Eamonn Brennan, who blogs for ESPN's College Basketball Nation, recently posted his thoughts on fan expectations related to highly ranked incoming freshman. In this article, Brennan postulates that it's the fans, based on a player's top-100 ranking, who "overrate" the impact a recruit will have on his team.
While there are examples of freshman dominating, or contributing in a big way on a good team, most top-100 players are not super star performers their rookie year. It's players like John Calipari brings to UK, the elite of elite, who are more likely to make major contributions at a high level. That fact isn't news. But I do believe the overwhelming success of Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, John Wall, Kyrie Irving (before he got hurt), and Anthony Davis, among others, skews expectations for the average top-100 player, to the point of over-expecting.
The article is a good read, and not overly long. Early in his ESPN career, I didn't care much for Brennan (it could have something to do with him -- two-years ago -- calling me and other UK fans "naive'" for believing Cal would stay at UK instead of leaving for the NBA) , but the more I read him, the more I like the way he thinks. Plus, he had this to say about last year's UK squad:
"Every year there are at least a handful of truly elite freshmen, players who change their teams' seasons and their programs trajectories in real and often lasting ways. There were few better examples of this than 2012, when John Calipari's loaded freshmen-led team put together one of the most dominant seasons in the history of the modern game."
We are so lucky, here at Kentucky. So far, Cal and crew have evaluated high school players pretty accurately, with most living up to the hype. And when the hype is huge, that's definitely a good thing.
Dan Wolken, reality calling on line one.