May 19, 2009
It's not even 12 hours since the original John Wall-to-Kentucky story broke, and already we have a new consensus favorite to win the 2009-10 national title: the Kentucky Wildcats.
Wall is that good. He tips the scales that much. But, in the words of the dude on "Reading Rainbow," you don't have to take my word for it. Pretty much everyone seems to agree, starting with Fox Sports' Jeff Goodman, who did a quick re-boot of his early preseason Top 25 rankings so as to include Kentucky at the top:
Just think about this: Two fringe McDonald's All-Americans -- Daniel Orton and Eric Bledsoe -- will be role players who probably won't see the floor with the game on the line. Wall and Meeks in the backcourt with a big man trio of Patterson and heralded freshmen bigs DeMarcus Cousins and Orton make this group the deepest and most talented in the nation.
Dan Shanoff, noted Florida fan, is also jumping on the bandwagon:
Why? Because UK reportedly just got super-prospect John Wall, who instantly becomes the best player in college basketball. Wall isn't just a lock as the No. 1 overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft -- he could have been in the mix for the No. 1 pick THIS year. But it's not just Wall. It's the return of Patrick Patterson, the best post player in the country. It's the collection of a recruiting class that was arguably No. 1 in the country BEFORE Wall joined.
It goes on. Rush the Court says "with all due respect ... that looks like the No. 1 lineup to us." Chris Littman at The Sporting Blog headlines: "UK Adds John Wall; NCAA Cancels Season." FanHouse says "expectations go up to 11." And I agree. How could you not? Most of the aforementioned quotes hedge on Jodie Meeks' return, but even if Meeks stays home, Calipari just added the No. 1 overall recruit -- a player capable of this -- to what was already the country's best recruiting class. Throw that in with Patrick Patterson's return, and even if Meeks decides to stay in the draft, Kentucky is a top five team, easily. Those recruits are that good. And if we've learned anything in the one-and-done era, it's that inexperience doesn't matter as much as we might think. Truly special players are special at any age.
You might say that Kentucky's biggest prospective weakness is also its architect: Calipari. The challenge now involves working all this talent -- the dynamic between Bledsoe and Wall will be especially interesting -- into team that won't only dominate its conference rivals but that is built for the postseason, too. Calipari's put this monstrosity of a team together. Now he has to actually coach it. I believe you can put that in the "good problems" file.