John Calipari recruits huge freshman classes and he won a title. So that should work for everyone, right?
Obviously it’s not that easy. Not every freshman class is loaded with blue-chippers destined for the NBA. But plenty of programs land nice classes that appear to be poised to grow together into a winning core. Tony Bennett took over at the University of Virginia three years ago and began shaping the program in his own image, adding six freshmen in the class of 2010. The Cavaliers went to the NCAA tournament in 2012, but only two members of that class remain on the roster: forward Akil Mitchell and guard Joe Harris. Billy Baron transferred to Rhode Island to help out his father Jim (didn’t exactly work out as planned). Post player Will Regan also went back home, to Buffalo. Top 100 recruits K.T. Harrell (Auburn) and James Johnson (San Diego State) opted to rebuild elsewhere as well.
Thanks to all those defections, Bennett once again found himself with plenty of PT on offer, and he’s gone about filling it with young talent again. While the Cavs wait for South Carolina transfer Anthony Gill to become eligible, another large class of newbies will take the floor in Charlottesville. The school just announced the addition of Lexington, Ky. shooting guard Taylor Barnette, who joins four other tyros hoping for ACC glory. Sooner rather than later.
The question is, will this group stick around? Bennett has admitted that he understands the desire to transfer – he even wanted to escape his own father back in the day. Transfers happen every season, amongst every part of the student population, for a variety of reasons. If Bennett can keep the Cavs winning in the ACC, that may be only one reason to stay, but it’s the one he has the most control over.