Calipari vs. Miller: Who’s been the best recruiter?

 Posted by at 12:23 PM on January 23, 2014
Jan 232014
John Calipari

John Calipari

In his profile of Arizona Coach Sean Miller that was posted Thursday over at Sports on Earth, college basketball writer Matt Norlander took a few sentences to laud Miller’s recent success on the recruiting trail.

At one point, he referred to UK Coach John Calipari as “the king of college hoops recruiting,” then pointed out that, “Miller’s beaten him out more often than not, when it comes to five-star players.”

An intriguing line, but is it true? Depends on how you look at it.

Both coaches have been at their respective schools since 2009. In that span, six five-star players with offers from both programs have ended up at Kentucky. Four such players have ended up at Arizona.

So Calipari wins, right? Not so fast.

The six UK players who had reported offers from Arizona are Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Marcus Lee and James Young. But Arizona was not considered a finalist for any of those prospects, and only Lamb took an official visit to Tuscon.

On the other hand, the four prospects with reported Kentucky offers who ultimately picked Arizona all had UK among their final schools. Those players are Stanley Johnson, Aaron Gordon, Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski.

So, if you go by the recruitments that included UK and Arizona as finalists, Miller is the clear winner.

It’s also worth noting that Calipari and Miller both offered Myles Turner and Rashad Vaughn — the top two uncommitted players in the Class of 2014. Turner is still considering both schools along with five or six others. Vaughn has UK in his final five, but he has cut Arizona.

Another interesting point: Three of Miller’s four recruiting victories over UK have been with players from California (and all of them played for the Oakland Soldiers summer program). The other one, Tarczewski, is from New Hampshire. Calipari’s six have come from Texas (2), California, New York, Oregon and Michigan.

Overall, Calipari has had 20 five-star commitments in his time at UK, compared to nine for Miller at Arizona (according to the rankings). Those two coaches and Duke’s Mike Krzyzewski, who has 12 five-star recruits in that span, make up the top three since 2009.

It looks like there will be plenty of head-to-head battles between Calipari and Miller in the future.

A total of five five-star prospects in the Class of 2015 already have offers from both schools: Stephen Zimmerman, Ivan Rabb, Carlton Bragg, Derrick Jones, and Charles Matthews. Rabb is from California and plays for the Oakland Soldiers. Zimmerman is from Las Vegas and seems to be very high on Arizona. Bragg (Ohio), Jones (Pennsylvania) and Matthews (Illinois) are from the Midwest.


  2 Responses to “Calipari vs. Miller: Who’s been the best recruiter?”

  1. This is hard for me because I like Sean Miller and I obviously love Cal, even in his Memphis days. Sean Miller has won many big recruiting battles against Cal head to head but other than that he hasn’t developed players even though he has developed a very good college team (2012 UK team would still run them over). Cal on the other hand has been great at getting his players to reach their ultimate dream without holding them back.

  2. Both are great recruiters. As Coaches, both are upper tier, but near the best.

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