The 2013 men’s basketball national championship will be decided in less than three weeks. Kentucky fans hope the 2014 national championship was decided Wednesday.
One day after concluding a disappointing season with a loss to Robert Morris in the NIT, the defending national champions picked up a commitment from Dallas-area forward Julius Randle, who chose the Wildcats over Kansas, among other schools.
With Randle, Kentucky’s recruiting class, which also includes touted twin brothers Andrew and Aaron Harrison of the Houston area, is widely regarded as the best in the modern era of college basketball, eclipsing the famed “Fab Five” from Michigan more than two decades ago.
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“That’s a dominant group,” national recruiting analyst Evan Daniels of Scout.com said by phone. “That’s three top-five players. Six five-star prospects. I keep thinking every year [John] Calipari can’t keep one-upping himself, and he continues to do it. What he has accomplished on the recruiting trail is something we have never seen before.”
Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com said by phone that if Randle, an explosive player who has drawn comparisons to a young Chris Webber or Al Harrington, were eligible for this June’s NBA draft, he would definitely be a top-five pick and would also get consideration for the top overall pick.
Calipari led a freshman-centric team, which included top draft pick Anthony Davis, to the national championship last season. This year, with "one or two" players Calipari said did not buy into a team-first philosophy, the erratic team missed the NCAAs. But with Randle and two other Texas natives, Kentucky could be right back in the Final Four in 2014, which will be fittingly played at Cowboys Stadium.
“Unbelievable,” Givony said. “I have never seen a class like this, and I’m not sure we will ever see one (again). It’s a really interesting experiment to see how it turns out. If it doesn’t, well, then it’s probably never going to happen again.”