From Anthony Davis to Enes Kanter, ranking John Calipari's 25 one-and-done freshmen at Kentucky
Here are the 25 Wildcats who went to the NBA after just one season under Calipari at UK
Since John Calipari took the reins of the Kentucky basketball program in 2009, college basketball has been revolutionized by the one-and-done rule -- and he's partly responsible for it.
Calipari, before his time in Lexington, was a proponent of the phenomenon that is the new norm in the sport. At Memphis, he coached three such prospects in Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans and Shawne Williams. Then things really took off at Kentucky.
With (almost) limitless resources, the Big Blue brand and the drive of a Hall of Famer, Calipari has cornered the market of the one-and-done game. Since 2009, he's coached 25 freshman stars into becoming future NBA Draft picks, more than any college in the country by a wide margin. And he only widened his lead on the field this year by having four freshmen leave school early to hear their name called in the draft.
The next crop of Kentucky recruits took the court for the first time in a Wildcats uniform during a four-game tour of the Bahamas which concluded Sunday. Which Kentucky freshmen will be the next one-and-dones under John Calipari. Immanuel Quickley, Ashton Hagans and Keldon Johnson perhaps have the best shot of joining an impressive list of players who were one-and-done at UK.
So in the spirit of fun to re-live all 25, we've decided to rank all of them based off their college production. First up: none other than The Brow himself.
1. Anthony Davis, 2012
Anthony Davis didn't put up the most points per game on this list of former UK standouts. But he was a dominant force in every other facet of the game (and his 14.2 points per game was nothing to scoff at), putting up 10.4 rebounds and 4.7 blocks per contest en route to being named the National Player of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Final Four MOP.
Davis was the most dominant UK freshman to ever play for the Wildcats -- a title that would be tough to lose given his sheer impact for a Kentucky team that finished 38-2 and won the national championship. He went on to be the first pick of the draft in 2012.
2. John Wall, 2010
John Wall was a national brand by the time his time at UK was up. He averaged 16.6 points, 6.5 assists and 4.3 rebounds per game, leading Kentucky to a 35-3 record and an Elite Eight in Year One of the Calipari era. He won SEC Player of the Year honors in his lone season and was a consensus first-team All-American.
Troop 41 later wrote a song called "Do The John Wall" centered around his signature flex celebration that originated at Kentucky. So that in and of itself is validation enough that he's more than deserving of landing at No. 2 on this list.
3. DeMarcus Cousins, 2010
DeMarcus Cousins was an overqualified John Wall sidekick who co-starred for UK, putting up 15.1 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game. His stellar season earned him SEC Rookie of the Year and second-team All-American honors before eventually becoming the No. 5 overall pick in 2010.
4. Karl-Anthony Towns, 2015
Had Kentucky not been so loaded down with premier talent that Calipari opted for a platoon system, Karl-Anthony Towns may well have been second or third on this list. As it were, he was still great. He was far and away the best player on a Kentucky team that went 38-1, and despite playing 21.1 minutes per game, he finished third in KenPom POY and contributed 10.3 points and 6.7 boards as averages.
A great what if is to imagine how dominant he might've been had he been unleashed as a 30-minute-per-game guy from Day One at UK. Because down the stretch, he was an absolute force for the Wildcats and their pursuit of a title that came up just short.
5. Brandon Knight, 2011
Averaging 17.3 points, 4.2 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game, Brandon Knight earned All-SEC honors and guided Kentucky to a 29-8 record that included an unlikely run to the Final Four as a No. 4 seed. Kentucky fell short to eventual national champion UConn in the Final Four 56-55, but the magical run wouldn't have been possible if not for Knight's game-winner to avoid a first-round upset vs. Princeton.
Or his more memorable dagger that gave UK and upset win over No. 1 seed Ohio State in the Sweet 16.
6. Julius Randle, 2014
Julius Randle was SEC Rookie of the Year and a third-team All-American in 2014. He averaged 15.0 points, 10.4 rebounds, and was the heart and soul of a Kentucky team that, despite being tabbed as a No. 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament, advanced to the national championship game before falling to UConn. Randle was absolutely vital to that Cinderella-like run. He would later be the seventh pick of the 2014 draft.
7. Jamal Murray, 2016
Jamal Murray averaged 20 points per game for Kentucky, which went on to win a share of the SEC regular season title but fell flat in the second round of the tournament. Before Malik Monk crushed UK's freshman record for most 3-pointers made in a single season (113), Murray held the prestigious record -- albeit briefly.
As an aside (which wasn't factored into his ranking, but maybe should have been), his fake arrow shot celebration was extremely underrated.
8. De'Aaron Fox, 2017
Malik Monk picked up all the praise at Kentucky, but De'Aaron Fox was the better player of the two. He averaged 16.7 points, 4.6 assists and 4.0 rebounds for UK, and was the catalyst that drove the Cats to the Elite Eight. His 39-point outburst against UCLA in the Sweet 16 solidified himself as the best player on that team. Might be the fastest Kentucky player ever, too.
