John Calipari has quite the dilemma on his hands. Every year he has a top 5 recruiting class and each year he seems to send countless prospects to the NBA. This year is no different with the number 1 recruiting class in the country. Naturally they will contend for the national championship this year right? Wrong and here is why.
In college basketball you need a mixture of natural talent and experience in order to win. Kentucky has the talent but lacks experience and that was made evident against Kansas. Run and gun AAU basketball is how I would describe Kentucky’s offense against Kansas, there was very little passing and ball movement and too much iso play and jacking up 3-pointers. Which by the way they cannot make as they shot 3-21 from 3. This style of play is due to their lack of experience. The only player on Kentucky’s roster with real experience is PG Davion Mintz and he doesn’t even start, even though he is much better than current PG Devin Askew. Devin Askew got abused by Kansas, he looked like a JV player trying to play varsity. He’s not ready for the big time yet. Kentucky looked much better with Davion Mintz handling the ball. But Kansas is a top 10 team there’s no need to be worried right? Wrong. Kentucky got their ass kicked by Richmond. A team with far less talent than Kentucky, but has the experience to know how to play college basketball. Again in that game Kentucky shot 0-10 from 3. In both games Kentucky lacked the grit and discipline needed to win college basketball games. The only player who showed any grit was Isaiah Jackson who had 8 blocks! He was the only Kentucky player to show any physical prowess. Kansas could not drive to the hoop when he was in the game, kid’s a stud.
Take the 2014-15 Wildcats for example, the last Kentucky team to make the final four. That team had probably the most talented roster in college basketball. With future all stars Karl Anthony Towns and Devin Booker, both were freshman on that team. In addition though they had upperclassman Willie Cauley Stein and sophomore guards the Harrison brothers. While a very good they lost to Wisconsin a team with much more experience and it can be argued that they would have benefited from more experience.
Kentucky’s roster is totally gutted from last year. They are not returning a single player who scored for them from last season as they all either graduated or went to the NBA. I understand if Calipari want to play freshman now so they gain experience to be good when they are juniors or seniors, but most of these players probably be there next season next season, as the majority of their recruiting class will probably go pro. Calipari need to change his recruiting strategy if he wants to win championships. He needs more players like Davion Mintz who bring that experience and grit needed to win in college basketball. The transfer portal now makes it much easier to find grad transfers, and Kentucky needs experience if they want to compete in the future.
By the way Isaiah Jackson is a top 10 pick in this years draft. Guaranteeing it now, he’s a beast.