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Wednesday / February 22.

Pitino Says Kentucky Has Best Recruiting Class in 20 Years

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Rick Pitino is sufficiently impressed with Kentucky’s historic recruiting class, but isn’t certain if the Wildcats should be the preseason No. 1.

“Best recruiting class in 20 years,” the Louisville coach told by text. “As far as No. 1, I’m not sure.”

Louisville, which is loaded with returning players, and Kentucky, which is stacked with talented frosh and a few key returnees, could end up battling for the national championship. Kentucky won it all in 2012, and Louisville won the title in 2013.

Kentucky’s roster includes four players projected as first-round picks in the 2014 NBA Draft by, and three others picked as first-rounders in 2015.

Freshman forward Julius Randle is projected as the No. 2 pick next year, followed by freshman point guard Andrew Harrison at No. 8, sophomore center Willie Cauley-Stein at No. 16 and sophomore forward Alex Poythress at No. 28.

Freshmen Dakari Johnson, Aaron Harrison and James Young are projected to go 21-23 in 2015.

“Two top six picks, three other potential first-rounders,” Pitino said, counting Andrew Harrison as a top-six pick. “It’s not as good as some of the UCLA teams but they stayed in school. They had to stay in school because of freshmen teams.”

Ironically, longtime New York recruiting expert Tom Konchalski told last year that Lew Alcindor alone going to UCLA was the greatest recruiting class in history.

In what may be the most highly anticipated regular-season game in recent memory, Kentucky hosts Louisville Dec. 28.

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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 whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. 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.