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So Much for John Calipari’s One-and-Done Recruiting Model

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When Kentucky won the 2012 national championship, finishing the season with a 38-2 record, John Calipari’s method of recruiting über-talented freshmen to fill up a roster was suddenly no longer questioned.

But, guess what? That 2012 class was the exception, not the rule. There aren’t thousands of Anthony Davises and Michael Kidd-Gilchrists out there who are extraordinarily talented AND who get it.

There’s a learning curve. And not all incoming freshmen are created equal.

Plus, Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist and that year’s point guard Marquis Teague joined a team with super-talented and basketball-savvy sophomores Doron Lamb and Terrence Jones. AND, there was…wait for it…a scholarship SENIOR!!!

Yes, a senior. Darius Miller. Terrific shooter, smart player, and, by Kentucky standards, eligible for AARP benefits at the ripe old age of 22.

He was a leader. But so was Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. And that may have been more important. To have an 18-year-old come in and immediately serve as team motivator is clearly very special. Very rare.

You’ll not find that sort of player on the 2013-2014 version of the Kentucky Wildcats. You know, the team that some said would go 40-0.

Maybe a situation where a Kentucky team with all this freshman talent losing to a South Carolina team that IMPROVED to 11-18 after the win is the just the kind of thing to make EVERYONE wake up.

WAKE UP John Calipari and realize that pure talent alone won’t cut it. A team needs experience on its roster. It needs players who can keep their focus in times of adversity. It needs teams filled with players who understand the TEAM philosophy.

WAKE UP Big Blue Nation. Quit being so unyielding when it comes to winning a national championship. It’s not going to happen every year. It just isn’t. John Calipari will do whatever he thinks is best, but he does know what he faces in terms of the demanding nature of the average Kentucky fan. So he goes out and tries to get the best he can find. But since that hasn’t been working lately, I’d imagine the patience of the average Kentucky fan is wearing thin. Wouldn’t you rather have Kentucky in the tournament as a top 4 seed year in and year out, always with a chance to win the title, instead of one great year followed by two (or three) lousy ones? Michigan State hasn’t missed a tournament in 18 years. Duke in 19. Kansas in 25. And, more often than not, they are title contenders. Calipari needs to get players he knows will stick around. Think about it.

And, finally, WAKE UP basketball analysts. You’re fueling the fire far more than you realize. You guys are the ones who are supposed to know this stuff better than the rest of us. So, why in the world are you ranking a group of guys who NEVER played together before #1 in the pre-season? That makes no sense. And, then, when they start to lose, and then start to lose to teams to whom they SHOULDN’T lose, your analysis takes on an edge. Like you’re a little ticked off that these Cats haven’t lived up to what turned out to be unreasonable expectations.

There, that’s my peace. And, that said, Kentucky WILL make the NCAA Tournament this year, but with a much lower seed than was initially expected.

And, if this was a typical rebuilding pattern–missed the NCAAs last year, low seed this year, better seed next year, etc.–that would be one thing. But there are players on this Kentucky team that are still being hyped as first-round NBA draft picks. And don’t think for one second those players won’t bite. And then it starts all over again.

One-and-done is for the birds…not the Cats.

 

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