Or is he maybe the next Tyler Herro? Or Eric Bledsoe?
It’s not a secret that a lot of John Calipari’s success as a college basketball coach is due to his recruiting prowess. He has a long track record of bringing in high level recruits, the so-called “one and dones,” and putting together a team which can compete for a national title by the end of the season.
Coach Cal has also proven adept at identifying players who are not thought of as “one and dones” but who, by the end of the year, have played themselves into position to be drafted in the first round of the NBA draft. Sometimes Cal himself is surprised by this. The story goes that Cal pegged Eric Bledsoe as a guy who would stick around for more than one year. Instead, Bledsoe when #18 in the draft that year. I think you can tell a similar story about Devin Booker and Tyler Herro. Neither of those guys came in with “one and done” buzz, but Booker ended up being drafted #13 to Phoenix and Herro was drafted #13 to Miami.
Now, the question here is whether these guys are examples of Cal identifying a pro prospect that, for some reason, is farther down the rankings than you might expect based on where they were drafted. Or, do these guys get the benefit of the doubt due to Cal’s track record with NBA prospects? Or is it an example of the proficiency of Cal and his staff in developing guys for the league?
Probably a combination of all of these factors. But how does this track record help us set our expectations for guys on this year’s team and in the future? I think this year, the guy who fits the mold the best is Johnny Juzang. Compare him to Bledsoe, Booker and Herro. They’re all perimeter players. Bledsoe is a little bit anomalous since he’s not a great shooter, but Juzang, Booker and Herro all have reps as knock down shooters. Bledsoe was ranked 68 coming out of high school. Booker was 22 and Herro was 37. Where’s Juzang? He’s ranked 32. None of these guys were pegged as obvious “one and dones” coming out of high school and, I think, the same goes for Juzang. Except, maybe now that he’s at Kentucky, should we expect to have him only one year? I think the answer is yes.