Big Blue Madness on Friday night will mark the start of the eighth season for John Calipari as head coach at Kentucky, and the seven Madnesses that directly preceded this one have been heavy on the five-star recruits in attendance.
Dozens of the nation’s top high school players during that span have chosen to visit UK on this October weekend, so they can see first-hand the passion of the Wildcats’ fan base and the party-like atmosphere that surrounds the start of a new basketball season in Lexington.
This year’s recruiting guest list is one of the most talented yet: class of 2017 stars Quade Green, Kevin Knox, Nick Richards, PJ Washington and Trae Young, 2018 standouts Romeo Langford and Immanuel Quickley, and 2019 recruits Christian Brown and Ashton Hagans.
Over on the Next Cats blog, we’ve compiled a list of every recruit to attend Big Blue Madness in the Calipari era, and where they ended up playing their college ball.
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Before you click on that, check out a few interesting facts and statistics about UK’s Madness past under Calipari.
Spotlight on seniors
Many talented underclassmen have attended Big Blue Madness as recruits, but the ones who get the most attention are the seniors.
Not counting this year’s expected group, UK has hosted a total of 31 high school seniors since Calipari became head coach. Thirteen of those players were already committed to the Wildcats by the time they visited for Madness.
Calipari is 6-for-18 — a 33-percent success rate — with recruits who came to Madness as uncommitted seniors. The six seniors he landed commitments from after Madness were De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Trey Lyles, Marcus Lee, Willie Cauley-Stein and Alex Poythress.
The worst year for Calipari and visiting seniors: 2014, when UK went 0-for-5 with the uncommitted players in attendance: Carlton Bragg, Jaylen Brown, Brandon Ingram, Malik Newman and Stephen Zimmerman.
But watch those juniors
Four high school stars visited Big Blue Madness as juniors and committed to Kentucky in the year that followed: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison and Karl-Anthony Towns. All four of those players made a return visit to Madness during their senior years.
Don’t expect UK to land commitments from any of the five-star class of 2017 recruits who will be in town Friday night. Calipari has never picked up a commitment during Madness weekend.
Marcus Lee was the quickest to commit to the Cats after his Madness visit, announcing for UK six days after attending the event in 2012.
The other five seniors who came to Madness uncommitted and eventually picked the Cats all did so in time to sign with UK during the fall. The amount of time that passed between Madness and UK commitments for those players: Cauley-Stein (17 days), Lyles (18 days), Fox (27 days), Poythress (27 days) and Monk (33 days).
It’s worth noting that Trae Young and Kevin Knox have both said that they plan to wait until after the November signing period to make a college decision. Quade Green and Nick Richards are expected to announce early decisions. It’s unclear when PJ Washington will reveal his college choice.
Seventeen of the recruits who have attended Big Blue Madness during the Calipari era have gone on to be selected in the NBA Draft — 14 of them in the first round.
That list includes three players who were eventually chosen with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft: Kyrie Irving (visited in 2009, picked first in 2011), Anthony Davis (visited in 2010, picked first in 2012) and Karl-Anthony Towns (visited in 2012 and 2013, picked first in 2015).
Uncommitted high school seniors at Big Blue Madness
James Blackmon Jr.