After producing John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, and Brandon Knight in his first two seasons in Lexington, John Calipari established the Wildcats as Point Guard University. If you wanted be a star point guard in the NBA, you needed to go to Kentucky and play for Coach Cal.
But then something interesting happened. Calipari passed on several guys that were the top point guards in their respective classes. Although Andrew Harrison, Tyler Ulis, and De’Aaron Fox all seem well on their way to long NBA careers, the culture at Kentucky seems to have shifted away from the Point Guard U reputation.
Why would Calipari not ride the wave of John Wall and go after the top high school point guard in the country each year? Why would he stop recruiting guys that obviously have more to offer than other guys in the class?
While there have been various examples through the years, the 2017 class seems to epitomize how in-tune Calipari is with recruits and why he often passes on players that look like a no-brainers.
Trevon Duval was the No. 1 point guard in the 2017 recruiting class, but Calipari only showed intermittent interest during his entire recruitment. Early on, Cal avoided Duval due to his involvement with Advanced Preparatory International in Dallas, which has a reputation for having players with eligibility issues.
Even after the eligibility issues were cleared up, Calipari never went all in with Duval even though everyone agreed he was head and shoulders above the other point guards in the class. There was a great deal of speculation as to why, and whether or not Calipari knew about Duval’s attitude issues, but he sure looks smart after last week’s fiasco.
Duval was suspended for Duke’s final exhibition game last week, but there have also been rumors out of Durham about his underwhelming performance and overall attitude. Could it be that BBN twitter favorite Scott Charlton is also a prophet?
Surely there is a sportsbook somewhere that will give odds on a Grayson Allen-Trevon Duval fistfight at practice.— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) May 15, 2017
Earlier this week, Jeff Goodman reported that Collin Sexton has been suspended indefinitely at Alabama for his potential involvement in the ongoing FBI investigation into college basketball corruption. Sexton was the No. 2 point guard in the class, and did not even receive an offer from Kentucky or Duke. If that is not a reg flag, I do not know what is.
Sexton would have fit into Calipari’s plans on the court, and would have potentially been a program-changing player at Alabama. But given that this is still the beginning of the FBI scandal and the fact that the NCAA takes forever to do anything, it is very possible that he could never play college basketball.
Instead of going after these two top ten recruits, Calipari instead focused on Quade Green, who was listed as the No. 5 point guard and No. 24 overall. While the season and tournament have yet to play out, Green definitely looks like the right call so far.
Even before arriving on campus, Green paid dividends for the University of Kentucky. His recruiting efforts played a large role in landing Kevin Knox, and he also became the blueprint for what Immanuel Quickley is trying to do with the 2018 class.
Quade Green has been even more impressive on the court than expected, he has shown leadership on the court and inside the locker room, and perhaps most importantly he has kept his nose clean and stayed out of trouble.
Is it a mere coincidence that Calipari has consistently avoided bringing guys like Duval and Collins to Kentucky?
Maybe you should go ask him as he sips tea in his office while the rest of the college basketball world crumbles around him.