John Calipari sits on top of the mountain in the world of college basketball. However, being king doesn’t make him immune to a problem. This is elite recruiting, and every action comes with a reaction.
And there’s reason to believe a recent addition in Lexington is cause for a little case of nervousness typically uncommon at Kentucky.
The good news for UK fans is that wing James Young (Rochester, Mich./Rochester) is a Wildcat. The bad news for UK fans is that James Young is a Wildcat.
At least it could be from the perspective of another elite player.
Did No. 1 junior Andrew Wiggins (Thornhill, Ontario/Huntington Prep) alter his view of Kentucky once it landed Young? Is that why other schools are probing him this week?
“I think that’s what it was,” Huntington coach Rob Fulford said. “Andrew’s never said that I’m down to Kentucky and Florida State. That’s never come out of his mouth. They were perceived to be the favorites, and I think other schools didn’t want to recruit against Kentucky because they didn’t think they could beat them. Florida State is in there because mom and dad went there.
“When James Young committed, schools thought UK had a small forward and they wanted to start recruiting him. Ohio State started reaching out to him. North Carolina’s always been in there. Kansas called and had been trying (to recruit him).”
From an outsider’s perspective, there’s little denying that Young’s commitment caused a ripple. Calipari has been to see Wiggins twice this fall. Florida State’s Leonard Hamilton has been once. North Carolina’s Roy Williams came this week, and Ohio State and Kansas will have sent assistants by the time you finish reading this blog.
Young’s pledge to Kentucky cracked the door open for others to attempt to recruit Wiggins. At the very least, it offered up a ray of hope. “I think that’s fair to say,” said one coach trying to nudge into the mix. “When we saw that, it’s why we tried to get involved.”
Let’s be honest, Ohio State and Kansas hadn’t previously been major players with Wiggins. North Carolina had been recruiting Wiggins, but during the summer it was Kentucky and Florida State that went out of their way to watch Wiggins in Canada while other head coaches were assigned to domestic targets.
What happens from here and who gets into his recruitment is still to be determined. Regardless, that’s not the biggest issue on Wiggins’ plate at the moment. Behind the scenes, Wiggins and his family are weighing the issue of whether to move into the senior class or remain a junior.
Here’s something to think about: Would Young’s commitment to Kentucky cause as much of a ripple or mean anything to Wiggins if he was staying in the 2014 class?
My take is that when you combine the commitment by Young and the subsequent interest being ramped up by KU, UNC and OSU you have at least reason to wonder about Wiggins reclassifying as a senior. If he remains a junior he’ll be ineligible for the 2014 McDonald's All-America game and another year away from the NBA draft. Both are issues a typical elite recruit will consider.
What remains to be seen is how Kentucky manages the situation. Fulford admitted Young’s addition to Kentucky definitely affected Wiggins’ recruitment.
“It’s in direct correlation with James Young that the other schools have picked up," Fulford said. "Now they figure they have a sales pitch.”
Kentucky has made its pitch to Wiggins clear in advance of any commitment.
“Calipari told him upfront that they’re going to have other guys, and if you’re not willing to play with other superstars then this isn’t the place for you,” Fulford said.
Wiggins knew Kentucky wouldn't pass up an opportunity to add a top-10 player. Regardless of Young's addition, the Wildcats will be in the mix.
Kentucky doesn’t need Wiggins -- but it sure would like to have him. No good general wants the opposing army to have a game-changing weapon. Kentucky isn't used to going into battle without the best weaponry.
The question is: Can it shoehorn another high-flying weapon into its arsenal?