Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The 2011 Trio (8/24/10 Update)

With any other situation, I would say it's too early and ridiculous to look ahead an entire year for a sports club. I don't wanna hear how the Heat are gonna 7-peat until 2017 when LeBron's still never won a single title. But with the University of Kentucky basketball team? Coach Cal has forced us to.

For the 2011-2012 college basketball season, UK is coming fresh off of a surprise Final Four appearance. But the NBA bell tolled and ripped the Wildcat fans' hearts out for a second straight year as Enes Kanter was drafted with the top pick, a decision that had been guaranteed since his end-of-the-season utter dominance in SEC play. Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight cemented the arrival of the 1-and-done era by going 3rd and 7th in the lottery as well. The big surprise was the fact that DeAndre Liggins broke through as the unquestioned leader of the squad and showed such a marked improvement in his long-range marksmanship and slashing ability that he was scooped up late in the first round by a championship contender banking on him filling out into a James Posey-type intangible stud.

This leaves the Wildcats heavily reliant on recruiting once again. There are pretty much two guarantees with Coach Cal: we will have the number one class year-in-and-year-out and we will have plenty of scholarships open after the NBA absorbs half our roster year-in-and-year-out. But 2012 will be the year that everyone understands that it's worth it.

Michael Gilchrist - 6'6", 190 lb.
#1 overall player, #1 SF (ESPN)
#3 overall player, #1 SF (Rivals)
#5 overall player, #1 SF (Scout)

Marquis Teague - 6'2", 170 lb.
#2 overall player, #1 PG (Rivals)
#3 overall player, #1 PG (ESPN)
#6 overall player, #1 PG (Scout)

Anthony Davis - 6'10", 220 lb.
#1 overall player, #1 PF (Scout)
#6 overall player, #3 PF (Rivals)
#12 overall player, #4 PF (ESPN)

The recruiting game is getting ridiculous. Cal is the best there is. Period. He targets in on the all-world talent specifically catered to his system and gets them. It's as simple as that. These 2011 recruits form a trio that you will hear about everyday for the entire year, right up until the NBA Draft where they're all selected in the top 10. Gilchrist has been the best player in all of high school ball since his sophomore summer AAU circuit and is said to have the skill set of a Kobe Bryant/Kevin Durant hybrid. Teague has the blinding speed and attacking ability in the same mold of Devin Harris to where he gets any and everywhere he wants with the ball. Davis is the late bloomer of the group with the ridiculously long frame whose talents range across the board to cement his comparisons as a player somewhere in-between Kevin Garnett and Antonio McDyess. A good majority of recruiting analysts have even come out of the woodwork to vouch for Davis as the newly crowned best player in his class, even over Gilchrist. The three of them together could change the dynamics of talent in college basketball altogether. Never has such a highly touted freshman trio ever been assembled. We're not talking a collective of multiple top 50 talents here; we're talking possibly three of the top five players in the NCAA altogether at that point under the tutelage of one coach while wearing Kentucky blue and white. Coach Cal defeated the entire system. You no longer hope for that five-star messiah to come in and change your program with his NBA skill level once every few years. You expect at least four of them (plus some) putting their name on the Letter of Intent papers every single year.

And Kentucky's still at least slightly in the picture for 2011 recruits Quincy Miller (PF, Rivals #5/Scout #2/ ESPN #4), Austin Rivers (SG, #1/3/2), Adonis Thomas (SF, #15/11/15), LeBryan Nash (SF, #4/12/10), and Tony Wroten (PG, #20/27/24). Depending on his performance in prep school this year, you may even be able to pencil DeAndre Daniels (PF, #9/34/28) on our 2012 roster. Hopefully we can also pull a late coup off and grab local talent Chane Behanan (PF, #23/29/73). I like our chances with pulling at least one more of those guys. Sky's the limit. And an NCAA championship banner is the sky, by the way. There'll always be someone who complains about the lack of tradition or development of players who leave school early to the pros, but once #8 is hanging in the rafters in Rupp ... I think they'll quite down at least for a little bit.

... and do the John Wall.

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