Some things never change.
Kentucky landed 2012’s top prospect in Nerlens Noel Wednesday night, a move that’ll almost certainly give the Wildcats the top-rated recruiting class in college basketball. Consider coach John Calipari four-for-four while in Lexington.
(He’s not done yet, either. Power forward Anthony Bennett, another 5-star player, is considering Kentucky, as are 5-star forwards Amile Jefferson and Devonta Pollard. Bennett is the best bet for the Wildcats, though.)
That’s a run unlike any other in college hoops history and gives the Wildcats four of the top recruiting classes the game’s seen since 2002.
Per Drew Cannon, who’s done work analyzing prospects for Scout.com and Basketball Prospectus, only North Carolina’s 2006 class and Duke’s 2002 class can compare to any of the last four groups Kentucky’s gathered. He places all of the ‘Cats classes ahead of 2007 Ohio State – the Greg Oden-led group that reached the title game – and ’06 Texas, which boasted Kevin Durant, D.J. Augustin, Damion James and Dexter Pittman (!).
Here’s his rundown of the top 16 classes since 2002, a combination of highly rated prospects and number of guys in said class:
- No. 1: 2006 North Carolina (Brandan Wright, Alex Stephenson, Deon Thompson, Wayne Ellington, Ty Lawson and Will Graves).
- No. 2: 2011 Kentucky (Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Kyle Wiltjer).
- No. 3: 2009 Kentucky (John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton, Jon Hood, Darnell Dodson).
- No. 4: 2002 Duke (J.J. Redick, Shelden Williams, Sean Dockery, Lee Melchionni, Shavlik Randolph, Mike Thompson).
- No. 5: 2012 Kentucky (Nerlens Noel, Alex Poythress, Archie Goodwin, Willie Cauley)
- No. 6: 2010 Kentucky (Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight, Doron Lamb, Enes Kanter, Stacey Poole, Eloy Vargas).
- No. 7: 2006 Ohio State (Greg Oden, Mike Conley Jr., Daequan Cook, David Lighty, Othello Hunter).
- No. 8: 2008 UCLA (J’Mison Morgan, Jrue Holiday, Drew Gordon, Malcolm Lee, Jerime Anderson).
- No. 9: 2011 Duke (Austin Rivers, Alex Murphy, Quinn Cook, Marshall Plumlee, Michael Gbinije).
- No. 10: 2005 Kansas (Brandon Rush, Julian Wright, Mario Chalmers, Micah Downs).
- No. 11: 2005 Duke (Greg Paulus, Josh McRoberts, Jamal Boykin, Eric Boeteng, Martynas Pocius).
- No. 12: 2012 Arizona (Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley, Gabe York, Grant Jerrett, Matt Korchek).
- No. 13: 2002 North Carolina (Raymond Felton, Rashad McCants, Sean May, Byron Sanders, Damion Grant).
- No. 14: 2006 Texas (Kevin Durant, D.J. Augustin, Damion James, Matt Hill, Dexter Pittman, Harrison Smith, Justin Mason).
- No. 15: 2006 Duke (Lance Thomas, Gerald Henderson, Brian Zoubek, Jon Scheyer).
- No. 16: 2012 UCLA (Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson, Jordan Adams).
That makes 2012 the closest hoarding of elite talent at a select group of schools since 2006. And those were some good groups in ’06.
All of the above classes include at least one 5-star guy, most have at least two or three. Some, like ’05 Kansas, feature four 5-star guys. And many were extremely successful. At least four (’11 Kentucky, ’06 UNC, ’05 Kansas, ’06 Duke) provided the backbone for national title teams.
The only question I have: Where will Kentucky’s 2013 class fall on this list?
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
Villanova added its first recruit in the Class of 2018 on Wednesday night.
Jay Wright and his staff landed a verbal commitment from Paul VI Catholic High School’s Brandon Slater, a four-star guard by Rivals as the No. 42 overall prospect in the rising senior class.
The 6-foot-5 Slater announced his decision via Twitter.
Slater, according to Jeff Borzello of ESPN, picked the Wildcats over Maryland, Miami, South Carolina, and Virginia.
He is currently playing the Nike EYBL with Team Takeover, the same grassroots program that produced current Villanova guard Phil Booth.
Providence will play its first game at Alumni Hall, the on-campus facility, for the first time in 35 years this fall.
