Derrick Rose. Tyreke Evans. John Wall. Eric Bledsoe. Demarcus Cousins. Daniel Orton.
That is the list of one-and-done players that have played for Coach John Calipari over the past three seasons. Rose (2007) and Evans (2008) were while he was dominating Conference USA at the University of Memphis. Wall, Bledsoe, Cousins and Orton all graced his inaugural class at Kentucky in 2009.
With all that fire power leaving school for the professional ranks, including junior power forward Patrick Patterson, the Wildcats’ roster has been left scarce of elite level talent. Enter: the first day of the NCAA late signing period.
Today was the first day since mid-November for high school basketball players to announce their decision on where they have decided to continue their careers. The #1 recruit in the nation (rated by Rivals.com) went unsigned… Until today.
Point guard Brandon Knight, two-time reigning Gatorade National Player of the Year, committed to Kentucky and Calipari while spuring Connecticut, Syracuse, Kansas and hometown Florida. It is fully expected that Knight will be the successor in the long line of one-and-done turned franchise point guards in Coach Cal’s dribble-drive-motion offense.
Along with Knight, Turkish big man Enes Kanter signed with Kentucky after de-comitting from Washington. He was recently deemed eligible by the NCAA Clearinghouse after speculation whether or not he was considered a professional player in Turkey.
And last, but certainly not least, the Bluegrass State’s flagship university locked up the #1 player in the 2011 class. Mike Gilchrist, the 6’6″ forward out of Elizabeth, NJ, verbally commited to be a Kentucky Wildcat. That’s a commitment that certainly will not waver.
After losing five NBA prospects just last week, Kentucky has only just begun their reloading process by adding Knight, Kanter and Gilchrist. Also a member of their 2010 recruiting class is four-star shooting guard Stacey Poole, who is expected to be around longer than just one season.
Calipari was quoted saying that they were looking to add “five or six” recruits to the Kentucky roster this year. With Knight, Kanter and Poole filling three scholarships, there is at least two left to hand out. Calipari is a hell of a recruiter, but it seems like he’s going to get a little help from a new friend.
Newly-signed Brandon Knight went on to say the following: “There’s a lot of great players out there still, Josh Selby’s (#4) a great player, C.J. Leslie (#14), Terrence Jones (#13), Cory Joseph (#7), a lot of great players. So whoever wants to come, I’m going to try to get them to come here.” [Rankings from Rivals.com]
With two elite-level players already packing their bags for Lexington, with potentially three more on the way, how are other schools in the SEC, let alone the nation, expected to keep up with the talent level being bought in to Kentucky?
One way to battle a team loaded with freshmen is to build a team centered around chemistry and experience, much like Duke did this year. This article explains Coach K’s system and how he recruits. Maybe that is the way to go, but you won’t stop Calipari from taking players who plan on being around for less than a calendar year.
Sure, Coach K won yet another title, but does that mean Calipari is destined to never win one? Obviously not, as he was a miracle three by Mario Chalmers away from being on top of the college basketball world.
A lot of people may not like the one-and-done rule and the way Kentucky has/will become a stepping-stone for future NBA players to spend their mandatory year out of high school, but you better get used to this story as we are sure to see this year in and year out regarding Calipari and the Wildcats.