Marquis Teague To KentuckyPosted by jstevrtc on April 22nd, 2010
Marquis Teague, the top-rated point guard and fourth-ranked player overall in the high school class of 2011, announced moments ago that he planned to attend Kentucky and play for John Calipari a couple of autumns from now. This news had been unofficially broken on Twitter yesterday by Teague’s friend Tony Wroten, Jr., another highly ranked (and still undecided) PG prospect in the class of 2011, so today’s announcement came as little surprise.
This verbal gives Calipari his second top 5 prospect for 2011 in the last week. The top-ranked player in that class, 6’7 SF Michael Gilchrist, committed to Kentucky last Wednesday, the same day that big-time PG prospect Brandon Knight decided to bring his skills to Lexington for next season. As if that week weren’t good enough, at Saturday’s Jordan Brand Classic (so-called) in New York City, Doron Lamb, a 6’4 shooting guard ranked in the top 30 for 2010, also pledged to Kentucky. And the commitments — for both 2011 and 2010 — don’t look to be done, yet.
Despite the lack of surprise, Teague’s verbal today is also noteworthy because of where he isn’t going. Hoop fans know all about Marquis’ brother Jeff Teague, the former star at Wake Forest and current Atlanta Hawk, but Teague’s father Shawn played for Rick Pitino at Boston University. Like Jeff before him, Marquis stars for Pike High School in Indianapolis, not even a two hour drive from Louisville. The Cardinals could use a point guard now that Edgar Sosa’s gone. We’re not saying the two things are related or how much effect it ever really could have had, but as of late last season Pitino’s staff at Louisville includes a former assistant at Pike High School named Shabaka Lands, hired as “special assistant to the head coach.“ It’s easy to see how badly Pitino wanted Teague, and with the Cardinals having only (as of now) one verbal commitment from a player within the ESPNU-100 — 6’5 SG Justin Coleman, from Huntington WV — and considering that Teague was at one time considered a virtual lock for Louisville, Cardinal supporters are worried that Teague’s verbal commitment today is an indicator of how highly-ranked high school prospects regard these two programs in the Bluegrass State.
While Kentucky fans celebrate, and speaking of lack of surprise, today also saw the official announcement from John Wall about his decision to turn pro and hire an agent (credit: Lex18.com):
Patrick Patterson has an announcement scheduled for Friday in which he’s assumed to be proclaiming his intentions to enter the NBA draft.
This recruiting binge for John Calipari is even more interesting when considering his remarks after the Wildcats’ loss to West Virginia in this past season’s Elite Eight. After the game, the Kentucky coach gave due credit to the Mountaineers, but added that “there were times that inexperience hurt us.“ Indeed, for most of the season, Calipari spoke about how young his team was and how the Wildcats’ record was better than he really thought they were. But Calipari is also one of the few coaches who speaks openly and honestly about how he doesn’t mind one-and-done types of players, as long as they leave at a point where they’re really ready for the NBA (few coaches mind having these players, just don’t speak as openly about it as Calipari). But how can Calipari reconcile the contradiction between recruiting one-and-doners, and saying that inexperience is a problem? It’s not like Calipari can’t go after these top high school prospects — that won’t endear you to any fan base, let alone Kentucky’s. But does that mean that advancement beyond the Elite Eight would require a group of freshmen better than Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, and Daniel Orton, along with other players of their caliber who simply decide to stick around?
Now that’s a scary thought. But with the recruiting haul Calipari and Kentucky are enjoying, and with more to come, don’t be surprised if it happens.