Online Now 324

Starting 5: Ranking Cal's classes

Three full seasons in and five consecutive top-ranked recruiting classes for John Calipari at Kentucky.

Along with Jamal Mashburn, you could make the argument that John Wall may be the most influential recruit in Kentucky basketball history.

Comprised by a total of 19 consensus 5-star recruits and 10 NBA first round draft picks, it begs the question: which is Calipari's best?

There a million different factors that can be taken into consideration and thus, the results are purely subjective.

That said, takes a crack at ranking Calipari's first five classes at UK:

1. 2009

Signees: John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, Jon Hood, Darnell Dodson

247Composite Average: N/A

Accolades: Four first round draft picks (Wall, Cousins, Bledsoe, Orton), No. 1 overall draft pick (Wall), Adolph Rupp National Player of the Year (Wall), First Team AP All-American (Wall), Second Team AP All-American (Cousins), SEC Player of the Year (Wall), SEC Freshman of the Year (Cousins).

Synopsis: "These guys made this all happen. Five first round draft picks: that's when things changed here. People got mad when I said this was the biggest moment for us and it really was."

Anthony Davis racked up every conceivable accolade in leading Kentucky to its eighth national championship in school history.

That's how Calipari described his inaugural class, showcased in a framed cover of Slam Magazine's 'The Hit Maker' issue outside of his office at the Joe Craft Center during last week's All-Access: Kentucky.

Although the 2010 fell one game short of the Final Four, that's why we put 2009 at No. 1.

Not only did the 2009 class get this thing rolling downhill, not only did it produce three high-level NBA players, it had the 'it' factor with Wall, who outside of Jamal Mashburn, may be the most influential recruit in Kentucky basketball history. Along with Calipari, Wall made UK the 'it' school once again and helped make the subsequent classes possible.

2. 2011

Signees: Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Kyle Wiltjer

247Composite Average: 7

Accolades: Three first round draft picks (Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, Teague), No. 1 overall draft pick (Davis), No. 2 overall draft pick (Kidd-Gilchrist), Olympic Gold Medalist (Davis), Naismith National Player of the Year (Davis), Wooden National Player of the Year (Davis), Final Four Most Outstanding Player (Davis), National Freshman/Defensive Player of the Year (Davis), First Team AP All-American (Davis), Third Team AP All-American (Kidd-Gilchrist), SEC Player/Freshman/Defensive Player of the Year (Davis), 2012 National Championship, undefeated 16-0 SEC season

Synopsis: Amazing that going 38-2, 16-0 in the SEC and winning the school's eighth national championship in dominant fashion puts the 2011 class at a close second.

The '13 class includes four top-10 prospects and could finish with as many as six with the additions of Julius Randle and/or Andrew Wiggins.

Much like the John Wall factor with the 2009 class, there is the Anthony Davis factor with the 2011 class. Davis' individual greatness not only spurred UK to its eighth national championship, his star was bright enough to keep the Cats in the spotlight for the entire summer following.

Will be interesting to see if the 2011 class can have as much NBA success as 2009.

3. 2013

Commitments: Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, James Young, Marcus Lee, Derek Willis

247Composite Average: 26.4

Accolades: No. 1 recruiting class, top-ranked point guard (An. Harrison) and shooting guard (Aa. Harrison), four top-10 prospects in the 2013 class

Synopsis: On paper, which doesn't account for much, 2013 could be No. 1 hands down and the scary part is, this class isn't even finished. With the addition of Julius Randle and/or Andrew Wiggins, depending on how things shake out on the court in 2013-2014, this class could ultimately end up numero uno.

Still a long way to go, but the Harrisons and Wiggins/Randle are all legitimate high-level NBA prospects and 2013 could potentially be not just No. 1 on this list, but potentially historic.

The jury is largely still out on Calipari's 2012 class, which was headlined by No. 1 overall prospect Nerlens Noel.

4. 2010

Signees: Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Stacey Poole, Eloy Vargas, Enes Kanter*
(* Did not play for Kentucky)

247Composite Average: N/A

Accolades: Three first round draft picks (Kanter, Knight, Jones), one second round draft pick (Lamb), 2011 Final Four (Knight, Jones, Lamb, Poole, Vargas), 2012 National Championship (Jones, Lamb, Vargas), SEC Freshman of the Year (Jones),

Synopsis: Knight, Jones and Lamb all played big parts in finally getting UK back to the Final Four for the first time in 13 years and Jones/Lamb stuck around to see it through to the national championship in 2012.

Ranking is hindered here by Poole and Vargas, who were marginal contributors and Kanter, who was ruled ineligible.

5. 2012

Signees: Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley-Stein, Julius Mays*
(* transfer)

247Composite Average: 16.5

Accolades: No. 1 overall prospect and top-ranked power forward (Noel), two top-10 prospects (Noel, Poythress), three 5-star recruits

Synopsis: Obviously, much still to be determined for the 2012 class and their legacy will be left by what they accomplish on the court this season. But Noel, Poythress are NBA lottery picks with Goodwin and Cauley-Stein borderline lottery as well.

Follows a similar script of Calipari's classes at UK: monster class followed by a very, very good one.

Already have an account? Sign In