Ever since Calipari arrived at UK with his one-and-done business model, there have been critics of his methods who say that he simply “rolls the ball out” and lets the pure talent of the players do the talking. While his job becomes much easier considering he is able to bring in the best of the best each season, it is hardly a cakewalk for Calipari and his staff; these players must be developed in a short time in order to get ready for not only the NCAA postseason, but for their possible future in the NBA. In essence, the job Calipari does year in and year out is simply amazing. Let’s take a look at some ex-UK recruits who chose other schools over Kentucky and where they are now:
Quincy Miller: Miller was a 5 star prospect out of North Carolina who was a Top-10 high school player in the class of 2011. UK seemed to be one of Miller’s top schools, but he ended up choosing Baylor over the Wildcats where he performed very well, earning co-Big 12 Freshmen of the Year honors and an Honorable Mention on the All-Big 12 team. He first said he would be coming back for his sophomore year but instead declared for the NBA Draft and was selected in the 2nd Round by the Denver Nuggets. He was assigned to the NBA’s D-League where he currently plays for the Iowa Energy.
LeBryan Nash:: Despite having the coolest name ever (a mixture of LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Steve Nash), Nash was courted heavily by UK, but instead chose to attend Oklahoma State and play for former UK player Travis Ford. Nash is still there, starting his sophomore season; he averaged 13.3 ppg last season for a 15-18 squad who missed the NCAA and NIT tournaments. Nash did earn co-Big 12 Freshmen of the Year accolades with Quincy Miller, but has yet to pursue a professional career.
CJ Leslie: Leslie was a Class of 2010 recruit who played with John Wall at Word of God Academy during high school. It was rumored that they were going to play for the same school, but it was also rumored that they didn’t like each other very much, so take that as you will. Leslie seemed to be a great fit for the 2010 class and most certainly would have been the missing piece we needed to win it all. (If Meeks had stayed, we would’ve been undefeated. No question.) Leslie instead went to play for NC State, where he was practically a non-factor his freshmen year and slightly more productive his sophomore year. He has started his junior year with NC State, a squad which finally looked promising, but has lost early season games that question their true potential.
Shabazz Muhammed: Oh, Shabazz. We hardly knew you. Muhammed was either the number 1 or number 1A prospect of last year’s class, depending on who you listen to. He was a terrific high school player and seemed to be headed to UK before surprising a lot of people and choosing UCLA instead. He then lost thousands upon thousands of Twitter followers due to his exodus, which just makes UK fans seems crazy. He is having, well, not the best start to his college experience, as he was found guilty of NCAA violations and forced to sit out 3 games. In his absence (and with him playing), UCLA has imploded, losing 2 key players to transfers and an early season loss to Cal Poly. Muhammed still has a chance at raising a banner, but it will most likely be this one.
Mitch McGary: This may be the only UK recruit who has had a successful career after choosing over UK. McGary seemed to be down to UK, Michigan, and Duke, and chose the school with a rich basketball tradition and multiple titles- actually, he didn’t. He chose Michigan. Anyway, the Wolverines are ranked #3 in the nation right now, and McGary seems to be having a good early start to his career. I literally just stumbled across his name and had forgotten about him, but I hope everything goes well.
As you can see, when recruits don’t choose UK, it seems they may be throwing away their chance at the fast track to an NBA career. Granted, not all of UK’s players have been successful so far in the pros, but it’s hard to argue with a coach who has put 15+ players in the NBA and won a national championship along the way. I bet some of the players listed above wish they had listened to Cal, but instead, they’re playing for Travis Ford and the Iowa Energy. So, yeah.