LEXINGTON, Ky. — John Calipari’s Canadian pipeline ran dry Friday night as R.J. Barrett, the No. 1 recruit in the Class of 2018, announced he’s heading to Duke. At this point, there’s not much arguing that Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils have supplanted the Calipari and the Cats as the most dominant force in recruiting.
Barrett, a 6-foot-6 small forward who scored 39 points for Canada in an upset win over a Calipari-coached Team USA at the under-19 FIBA World Cup this summer, is the third top-10 prospect in this class to pick Duke.
The Blue Devils also have commitments from No. 4 Cameron Reddish (who Kentucky also wanted) and No. 6 Tre Jones (who the Wildcats did not offer). Krzyzewski has signed the No. 1 overall recruit — per the 247Sports Composite — in three of the last five years. Marvin Bagley (2017) and Jahlil Okafor (2014) are the others.
Kentucky has signed the consensus No. 1 player twice under Calipari: Anthony Davis in 2011 and Nerlens Noel in 2012. That’s not to say the Wildcats aren’t recruiting better than almost every other program. Their classes have ranked No. 1 or 2 nationally since Calipari arrived in 2009.
But since 2013, Duke has signed twice as many top-five players (eight) as Kentucky (four).
As for this class, the Cats have already signed 5-star point guard Immanuel Quickley (No. 8 in the class) and hope to add 5-star shooting guard Keldon Johnson (No. 14) on Saturday. They’re also hosting top-40 guard Tyler Herro on an official visit this weekend and remain in good shape with No. 2 overall Zion Williamson, a 6-foot-6, 275-pound dunking machine who defies physics.
Landing him would soften the blow of losing another superstar to Duke on Friday night.
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No. 1 recruits since UK last signed one
R.J. Barrett — Duke
Marvin Bagley — Duke
Josh Jackson — Kansas
Ben Simmons — LSU
Jahlil Okafor — Duke
Andrew Wiggins — Kansas