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Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Biggest threat to Kentucky's No. 1 class

By Adam Finkelstein


Kentucky’s dominance of the recruiting landscape has never been greater than it is right now, and for good reason. John Calipari’s won his first national championship last year, stars Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were taken with the first two picks of last year’s NBA Draft and the team has achieved unprecedented television exposure, giving college basketball’s greatest salesman a whole lot of new material to sell recruits on.

The Wildcats are so far ahead of everyone else in their 2013 recruiting class that our coverage of the early signing period has essentially removed them from the discussion, comparing Kentucky’s current recruiting class only to some of the best in history and, today, rating every other class in the country, after Kentucky.

Jabari Parker
Landing a commitment from No. 2 prospect Jabari Parker could lead to a significant rise in the ESPN class rankings.
The question that has yet to be asked is whether or not there is a program with even the slightest chance of catching Kentucky for the top spot in this year’s class rankings. And believe it or not, it is a possibility.

Florida is the only other program that has signed two top 10 prospects, with No. 9 Kasey Hill and No. 10 Chris Walker on board. The trio of Kenny Boynton, Erik Murphy and Mike Rosario are all graduating this year and the Gators have one more scholarship to play with as they hope to swing for the fences and land one of their remaining targets, with Jabari Parker, Julius Randle, and Dakari Johnson still on the board.

Here’s a quick disclaimer before we go further with any scenarios. Kentucky is also heavily involved with Randle and Johnson as well as No. 1 overall prospect Andrew Wiggins and Aaron Gordon. All they would need to do is land a commitment from one of those guys to mathematically guarantee their fourth top-rated class in the last five years. While it appears unlikely that Calipari will go 0-for-4 with the remaining elite prospects, let’s return to the scenario for arguments sake.

Let’s say Parker, the second overall prospect in the ESPN 100, picks Florida over Michigan State, Duke, Stanford, and BYU. Let’s also say that Wiggins chooses Florida State, where his parents were both college athletes and teammate Xavier Rathan-Mayes has already committed, over Kentucky. While both of those are legit possibilities, even in that scenario Kentucky would maintain its edge according to our ESPN formula.

Mathematically speaking, the only way that Florida could usurp Kentucky would be to land either Randle or Johnson, in addition to Parker. Now, for that to happen, Florida would need to come up with an extra scholarship, but attrition has become so common in this day and age of college basketball, that isn’t all that hard to imagine either.

So let’s say Wiggins to Florida State, low man on the Florida totem poll transfers, and Parker and Randle end up Gators. Now, Billy Donovan would have the top-ranked recruiting class in the country. All he would need then is to hope Gordon stays on the west coast at either Washington or Arizona (not farfetched considering Kentucky already has two PFs in their class) and Johnson to land with Georgetown (very reasonable given their need up front) or Ohio State.

So there you have it.

While Kentucky may be an Andrew Wiggins signature away from landing what could be one of the top recruiting classes in recent history, there is a potential scenario, albeit a long-winded one, that could give Florida the top recruiting class in the country.