Kentucky Basketball: Rocky Season Shows Flaw in Coach Cal's Recruiting Tactics

Matt OveringContributor IIIJanuary 20, 2013

LEXINGTON, KY - JANUARY 15:  John Calipari the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats gives instructions to his team during the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Rupp Arena on January 15, 2013 in Lexington, Kentucky.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Blame should not be placed on John Calipari for the Kentucky Wildcats' five losses this season. Not all of it, at least.

Five losses this early in the season is a first for Calipari in Lexington. This is also the first year that he doesn't have a returning starter from the year before.

That lack of leadership and experience is one of the main causes for the struggles Kentucky has endured to this point.

Unfortunately, that is one of the negative outputs of Calipari's recruiting technique. 

Calipari recruits the best players in high school. The best players in high school are almost expected to stay in school one year and then bounce to the NBA.

Kentucky has succeeded in the past three years using this tactic. High-profile high school stars have joined returning players to make Kentucky one of the best teams in the last three years.

But with the way Calipari recruits, "four year" players are few in number. If every player stayed four years, John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins would be seniors.

This year, however, the only contributing senior is Julius Mays, who transferred from Wright State.

Rarely do these star recruits stay more than one year. Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb bucked the trend and returned for a second season in Lexington, won a national championship and left for the NBA.

Calipari knows this. He knows there will be holes to fill after each season because of the caliber of players that he recruits.

The addition of Kyle Wiltjer to the 2011 recruiting class shows a trend in the right direction. Wiltjer was not considered a one-and-done player.

One could even say Willie Cauley-Stein in 2012 and Derek Willis in 2013 are players that will likely stay more than one year.

Of course, WCS has seen his draft stock rise more than any other Kentucky player this year. 

But those three players—Wiltjer, Cauley-Stein and Willis—are signs that Calipari is adding role players to his slew of superstar recruits each year.

That is a great sign moving forward. Wiltjer will (hopefully) improve each year he stays in Lexington, and if Cauley-Stein stays another year, he could play a huge role in a 2014 national title run.

Both can bring experience to the table with each year that they return.

The 2012-13 season has been, and will continue to be, a testament to Calipari's coaching ability. He doesn't have a returning starter from last year. His team lacks leadership.

Calipari will develop these freshmen as well as any coach in the country.

But without leadership, there will be the occasional "down year" for Kentucky, simply due to the volatility of freshmen.