NCAA: The best recruiting coaches
by Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY Sports
Is it March yet? Hardly. With the NCAA tournament far in the rear-view mirror and Midnight Madness several months away, USA TODAY Sports examines the best story lines for the 2013-14 college basketball season.
Strong recruiting has become synonymous with success in NCAA basketball. Simply put: the best players can spearhead a team to championships. John Calipari proved this theory emphatically in 2012 when a freshmen-laden Kentucky Wildcats squad cut down the nets after their first and only college hoops season. On the contrary, the best talent doesn’t always equate to success. Ben Howland’s star-studded freshmen class at UCLA didn’t pan out and the former Bruins coach lost his job at the end of last season after failing to meet high expectations.
Outside of the season, July is unarguably the most important month for college coaches. The impression coaches can make on potential recruits can vastly determine their program’s success and alter their own careers. The July “live” period is three separate four-day periods over a three-week span. During these days, coaches travel all around the country to watch top prospects in various high school events.
This week, with the Peach Jam basketball tournament showcasing some of the nation’s top high school talent, the best recruiting coaches in the game are both highlighted and dissected.
1. Kentucky coach John Calipari: There’s no question Calipari is the best recruiter in college basketball. Since arriving in Lexington, he’s landed a wide array of five-star recruits including John Wall, Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel. Over the past five years, Calipari and his staff have reeled in a whopping 15 five-star recruits. He affirmed his dominance atop the recruiting world with his 2013 class that could be one of the best freshmen groups since the Fab 5 in the early 1990s. The vaunted incoming class — which boasts top-10 recruits Julius Randle, Dakari Johnson, Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison and James Young — will pin the Wildcats as the top team in the country heading into the season.
2. Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski: Coach K is the winningest coach in college basketball history and has won … [For more on Starting Five: The best recruiting college hoops coaches, click here.]