University of Kentucky head coach John Calipari is undoubtedly the master of one-and-done players, having sent numerous players to the NBA after only one season in college over the past decade.
Whether at UMass, Memphis, or now Kentucky, Calipari continues to not only recruit top talent but transform those recruits into NBA caliber talent.
Just missing the cut were Doron Lamb, Eric Bledsoe,, Marquis Teague, and this year’s crop of talented freshmen led by Nerlens Noel and Archie Goodwin.
With so many players like NBA MVP Derrick Rose, NBA Rookies of the Year Tyreke Evans and John Wall, as well as NCAA POY Anthony Davis, it’s tough to come up with a composite list, but here we go.
Check out John Calipari’s Top 10 Freshmen of All-time…
17.9 ppg, 5.4 reb, 3.9 ast
Team: 33-4 Reached Sweet Sixteen
Following the elite success of freshman sensation Derick Rose the year prior, Evans started out slow in ’08 until Calipari switched the multi-talented HS star to PG with incredible results. Tyreke helped lead a talented team along with fellow NBA Draftee Robert Dozier to the Sweet 16 before becoming a Lottery pick in the ’09 NBA Draft and NBA Rookie of the Year honors in 2010.
15.7 ppg, 8.8 reb, 1.8 blk
Team: 29-9 Reached Final Four
Having the unenviable task of replacing both, NBA picks DeMarcus Cousins and Daniel Orton in the Kentucky frontcourt, Jones excelled in the role of hybrid 4, capable of handling the ball and playing some in the post. Although at times inconsistent, Jones was a walking highlight reel, regularly dunking over defenders with two hands enroute to leading the SEC in rebounding. He surprised many by returning to Lexington for his sophomore season but became a key role player in helping Kentucky win the 2012 National Championship.
11.9 ppg, 7.4 reb, 1.9 ast, .491 FG%
Team: 38-2 Won NCAA Championship
While NCAA Player of the Yer Anthony Davis was the Wildcats’ best player last season, Kidd-Gilchrist was their heart and soul, leading by example and wearing his heart on his sleave. He provided whatever was needed on any given night whether it was scoring, rebounding, or playing lock down defense on the opposing team’s best player. As the #2 overall pick in the Draft, MKG’s winning attitude has begun to pay dividends as the Bobcats have already won as many games as all of last season.
’21.2 ppg, 3.6 ast, 2.5 reb, 1,8 stl
Team: 27-9 Won NIT Championship
More than a decade ago, Coach Cal worked his recruiting magic to land one of the best HS scorers in US history by snagging Wagner, who reportedly scored 100 points in a game, off the mean streets of Camden, NJ. Wagner only stayed at Memphis one season, yielding an NIT Championship before being selected #6 overall in the ’02 NBA Draft.
17.3 ppg, 4.3 ast, 4 reb, .377 #PT%
Team: 29-9 Advanced To Final Four
Replacing the All World John Wall at PG the following season was no small feat which didn’t begin well but the former Top 5 HS recruit got better as the season went on, leading the Cats in scoring and helping Kentucky reach the Final Four alongside Terrence Jones. Unlike Jones, Knight left Lexington after only one season as the #8 overall pick to the Detroit Pistons.
15.1 ppg, 9.8 reb, 1.8 blk, 554 FG%
Team: 35-3 Advanced To Elite Eight
While John Wall and Eric Bledsoe held it down from the perimeter in 2010, DMC was the brute force down low. Opposing defenses were often left helpless in hopes of defending Cousin’s raw strength and impressive skill-set in scoring the basketball. While Cousins and Calipari often clashed on the sidelines, most would agree that DeMarcus was Cal’s most important player in pushing on to the Elite Eight. After only one season at Kentucky, DMC has emerged as one of the best young bigs in the Association, finishing Top 5 in rebounding in 2012.
10.2 ppg, 6.4 reb, 3.4 blk
Team Record – 28-7 Reached NCAA 2nd Round
Long before Anthony Davis was breaking NCAA marks for blocks, Coach Cal was able to secure the services of another elite rim protector in the form of Marcus Camby. He set a then NCAA freshman record with 105 blocked shots, then went on to register more than 300 blocks in 3 collegiate seasons and earned Atlantic 10 Freshman of the Year in 1994. Now a 17 year NBA veteran, Camby remains an elite rebounder and shot-blocker for the NY Knicks.
16.6 ppg, 6.5 ast, 4.3 reb
Team: 35-3 Reached Elite Eight
In his first season as coach of the Kentucky Wildcats, Coach Cal ushered in a new era of UK hoops with the culture changing Wall, who turned his now legendary introduction into his very own “John Wall Dance.” On the court, Wall was every bit as exciting as off the court, earning National Freshman of the Year honors before being taken #2 overall by the Washington Wizards.
14.9 ppg, 4.7 ast, 4.5 reb
Team: 38-2 Lost in NCAA Title Game
Although officially Memphis’ miraculous ’08 season was vacated due to Rose’s later determined ineligibility, we all remember just how good he was down the stretch, helping the Tigers come within a whisker of winning a National Title. Rose would go on to be selected #1 overall in the ’08 NBA Draft and was named ’11 NBA MVP.
14.2 ppg, 10.4 reb, 4.6 blk
Team: 38-2 Won NCAA Championship
Coach Cal told us prior to last season that Anthony Davis had a chance to be a special player and boy was he right. Davis shattered numerous records for blocked shots as a freshman and earned National POY honors before being selected as the #1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Davis would also be selected to play on Team USA in the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.