Why Kentucky Won't Win Forever


If you think about it, Cal would have a high-top fade if it'd help him with recruits.


After Noel announced, the analysts on ESPNU were marveling at Kentucky's recruiting dominance and one of them asked, "Is it even fair? Is it even FAIR?" In a recruiting context, no. Calipari is so much better than anyone else in America that it's shocking when he loses someone like Muhammad, and it's a foregone conclusion that guys like Noel will end up at UK every single year.

But it was something Seth Davis tweeted earlier in the night that reassured me that Kentucky won't win 10 straight national titles. He ranked the last 10 No. 1 prospects like this: "LeBron, Howard, Oden, Wall, Beasley, Shabazz, Rivers, BJ Mullens, Selby, Gerald Green." He left out guys like Harrison Barnes, who was No. 1 in most rankings a few years ago but never really materialized as a superstar at UNC. The point is, it's a total crapshoot at the top.

With football's signing day, there are running backs and receivers and linebackers who are so physically dominant that they'll obviously be great in college, too. Then there are quarterbacks, and even among the best QBs in the country, about half of them never pan out for one reason or another. Intangibles, work ethic and luck play a huge role in who pans out, and there are only a handful of "sure things" every 10 years.

Basketball is a sport where pretty much everyone is a freak athlete, so what sets a running back or a linebacker apart becomes a common denominator for shooting guards and power forwards at the top of their class. In other words, basketball recruits are pretty much all quarterbacks.

What John Calipari's done at Kentucky is incredible and impossible to replicate anywhere else, but it's probably not a coincidence that he won his title with the one player (Anthony Davis) who came out of nowhere on the recruiting scene. Calipari and his staff were recruiting him before the rest of the country knew he was a superfreak from the year 2075. They won't always get so lucky.

Most years Kentucky will be choosing from the top 10 players in the country, and roughly half the guys will be slightly less dominant than advertised. Not many will be Anthony Davis; most will be more like Terrence Jones. They'll always be good, but just because Kentucky can beat everyone in recruiting doesn't mean they'll beat everyone on the court. The best players come out of nowhere as often as they come from the top 5.

So on a ridiculous night's broadcast where the dominant theme was Kentucky's recruiting dominance, it was strangely reassuring to realize that Kentucky will be rolling the dice like this for years. They may always dominate recruiting, but college basketball is another story.

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