Apr 12, 2012, 8:45 AM EDT
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.
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