The Effect of a Potential NBA Lockout on NCAA Basketball

Posted by nvr1983 on April 18th, 2010

Since Gordon Hayward‘s half-court heave bounced off the rim in Indianapolis just two weeks ago there has been a spate of early entries. While it is not shocking to see a number of underclassmen enter the NBA Draft before they are probably ready to leave the college ranks, the sheer number of early entries is surprising. As Chad Ford recently pointed out, all 18 of the top-rated prospects on ESPN’s “Big Board” have declared for the first time [Ed. Note: Patrick Patterson has not officially declared, but signs are pointing towards an announcement this week] and all of them still have eligibility left to come back to college (Jan Vesely and Donatas Motiejunas are international players who could have gone to college, but the fact that they opted to enter the draft is not the least bit surprising). Is this just a random occurrence (I mean some year had to have the most underclassman ever declare) or is there something more behind it? It’s true that many of these guys could come back for an extra year or two (or three in some cases), but we have a sneaking suspicion that most of them will keep their names in the draft especially since nearly two-thirds of that group has already signed with an agent or is expected to in the near future.

Cole may or may not be living here next year (Credit: AldrichMansion.com)

The big question for college basketball fans is what caused this mass exodus from campuses across America. College life certainly has not gotten any tougher for these athletes (and that’s for a guy who averaged 2.7 PPG so you can imagine what kind of perks an All-American gets) and while next season’s NBA salary cap is higher than it was expected to be, it is still $1.6 million less than this season’s salary cap. The real reason behind the exodus may have less to do with the college game than a rumor that has been gaining steam over the past six months — there might be a NBA lockout after the 2010-11 season. We would normally dismiss this as purely speculative message board talk, but there have been numerous major media outlets that have published articles recently about the possibility of a lockout:

At this point all of this could just be idle speculation although with the numerous prominent media voices chiming in on it the possibility of a NBA lockout has to be considered. Even though many of these players will have NBA careers that will exceed a decade we can understand their apprehension at having to wait two more years (coming back to college for one year followed by a potential NBA lockout season) before getting an NBA contract. On top of that, there is a good chance that a lockout would result in a significant restructuring of contracts in a way that would not be favorable to the players. Billy Hunter can posture all he wants about the strength and unity of the players, but the owners have much bigger bankrolls than the players do to live off of during a lockout (see Antoine Walker‘s case for a little background on the financial sensibilities of some NBA players) and they also have streams of income coming in from sources outside of basketball. We would not be surprised to see the owners force the players to accept contracts that are more like what NFL players have to deal with — guaranteed up to a certain point with bonuses up front, but the owners having the opportunity to cut the cord at the first sign of a drop-off in a player’s ability.

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In 1-and-Done Era, Experience Wins Championships

Posted by rtmsf on April 16th, 2010

(special h/t to Luke Winn for inspiring this analysis with his article here)

You may have heard  in recent days that Kentucky’s John Calipari has been filling up on the tasty nougat that has risen to the top of the Class of 2010 high school basketball recruiting lists.  Five-star prospect Brandon Knight followed an impressive chorus line of 1-and-done Calipari point guards (D. Rose, T. Evans, J. Wall) by committing to the Wildcats on Wednesday, and Doron Lamb,  another five-star combo guard ranked in the top 25, committed today.  Turkish stud Enes Kanter committed last week, and there are rumors that others, including versatile top 15 forwards Terrance Jones and CJ Leslie, could be next.  All this, and we haven’t even mentioned yet that Michael Gilchrist, the consensus top player in the Class of 2011, has already verballed to go to Kentucky after next season.

Knight is a Great Talent, But Will He Take UK to the Final Four?

The point here is as clear as Ben Roethlisberger’s analgesic salves – high school prospects with dreams of NBA riches a year from now view John Calipari as the pied piper of the NBA Draft.  Follow him down the primrose path, and you will end up playing in the League one year later.  John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton are the trailblazers here.  With all four projected as first rounders in June, the hype of Calipari’s flute-playing squares nicely with reality.  And Kentucky’s regal basketball program is the beneficiary.

Or is it?

