Rothstein Files: Another Recruiting Coup For Kentucky’s Calipari?

By Jon Rothstein
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It is more than conceivable that John Calipari could follow up his first ever National Championship with his greatest recruiting coup ever.

Should Kentucky beat Louisville on Saturday at the Final Four and then triumph over the winner of Kansas/Ohio State on Monday, Calipari would have given folks in the Commonwealth everything they’ve been craving since his arrival and then could be in position to outdo himself within a few weeks.

Multiple sources say there is more than a legitimate chance of Kentucky landing the top two prospects in the Class of 2012 in 6-foot-10 shot blocker Nerlens Noel and lefty wing Shabazz Muhammad.

Noel would immediately fill the role for the Wildcats vacated once Anthony Davis leaves for the NBA as expected. The Massachusetts native is also considering Syracuse and Georgetown but those close to the situation believe the burgeoning big man will ultimately wind up in Lexington.

Muhammad meanwhile, is a more interesting situation. A terrific scorer at 6-foot-6, Muhammad has the ability to be the best player in the country next season and has been linked to several different potential destinations during his recruiting process.

While he’s recently officially visited Duke, Muhammad has long been rumored to be part of a dream recruiting class at UCLA along with St. Anthony point forward Kyle Anderson, who committed to the Bruins last fall. With Muhammad and Anderson, UCLA would immediately be a favorite in the PAC-12 and instantly a lock for the Preseason Top 25.

The dark horse in the Muhammad sweepstakes is hometown UNLV. The Runnin Rebels will be much improved in 2012-13 thanks to two terrific transfers in guard Bryce Jones (USC) and nimble big man Khem Birch (Pitt). Mater Dei combo guard Katin Reinhardt also joins Dave Rice’s crew and is expected to compete for major minutes as a freshman.

Rice’s brother Grant is Muhammad’s high school coach at Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas.

Still, several sources still insist that Muhammad has wanted to play for Calipari all along and has always planned to be in college for just one season. With Kentucky’s recent success, it seems more than possible that both he and Noel could wind up playing their home games at Rupp Arena next season, where every night feels like it’s the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Here’s what Kentucky’s potential starting lineup would look like should Noel and Muhammad both wind up at Kentucky.


PG Ryan Harrow (transfer from NC State)
SG Archie Goodwin (Top 15 National Recruit)
SF Shabzz Muhammad
PF Kyle Wiltjer
C Nerlens Noel

Is it possible that Kentucky could be even more of a powerhouse next season? Sound off in the comments below…


One Comment

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  5. rodger says:

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  6. jgover says:

    I haven’t given up on Cal and UK breaking the UCLA string.

  7. John says:

    Ky is looking great right now. If Noel and ‘Bazz come , we are set. Looks like we could get Bennett as well. Oriaki only has to get a waiver from the SEC and he can play. Jefferson even may come. I can see the Cats go 9 deep with that. I only see Wiljier coming back with real playing time and having Harrow, so 2 returning and they get 7 new recruits and then Big O from uconn. –as they say –rinse and repeat!

  8. knows best says:

    Did everyone forget that we are also in the running for the number 1 power forward in Anthony Bennet, who i think will end up being better than Jones.

    Real line up
    1- Harrow(1yr in the system already)
    2- Goodwin
    3- Shabazz, or poythress
    4- bennet or wiltjer
    5-Noel or Cauley

    either way you look at it its going to be nasty.
    UK back to back Nat’l Champs?

  9. 1ToughCookie says:

    It’s still possible that Jones and/or Kidd-Gilchrist stays. Put either of them in Kyle Wiltjer’s spot…and we’d have a grand slam starting line up!

  10. Close2daSituation says:

    If you are a true fan, not a hater, then you could objectively look at the situation. The fact of the matter is, Miller has played a HUGE part of this team this year and the CATS woudl not be where they are without him. UK has the best freshman in the country and great talent up and down the board, but everyone overlooks of how well they play as a team. They are undoubtedly the best most unselfish team in the nation, and hence their success. Davis, Teague, and Jones leave while MKG and Doron stay. Cats goin to eat their favorite food this weekend, KFC..Kentucky Fried Cardinal

  11. David in Boynton says:

    Oriakhi will have to sit out a year. There’s no sense in actually believing that 5 freshmen will start a la Michigan. But should that happen – truthfully Doron Lamb does not deserve the start right now. I think that he’s admirably running point when Teague isn’t in but his shooting is off and it is unforgivable to leave so many FTs hanging last game.

