Kentucky’s 2013 recruiting class has already been touted as the best recruiting class in history. Looking at the rankings, there’s no denying this fact—at least on paper.
Yet, what does this really mean? Kentucky has had its fair share of No. 1 recruiting classes in the past—with some degree of mixed results. How much better can we really expect this year’s class to be?
In order to put this year’s class in perspective, I have compiled a list of similarly ranked recruits from each year since 2007. According to Rivals.com, Kentucky has the No.1 point guard, No. 1 shooting guard, No. 3 small forward, No. 1 power forward, No. 2 center and No. 8 PF in the 2013 class. To put this into perspective, I have gone back and listed all of the players with these same rankings since 2007. In order to at least somewhat account for hindsight bias, I have also included each player’s freshman year statistics.
Note: I did not include Derek Willis or Dominique Hawkins in this comparison. We will just consider them the icing on the recruiting cake.
|#1 PG||Kris Dunn||5.7 pts, 4.8 rebs, 3.2 asts|
|#1 SG||Shabazz Muhammad||17.9 pts, 5.2 rebs, 0.8 asts|
|#3 SF||Sam Dekker||9.6 pts, 3.4 rebs, 1.3 asts|
|#1 PF||Anthony Bennett||16.1 pts, 8.1 rebs, 1.0 asts|
|#2 C||Isaiah Austin||13.0 pts, 8.3 rebs, 1.1 asts|
|#8 PF||Ricardo Gathers||5.7 pts, 5.7 rebs, 0.2 asts|
|#1 PG||Marquis Teague||10.0 pts, 2.5 rebs, 4.8 asts|
|#1 SG||Austin Rivers||15.5 pts, 3.4 rebs, 2.1 asts|
|#3 SF||DeAndre Daniels||3.0 pts, 2.1 rebs, 0.5 asts|
|#1 PF||Anthony Davis||14.2 pts, 10.4 rebs, 1.3 asts|
|#2 C||Rakeem Christmas||2.8 pts, 2.9 rebs, 0.2 asts|
|#8 PF||Otto Porter||9.7 pts, 6.8 rebs, 1.5 asts|
|#1 PG||Josh Selby||7.9 pts, 2.2 rebs, 2.2 asts|
|#1 SG||Reggie Bullock||6.1 pts, 2.8 rebs, 0.6 asts|
|#3 SF||Jelan Kendrick||5.1 pts, 2.2 rebs, 1.7 asts|
|#1 PF||Enes Kanter||N/A|
|#2 C||Fab Melo||2.3 pts, 1.9 rebs, 0.2 asts|
|#8 PF||Dwight Powell||8.1 pts, 5.2 rebs, 1.0 asts|
|#1 PG||John Wall||16.6 pts, 4.3 rebs, 6.5 asts|
|#1 SG||Avery Bradley||11.6 pts, 2.9 rebs, 2.1 asts|
|#3 SF||Solomon Hill||6.7 pts, 4.4 rebs, 1.7 asts|
|#1 PF||DeMarcus Cousins||15.1 pts, 9.8 rebs, 1.0 asts|
|#2 C||Tiny Gallon||10.3 pts, 7.9 rebs, 0.8 asts|
|#8 PF||Ryan Kelly||1.2 pts, 1.1 rebs, 0.4 asts|
|#1 PG||Jrue Holiday||8.5 pts, 3.8 rebs, 3.7 asts|
|#1 SG||Demar DeRozan||13.9 pts, 5.7 rebs, 1.5 asts|
|#3 SF||Chris Singleton||8.1 pts, 4.9 rebs, 1.1 asts|
|#1 PF||Greg Monroe||12.7 pts, 6.5 rebs, 2.5 asts|
|#2 C||Ty Walker||1.9 pts, 1.4 rebs, 0.1 asts|
|#8 PF||Delvon Roe||6.4 pts, 5.0 rebs, 1.2 asts|
|#1 PG||Derrick Rose||14.9 pts, 4.5 rebs, 4.7 asts|
|#1 SG||Eric Gordon||20.9 pts, 3.3 rebs, 2.4 asts|
|#3 SF||Donte Greene||17.7 pts, 7.2 rebs, 2.0 asts|
|#1 PF||Michael Beasley||26.2 pts, 12.4 rebs, 1.2 asts|
|#2 C||DeAndre Jordan||7.9 pts, 6.0 rebs, 0.4 asts|
|#8 PF||Herb Pope||11.5 pts, 10.7 rebs, 2.0 asts (RS freshman)|
Many people—including myself—consider this year’s recruiting class to be the strongest since 2007. If we pretend for an instant that this class will equal the talent of 2007. we get some pretty unbelievable comparisons. If Kentucky had pulled this year’s class in 2007, they would have landed Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon, Donte Greene, Michael Beasley, DeAndre Jordan and Herb Pope. Not only have five of these players made names for themselves in the NBA, they also made immediate impacts as freshmen. Four of these guys averaged over 14 points as freshmen—not to mention Jordan who managed a respectable 7.9 points and 6.0 rebounds per game. And let’s not forget Pope, who averaged a double-double after being forced to redshirt his first year on campus.
Add in the likes of Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress and Kyle Wiltjer. If Kentucky’s recruiting class turns out to be anywhere near the level of this 2007 group, the Cats will steamroll college basketball on the way to the program’s ninth national title.
Now, is it really reasonable to expect Kentucky’s freshmen to come in and play at the level of Derrick Rose and company? Probably not.
In order to temper expectations a bit, let’s take a look at the 2012 class—which many recruiting experts have deemed to be the weakest of the past five to 10 years.
If Kentucky duplicated the rankings of this year’s class in 2012, it would have landed Kris Dunn, Shabazz Muhammad, Sam Dekker, Anthony Bennett, Isaiah Austin and Ricardo Gathers. While this group of recruits isn’t on quite the same level as 2007, it still makes for a fairly solid roster. The biggest weakness would be at point guard, but Andrew Harrison is, by all accounts, leagues ahead of Dunn.
Again, add in Kentucky’s returners from last year and you have another solid title contender.
Really, the worst case scenario would be the 2010 class, which doesn’t feature any double-digit scorers—though this admittedly would not have been the case if Enes Kanter had been eligible to play. This is really the only class that doesn’t appear to be a hands-down title contender when combined with Kentucky’s returning players. With that said, it would still be difficult to discount a roster that includes Kanter, Josh Selby, Reggie Bullock and Fab Melo under the tutelage of John Calipari.
One thing that should be noted when making these comparisons is the fact that Kentucky’s 2013 recruits will be expected to do a lot more as freshmen than some of the players I have listed. For instance, while guys like Ryan Kelly, Chris Singleton, Solomon Hill, Fab Melo and DeAndre Daniels all developed into fantastic players, they didn’t have to take on as much responsibility in their freshman seasons.
Kentucky’s 2013 class will be asked to grow up in a hurry. This is why fans may want to temper their expectations early. Such a young squad could easily drop a couple of games early in a brutal non-conference schedule. The good news, however, is that the Cats will have a few top-quality “veterans” to fall back on in Cauley-Stein, Poythress and Wiltjer.
Regardless of what happens early on, Kentucky should be considered one of the premier teams in the nation by season’s end. And while it may be unreasonable to expect the incoming freshmen to mirror the likes of Derrick Rose, Eric Gordon and Michael Beasley, history has shown that a class of this caliber will be overflowing with talent no matter what. Add in Kentucky’s returning players and you have all the necessary ingredients for another national title contender.
Category: Featured Posts