Duke and Kentucky own recruiting, but any team can make it to the next highest level

Trevon Duval's commitment to Duke Blue Devils , combined with Jeremiah Tilmon's pledge to Missouri Tigers , means there are only four top-100 prospects from the Class of 2017 who remain available -- No. 2 Mohamed Bamba, No. 18 Brian Bowen, No. 25 M.J. Walker and No. 40 Tremont Waters. So the team recruiting rankings are taking shape. And one thing is clear: Kentucky Wildcats and Duke are still operating at a level above all others.

The Wildcats and Blue Devils now have the nation's top two classes for the fourth consecutive year, according to 247Sports. Only Arizona Wildcats has also had a top-five class multiple times in those same recruiting cycles. So it really is John Calipari, Mike Krzyzewski ... and then everybody else.

But it really could be anybody else after them.

That's what the 247Sports Team Rankings show us -- that you can't be Calipari and Krzyzewski but that you can be right behind Calipari and Krzyzewski in the recruiting rankings almost regardless of where you work, how long you've been there or how much you have or have not been winning. For proof, consider that Alabama Crimson Tide has the nation's fifth-best recruiting class even though the Crimson Tide have missed the NCAA Tournament five straight seasons. And that Missouri, Texas Longhorns , Western Kentucky, Stanford Cardinal and UNLV Rebels have also secured top-15 classes even though none of those programs played in the 2017 NCAA Tournament. So the idea that it's difficult to lure prospects to places that haven't enjoyed recent success is hogwash -- as Ben Simmons (LSU) and Markelle Fultz ( Washington Huskies ) earlier showed. 

But it's hard to recruit outside of the Power 5!

Really?

Then how do you explain Xavier Musketeers having the nation's 10th-best class? Or Western Kentucky having the nation's 11th-best class? Or UNLV having the nation's 14th-best class? Or Providence Friars having the nation's 17th-best class?

But it takes time to effectively recruit!

Really?

Then how do you explain Rick Stansbury having the nation's 11th-best class even though Western Kentucky hired him just last year? Or Jerod Haase having the nation's 13th-best class even though Stanford hired him just last year? Or Marvin Menzies having the nation's 14th-best class even though UNLV hired him just last year? Or Cuonzo Martin having the nation's sixth-best class even though Missouri hired him only two months ago?

Tell me the explanation for a lack of impressive recruiting at the mid-major-and-above level, and I'll provide an example that makes that explanation mostly an excuse. Sure, certain programs in certain leagues with established coaches and brands have inherent advantages; it would be foolish to suggest otherwise. But there is seemingly almost nothing that can't be overcome by a strong and aggressive recruiter with competent assistants. That's what the Class of 2017 Team Rankings show us.

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Alabama coach Avery Johnson has reason to smile after landing a top 5 recruiting class.  USATSI

Bottom line, you cannot recruit like Kentucky and Duke because nobody recruits like Kentucky and Duke. But there's nothing stopping any school at the mid-major-and-above level -- other than the head coach and his staff -- from recruiting in a way that puts it just behind Kentucky and Duke annually in the recruiting rankings. That's the long and short of it. If Alabama can secure a top-five class even though it hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 2012, what's your excuse? If Missouri can secure a top-10 class even though it's gone 8-46 in SEC games the past three years and just hired a new coach in March, what's your excuse? If Western Kentucky and UNLV can secure top-15 classes from outside of the power structure -- and with coaches who were only hired last year -- what's your excuse? If 66 different schools -- everybody from Butler Bulldogs to Buffalo Bulls -- can sign at least one four-star or five-star prospect from the Class of 2017, what's your excuse?

Answer: You don't have one.

Or, at least, you don't have a good one.

As long as you coach at the mid-major-or-above level, no matter how long you've been there or how much success, recently or historically, your school has enjoyed, some man in a similar situation to your situation is currently recruiting well.

That's what the Class of 2017 Team Rankings show us.

You can't be Kentucky or Duke.

But the only thing stopping you from being right behind them is you.

CBS Sports Insider

Gary Parrish is an award-winning college basketball columnist and television analyst for CBS Sports who also hosts the highest-rated afternoon drive radio show in Memphis, where he lives with his wife... Full Bio

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