Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
NBA Scouting Director: Kentucky on Brink of Greatest Class Ever
If Kentucky adds Andrew Wiggins to a recruiting class that now includes James Young and Andrew and Aaron Harrison, head coach John Calipari could be moving toward his greatest recruiting class in history.
That’s what the Director of Scouting for one NBA team in the 2012 lottery told SNY.tv Thursday morning.
“On paper, for an NBA-type class certainly it’s the greatest of all time, you would think,” the Director of Scouting said by phone. “On paper it would be and yet there’s a lot to measure up to, too.”
The scout was referring to last year’s class that produced Calipari’s first national championship and the No. 1 and 2 picks in the NBA Draft in Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Still, speaking of the potential blockbuster class for 2013, the Director of Scouting said, “I mean, it’s mind boggling. What it tells me is NBA teams should just go rent a condo for the year in Lexington next year.”
The 6-foot-6 Young, the Scout.com No. 9 player in the Class of 2013, committed to Kentucky Thursday, choosing the school over Michigan State, Syracuse and Kansas.
“He’s up there,” the Director of Scouting said. “I don’t think he’s as good as Wiggins but with that said he’s a Top 10 player.”
Kentucky has already landed the Harrison twins, the Nos. 2 and 3 players in the Scout rankings.
“They’re Top 10 guys,” the Director of Scouting said. “You can make an argument if Wiggins doesn’t reclassify [to 2013 from 2014] one of those twins could go No. 1 in that class.”
A second NBA scout added: “I think the Harrison twins are phenomenal. They’re the best high school guards I’ve seen. The twins already put it in the conversation for [Calipari’s] best class. And if he can round it out and get four or five of these elite players, I would say it’s his best class.”
Having already landed power forward Derek Willis, Kentucky remains in the mix for 6-9 power forward Julius Randle, another presumed lottery pick whom Scout has ranked at No. 4 in the class. Randle will announce in the spring.
Forwards Aaron Gordon (No. 5), Noah Vonleh (No. 7), Marcus Lee (No. 38) and Tyler Roberson (No. 47) are all also considering Kentucky, with Lee down to Cal and Kentucky and set to visit Friday for Midnight Madness.
Despite all that talent, the 6-8 Wiggins, who will not attend Kentucky’s Midnight Madness because he’s at home with family in Toronto, is considered the crown jewel of the group.
“In my opinion, he’s the best player player in the world in his birth year,” the Director of Scouting said. “I think he’s the best player in the world.”
Wiggins has yet to announce whether he will reclassify to 2013 from 2014, but if he does, Kentucky is considered the odds-on favorite, with Florida State also in the mix. Wiggins’s parents, former NBA player Mitchell Wiggins and former Canadian track star Marita Payne, both attended FSU.
If he does reclassify, the Director of Scouting said Wiggins would automatically be the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
“I don’t see how anybody [else] is in the conversation right now,” he said.
Aaron Harrson, Young and Wiggins are all wing players, yet Calipari has apparently persuaded all of them that they can play — and thrive — together.
“Well, Cal does a good job of developing guys into being versatile players and being able to play the way he plays,” the Director of Scouting said.
“He doesn’t play a stereotypical game. He’ll use dribble penetration if that’s the right thing. He’ll throw lobs up to the rim. He develops players pretty well in terms of their versatility.
“I mean, how do you not have the ability to sell what Cal has done? He’s been to the Final Four multiple times. He’s won a national championship. He gets guys drafted.
“We don’t draft them because they play for Cal, we draft them because they’re great. And he recruits great players that we want.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.