John Calipari’s first six years in Lexington was one of the best periods in the tradition-rich history of Kentucky Basketball.
During that time, UK won 29+ games five times, won three SEC regular-season and tournament titles, made four Final Fours, two title game appearances, and won the 2012 NCAA National Championship.
While elite one-and-done talent like John Wall, Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, Julius Randle, and Brandon Knight were a big reason why those teams had so much success, they also consistently had veteran upperclassmen like Patrick Patterson, Darius Miller, DeAndre Liggins, Dominique Hawkins, Derek Willis and Willie Cauley-Stein to help guide those young guys.
But recently, UK has struggled mightily to bring guys in and keep them for 3-4 years. One would think the allure of John Calipari and Kentucky Basketball would be enough to bring in some good long-term recruits who became impact players as their collegiate careers wore on.
Yet for whatever reason, UK can’t seem to keep guys for more than two years tops. Last season, Nick Richards was the first player UK kept for more than two years in the last three seasons, four if you count next season with only Keion Brooks Jr. and Dontaie Allen returning for a second season each.
That’s right. Only one scholarship player from a four-season stretch has decided to remain in Lexington for three or more years.
You would think Calipari can find guys who are happy with spending 3-4 years in Lexington, and there was hope four-star center Frank Anselem could be one of those guys.
After all, Anselem isn’t even ranked in the top 100 of any recruiting service, and every recruiting analyst with an opinion on Anselem thinks he should be in college for 3-4 years.
Everyone except Anselem, that is.
In a report by KSR’s Jack Pilgrim, it was revealed that Anselem, the 138th-ranked player at 247 Sports, thinks he’s a one-and-done prospect.
“Frank thinks he’s a one-and-done. Absolutely,” one individual familiar with the situation told KSR. “He’s not taking a back seat to anyone. … It’s a good breakup. Great kid, bad fit for UK.”
That right there is all fans need to know in how hard it is to recruit UK-level talent that’s willing to stay in school for multiple seasons. It’s also likely why Calipari has started recruiting transfers more, as it’s become the most viable way to have veteran players on the roster vs. recruiting guys who look like multi-year guys but end up leaving after a season or two anyhow.
In addition to landing a graduate transfer guard in Davion Mintz, UK has also taken commitments from sit-out transfers Jacob Toppin and Olivier Sarr. And another, DeAndre Williams, could commit to UK this weekend, though the hope is UK can get waivers for Sarr and Williams to play next season.
If that happens, then UK will have two blue-chip one-and-done recruits in Terrence Clarke and Brandon Boston, a promising second-year forward in Keion Brooks, a redshirt senior guard in Mintz, a senior all-conference level center in Sarr, and a junior all-conference level forward in Williams.
That’s the kind of roster that got UK to four Finals Fours and a national title in a five-year stretch.