Kentucky Basketball: Time to Panic About 2012 Recruiting?

Dan BodnerCorrespondent IJune 28, 2011

John Calipari has brought in three straight No. 1 recruiting classes, but will that streak end in 2012?
John Calipari has brought in three straight No. 1 recruiting classes, but will that streak end in 2012?Andy Lyons/Getty Images

As of this moment, Kentucky has only one commitment for its 2012 class: point guard Ryan Harrow, a transfer from NC State. Given the mass influx of top recruits over the past two years, UK fans are starting to get a bit perturbed by the lack of commitments thus far.

The main source of concern, of course, is that Kentucky will likely be losing a lot of players after next season. First, Darius Miller and Eloy Vargas will be graduating. Then, you also have five projected first-round picks in the 2012 NBA Draft, including Anthony Davis, Michael Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Terrence Jones and Doron Lamb.

If all those guys leave for the draft, then you’re left with just Harrow, Stacey Poole, Jon Hood, Jarrod Polson, Kyle Wiltjer and Twany Beckham on the roster. For those keeping score at home, that list includes two walk-ons and two bench-warmers.

Now, if Kentucky expects to reload in 2012, they are going to have sign five or six top 50 guys just to be competitive.

The task seems daunting, but it’s not yet time to start panicking in the Bluegrass.

Very few of the top 2012 recruits have committed at this point. In fact, 33 of the top 50 recruits are still uncommitted.

Furthermore, Kentucky is still in the mix for 11 of the top 20 recruits. These players include small forward Shabazz Muhammad, center Andre Drummond (although he seems to be leaning towards the NBA), power forward Mitch McGary, small forward Devonta Pollard, shooting guard Archie Goodwin, shooting guard Ricardo Ledo, center Kaleb Tarczewski, power forward Brandon Ashley, center Robert Carter, center DaJuan Coleman and power forward Perry Ellis.

Recruiting in general is moving particularly slowly this year because of the impending changes coming to the NBA—specifically the possibility of a new two-and-done rule that would require college basketball players to stay in school for two years instead of just one.

Kentucky shouldn’t be expected to make much headway in recruiting for 2012 until the NBA’s possible lock-out is resolved and a choice is made between the one and two-year rules.

The landscape totally changes if Kentucky’s 2011 class is required to stay for the 2012 season. Not only is there less of a need for the team, but also less interest from the top recruits in the 2012 class, who likely would not want to come off the bench for a year.

If the two-year rule is put into place, then Kentucky will likely sign only two or three mid-ranked guys just to add some depth. Obviously, that is a totally different scenario than if the rules remain as they are now, which requires a completely different strategy.

Ultimately, it is in Kentucky’s best interest for the NBA labor dispute to be resolved as quickly as possible. The sooner it is resolved, the sooner they can figure out what their recruiting strategy should be, and the greater the chance that their top targets are still there.

The main cause for concern in this situation is the possibility that recruits start to become impatient while waiting to see whether or not Kentucky needs them and decide to go ahead and just sign somewhere else where the picture is not quite so cloudy.

That is the worst-case scenario, but it should not come to realization unless the NBA’s decision-making begins to really drag on.

So, although it is not currently time to panic in the Bluegrass, if the situation does not change by the end of the summer, there will be plenty cause for concern on the horizon.


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