By that same logic, if you continue to predict the world is going to end every year, you have to be right eventually, correct? John Calipari has been succesful with the highly rated recruits because he is absolutely honest from the beginning when he promises them nothing and expects them to be team players. The reason the kids pay attention is because he has had 3 of the last 4 #1 overall draft picks (after Davis), and has put 9 guys in the NBA in 2 years @ UK. As evidenced by last year's UK team, not only does he go after the most talented guys, he also goes after the character guys willing to give up self-promotion for the better of the team. The craziest thing about that? Anthony Davis was college player of the year and took the 4th most shots on his team. Turns out, showing to NBA scouts that you are willing to differ is a trait they hold in high regards. His last 7 teams have at least gotten to the sweet 16, and he hasn't been short of the Elite 8 @ UK. Granted, none will be as young as next years squad, but what if he gets Alex Oriakhi? Then all of a sudden you have a Senior leader with national championship experience on the team. Instead of arguing at some point it has to go bad, why not say "it's worked so far, it might continue to work?"
During John Calipari’s remarkable three-year run at Kentucky, we have praised him repeatedly for his ability to take the blue chip stars off of high school teams and quickly create in them a team-first mentality and work ethic.
He draws praise because that’s just not an easy thing to do. Which means sooner or later it’s likely that UK’s coach will land a group that doesn’t believe in unity or doesn’t understand the work it takes to earn a title.
And his current group of all-star signees are already talking about titles and success.
Alex Poythress: “You’re following in the footsteps. They’re setting the standard high, so you’ve got big shoes to fill. And I feel that we can fill them.”
Nerlens Noel: “Just the success (UK has) had with younger players going out there and winning a national championship, that’s not easy with five or six freshmen. Just seeing what they did with that, and what Coach Calipari dos is real successful, and I think I can go there with Archie (Goodwin) and Alex and Willie (Cauley) and be successful the same way they were.”
Archie Goodwin: “We’re going to be able to work together. I know we are because (Noel is) a team player and I’m a team player and Willie’s a team player. There are going to be a lot of amazing things that happen.”
For now, the smart money is on Calipari to turn this crew into another Elite Eight or better squad. But eventually, the odds are he’ll sign one or more players who aren’t team-first guys. Chemistry is important. This year’s UK team had it. An eighth championship banner was captured.
But whether the next wave will have that chemistry remains to be seen. (And before any Cat fans email to point out that Goodwin said they were all team players, have you ever known anyone to say, “I’m a me-first” player?)