May 19, 2009
Friends, nobles, lend me your ears. If you have Kentucky on the schedule in 2009-10, things just got exceedingly more difficult for you. No. 1 overall recruit John Wall has made his decision, according to Rivals' excellent Jerry Meyer: Wall will play at Kentucky this season.
The recruitment has gone on long enough that most people are familiar with the various permutations behind the scenes, but in case you're catching up, a quick primer: Wall is the best recruit in the country. He considered leaving for the NBA draft on a fifth-year-senior technicality before deciding to attend college. He eventually narrowed his list of schools -- which could have included every school in the world, had he wanted -- to Duke, Miami and Kentucky. Miami would have been his show and he liked the campus. Duke needed a point guard right away and his handler, AAU coach Brian Clifton, liked the idea of Duke's sheltered team environment keeping out the hangers-on. (Oh, and Wall was arrested for breaking and entering on May 4, but it doesn't seem to have affected his recruitment in the slightest.)
Kentucky, on the other hand, was at a disadvantage: John Calipari just signed another top point guard, Eric Bledsoe, to go along with the returning DeAndre Liggins. Would Wall need to compete for time? Would that affect his decision? Did Kentucky think it was out of the Wall sweepstakes, and instead signed Bledsoe as insurance?
Turns out, you never underestimate Calipari when it comes to recruiting. He is unstoppable. It's frightening, really. After convincing Patrick Patterson to forgo the NBA -- despite an outside chance of being a lottery pick -- Calipari will bring in four five-star recruits to next year's Kentucky team, including the best player in the country, a guy who plays a little bit like a smoother, ambidextrous Derrick Rose. Kentucky was already going to be good next year. This is terrifying. Not just for other teams; nay, for humanity at large. Calipari, through whatever means, is apparently capable of convincing young men that Memphis and Lexington are truly desirable places to spend a year before heading to the NBA. Let's pray he sticks to basketball. That elevated form of persuasion is not to be trifled with.
Update: In the interest of providing credit where due, SLAM broke the story at like 1 a.m. this morning. Excellent work, SLAM. (For real, that magazine rules.)