We’re big believers that there are external benefits to programs who recruit and enroll 1-and-done players beyond wins, losses and NCAA Tournament success.  In fact, every year we do exactly such an evaluation that includes criteria beyond that scope.  For example, it is our view that the Texas program is still benefitting today from its one year of Kevin Durant on campus in 2007 even though UT only made the second round of the Tournament that season.  The same goes with Michael Beasley at Kansas State in 2008.  Call it the Jordan Effect.  Even if the players who are later inspired to follow Durant and Beasley to those campuses aren’t as good as those two were, there is a significant residual ‘coolness’ effect in recruiting those younger players who can help sustain the quality of the program over time.  To put it in terms of Kentucky, a 12-year old right now may spend the next few years idolizing John Wall in the NBA, and when it comes time for him to make his school choice in five years, the Wildcats and Calipari would have already have an inherent advantage over other schools.

With that said, we know what Kentucky fans hope to get from all of these 1-and-done types, and it’s not just a bunch of springtime recruiting victories.  Eventually it needs to translate to wins, most specifically those in March and April as Winn alludes to in his article.  The question then that we analyze here is whether a focus on recruiting 1-and-doners will get a team to that goal.  The available evidence we have, using admittedly a very small sample size, says that it will not.

Take a look at the table below, which lists all sixteen Final Four teams from the 1-and-done era (2007-10).

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Comings & Goings: UK’s ‘Fab Five’ Gone; Gaudio Out at Wake

Posted by rtmsf on April 8th, 2010

HUGE DAY.

John Calipari has a major rebuilding task ahead of him in the 2010-11 season, as his five best players are leaving the program for the bluer waters of the NBA Draft.  In a move that shocked absolutely no one, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton all declared today, leaving UK with just a handful of returning scholarship players heading into next season.  According to KSR, however, P-Pat has yet to file his papers although he would undoubtedly become a top fifteen pick when he does so.  If all five of these guys stay in this year’s draft, it’s likely that each of them would be selected in the top twenty, a first in the history of the event.  This begs the question, of course, whether we should be impressed by so many draft-worthy players on a single team; or by the curious fact that five top twenty picks couldn’t even make it to the Final Four despite an embarrassment of talent at its disposal.

Ohio State’s National POY Evan Turner also declared that he will enter the draft today, and as the presumed #2 overall pick he is making a good decision.  The multi-talented point forward has a chance to become an outstanding perimeter player at the next level, and we’re very happy that his year turned out the way it did after a horrific fall in December threatened to derail his season and (potentially) career.  Some other names that threw their hats into the ring today were: Kansas’ Xavier Henry, who is expected to fall into the #8-#20 range, Xavier’s Jordan Crawford (late 1st/early 2d round), Cincinnati’s Lance Stephenson (late 1st/early 2d round), Marshall’s Hassan Whiteside (late lottery pick), Oklahoma’s Willie Warren (early 2d round), Dayton’s Chris Wright (mid 2d round), Texas’ Avery Bradley (late 1st round), and Florida’s Alex Tyus (undrafted).  Stephenson is the most interesting case study in why we should never listen to players during the season with respect to this stuff, as he clearly stated earlier this season that his return to Cincinnati for a sophomore campaign was ‘definite.’   He’s already signed with an agent, so that sophomore season will have to occur elsewhere.  Can we just say this again for the record?  Please, please David Stern — negotiate a two-year rule for players after their HS class graduates or none at all.

Moving to coaching news, the surprise of the day was the abrupt dismissal of Wake Forest’s Dino Gaudio by the school on Wednesday.  Gaudio was 61-31 in three seasons at the school, but what sealed his fate were his 1-5 postseason record that included two epic collapses down the stretch of the last two years.  It’s unlikely Wake AD Ron Wellman would make this move without a serious candidate in mind, so we should expect to see this position filled in a matter of days.  In more pleasant news, Cornell’s Steve Donahue accepted the job at Boston College, which makes a lot of sense given his northeastern pedigree, and the Rutgers job may be opening up as soon as Thursday if Fred Hill is canned as a result of his bizarre insubordination in the form of attending a baseball game (JR Inman must be ecstatic!).

