Over the years, under John Calipari, Kentucky has often been referred to as an NBA D-League team because of “how many guys they get drafted into the NBA.”
But how does where they were ranked coming into college compared to where they were drafted? Does being one of the top ranked players in the country and going to Kentucky mean you’ll be drafted high in the NBA?
Let’s look at the recruiting classes for Kentucky since John Calipari arrived and see how their NBA Draft position compares to their recruiting ranking* (from 247sports.com).
*Only players who have graduated/declared for the draft were included. Anyone who transferred to another school, or never actually played for the school were not included.
|Player||Class||Rank||NBA Draft Pick|
|Skal Labissiere||2015-16||2nd||28th – 2016|
|Jamal Murray||2015-16||10th||7th – 2016|
|Karl Anthony-Towns||2014-15||5th||1st – 2015|
|Trey Lyles||2014-15||10th||12th – 2015|
|Devon Booker||2014-15||22nd||13th – 2015|
|Julius Randle||2013-14||2nd||7th – 2014|
|Andrew Harrison||2013-14||5th||44th – 2015|
|James Young||2013-14||9th||17th – 2014|
|Dakari Johnson||2013-14||10th||48th – 2015|
|Archie Goodwin||2012-13||15th||29th – 2013|
|Nerles Noel||2012-13||1st||6th – 2013|
|Willie Cauley-Stein||2012-13||43rd||6th – 2015|
|Anthony Davis||2011-12||1st||1st – 2012|
|Michael Kidd-Gilchrist||2011-12||3rd||2nd – 2012|
|Marquis Teaque||2011-12||7th||29th – 2012|
|Brandon Knight||2010-11||5th||8th – 2011|
|Terence Jones||2010-11||8th||18th – 2012|
|Doron Lamb||2010-11||23rd||42nd – 2012|
|John Wall||2009-10||2nd||1st – 2010|
|DeMarcus Cousins||2009-10||3rd||5th – 2010|
|Daniel Orton||2009-10||16th||29th – 2010|
|Eric Bledsoe||2009-10||57th||18th – 2010|
*Note: players who transferred or were ineligible and never played for Kentucky were not included.
The Wildcats have had 19 Top 10 recruits in this time span. Nine of those have been drafted in the Top 10. Five were either selected in the second round (non-guaranteed contract) or were not drafted at all. Three others were selected outside the draft lottery.
Over 75% of Kentucky recruits were ranked as Top 25 players, but only 30% of those have ended up as Top 10 picks (one is still in school). Eight of their Top 25 players have spent full or partial seasons in the NBA D-League.
How does that compare to the recruits coming to Duke?
|Player||Class||Rank||NBA Draft Pick|
|Brandon Ingram||2015-16||1st||2nd – 2016|
|Jahlil Okafor||2014-15||1st||3rd – 2015|
|Tyus Jones||2014-15||7th||24th – 2015|
|Justise Winslow||2014-15||9th||10th – 2015|
|Jabari Parker||2013-14||4th||2nd – 2014|
|Austin Rivers||2011-12||2nd||10th – 2012|
|Kyrie Irving||2010-11||2nd||1st – 2011|
|Ryan Kelly||2009-10||15th||48th – 2013|
|Mason Plumlee||2009-10||25th||22th – 2013|
In that same time span Duke has had seven Top 10 recruits, including three straight years of having a Top 3 pick (Parker, Okafor, and Ingram). Only one of those was drafted outside the Top 10 (Tyus Jones #24 overall).
Over 55% of Duke Basketball recruits have been ranked in the Top 25. From those recruits, 50% have been a Top 10 pick (Grayson Allen, Luke Kennard, and Chase Jeter are still in school). Only two of those (Ryan Kelly and Tyus Jones) have spent any time in the D-League.
Looking ahead to the 2017 NBA Draft, DraftExpress.com currently has Harry Giles #1, Jayson Tatum #3, Marques Bolden #8, and Grayson Allen #20. The first Kentucky recruit to enter the Top 10 is Edrice Adebayo at #9. For all the talk about Kentucky having the #1 recruiting class, three of Duke’s recruits are projected to be drafted before the first from Kentucky. Even Dennis Smith from NC State is projected to go #6 overall.
The numbers suggest while Kentucky may get more Top 10 recruits, Duke does a better job of having their ranking translate into a Top 10 draft position.