January 06, 2013
Following a commitment from No. 1 center Dakari Johnson this week, people -- including me -- starting talking about whether the (still in-progress) Class of 2013 is the best ever.
John Calipari told those talking about it to slow down. Via his website:
You can’t say that next year’s class is the best ever before they’ve even gotten here. We’re not even done yet. We may still sign another kid or two, but that’s not the point. Let them get here, let them figure out how hard they have to work and then let them figure out how together they’re going to have to be – how they’re truly going to have to be their brother’s keeper.
Like every team I’ve had, they are going to have to learn how to play more for their team than for themselves, yet they’re going to have to break comfort barriers that they’ve accepted their whole lives. Every game will be the other team’s Super Bowl.
This year’s team hasn’t figured that out yet. It just goes to show you that having talented kids and preseason accolades means nothing. It guarantees you nothing.
Ultimately, next year’s class will be judged on results. I may have a different viewpoint on that, but that’s just the way it is. They can’t be deemed anything until they get here and play. If you look at the best classes of all-time, it’s about what they accomplished. Yeah, they came in with high standards, but there have been a lot of classes that have been labeled No. 1 that didn’t pan out.
In the end, what I’m saying is to preordain a group of players isn’t fair to them. Let them pave their own way like every other group I’ve recruited over the years. It’s doesn’t mean I’m not excited to coach next year’s class or that they’re not going to be any good, but to say they are the best ever, that’s not fair to them or anyone else.
What Calipari's saying is true. (And how great of a line is the part where he just slips in that, oh, by the way, we may still sign one or two more players, 'but that's not that point.')
But the whole "best recruiting class ever" talk is a matter of perception.
Yes, the accomplishments of a recruiting class will matter the most in terms of legacy.
But the terms I -- and many others -- was operating on are a strictly pre-college basis. A recruiting class can be judged, by the numbers and the rankings, against others. It's a comparison between collections of talent. Considering one class "the best ever" does not automatically imply it will end up being the class with the best results, nor should it require that implication. I do think you can (correctly) call an incoming class "the best ever" without them having taken the floor.
They will, of course, then have to prove it.