Kentucky: State of championship basketball
by Nicole Auerbach, USA TODAY Sports
ATLANTA — Another NCAA tournament title game has come and gone, and yet again the championship trophy is headed to the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The scary part? It could be back in the same state again next spring.
Kentucky’s incoming recruiting class is easily the best in the nation, and arguably the greatest class ever assembled. The Wildcats will likely be preseason No. 1 in every college basketball poll. So a year after Louisville followed Kentucky by winning the title, Kentucky will be the favorite to win it again. Much like the BCS National Championship trophy, which has resided in the state of Alabama for four years running, the NCAA men’s basketball trophy might become a fixture of the Bluegrass State.
“It’s basketball heaven in Kentucky,” said Richard Pitino, Louisville coach Rick Pitino’s son and former assistant. “Those are probably two of the most rabid fan bases in the country. They want to go to Final Fours and win championships. They really don’t settle for less.”
Already, Calipari has signed Julius Randle, the top-ranked power forward in the nation, Andrew Harrison (the No. 1 point guard recruit), Aaron Harrison (No. 1 shooting guard), James Young (the No. 2 shooting guard), Dakari Johnson (the No. 1 center), and Marcus Lee (the No. 5 power forward). Each of the six signees is a five-star recruit.
And the Wildcats could still grab Andrew Wiggins, the top overall prospect in the class of 2013. He’s narrowed down his choices to Kentucky, Florida State, Kansas and North Carolina. He’ll have to decide if he wants to play alongside more stars than the Miami Heat have – some of last year’s heralded freshman will return next season as well – or carve his own path.
“They had the No. 1 recruiting class last year, and those were very talented players, but I think the crop coming in has a different level of players,” said Evan Daniels, a recruiting expert for FOX/Scout.com. “These are elite-level prospects. These are guys, especially the Harrison twins and Julius Randle, who are going to have a major, major impact. They’re positioned pretty nicely.”
Calipari pieces together … [For more on Kentucky is the state of championship basketball, click here.]