Who's NEXT? What will happen in 2012 with regards to Kentucky Basketball recruiting?
Inspired by this post from ESPNers Jason Jordan and Ronnie Flores, below are my 12 bold predictions pertaining to Kentucky basketball recruiting. By the way, Jordan and Flores predict that Kentucky targets Julius Randle and Shabazz Muhammad will pick Duke and UNLV, respectively. They also think North Carolina will cut down the nets and that Harrison Barnes will be the tournament's Most Outstanding Player. Blasphemy, all of it!
Without further ado, my 12 bold predictions for the new year.
1. As Jordan and Flores posit, uncommitted 2012 forward Anthony Bennett wins MVP honors at the 2012 McDonald's All-American Game on March 28. Further, during the post-game ceremony, he announces he will sign with Kentucky, garnering both the strongest boos and strongest cheers of the day from the crowd. Bennett joins the already signed Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley and Alex Poythress in the 2012 class.
2. A day after Kentucky cuts down the nets on April 2 (take that, North Carolina!), John Calipari receives a phone call from the Harrison twins--Andrew Harrison and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marquis Teague.--calling to congratulate the coach and offer a verbal commitment. They become the second duo to commit to Calipari's Kentucky program prior to their high school senior season, following the footsteps of
3. After winning the tournament's MOP award (take that, Harrison Barnes!), Kidd-Gilchrist is faced with a Brandon Knight-esque decision. The heart of Kentucky's team really wants to stay, but ultimately decides that his draft stock will never get higher and leaves after an incredible year. Likewise, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, and Anthony Davis capitalize on their optimal draft stocks and declare as well.
4. The Wildcats do get a piece of good news: Marquis Teague goes on to have a solid season but pulls a Terrence Jones-like shocker by deciding to stay for his sophomore year. Teague teams with Ryan Harrow to form a formidable--and experienced--point guard combination in the 2012-13 season.
5. Following the draft exodus, Kentucky doesn't rebuild--it reloads. The top 2012 prospect in the country, Shabazz Muhammad, chooses the Wildcats on April 11 (the first day of the Regular Signing Period) and inks his Letter of Intent later that day. He's followed the next day by sleeper forward Christopher Obekpa, who garners some stealthy late interest from Kentucky and is inspired to don Kentucky blue due to the awesome play of Josh Harrellson for the Knicks. The commitments of Muhammad and Obekpa cement Kentucky's recruiting class as #1 overall in the nation. Again.
6. On June 28, Anthony Davis goes #1 overall in the NBA Draft...to the Houston Rockets, who make a surprise jump to the first pick when the lottery balls bounce their way. "Browdown" finally gives General Manager Daryl Morey a star to build around in Clutch City. Kidd-Gilchrist, Jones, and Lamb all go in the first round along with Davis.
7. The end of the lockout be darned! The Kentucky Pros circuit makes a second appearance in Rupp Arena, giving even more credence to Calipari as the "King of Recruiting". NBA Finals MVP LeBron James headlines, as he's given a special exemption to represent the Blue & White. However, DeMarcus Cousins, reinvigorated after the midseason firing of Paul Westphal, is the exhibition game's MVP.
8. Over the summer, Kentucky secures its third commit in the 2013 class when small forward Troy Williams decides to take his talents to Lexington. Troy, the nephew of AAU legend Boo Williams, brings even more recruiting cred to Calipari's name--oh, and he's also good at the basketballs, too.
9. Unfortunately, the Wildcats miss out on two of the top prospects in the country. Both Jabari Parker and Julius Randle decide to stay local. Parker, a Chicago product, ends up pledging to Illinois. Randle, from the greater Dallas area, pops for Texas. Can't get 'em all, Cal.
10. One guy Calipari does get is center Nerlens Noel, who picks the Wildcats in November right before the Early Signing Period. Noel cites the spectacular defensive play of Anthony Davis as the reason he picks the 'Cats. Immediately, speculation begins that Noel's teammate at The Tilton School, class of 2014's Wayne Selden, will eventually commit to Kentucky.
11. Kentucky ends the 2012 calendar year with four signed recruits for the class of 2013. Just like the 2012 class, the Wildcats have filled every starting position except power forward. But not to worry, intriguing names like Johnathan Williams III and Kuran Iverson remain on the board for the spring.
12. As Kentucky recruitniks look ahead to 2014, a few names start to arise. Most notable is Dakari Johnson, a precocious big man who was a former teammate of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at St. Patrick Academy. Not coincidentally, scouts rave about Johnson's well-rounded game and compare him to...Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. A way in advance 2013 prediction: Johnson becomes the first player to commit to Kentucky in the class of 2014.
Happy New Year, everyone! Hopefully, some of these predictions end up coming true.