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Comings & Goings: Pitino, Dixon Extended; Sean Kearney Fired

Posted by rtmsf on April 1st, 2010

The biggest coaching news today had to do with a couple of extensions of existing contracts.  First, Louisville extended Rick Pitino’s deal through 2017, which would put the historically itinerant coach at 64 should he remain at the school through the life of the contract.  He’s already been at Louisville for nine seasons, which is his longest stay in any one place in his career.  He will also receive a $3.6M loyalty bonus on Friday as part of the new deal.  The other extension went to Pittsburgh’s Jamie Dixon, who had been rumored to have received an offer from Oregon earlier this week.  His extension will keep him at Pitt through the 2018 season, and we don’t see any chance he leaves the situation he has there short of one of the major players calling (Duke, Kentucky, UCLA, etc.).   Meanwhile, George Mason’s Jim Larranaga, riding a 12-year winning season streak, also received an extension from his school through the 2016 season.  The all-time leader in wins at GMU, he’ll have plenty of time to put together another opportunity for a run in the Tournament.

New St. John’s head coach Steve Lavin believes that the NCAA Tournament is in the near-future of his program with 94% of its offense returning next season from a team that was 17-16 and made the NIT.  He expects to recruit nationally and is hoping to hire an all-star staff of east coast guys to help with recruiting.  One name that he’s hoping to bring on board in an advisory capacity is former Purdue great Gene Keady, the coach who gave Lavin his first job.  At least one columnist believes that the reason Lavin (and UTEP’s Tim Floyd) are working again is because of their visibility.

Quick trigger in mid-majorville, as Holy Cross fired its head coach Sean Kearney after a single 9-22 season.  The AD said that the dismissal was an affirmation of how important basketball is to Holy Cross.  So… Billy Gillispie can get two years at Kentucky, but Kearney only one at HC?  Seems ridiculous, but there’s probably more behind the scenes to this than just wins and losses.

Two major names announced today for the NBA Draft: Virginia Tech’s Malcolm Delaney and Kentucky’s Daniel Orton.  Delaney, the ACC first-teamer who led the league in scoring this year at 20.2 PPG will test the waters to see what his options are.  As of now, he is not considered a serious prospect, but that may change based on his workouts.  Orton only averaged 3/3 in 13 minutes per game for the Wildcats playing behind DeMarcus Cousins, but scouts still like his 6’10, 255-lb frame and his ‘upside,’ whatever that means.

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Checking In On… the SEC

Posted by jstevrtc on November 24th, 2009

checkinginon

Paul Jordan of Wildcat Blue Blog is the RTC correspondent for the SEC.

CURRENT SEC STANDINGS

EAST

  1. Kentucky   4-0
  2. Florida   3-0
  3. Tennessee   4-1
  4. South Carolina   3-1
  5. Vanderbilt   2-1
  6. Georgia   1-2

WEST

  1. LSU   3-0
  2. Mississippi   4-1
  3. Mississippi State   2-1
  4. Arkansas   2-1
  5. Alabama   2-1
  6. Auburn   2-3

Coming into this season, there were two main storylines to watch for the conference as a whole.  The first was if the SEC, after a down year and having only three NCAA teams last year, could rebound and regain its status as an elite conference.   The second one was if the influx of new talent in the SEC, both in the coaching and playing ranks, would help to raise the prestige level of the SEC.

The jury is out as to whether the SEC is going to be an elite conference this year.  So far, the SEC has an unimpressive 32-12 record so far.  There have been embarrassing losses, the key one being #19 Mississippi State losing to Rider by 14 points.  Add to this the fact that the SEC have not knocked off a “name team,” yet.  Just last night, #9 Tennessee lost to #6 Purdue and #24 Vanderbilt lost to Cincinnati.  The East division is clearly the class of the league with a 17-5 record and all three of the SEC’s ranked teams residing in that division.  So far, only Kentucky, Florida, and LSU have escaped the first two weeks of the season unscathed.

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2009-10 Conference Primers: #5 – SEC

Posted by rtmsf on November 3rd, 2009

seasonpreviewPaul Jordan of Wildcat Blue Blog is the RTC correspondent for the Southeastern Conference.