The Friars unveiled their 2017-18 non-conference schedule on Thursday afternoon. The team’s home opener will play either Houston Baptist or Belmont in Mullaney Gym inside Alumni Hall.
According to Kevin McNamara of the Providence Journal, the reason for that is a schedule conflict at Providence’s home arena, the Dunkin’ Donuts Center, in downtown Providence. A Comic-Con convention is scheduled Nov. 10-12. As McNamara notes, it’s a busy part of the season for The Dunk. The arena also is home to the Providence Bruins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Boston Bruins, and by mid-November, their season is in full swing.
The Friars haven’t played at Alumni Hall since 1972, the same year the Dunkin’ Donuts Center was opened. In the three decades since Providence last played a regular season game there, the facility has gone under necessary renovations, as you could imagine. Even with added seats, Mullaney Gym can host a maximum of 1,549. That’s a fraction of what The Dunk’s capacity of 12,400.
Providence will return to its downtown home on Nov. 13, hosting Minnesota as part of the Gavitt Games. The Golden Gophers will likely be a top-20 team to open the season. The Friars, who bring back every notable player from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, is a fringe top-25 team.
The already-thin Illinois roster got thinner on Thursday afternoon.
Evan Daniels of Scout.com reported that sophomore guard Jalen Coleman-Lands has requested and received his release from the program. He will have to sit out next season but will have two years of eligibility remaining.
Coleman-Lands was a top-40 recruit in the Class of 2015, according to Rivals. He becomes the second player from that recruiting class this month to exit the school. Reserve guard D.J. Williams elected to transfer on May 8. With Jeremiah Tilmon and Javon Pickett, two incoming recruits, both previously reopened their recruitments following John Groce’s firing.
Even with the addition of Wright State graduate transfer Mark Alstork, who officially joined the Fighting Illini on Wednesday, Illinois is left with only nine scholarship players as of right now.
Coleman-Lands’ production dipped from his freshman campaign, ending the 2016-17 season averaging 8.0 points and 2.3 rebounds per game, shooting 38 percent from three.
One destination that will likely be rumored will be nearby DePaul. Coleman-Lands played for new DePaul assistant coach Shane Heirman at prep school powerhouse La Lumiere School. Heriman quickly tapped into that prep pipeline, helping secure a commitment from La Lumiere from five-star 2019 point guard Tyger Campbell earlier this month.
Coleman-Lands had taken official visits to Notre Dame and UNLV before committing to the Illini in September 2014.
North Carolina is still trying to convince the NCAA that their investigation into the paper classes given by the university’s African-American Studies Department is not, in fact, an NCAA matter.
On Thursday afternoon, the University released their response to the NCAA’s third iteration of the Notice of Allegations, and the core argument in that response is that the school’s “inadequate academic oversight” does not fall under the jurisdiction of the NCAA’s bylaws. In other words, North Carolina is arguing that a rogue professor creating fake classes is not an NCAA issue. It’s a school issue.
What’s more, North Carolina is also arguing that athletes taking these classes should not be classified as an extra benefit because they were available to the entire student body.
“No special arrangements were made for student-athletes in violation of NCAA extra-benefit legislation,” the response reads. “Student-athletes were not treated differently than other students who took the Courses.”
“The public narrative for the last six years, popularized by media accounts, is that Department of Athletics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took advantage of ‘fake classes’ in the Department of African and African-American Studies to keep student-athletes eligible. That narrative is wrong and contradicted by the facts in the record.”
The NCAA’s allegations center around the idea that UNC’s athletes, most notably members of the football and men’s and women’s basketball teams, were guided to the fake classes within that department in order to keep their GPAs high enough to remain eligible. The classes in question had a disproportionate percentage of athletes.
A hearing in front of the Committee on Infractions is expected to take place at some point this summer.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — A grand jury declined to indict an escort and former Louisville men’s basketball staffer in a sex scandal that engulfed the program.
The Jefferson County grand jury decided Thursday there wasn’t enough evidence for charges of prostitution and unlawful transactions with a minor against Katina Powell and Andre McGee.
Powell wrote in a book published in 2015 that McGee hired her to provide dancers to perform sex acts for Cardinal recruits and players from 2010-2014.
The announcement by the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office comes as the school awaits discipline in early June by the NCAA after an investigation.
Louisville has imposed its own penalties, including a postseason ban in 2015-16 and reductions in scholarships and recruiting visits by coaches.