9. Malik Monk, 2017
I've got Fox over Malik Monk by a smidge, but don't let that distract you from Monk's greatness at Kentucky. He was SEC Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year, averaging 19.8 points per game for the Wildcats during his time under Calipari. He was the ultimate heat-check guy, too. When he was hot -- whooooo boy -- good luck! (I'm confident that last sentence is angrily written out in Roy Williams' diary somewhere.)
10. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 2012
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was third fiddle for Kentucky's 2012 title team behind Anthony Davis and Doron Lamb, but his role was vital to giving the Wildcats the crown. He averaged 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, and was selected No. 2 overall in 2012 behind teammate Anthony Davis.
11. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, 2018
Arguably the least heralded member of Kentucky's highly-regarded 2017 recruiting class, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander emerged last season from JAG to the team's best player. He was an All-SEC performer who averaged 14.4 points, 5.1 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game.
12. Marquis Teague, 2012
Marquis Teague would be closer to 14 or 15 on my list based strictly off value and impact, but he gets a bump to 12 on my list for steady-handedly guiding Kentucky to a national championship in 2012 as the team's starting point guard. His production wasn't bad, either. He scored 10 points per game and dished out 4.9 assists per contest. Anthony Davis made his job look a lot easier than it was.
13. Kevin Knox, 2018
Most anticipated Kevin Knox to be the go-to on Kentucky's young squad last season. Though he did have flashes of greatness, he never quite grew into that role. But he was still an uber-productive frosh who averaged 15.6 points per game.
14. Bam Adebayo, 2017
For what Bam Adebayo was asked to be -- a rim-running, rebounding, shot-affecting big -- he was perfect. But he was still the third wheel on the 2016-17 squad behind Fox and Monk, and relied heavily on those two to drum up production.
15. Nerlens Noel, 2013
Torn ACL be damned, Nerlens Noel still won SEC Defensive Player of the Year in 2013 thanks to his 4.4 blocks per game average in 24 appearances. He was a terror in the paint on both ends of the floor.
16. James Young, 2014
James Young might be the guy on this list that an average fan might see and respond with, "Who?" I don't fault you. He was a bit of a flash in the pan, but his 2013-14 season was big for Kentucky. He averaged 14.3 points per game and gave the Wildcats a sharpshooting outside presence that propelled them to the national championship game.
17. Eric Bledsoe, 2010
Speaking of Wall sidekicks, it was Eric Bledsoe, not Cousins, who appropriately fit that role. Alongside Wall in that talented backcourt, Bledsoe averaged 11.3 points and 3.1 rebounds per game and was a menace on the defensive perimeter. He parlayed his success to becoming the 18th pick in the 2010 draft.
18. Devin Booker, 2015
Devin Booker's greatness was completely minimized, thanks to the 38-1 Kentucky team that deployed a platoon system and relegated him to an off-the-bench role. That's no knock on him, but a pure testament to how freakishly-talented that squad was. He still managed to average 10 points and two rebounds per game for the Cats that season.
19. Archie Goodwin, 2013
Archie Goodwin was a big contributor, albeit for a middling Kentucky team that missed the NCAA Tournament. He averaged 14.1 points and 4.6 rebounds per game and was selected with the 29th pick of the 2013 draft.
20. Trey Lyles, 2015
Trey Lyles was a key contributor to the 38-1 team that fell short of the national championship. Despite playing out of position, he still put up 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game in Kentucky's platoon system, all while playing just 23 minutes per game.
21. Hamidou Diallo, 2018
Hamidou Diallo barely sneaks onto the list, as he's technically a rare one-and-a-half-and-done after joining Kentucky at the midway point of the season in early 2017. He didn't participate in the remainder of that season, however, instead using the time to acclimate himself for the 2018 season. In his only season, he averaged 10 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game as a quaternary option. But his dunks were pretty great!
22. Jarred Vanderbilt, 2018
Vanderbilt deserves to be higher on this list from a talent perspective, but he simply didn't do enough last season. He played 17 minutes per game and was a monstrous rebounder, pulling down 7.9 per contest while giving UK 5.9 points per game, too. But he played only 14 games due to lingering injuries, and never lived up to his potential that earned him a five-star ranking in high school.
23. Skal Labissiere, 2016
Skal Labissiere was tabbed as one of the top overall prospects out of high school in the Class of 2015, but didn't live up to the hype at UK. During his time at UK he averaged a ho-hum 6.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.6 blocks for a Kentucky team that finished 27-9. He played sparingly, too, contributing only 15.8 minutes per game serving as a seventh man in a not-too-impressive Kentucky rotation.
24. Daniel Orton, 2010
A Billy Gillespie recruit who fled for the NBA in the same class as Wall, Bledsoe, Cousins and Kanter, Daniel Orton was no more than a bit player in college. And that may be overstating it. He averaged 3.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game playing only 13.2 minutes per game, but still found a way to be selected No. 29 overall.
25. Enes Kanter, 2011
Enes Kanter has turned out to be a fine NBA player, but the college basketball world was robbed of what he might've looked like in college because he was ruled ineligible. He practiced with the team during the 2010-2011 season, but never recorded a stat and never saw the court. So a no-brainer he ranks last here.
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