- Last Updated: 5:21 AM, April 14, 2012
- Posted: 1:29 AM, April 14, 2012
Say what you will about Kentucky coach John Calipari.
Say he comes across as a used-car salesman. Say he considers the NCAA rulebook optional reading. Say he goes to Mass everyday only to pray he lands the nation’s best recruiting class.
You can harbor those cynical beliefs, but you must also say this: John Calipari has changed the face of college basketball. He has proved the most talented group of freshmen and sophomores can beat the very good juniors and seniors who stay and develop at other schools.
Whether or not that’s good for college basketball is an argument for another day.
What is not up for debate is this: Calipari proved you can get young players, whose pupils are dilated with the NBA logo, to subjugate their games for the good of the team.
College basketball is supposed to be about the coaches, the NBA about the players. Not in Cal’s world.
He immediately takes pressure off his young players by telling them that since they are expected to win, if they fall short it’s his fault — he didn’t get them to buy in, he didn’t maximize their talent, he didn’t have the right gameplan.
“I think that Cal is probably the best salesman that our sport knows,’’ Kansas coach Bill Self said. “He does an unbelievable job of promoting Kentucky basketball through a variety of means. He’s kind of changed recruiting in some ways for the most part through social media, a lot of different ways.’’
Ah, yes, recruiting — the lifeblood of every program.
On the night of April 2, after he led Kentucky to the national championship over Kansas, Cal sounded like Fred the Baker in those Dunkin’ Donuts commercials (“Time to Make the Donuts”) when discussing his plans.
“Right now I’m going to have two days, and then I’ve got to go out recruiting,’’ he said.
And Cal did what he does best.
With just a couple of elite recruits still uncommitted, Calipari again landed the nation’s best recruiting class. He made sure of that when center Nerlens Noel, the second-ranked recruit in the nation, recently chose the reigning champion Wildcats over Georgetown and Syracuse.
Noel will step into the shot-blocking role occupied by Anthony Davis, who is expected to announce this month he is going to the NBA. Power forward Alex Poythress (No. 8 recruit) eases the losses of forwards Terrence Jones and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Shooting guard Archie Goodwin (No. 14) replace Doron Lamb of Queens.
Certainly, some of the rich got richer. Indiana, now back on track under coach Tom Crean, has the nation’s fifth-best class. North Carolina has the No. 9 class, followed by Kansas. Michigan State got in at 13th.Follow @NYPostsports