Predicted Order of Finish:

SEC EAST

  1. Kentucky  (13-3)
  2. Tennessee  (11-5)
  3. South Carolina  (10-6)
  4. Vanderbilt (10-6)
  5. Florida (7-9)
  6. Georgia  (2-14)

SEC WEST

  1. Mississippi State (10-6)
  2. Mississippi (9-7)
  3. Arkansas (9-7)
  4. Alabama (7-9)
  5. LSU  (6-10)
  6. Auburn (4-12)

All-Conference Team:

  • John Wall (G), Kentucky
  • Devan Downey (G), South Carolina
  • Tyler Smith (F), Tennessee
  • Patrick Patterson (F), Kentucky
  • Jarvis Varnado (F), Mississippi State

6th Man. Terrico White (G), Mississippi

Impact Newcomer. John Wall (G), Kentucky

sec logo

What You Need to Know.  After missing the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 16 years, the Kentucky Wildcats are poised to regain their role at the top of the SEC, having added the number one recruiting class and top coach John Calipari. This year looks to be a year of redemption and resurgence not only for UK but for the whole SEC which placed just three teams in the NCAA last year.  Tennessee, South Carolina and Vanderbilt are very strong, experienced teams in the East that should go dancing.  Mississippi State hopes to win the West behind Jarvis Varnado and Mississippi and Arkansas look to be much improved and can give any team in the SEC fits.

Predicted Champion. Kentucky  (NCAA Seed:  #1).  Kentucky returns Patrick Patterson and the core group of the team that won 22 games last season.  The main loss for UK was junior Jodie Meeks who went to the NBA, but in his place, UK added the number one recruiting class and hired head coach John Calipari.  Obviously, Calipari faces the task of instilling a new offense with six new faces, but the Cats are so deep that freshman Daniel Orton, a top 25 player, will have to battle for significant playing time.  The Wildcats achilles heel last year was at point guard and UK added two of the top four freshman points in John Wall and Eric Bledsoe.  Talent and depth alone make this a top 10 team and if Calipari can install his DDMO effectively, this is a legitimate Final Four team.

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RTC 09-10 Class Schedule: Kentucky Wildcats

Posted by zhayes9 on August 22nd, 2009

seasonpreview 09-10

Ed. Note: for all of the posts in the RTC 09-10 Class Schedule series, click here.

Just a mere five months ago, the once proud and feared Kentucky basketball program was mired in a state of chaos. The Billy Gillispie era at the university turned out about as well as the Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination. Mystifying losses at storied Rupp Arena to such powers as Gardner-Webb and VMI, puzzling interviews with ESPN’s Jeannine Edwards making the blog rounds and exposing Gillispie as a clown, point guards refusing to enter games, rumors of bar scenes of an inebriated Gillispie making a mockery of his reputation and, worse of all, the Wildcats missing the NCAA Tournament in 2009 only to falter in the NIT. After Gillispie was fired, both parties sued each other and now Gillispie is releasing a book that nobody will read. It’s been a whacky offseason in Big Blue Country, and even though their new savior has some issues of his own, the Kentucky basketball program has experienced an unfathomable turnaround over the summer from the laughing stock of college basketball to a legitimate contender to win a national title.

The hiring of John Calipari and the return of forward Patrick Patterson has rejuvenated Kentucky to the point of being widely considered the favorites in an improving SEC this season. The addition of two top-five recruits- point guard John Wall and power forward DeMarcus Cousins- along with Gillispie’s recruits staying on board and a decent core returning from last season’s squad means expectations are once again sky-high in Lexington. Nobody is thinking about Billy Gillispie but rather the school’s first Final Four berth since the Jeff Sheppard era of 1998.

