UK Men's Basketball

Bagley not enough? Numbers say UK (not Duke) has the No. 1 basketball recruiting class

John Calipari will put another talented group of freshmen on the court for the Kentucky Wildcats this season.
John Calipari will put another talented group of freshmen on the court for the Kentucky Wildcats this season. cbertram@herald-leader.com

Last week, not long after No. 1 basketball recruit Marvin Bagley announced his commitment to Duke and a move to the class of 2017, all of the major recruiting services moved the Blue Devils’ stellar recruiting class ahead of Kentucky’s, declaring Mike Krzyzewski’s latest haul to be the best in the country.

Rivals.com, Scout.com, ESPN and 247Sports all agreed that Duke achieved the No. 1 class ranking with the addition of Bagley, but another recruiting metric — one based primarily on those websites’ rankings — still has the Cats in the top spot.

Jeff Crume, who manages the Recruiting Services Consensus Index website and has been tallying composite recruiting rankings for 20 years, reached out to the Herald-Leader to point out that the RSCI numbers say Kentucky’s class remains No. 1, even after the inclusion of Bagley.

For the class of 2017, the RSCI took rankings from Rivals.com, Scout.com, ESPN, 247Sports and longtime recruiting analyst Van Coleman. The website looks at the Top 100 rankings from each of those recruiting services, assigns a point value to each recruit based on his overall consensus ranking, then adds the totals for all players in a class for the team’s final score.

Bagley, as the No. 1 recruit in the country, earns 100 points for Duke. Missouri freshman Michael Porter Jr. earns 99 points as the No. 2 recruit, and so on down the list.

As always, recruiting rankings should be taken for what they are, and even Crume points out on his website that: “RSCI is pronounced ‘risky,’ because drawing definitive conclusion from any such rankings is, indeed, risky at best.”

But these RSCI rankings are an interesting counter to the major recruiting websites’ conclusions, which use their own algorithms to come up with their class rankings.

UK’s class doesn’t have quite the star power of Duke’s — the Blue Devils’ group includes three top-seven prospects — but the Cats do have an abundance of talent.

Eight UK commitments are ranked in the Top 100 of the RSCI, thus earning points toward the Wildcats’ final team ranking. Kevin Knox is No. 10 overall and UK’s top-rated recruit. He’s followed by Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 13), PJ Washington (No. 14), Nick Richards (No. 18), Quade Green (No. 23), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (No. 30), Hamidou Diallo (No. 46) and Jemarl Baker (No. 72).

The Cats’ point total of 582 far outpaces No. 2 Duke (451 points), and UK’s 2017 group supplants the program’s 2013 recruiting class as the highest-ranked ever, according to the RSCI numbers.

Diallo’s ranking is either unreasonably low or unnecessary altogether, depending on your opinion of how he should be considered.

Scout.com, 247Sports and Van Coleman all rank Diallo as the No. 11 player in the 2017 class, but Rivals.com and ESPN moved him out of their 2017 rankings due to the fact that he enrolled in classes at UK during the middle of last season (though he didn’t play in any games with the Wildcats).

If every recruiting service ranked Diallo, then UK’s total RSCI number would obviously be even higher. If none of the recruiting services ranked him, then the Cats’ class would still come out well ahead of the Blue Devils.

Duke’s class includes six signees that were featured in the RSCI Top 100: Bagley at No. 1, Trevon Duval (No. 5), Wendell Carter (No. 7), Gary Trent Jr. (No. 14), Jordan Tucker (No. 59) and Alex O’Connell (No. 69). The Blue Devils are also bringing in three-star guard Jordan Goldwire, who is not ranked in the Top 100 and thus does not receive any points in the RSCI formula.

“Now, this brings up a whole other debate about quality vs. quantity, which is fine,” Crume said. “But if you go strictly by the numbers, it’s not close.”

Kentucky has now had the No. 1-ranked RSCI recruiting class in every year since John Calipari arrived in 2009, with the exception of 2014 and 2015, when Duke had the top class and UK was ranked No. 2.

RSCI’s top 10 basketball recruiting classes for 2017

  • 1. Kentucky
  • 2. Duke
  • 3. Arizona
  • 4. UCLA
  • 5. Texas
  • 6. Louisville
  • 7. Missouri
  • 8. Alabama
  • 9. Kansas
  • 10. Miami
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