The John Calipari method of recruiting since he has been the coach of the Kentucky Wildcats has been pretty simple. He goes to rivals.com or scout.com or whatever recruiting website he likes and looks at the rankings. Then he starts at the top and works his way down at each position and gets the top players, coaches them up for a year, sends them off to the NBA Draft, and repeats.
It’s hard to argue with what is working. In his three years at UK he has won one national championship, been to two Final Fours and three Elite Eights. However, this year’s team, while one again loaded with top of the board talent, has not panned out like the other three. This Kentucky team could miss out on the NCAA Tournament altogether and could see something they are no used to. They may have a bunch of sophomores next season.
Why is this a potential problem? Well, because Cal has already hauled in another class of blue chippers ready to come and play one year next season and then cash in at the draft lottery.While UK fans insist that Cal will make room for everyone even if Willie Cauley-Stein, Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress decide they are not yet ready for the NBA (and they clearly are not), even if he does, what about 2014?
If next year’s class comes in and has to compete with this year’s class for playing time, and there is no reason to think these guys are just going to hand over their minutes gladly, at some point this will create a backlog.
The players at the top of the 2014 class are not going to be able to assume there will be nobody standing in their way of getting as many minutes at UK as they want if the Harrison twins are still there, or if Poythress is still there, or James Young is still there.
So what happen next season to Jahlil Okafor? Or Emmanuel Mudiay? Tyus Jones? Cliff Alexander? Trey Lyles? These are the top five players in rivals 2014 class and all have UK on their list of schools. With a clean roster, Call probably getd three or four of them. But with a team already in place, that might not be so easy. So does Cal go the route of other coaches and try to go after some guys that will be around for three to four years?
If he does that, then the whole “one and done” thing could be over for UK. And with it the Kats will become like everyone else. The mystique of Cal being the fast ticket to the NBA has been altered by one bad class. It will be interesting to see if Cal can get it back again.