4380904013555_John_Calipari[1]

Here’s the official schedule for a Kentucky team that may be the most exciting to watch this season in all of college basketball:

Non-Conference Schedule Rank: 7. The non-conference schedule in John Calipari’s first season features some big names and decent tests, but no overwhelmingly challenging road games are included on the slate. The only true road game is a trip to Bloomington in early December to take on a rebuilding Indiana squad that Kentucky should run out of the building. Emotions will be high for both the North Carolina and Louisville visits during the non-conference season. North Carolina has embarrassed Kentucky handily in two previous meetings and the Wildcats will be eager to exact revenge on their rival Cardinals following last season’s Edgar Sosa miracle (not to mention the coaches aren’t exactly best friends). The schedule also includes a trip to Cancun to take on Cinderella Cleveland State and the Stanford/Virginia winner, none of those teams posing close to a threat. One team that could surprise Kentucky is their opponent in the SEC/Big East Invitational in New York: the Connecticut Huskies. UConn did lose a boatload of scoring and rebounding, but Jerome Dyson, Kemba Walker and Stanley Robinson could be enough to hang with Kentucky’s immense talent. At least for a while.

Cupcake City: While Gillispie was prone to the shocking early-season upset, we suspect Calipari will have his team 100% prepared offensively and defensively every single night throughout the campaign. Kentucky has eight games at home against mid-major or low-major competition this season and one visit to Louisville to take on UNC-Asheville. They should sprint through this slate and remain a decent bet to run the table in non-conference play.

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Meltdown in Lawrence Imminent?

Posted by rtmsf on June 30th, 2009

12am Update: 610 Sports in Kansas City is reporting that the Henrys are sticking with their commitment to KU.  Bill Self must have brought in the heavy hitters for this one.  Breathe a sigh of relief, KU fans.

8pm Update: Bill Self and Danny Manning are reportedly meeting with the Henry family in OKC tonight to make presumably a last ditch effort to keep them at Kansas.  We should have this all sorted out by tomorrow.

Honestly, we read some buzz about this yesterday, but it sounded so ridiculous we simply continued on down our reader.  Then we read Andy Katz’s report this afternoon and suddenly it appears that what we thought was a cockamamie rumor (see: Coach K to Lakers) has some serious legs.  If the reports are true that Xavier Henry and his brother, CJ, are waffling on their commitments to Kansas for the 2009-10 season, and instead are going to end up in Lexington as part of John Calipari’s GCOAT (greatest class of all-time), then the torches and pitchforks in Kansas may already be en route to the Bluegrass.  According to the Henrys’ father, it appears to be a done deal.  From a similar Gary Parrish report:

“If it wasn’t for his momma saying that ‘I would not go to Kentucky, I would not move down to Kentucky,’ Xavier would have been at Kentucky,’” Carl Henry said during the radio interview. “He would have been at Kentucky. So Xavier says, ‘I’m going to go to Kansas,’ even though … what he wanted to do is go to Kentucky, play under Coach Cal. That’s what he wanted to do. I expressed this to [Kansas] coach [Bill] Self. I told him.”  Carl Henry said his wife no longer wants to influence her son’s decision.  “So guess what? Kid might have a change of mind,” Carl Henry said. “That’s what I [told] coach Self.”

henry bros

Notwithstanding what his mother thinks of moving a couple of states away, the only reasonable explanation for this (since the Henrys have been re-assessing their situation for two weeks) is that Kentucky’s Jodie Meeks somewhat unexpectedly opted to stay in the NBA Draft.  Given that Xavier Henry is a shooting guard, he likely didn’t want to go to UK to play behind Meeks for one season, but with Meeks out of the picture, he would now have the opportunity to play for the coach he originally committed to.

If this ends up happening, John Calipari would have an embarrassment of riches in his first season at the helm at UK – quite possibly on paper the greatest incoming class of all-time, eclipsing the 1991 Michigan quintet of Webber, Howard, Rose, Jackson and King.  Of course, this group of young Cats will be measured by their accomplishments in college and not their paper rankings, but Wildcat fans must be multi-orgasmic at the potential of this group – three of the top six and four of the top twenty players in America.

