Kentucky Coach John Calipari Calls Himself ‘Overrated’ After Losing No. 1 Recruit James Wiseman To Memphis
James Wiseman is the No. 1 NCAA basketball prospect in the Class of 2019, and he chose to join the Memphis Tigers over the Kentucky Wildcats. Kentucky coach John Calipari called himself “overrated as a recruiter.”
The moment the unicorn became a Tiger.
James Wiseman picks Memphis. pic.twitter.com/gWeZJwf5LA
— Jessica Benson (@Local24Jessica) November 20, 2018
Wisemans’s decision to go to Memphis means that Calipari and the Wildcats have gone seven years without signing the No.1 payer and could fail to sign a top-five prospect for the fourth year in a row.
“I think I’m overrated as a recruiter,” Calipari said at a press conference. “We’ve had kids that made the decision to come here, and it’s played out well for almost all of them. My thing is, I want to be able to sleep at night. I want to make sure I’m telling the truth. I want to make sure I’m sticking with guys.”
LIVE: John Calipari’s pre-Winthrop press conference https://t.co/b3n9I2p45J
— Kernel Sports (@KYKernelSports) November 20, 2018
Kentucky was viewed as the heavy favorite for Wiseman, but Memphis hired Penny Hardaway to replace Tubby Smith as head coach.
Hardaway coached Wiseman in high school and on the grassroots circuit, and the relationship won out. Memphis also landed five-star forward D.J. Jeffries, who decommitted from Kentucky in July.
Penny Hardaway: 2
John Calipari: 0 pic.twitter.com/EM9FdkiNBq
— 929ESPN (@929espn) November 20, 2018
Calipari has landed a top-two recruiting class every single year since taking over at Kentucky in 2009, including five No. 1-ranked classes. He landed the No. 1 class in four of his first five seasons in Lexington.
“I gotta be able to sleep at night knowing that I’m being honest. I’m not embellishing: ‘Here’s what it is,'” Calipari said. “I’m not saying that against anybody else, everybody recruits the way they recruit. But you’ve got good programs and good coaches, and that’s why we don’t get everybody we recruit.”
“It’s not changed my approach to this,” Calipari said. “Maybe because of social media and the video games and the stuff, and there’s not as much on the playgrounds and the pickup and the fight — maybe they do want to hear that it’s gonna be easier.”
The Wildcats are the only program in the country with two top-10 prospects committed in 2019 with Tyrese Maxey (No. 7) and Kahlil Whitney (No. 9). They don’t appear to be the leaders for any of their remaining elite targets, as Vernon Carey Jr. (No. 3) and Isaiah Stewart (No. 4) look poised to go elsewhere.
“We don’t get every kid. We get the ones we are supposed to get. It just kind of plays out that way and it always has.”