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.
Texas Southern guard and NCAA tournament darling Trae Jefferson announced on Saturday that he’s leaving the school.
The 5-foot-7 Jefferson was sensational at times during his sophomore season with the Tigers as he put up 23.1 points, 4.6 assists and 3.1 rebounds per game, helping lead Texas Southern to a victory in the 2018 NCAA Tournament’s First Four in Dayton over North Carolina Central. One of the most entertaining talents in college basketball, Jefferson is leaving Texas Southern in-part because former head coach Mike Davis took the job at Detroit this offseason.
While Detroit is going to be the favorite to land Jefferson, because of his connection to Davis, it’ll be interesting to see what his transfer market looks like. Jefferson also made it clear on his Twitter page that he would like to be closer to his hometown of Milwaukee so that he can be closer to his ailing grandfather.
Given NCAA transfer rules, Jefferson would likely have to sit out next season before getting two more years of eligibility. But he could be applying for a waiver if he’s trying to be closer to home to deal with his family situation.
Nevada lost a talented player from last season’s team as rising junior Josh Hall opted to transfer to Missouri State on Friday night.
The 6-foot-7 Hall is a former top-150 recruit who played a key part in the Wolf Pack’s postseason run as he elevated his play to average 13 points and 4.7 rebounds per game during the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Hall also made the game-winning bucket to lift Nevada past No. 2 seed Cincinnati in the second round.
Although Hall picked up his play late in the year, he was coming off the bench most of his sophomore campaign as he averaged 6.9 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season.
Since Nevada took in some talented transfers, while players like Jordan Caroline and the Martin twins opted not to turn pro, it left head coach Eric Musselman with too many scholarship players for the 2018-19 season. It looks like some of those issues are now going away as Hall is leaving for Missouri State and graduate transfer guard Ehab Amin opted to decommit from the school.
Nevada is expected to be a preseason top-10 team next season with all of the talent they have returning to the roster, along with the addition of some new pieces like McDonald’s All-American big man Jordan Brown.
Hall will likely have to sit out next season due to NCAA transfer rules as he still has two years of eligibility remaining.
The frosty relationship between Chris Webber and the University of Michigan could be thawing — thanks to an invitation from football head coach Jim Harbaugh.
On Friday, Harbaugh called in to WTKA’s “The M Zone” as show host Jamie Morris had Webber on the show. Harbaugh offered Webber the opportunity to be an honorary captain for the Michigan football team next season, to which Webber replied that he would love the opportunity.
Webber, a former member of the “Fab Five” who helped the Wolverines to two consecutive NCAA tournament title-game appearances in 1992 and 1993, has not associated directly with the school, or with other members of the Fab Five, for many years.
The NCAA mandated that Webber and Michigan not associate with one another for 10 years after the Ed Martin booster scandal. Webber has always been reluctant to participate in anything Michigan or Fab Five related. When the famous Fab Five documentary was made a few years ago, Webber was the only member of the quintet not to participate in the making of the film. Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King and Ray Jackson all have a solid relationship with the University of Michigan at this point.
Webber later criticized the film during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, as King and Rose fired back with responses to reignite the feud. In the past, Rose has also been vocal in his belief that Webber should apologize for what happened at Michigan, as the group is hoping to move forward.
Although Webber still isn’t mending fences with the other Fab Five members, or the basketball program, returning to Michigan in some kind of official capacity is a big deal considering his past with the school.
Harbaugh and Webber haven’t decided on a game for next season yet as that will be something to watch for over the next several months.
Louisville received a boost to its frontcourt rotation on Friday as former big man Akoy Agau will return to the Cardinals as a graduate transfer.
The 6-foot-8 Agau originally committed and enrolled at Louisville for a season and a half to begin his college hoops career before transferring to Georgetown. After leaving the Hoyas to play at SMU last season, Agau received a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA after battling injury for much of his career.
Agau gives Louisville an experienced forward who should earn some solid minutes next season. With the Mustangs during the 2017-18 season, Agau averaged 5.0 points and 3.6 rebounds per game in 16.1 minutes per contest.
While this isn’t the biggest splash for the Cardinals, they have plenty of scholarships to use for next season as new head coach Chris Mack tries to find a stable rotation. Getting a graduate transfer like Agau, who should be familiar with the school and the conference at the very least, is a nice step for a one-year placeholder.
NCAA president Mark Emmert, the man in charge of a non-profit association that doesn’t have enough money to pay its laborers, received a $500,000 raise for the 2016 calendar year, bringing his total income to more than $2.4 million, according to an NCAA tax return that was obtained by USA Today.
That number actually pales in comparison to the salaries that are received by the commissioners of the Power 5 conferences.
But there’s not enough money to pay the players.
Everyone is broke.
Carry on with your day, and pray for the well-being of NCAA administrators like Mark Emmert, whose salary is in no way whatsoever inflated by amateurism, which allows the schools and the NCAA to bank all of the advertising revenue that college basketball and football brings in and bars the players themselves from accessing that money.