Last summer, following a Wildcat-laden NBA Draft, head coach John Calipari called the team's five first round picks as the, "the biggest day in Kentucky basketball history." Naturally, it drew ire from the gray-haird fans in the Bluegrass State, but that's probably because it was misinterpreted. What Cal was trying to say was that a new order had been established in Big Blue Nation and that, going forward, Cal was going to lure heaps of one-and-done players to Lexington and turn the school into the most interesting team in the nation that never really had a shot of winning a national championship but would always be very relevant.
Or was he?
In year two of the new regime, Cal's freshman class is good, really good, but they haven't been as spectacular as last year's coup of John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins et al. Terrence Jones, he's nice and a likely lottery pick, but he's not a franchise changer. Brandon Knight, he's got a pretty stroke but isn't quite as electric as the Wildcats point guard that proceeded him.
Addressing the media before Saturday's game against Florida, Cal confidently said that he didn't think any of his precocious players were ready for the NBA, and would not advise them to go pro at this stage in their development. Things could change by the end of the season, but at this time they're not ready.
Now we know that no college coach is powerful enough to dissuade a player from leaving early, but the way Cal uses the media to his advantage, whether it be to motivate a player or to reiterate what was likely said behind closed doors is fascinating. Could Cal's philosophy of churning out a new crop of studs each year be put on pause to build a super team for 2011-2012?
Maybe he sees an opportunity for two really good college players to help next year's exceptional incoming class reach the Final Four and possibly win a national title. A decrease in turnover that sees any combination of Knight, Jones and Doron Lamb stick around would immediately make next year's Wildcats team one of the deepest in the country, and a unanimous pre-season favorite.