John Wall – PG (#2 overall)
DeMarcus Cousins – C (#3 overall)
Xavier Henry – SG (#6 overall)
Daniel Orton - C (#19 overall)
Eric Bledsoe - PG (#52 overall)
Jon Hood – SF (#66 overall)
CJ Henry – PG (walk-on)
Darnell Dodson – SF (juco)

As for KU fans, they’ll still have plenty of returning talent in Sherron Collins, Cole Aldrich, Tyshawn Taylor and the Morris brothers, but they could have really used the explosive scoring from the wing that they currently lack.  Their message boards are already apoplectic, but as one guarded commenter noted, ‘you think this is bad… check back tomorrow.’  Oh we will.

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Meeks Leaves Kentucky

Posted by nvr1983 on June 15th, 2009

In one of the more secretly important deadline decisions of the day, Kentucky junior Jodie Meeks has decided to stay in the NBA Draft and forgo his senior year in Lexington. Although many draft pundits would question the decision because Meeks is only projected as a late first to early second round pick (Insider access required), Fran Fraschilla brings up the point that this year’s class is extremely weak and Meeks might not rise any higher even if he comes back for another year. Normally I would agree with the dogma that an underclassman shouldn’t leave without a first round guarantee (I’m assuming Meeks hasn’t received one), but I have to agree with Fraschilla on this one. For all of Meeks’ talent and scoring prowess, NBA scouts just don’t seem that interested in him. He’s unlikely to jump more than a few spots, but could drop as well depending on which players declare next year.

However, since this is a college basketball site we’re more concerned with the effect it will have on next season and John Calipari‘s Kentucky Wildcats. When asked about Meeks’ decision Calipari simply said, “We’ll be fine.” Not to go Bill Clinton on Calipari, but I’m curious what he means when he says the Wildcats will be “fine”. The Wildcats will certainly exceed last year’s poor performance, but after the summer they had the folks in Lexington were probably already booking hotel rooms in Indianapolis to watch their beloved Wildcats cut down the nets. While the current iteration  of the Wildcats (featuring Patrick PattersonJohn WallDeMarcus CousinsDaniel Orton, and Eric Bledsoe) certainly has the potential to do so, but if Calipari had been able to lure Meeks back the Wildcats would have been the prohibitive favorites to cut down the nets. With Meeks leaving the Wildcats are still a top 5-10 team, but the lack of a proven perimeter scorer puts them a level below Kansas. The Wildcats will still have the ability to beat any team in the nation, but the lack of a proven perimeter threat will make them a much easier out in the tournament unless Wall, Bledsoe, or Jon Hood can develop into that threat by next March.

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SLAM Reports John Wall to Kentucky

Posted by rtmsf on May 19th, 2009

It’s an odd source for news like this to break (at an odd time, no less), but SLAM magazine reported early Tuesday morning that mega-recruit John Wall has verbally committed to play for John Calipari at Kentucky next season.   A local television station in Lexington is echoing the SLAM story, but we’ve yet to find a second reliable source so we remain a little skeptical until we hear from one of the stalwarts in the industry – Goodman, Katz, et al.

Wall Could Be the Crown Jewel in the Greatest UK Class Ever

Wall Could Be the Crown Jewel in the Greatest UK Class Ever

Assuming this is true, there’s little question that John Calipari has had the greatest first six weeks of recruiting in the history of the game at any school, landing the top PG (Wall) and big man (DeMarcus Cousins) in the class of 2009, as well as another top 25 player (Eric Bledsoe).  He has also managed to keep two other top 40 recruits landed by his predecessor in the fold (Daniel Orton and Jon Hood) in addition to convincing all-american Patrick Patterson to return for his junior campaign.  Reports indicate that UK’s other all-american player, Jodie Meeks, is also likely to return for his senior season.

This sets up an unreal potential starting lineup of:

PG – John Wall
SG – Eric Bledsoe
SF – Jodie Meeks
PF – Patrick Patterson
C – DeMarcus Cousins

With Daniel Orton, Jon Hood, DeAndre Liggins, Darius Miller and Perry Stevenson coming off the bench.

All due respect to the teams domiciled in Lawrence, E. Lansing and Chapel Hill, but that looks like the #1 lineup to us…

Let’s see if it’s true.

