What do rising NBA stars John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and Brandon Knight all have in common?
They all played for the Kentucky Wildcats.
These three young, exciting players were drafted into the NBA within the last couple of years and embody the recent dominance that has been Kentucky basketball in the NBA Draft. In 2011, Kentucky was the only team to have two players drafted in the top 10 (Enes Kanter and Knight), and in 2010, five Wildcats, including Wall and Cousins, were drafted in the first round, which is unheard of.
In 2012, history could repeat itself, as a new crop of five Kentucky players could very well go in the first round. Specifically, these five comprised the 2012 National Championship starting lineup:
Center Anthony Davis, who is the projected No. 1 overall pick
Forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who will be drafted top 5, if not top 3
Forward Terrence Jones, who could possibly be drafted in the first half of the 1st round
Point Gaurd Marquis Teague
Shooting Gaurd Doron Lamb, who may have to wait for the 2nd round
But, who is accountable for all of this recent Wildcat success? None other than Kentucky head coach John Calipari.
Calipari, who is heading into his fourth season as Kentucky’s head coach, has led the Wildcats to three NCAA tournament appearances. In 2010 his team made it to the Elite Eight; in 2011 the Wildcats went to the Final Four; and in 2012 Kentucky won the championship. Overall, Calipari is 102-14 with the Wildcats, with an astounding 87.9 win percentage, and 505-151 in his wider head coaching career. He was named Sports Illustrated’s 2009 Coach of the Year, awarded the Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year award, and won the SEC Coach of the Year in 2010 and 2012.
What really sets Calipari apart from other coaches, however, is his recruiting capabilities.
Fox Sports’ College Basketball Team Recruiting Rankings has ranked the Wildcats No. 1 ever year since 2009, the year in which Calipari joined as head coach. Each of these years, Kentucky has brought in at least three top 25, 5-star recruits. Previously they were ranked 15 on the list.
For the University of Memphis, Calipari had success (seven consecutive 20-win seasons, the school' second-ever No. 1 ranking in the AP poll) because of the players he recruited, namely Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans.
For Kentucky, the NBA Draft history of the past three years speaks for itself.
Unsurprisingly, Calipari is once again setting up the Kentucky Wildcats for another standout season, with three top 25, 5-star recruits joining for 2012-2013 (center Nerlens Noel, forward Alex Poythress and guard Archie Goodwin).
Nevertheless, Thursday we will see if Kentucky’s reign over the NBA Draft continues.