Kentucky Basketball: The Manufacturer of NBA Players
Coach John Calipari has the top-ranked recruiting class of 2017. This isn’t a surprise, considering the nature of his program. Coach Cal had the second-ranked recruiting class in the nation last year that included Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo.
These three players have declared for the 2017 NBA Draft and are forgoing the rest of their college eligibility. They also led the team statistically in many areas and were the reason for a lot of the team’s success. This isn’t a new trend, and Kentucky will continue this process with the 2017 recruiting class.
In six of the past seven years, the Wildcats have had at least two players go in the first round of the draft. Three out of those seven years, a Wildcat was the No. 1 overall pick. Those players were John Wall, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns.
The statistics speak for themselves. Kentucky knows how to manufacture NBA players. Whether this process is moral or not, isn’t what I want to discuss. I just want to look at why it happens and how it impacts college basketball as a whole.
More specifically, I’d like to discuss the amount of freshmen that are one-and-done. In 2015, Skal Labissiere and Jamal Murray played their freshman year and were both drafted in the first round.
The same applied for 2014, as Towns, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker were drafted after their freshman season. Towns was also the No. 1 pick as previously noted.
If you don’t see the trend yet, take a look at 2013. Nerlens Noel and Archie Goodwin were two additional freshmen that declared for the draft after their first year. Goodwin was the leading scorer for the Wildcats that year, as well as Freshman All-SEC.
This is all to make the point that Kentucky brings in top-notch recruits and sends them to the NBA.
SEC and NCaa tournament success
The Wildcats are a powerhouse, and this is why they draw in so many high-caliber recruits. It’s inevitable that everyone will talk about the morality of one and done. Kentucky is the team that takes advantage and has produced a winning program that attracts these players. Duke is another school that takes part in this type of recruiting, but not as much.
The Wildcats took first in the SEC with big production from their freshmen this year. Malik Monk lead the team, averaging 19.8 points per game. De’Aaron Fox lead the team in assists per game with 4.6. Finally, Bam Adebayo had the top field goal percentage of 59.9 percent and averaged over 30 minutes per game for the Wildcats. These three players led the charge for Kentucky.
However, a program that relies solely on freshmen is bound to have some problems. Leadership is evident but not prevalent.
These guys are 18-20 years old and haven’t played in big-time games yet, but their team still relies on them. This leads to uncharacteristic losses like the loss to Indiana in the second round in 2016. However, once these true freshmen get to play on the big stage, they usually don’t look back.
Kentucky is quite successful in the tournament. The Wildcats have played in four Final Fours since 2011. They won the 2012 title back when Anthony Davis was a freshman and Doron Lamb ruled the court.
2017 Recruiting Class
Looking ahead, the trend should continue. Kevin Knox just announced his commitment to Kentucky for the 2017 season and he is the No. 9 prospect in the country. Knox joins P.J. Washington (No. 11), Nick Richards (No. 16), Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 18), Quade Green (No. 23), and Hamidou Diallo.
However, Diallo will not be playing on the college stage next year. He enrolled in January of this year and declared for the draft without playing in a true college game.
What does all of this mean? Unless the one-and-done rule changes anytime soon or Coach Calipari is involved in a major scandal, Kentucky will continue to dominate. That is, dominating the NBA through the amount of players they send after one year of college ball.
(Featured Image by Sportingnews.com)
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