College, High School / Apr 19, 2010 / 1:30 pm

Kentucky’s John Calipari Can Pull Off Amazing Recruiting Hat Trick

It’s safe to say that in one year, John Calipari has turned Kentucky into NBA U. With five players slated to go in the first 20 picks of this year’s NBA Draft, and commitments last week from top-five players in the Class of 2010 (Brandon Knight) and Class of 2011 (Michael Gilchrist) – not to mention All-American senior Doron Lamb – you’d think Coach Cal would take a day off. Think again. While there are still some outstanding players who might commit to the Wildcats for next year, Calipari is focusing his attention on the Class of 2012.

Tonight, along with assistant coach Orlando Antigua and staff member Tony Delk, the trio will be in Wichita, Kan. to attend an open gym featuring 6-8, 215-pound sophomore Perry Ellis, a two-time Player of the Year for the state of Kansas and arguably the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2012. You might remember reading about Ellis back in Dime #49, when we put on the cover: “Meet the No. 1 pick in the 2013 Draft.” One year later, we still stand behind that statement.

Ellis already has scholarship offers from Kentucky, Arizona, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Memphis and Wichita State, and tonight’s open gym will also feature a slew of coaches in attendance. In addition to Calipari & Co., Stanford’s Johnny Dawkins, Kansas’ Bill Self, K-State’s Frank Martin, and coaches from Texas A&M, Louisville, Memphis and Wichita State will checking out the phenom tonight.

This past season, Ellis led Wichita Heights High School (23-2) to a second consecutive Class 6A state tournament title, averaging 22.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.1 steals per game. And beyond his talent on the court, it’s his talent in the classroom that has coaches salivating for the prep star. Ellis has maintained a 4.0 GPA in the classroom and ranks No. 1 in his class.

While there is no frontrunner as of yet, Ellis’ sister plays basketball at Memphis, and Calipari began recruiting him when he was still the coach there. As only a sophomore, he’s clearly in no rush to make a decision, but you can see that schools aren’t willing to take this recruitment lightly.

What do you think? If you were Ellis, where would you sign?

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  • haslem

    shouldn’t 1 and done’s be LESS coveted than other guys (i.e. Schyners over John Walls). John Wall you only get for a year, odds are you don’t win the whole thing because it takes time for a team to develop so wouldn’t it make more sense to get talented guys that have a chance of staying 4 years?
    How much can you coach a guy in 1 year? what kinda team can you form chemistry and style wise over just 1 year?
    Obviously a lot of teams will take what they can get, but if you have the pick of the litter why not get someone who may actually one day get a degree in communications?

  • Dave / NM

    Kentucky and Calipari are the perfect mix. I’m not so sure championships mean what they once did. Today’s game is more about the excitement factor and Cal has certainly brought excitement to Kentucky basketball. Every lover of college basketball should be grateful because it seems Calipari manages to keep the sport in the news every day of the year. Love ‘em or Hate ‘em, UK is the premier newsmaker in college basketball today.

  • Butlers normally serve

    Once when I was a kid, I had a Schyner once… I paid him back.

  • 12thMan


    Theres no chance that this kid would be one and done at all…kids got a 4.0 so its clear that he values his education. He could stay

  • Aron Phillips

    @ haslem

    I think your argument is worthy of a post. Depends on what your goals as a program are. When guys come to school, it’s not really about coaching. They’re there for a year, and guys choose coaches that send players to the pros.

  • Jason

    Yeah #1, they shouldn’t go after the very best players, they should only recruit the really good players. Players will began holding back, for fear of playing themselves out of the chance at going to the top schools.

    Sheez, the only people who say such crap as you wrote, are people who’s prize recruit just chose UK. Cal had 4 one and dones until this year, and this year no one could have predicted that 4 players would position themselves into the first round in one year. Seems to me like his team just had an exceptionally good year. One year does not make a trend nor an epidemic. UK will continue to recruit the best players, and as long as those players continue to excel, whether it’s for one year or four,they will continue to get them.

  • jm

    Coach Cal could recruit all the top one and done’s he wants. He is proven to be a great recruiter, but he hasn’t won the the big games he needs to. With the way things are going with the types of players he recruits and it seems he gets outcoached at times…might be a while if ever that he wins a title. Let’s not forget that both of his final 4 appearances were vacated as well. I know he wasn’t officially named…but a little coincidental…don’t you think???

    He is really putting together a nice list of top players in the league over the last few years. I would imagine if this keeps up though, the KY faithful will be sick of how many players walk in and out of the program in 1 to 2 years without a title. As fun as it is to watch such talent, I wouldn’t want him to run my favorite program.

  • heavy d

    UK fans want a championship. Calipari needs to land a couple of development guys who want to stick around to go with elite 1 and done players to make a real title run. Of course that title would probably be vacated within a couple years as grade fixing or payments come to light. Calipari will probably skip out of town back the NBA just in time to avoid the scandal and not actually have anything proven against him (again).

  • S-SiN

    How is getting that turkish big who manhandled and mollested the whole team USA fronline at NIKE HOOP SUMMIT this year to the point of frustration isn’t anywhere to be found in an article written specifically about Kentucky’s recruiting? It’s not like you can’t remember his name like me.

  • S-SiN


    Enes Kanter. 34pts+13rbs 13/21. meet new Dirk fellas.

  • Jason

    Some of these players wouldn’t have been one and done if not for Cal, he develops them, and puts them in a system that allows them to showcase their abilities. He gets elite players because he allows the to be elite. No one thought Cousins or Bledsoe would be one and done, especially not Orton, who I think should return, even Tyreke Evans was not considered one and done out of high school. To say he is recruiting one and dones is misleading, he is creating one and dones.

  • Track


    Great point. For anyone to insinuate that no coaching happens for the one-and-done’s is insane. Watch tape of Cousins in the first 10 games of the season and then watch the last 20+ games. Cousins went from a mid first rounder on talent alone to a top 5 pick due to coaching.

    And the difference between a 4-year player like Scheyer and John Wall is simple – Scheyer didn’t have anywhere near the talent of Wall as a freshman to even consider being one-and-done. Most players don’t but there are a few even without coaching that can and a few more with coaching that can do it. Kentucky had some of both and the coaching pushed them over the top – plain and simple.