Ben Roberts at the Lexington Herald-Leader recently wrote a story discussing the well-documented "misses" for John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats in the 2015 recruiting class.
Roberts lists 10 guys that ultimately decided to play somewhere besides Kentucky and how they fared.
1. Antonio Blakeney
2. Jaylen Brown
3. Thomas Bryant
4. Cheick Diallo
5. Brandon Ingram
6. Luke Kennard
7. Malik Newman
8. Ivan Rabb
9. Caleb Swanigan
10. Stephen Zimmerman
Another name I would throw in on that list is Carlton Bragg, who ultimately went to Kansas.
Looking at that list, there are several names that pop out that would've likely been major contributors at Kentucky had they decided to play in Lexington. However, one thing has to be taken into consideration.
Nearly everybody thought Skal Labissiere would have a better season than he did. Nearly everyone. Recruiting analysts and Calipari thought that Skal would be good enough to contend for one of the top two draft picks. That being said, landing another big man was not the most urgent item on Calipari's to-do list.
We all know about Thomas Bryant, who had a career game in the NCAA Tournament to send Kentucky home early. Bryant will be returning to Indiana and look to build off of a promising freshman season.
It's hard not to see guys like Ivan Rabb and Caleb Swanigan being an integral part of last year's Kentucky squad. Rabb was a guy who averaged approximately 12 points and eight rebounds per game and was a projected first-round pick before deciding to return to Cal for a sophomore season. Swanigan had a promising freshman year, although his 46 percent field goal percentage leaves a lot to be desired.
Zimmerman surprised a lot of folks by going to UNLV, as many thought he was a UK lean. After a tumultuous season at UNLV where his head coach was fired, Zimmerman averaged 10.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks. Zimmerman's rim protection and rebounding would've been valuable for a Wildcats' squad whose leading rebounder averaged roughly six per game.
Bragg was vastly under-used at Kansas, in my opinion. Maybe Bill Self and the Jayhawks coaching staff saw things differently, but averaging under nine minutes per game seemed a little odd. Same principle for Cheick Diallo, who really flourished at the NBA Combine. Both guys are players who probably could have made an impact for the Wildcats.
Then there are the guys who Kentucky was probably better off without. Malik Newman, for starters. You can read about that in a well-written piece by A Sea of Blue's own Justin Hodges here.
For some of the other guard and wing players, signing those guys would likely have meant that Jamal Murray does not commit to Kentucky and we would miss out on one of the greatest freshman seasons in Kentucky. One could argue Brandon Ingram would've fared well at Kentucky, which I fully agree, but I think everyone was convinced Duke was his front-runner the entire process.
So what is to take away from all this? Sometimes, Calipari and Kentucky will simply miss on a guy. It happens. It will happen again. However, many times, it ends up working out better for Kentucky anyway. Think of the guys Calipari has missed on in the past. Emmanuel Mudiay, Cliff Alexander, Shabazz Muhammad, Josh Selby, CJ Leslie, etc.
You win some, and you lose some, just as long as you win more than you lose.