    Teague will benefit from the lack of good PG in the draft this year. He’ll be a reserve for a few years in the NBA. Lamb isn’t ready psychologically – he hangs his head too much when he isn’t shooting well instead of flushing the missed shot or defensive blunder and starting fresh.

    Yes – they’ll miss the seniors. I can’t say Jon Hood will count… at least they’ll have Beckham, Hood, Wiltjer and Lamb as “reserves” if all those Frosh come – Cal can run 9 deep which should make these tourney games easier. Cats looked wiped out in SEC v Vandy and last game against Baylor was deflating in the 2nd half after injury.

    1. KentuckyWins#8 says:

      Oriakhi can transfer and play next year, at least that’s what everything I’ve read about him possibly coming to UK has said

    2. Mark says:

      So many things wrong with this post. Oriakhi doesn’t have to sit out with UConn being banned from the tournament. Wow, the NCAA DOES have a rule that slightly benefits players. Who would have thought?

      Lamb’s “shooting if off.” Because he missed some free throws against Baylor? He’s been HUGE in the tournament. He’s shooting 57% from the field! And averaging 17 points per game. Missing his free throws in one game is forgivable.

      Calipari doesn’t need his team to run 9 deep. He’s got the rotation set. Vandy was the third game in three days, playing them for the third time, and Vandy HAD to win that game.

      Teague coming back would be a tremendous lift for our team. Teague, Shabazz, Goodwin, Poythress, Noel, Cauley, Wiltjer, and Harrow is an amazing core. Freshman or not, talent like that will take us to the Final 4 every year.

    3. bkr5ky says:

      Oriakhi will not have to sit out one year, your statement is wrong. NCAA rules allows a player to transfer and not sit out the one year if a post season ban is in effect like it is next year for UCONN.

  12. jackson says:

    all you nasayers are probley pukie people and are just envious because your team got dumped on early .

  13. CalisCleanlol says:

    World Wide Wes is the best recruiter in the nation for his buddy Cal. Dirty ass Cal

    1. KentuckyWins#8 says:

      You’re hilarious. Pretty sad the amount of time people are willing to dedicate to blindly hating a man and school who have never personally wronged them. But, whatever, it’s your life.

    2. f says:

      you are a sad sole

  14. jauk11 says:

    Calipari has been scrutinized closely TWICE by the NCAA and come out clean both times, something a LOT of coaches couldn’t do.

    Calipari would be stupid to cheat at UK, he gets the best recruits as it is now because of the school, his development of players and coaching, AND putting his players first, I doubt that very many of his critics say he is stupid.

  15. the truth says:

    It doesn’t matter if they do win, the title will be vacated within 3 years anyways.

    1. kylep says:

      What ever you have no life taking the time to comment on a KENTUCKY article.

    2. The real truth says:

      We have been waiting for three years…… Yawn.
      Kentucky has the best compliance officer in in the country.

    3. Heard it all before says:


    4. d0ct0rj says:

      Care to make a little wager on it? Say $1000? Say $10000?

      It won’t happen.

  16. David Adler says:

    That is if Lamb, Jones and MKG depart. Nothing in stone that they will leave! Either way next year is AGAIN gone be a fun time for UK WILDCAT FANS! Now GO BLUE go win NCAA # 8 and bring it home tha RUPP! GO BIG BLUE!

  17. David Adler says:

    That is if Lamb, Jones and MKG depart. Nothing in stone that they will leave! Either way next year is AGAIN gone be a fun time for UK WILDCAT FANS! Now GIG BLUE go win NCAA # 8 and bring it home tha RUPP! GO BIG BLUE!

  18. james says:

    did you really have to use the word “vacated”? lol

  19. steve says:

    I agree. you add in there Poythress and potentially a returning Teague, and this team could be outstanding. Not to mention, I’m not convinced Lamb leaves either.

  20. Joseph says:

    i don’t know if wiltjer would start either. I think alex protheyress will come in and immediately contribute.

  21. Paul says:

    If UK lands both Noel and Muhammad, they’ll definitely reload. However, they will miss the senior leadership they’ve had the past two years with Darius Miller and Josh Harrellson.

    There is a possibility that Doron Lamb or Marquis Teague could stay as well.

    1. Chris says:

      I think if UK lands Noel they also land his buddy and one-year transfer, Alex Oriakhi.

    2. runningbackclubdotcom says:

      they won’t win this year or they’ll be sanctioned in the future.

      1. KYRulesU2 says:

        Wow, a fortune teller…nice.

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