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C.J. and Xavier Henry to Kansas

Posted by nvr1983 on April 22nd, 2009

It looks like the rich are just getting richer. Just a little over a week after Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich announced that they were returning to Kansas next year, Xavier and C.J. Henry have announced that they will be joining a loaded Jayhawk team next season. After initially committing to Memphis before the whole Billy Gillispie/John Calipari circus, several media members (including yours truly) speculated that Kentucky might end up picking up an all-time great recruiting class if they added Calipari’s original commits from Memphis (the Henrys, DeMarcus Cousins, and potentially John Wall) to a class that already included Daniel Orton and Jon Hood.

While Cousins has signed with Kentucky, the loss of the Henrys and the rumors that Wall is looking elsewhere means that the Kentucky class might end up just being very, very good instead of being an all-time great class. Meanwhile Bill Self just earned himself the #1 spot in all the preseason polls. So the pressure is on now Jayhawk fans. It’s national title or bust for this Jayhawk squad.

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Calipari to Kentucky

Posted by nvr1983 on March 30th, 2009

After a weekend full of speculation about who would replace Billy Gillispie as the next head coach at Kentucky it looks like we finally have our answer in the form of John Calipari. Our sources had been mentioning Calipari as a potential replacement for Gillispie as early as a week ago, but that was obviously delayed by the fact that his Memphis team was still playing in the NCAA tournament. Fortunately, for the administration at Kentucky, even after last year’s title game collapse against Kansas, Calipari still didn’t think it was worthwhile having his team work on free throws and as a result they were bounced by Missouri in the Sweet 16 (their lack of defense against Missouri didn’t help their cause either).

95204093_memphis_v_houston

Although the details of the deal have not been released yet, it would be safe to assume that Calipari is at around the $3 million/year figure that our source was saying it would take to lure him away from Memphis (9pm update: ESPN is now reporting the offer is 8 yrs/$35M). In addition, Kentucky will have also have to come up with the money to compensate for the $5 million bonus Calipari would have collected had he finished his contract at Memphis, which ran through the 2012-13 season at $2.5 million/year. (Break open those checkbooks Wildcat boosters!).

What might be even bigger than the physical switch of Calipari for Gillispie on the sidelines is the potential chain reaction this could have on the Memphis/Kentucky recruiting classes and Tyreke Evans. Going into today, Kentucky only had one 5-star (Daniel Orton) and one 4-star (Jon Hood) recruit who had signed a letter of intent to play in Lexington. With the addition of Calipari, the Wildcats would almost certainly get DeMarcus Cousins (the #2 overall recruit) who has committed to Memphis, but did not sign a letter of intent, and potentially Xavier Henry (the #3 overall recruit) who signed a letter of intent at Memphis, but could petition the NCAA for a release (4-star recruit Nolan Dennis has stated that he has an agreement with Memphis that he will be released from his letter of intent if Calipari leaves). In addition, they would suddenly be in the running for John Wall (the #1 overall recruit) who has not committed to a school yet, but is said to be very high on Memphis Calipari. Adding 2 of those 3 to a Kentucky lineup that leaned heavily on Patrick Patterson and Jodie Meeks this year would almost certainly make the Wildcats go from a NIT participant to Final 4 favorites. If Calipari were able to pull off a miracle and get Henry released from his letter and bring all three with him to Kentucky to go with Patterson, Meeks, and Orton, the Wildcats would suddenly emerge as the prohibitive favorites and the fans in Lexington might start having visions of the 1996 Kentucky team running through their heads for the next six months.

What would happen to Memphis? Disaster. Tyreke Evans, who has seen his NBA draft stock rebound after slipping during his difficult adjustment to the college game, would most likely head to the NBA leaving the Tigers without a true star for the first time in years (Robert Dozier and Antonio Anderson are both seniors). Losing such a great recruiting class (one of the best since the Chris Webber-led “Fab 5″) would be a crushing blow to a program that has risen up from playing in Conference USA to become one of the premier programs in the nation in the past 5-10 years. The next question for Memphis is who will replace Calipari on the sideline. Current reports indicate that Calpari is pushing for his long-time assistant Tony Barbee to be named as his successor, but it’s likely that the Memphis AD will look to lure big-names such as Mike Anderson or Tim Floyd to what has become one fo the premier coaching destinations in the country.

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