How Kentucky Has Changed College Basketball
The marriage of John Calipari and the University of Kentucky brought together the most storied college basketball program and the best recruiter in the country.
The full effect of this marriage was seen with the commitment of Kyle Wiltjer, a 2011 power forward prospect. Wiltjer, a lanky 6'9" Oregonian, has smooth low posts moves, an old school sky hook, and draws comparisons to Keith Van Horn with his ability to shoot the three in transition.
Wiltjer’s commitment to the Wildcats gave them their fourth five-star prospect of the 2011 class and his skill set makes him a likely candidate to excel in Calipari’s dribble drive offense.
However, all of these details are not what makes Wiltjer’s commitment special. It is the fact that he has never stepped foot on the University of Kentucky campus.
Wiltjer has been wined and dined by the greatest coaches and programs in college basketball. Instead of prolonging this experience and taking in every bit of it, he chose a school he had never visited. Until the day he committed, he was not on the radar of most Kentucky fans.
Wiltjer told ESPNU that he wants to prepare himself "for the next level someday” and that “Coach Calipari is the best coach for me to achieve greatness." Calipari’s undeniable ability to produce NBA stars is a huge draw for any 18-year-old wunderkind who has images of the league in his head.
Kentucky signed the best recruiting class in 2009 and produced a record number of NBA first round draft picks. In 2010, Kentucky has again signed the best class in the country and could very well have the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft again.
It appears as though 2011 will again produce the No. 1 recruiting class for the Wildcats—Three years and three top recruiting classes. With this type of success it is tough to believe 2012 and beyond will produce drastically different results.
The only thing to stop Kentucky is the NBA. It seems unthinkable that Calipari would leave Kentucky for another college basketball job, so the only job Calipari would leave for is an NBA job. Also, during the next collective bargaining agreement, the NBA could impose a rookie age limit. It seems unlikely, but it is possible I suppose.
So the question becomes, can any college team stop John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats from racking up the top recruiting class in the country until Calipari decides to retire?
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