Pop quiz…name the best college basketball recruiting class of all time.
Most people, at least around my neck of the woods, would say the Fab Five. Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Juwan Howard, Jimmy King, and Ray Jackson set the college basketball world ablaze when they burst onto the scene in 1991. Together, they led Michigan to NCAA championship game appearances in their freshmen and sophomore years.
Recently though, John Calipari and the University of Kentucky have compiled a class that some say is even better than the Fab Five. The Wildcats have five of the top ten nationally ranked players coming in to Lexington next season. Four of those players are the ranked number one nationally at their respective position.
So which class is best? First you have to define what your measure of success is. If it’s pre-season hype, then the Wildcats of Kentucky have it, hands down. In today’s social media world, we all can see highlights of any high school athletes at any time. We can even watch online or on television when the athlete announces his decision. Before the Fab Five set foot in Ann Arbor, most people had never even heard of most of them. They didn’t even start their first game together until February 7, 1992. Personally, I had only briefly heard of Chris Webber and saw him play once (high school state finals). I had no idea who the rest of them were.
If we are looking at regular season and NCAA tournament record, then the Wolverines have it by far. Granted, the Fab Five played together at Michigan for two years and made it to two NCAA championship games. I’d be shocked if any of the five top ten nationally ranked players that are going to Kentucky will stay past their freshmen years.
So which college basketball recruiting class is the best? Personally, I measure success by performance on the court. With that being said, I’m not voting for either Michigan or Kentucky. My vote goes to the 2004 Florida Gator recruiting class (Corey Brewer, Al Horford, Joakim Noah, and Taurean Green). These four players decided to stay in school instead of leaving early for the NBA. This decision paid off as they are two time NCAA national champions. With today’s “one and done” atmosphere in college basketball, no college recruiting class will ever be able to top that.