling up more top-5 players lately, but slipping is probably an overreaction. Every Kentucky recruiting class under coach John Calipari has ranked No. 1 or 2 nationally, and the Wildcats just signed a monster class.
The 2017 haul included seven players rated 5-star prospects by at least one major service. And here’s how many top-15 players (per the 247Sports composite) that Kentucky has signed under Calipari: four in 2017, four in 2016, three in 2015, two in 2014, five in 2013, three in 2012, three in 2011, three in 2010, two in 2009.
As for the 2018 class, the Wildcats already have landed No. 8 Immanuel Quickley and are in good-to-great shape with No. 2 Zion Williamson, No. 14 Keldon Johnson and No. 16 Quentin Grimes. They’re still in the mix for No. 1 R.J. Barrett and No. 3 Bol Bol.
If that’s slipping, I would like to slip more often.
To which Andrew added: If Cal strikes out with Bol [Bol], [R.J.] Barrett and Zion [Williamson] … what’s next? Another “down” year?
I still think Kentucky ends up landing Williamson, although it isn’t a lock. But even if the Wildcats strike out on each of the three you mention, they’ll still sign three to four elite players and are expected to return the bulk of the 2017-18 team. With Williamson, Kentucky is almost certainly a “super team” in 2018-19. But even without him, depending on who returns, the Cats could still fit that bill. No reason to panic.
One more from John Michael Lawler along those lines: What’s your take on the recent Bol Bol prediction from [Scout.com analyst] Evan Daniels?
First of all, Evan is a friend and he knows his stuff. Some guys just throw around predictions, but he usually knows something if he’s putting his name on a pick. He said Oregon is the most likely landing zone for Bol Bol.
Second, I never really bought that Bol had circled back to Kentucky after the perceived Team USA snub — which he now claims was no big deal, but his mother told me otherwise — and that the Wildats had surged back into the lead. He lives in California now, and until the latest wave of buzz about Kentucky he seemed intent on staying out West.
I still believe that to be true, and since he has backed off Arizona and USC in light of the FBI investigation into NCAA basketball, Oregon makes the most sense. I’d been hearing Kentucky or the Ducks for a few weeks. One caveat: I know Kentucky assistant Kenny Payne really wants to coach Bol, and this staff is tough to beat when they really want a guy, but I remain skeptical he ends up in Lexington.
BONUS INFO: Here’s a rundown of the rankings of every high school player Calipari has signed at Kentucky, per the 247Sports composite:
2017: No. 10, 11, 12, 15, 18, 26, 31, 72
2016: No. 6, 9, 11, 15, 23
2015: No. 2, 10, 12, 47, 59, 98
2014: No. 5, 10, 20, 22
2013: No. 2, 5, 6, 9, 10, 18, 117, 230
2012: No. 1, 7, 15, 43
2011: No. 1, 3, 7, 20
2010: No. 5, 8, 9, 24, 50, 343
2009: No. 2, 3, 16, 52, 57