Calipari 'jacked' as 2011 class makes it official

Coach: group of stars will be unselfish

jtipton@herald-leader.comNovember 11, 2010 

An "extraordinary shot-blocking presence."

"The definition of 'warrior.' "

The nation's top point guard.

A big man who led his high school to back-to-back state championships.

Anthony Davis, Michael Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Kyle Wiltjer make up the nation's No. 1 recruiting class and arguably the best class yet brought to Kentucky by basketball coach John Calipari.

That's saying something given that Calipari's first two classes of recruits were each ranked as the nation's best.

"I'm jacked," Calipari said on Wednesday, the first day of the weeklong November signing period.

In a UK news release, Calipari added, "These are not just terrific basketball players, but they're terrific students and terrific people, as well. Most importantly, they all have an unbelievable attitude about winning; they all wanted to play together, knowing they're going to have to sacrifice a little bit of their game for their teammates. With this group, it adds to what we already have within our program. These are four of the best, which is what we want to recruit here."

Kentucky's recruiting for the class of 2011 is not over, Calipari said on his Web site. The Cats will prepare to add one or two more recruits depending on what current players choose to enter the 2011 NBA Draft.

Davis, a 6-foot-10 forward from Chicago, averaged 30 points and 12 rebounds as a junior. He burst onto the recruiting scene by growing from 6-2 to 6-9 in one year.

Calipari likened him to Marcus Camby, a foundational player for the coach's Massachusetts team that advanced to the 1996 Final Four. ranks Davis as the top overall prospect in the country.

"He's 6-10, but he plays like a guard," Calipari said of Davis in the news release. "He has unbelievable skills, passing and shooting, and gives us an extraordinary shot-blocking presence."

Gilchrist, a 6-7 forward from Somerdale, N.J., averaged 16.4 points, 11.5 rebounds and 3.0 blocks as a junior. Playing with Teague for Team USA, Gilchrist averaged 14.8 points and 7.2 rebounds for the gold-medal winners at the FIBA U17 World Championships. ESPN Recruiting, and all rank Gilchrist the No. 1 small forward in the country.

"When you look up the definition of 'warrior' in the dictionary, there is a picture of Michael there," Calipari said in the news release. "No one plays harder or is more competitive. He has a tremendous burning desire to win that will drive practice and elevate everyone within the program."

Teague, a 6-foot-2 guard from Indianapolis, impressed Calipari while playing in a LeBron James camp in the summer of 2009.

"Who is the skinny kid who never makes mistakes?" Calipari recalled saying at the camp. "From that point on, that was the point guard I wanted."

Teague, whose older brother Jeff starred for Wake Forest, averaged 16.3 points and 4.6 assists as a junior. He averaged 7.0 points and 6.0 assists in the FIBA tournament.

"Marquis is not just quick, but quick with the ball," Calipari said in the news release. "He also has an unbelievably fierce desire to win. He played on the U17 team with Michael (Gilchrist) and, when they stepped into the game together, games changed."

Wiltjer, a 6-9 forward from Portland, Ore., led Jesuit High School to back-to-back Oregon Class 6A state titles in 2009 and 2010. He averaged 19.4 points and six rebounds for the Canadian team in the 2010 FIBA Americas U18 Championship. ESPN Recruiting and rank him the fifth best power forward in the country, and ESPN Recruiting ranks him 16th overall in the class of 2011.

His father, Greg Wiltjer, a native of the Yukon territory of Canada, played for the Oregon State team that advanced to the Elite Eight of the 1982 NCAA Tournament. Calipari noted that the elder Wiltjer taught his son the mechanics of low-post play.

"Kyle gives us the size that we need because the bigger and longer we are, the better we are," Calipari said in the news release. "He's a young man that knew who we were getting here, and he said, 'I want to play with the best. I want to be coached in a way that elevates my game. I'm not afraid of the challenge because I'm going to work hard.' "

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