Even lacking a Top 40 prospect, KU’s 2019 recruiting class not all that different from a few past classes
All of the recent talk about the Kansas basketball program not landing a Top 40 recruit in the 2019 recruiting class made me curious about which past class the current one most favorably compares to.
The classes in 2008 and 2011 immediately came to mind.
While both of those classes included a Top 40 prospect — 29th-ranked Marcus Morris in 2008 and 34th-ranked Ben McLemore in 2011 — they also included a nice mixture of guys in the middle of the pack and others closer to the 100 spot in the Rivals.com rankings.
The 2019 class, which currently has five players and could (but probably won’t) add one more, is built in that same mold.
Per the Rivals rankings, 4-star forward Tristan Enaruna, at No. 44, is the highest-ranked Jayhawk, followed closely by fellow-4-star prospect Jalen Wilson, who just signed this week, at No. 47.
After that, it’s 4-star guard Christian Braun at No. 90, 4-star point guard Issac McBride at No. 103 and former 3-star Iowa grad transfer Isaiah Moss, who, back in his day, was not even ranked in the Rivals 150 in the 2005 class.
That group puts KU in the No. 17 spot in the Rivals team rankings for 2019, 11 spots behind where the Jayhawks ended up in the 2018 team rankings and one of the rare times when a Self haul wound up outside of the Top 10.
Here’s the thing, though. While the five players the Jayhawks are bringing in this summer might not be Top 20 type talents today, all of them stand to make a serious impact on the Kansas program over the long haul, for two, three, four or even five years, which is a drastic change from what the one-and-done prospects have been able to bring to the table in recent years.
That’s not to knock the one-and-done approach. Say what you will about those types of players and their impact on the college game, but Kansas has both benefited from them and been severely underwhelmed by them, something I think you’d find to be true in the grand scheme of things at most places that routinely land them.
KU went after a few projected one-and-done players again this recruiting cycle and will go after more until the NBA changes that rule and eliminates the phrase “one-and-done” from our vocabularies.
And at a place like KU, where attracting those types of talents is a natural fit, it makes sense for them to do so.
But that does not mean that classes that feature quality 4-star prospects can’t be just as effective and occasionally even more so. KU’s history under Bill Self has proven that to be true, with players like Frank Mason III (76), Tyshawn Taylor (77), Travis Releford (70), Darnell Jackson (54), Devonte’ Graham (36), Thomas Robinson (31) Cole Aldrich (30) and countless others residing outside of the Top 20 but making a monster impact on the KU program and the college game during their time at Kansas.
There’s no telling if this class has a player or two who one day will be added to that list. But I certainly wouldn’t bet against it just because of the number that’s next to their name.
Here’s a quick look back at the 15 other recruiting classes brought to Kansas by Bill Self:
Highest rated prospect: Quentin Grimes 8
Others: Devon Dotson 20, David McCormack 35, Ochai Agbaji 145
Highest rated prospect: Billy Preston 11
Others: Silvio De Sousa 18, Garrett 41
Highest rated prospect: Josh Jackson 1
Others: Udoka Azubuike 31, Mitch Lightfoot 107
Highest rated prospect: Cheick Diallo 5
Others: Carlton Bragg 21, Lagerald Vick 81
Highest rated prospect: Cliff Alexander 4
Others: Kelly Oubre 6, Devonte’ Graham 36, Svi Mykhailiuk Outside of Rivals150
Highest rated prospect: Andrew Wiggins 1
Others: Wayne Selden Jr. 12, Joel Embiid 25, Frank Mason III 76, Brannen Greene 29, Conner Frankamp 34
Highest rated prospect: Perry Ellis 24
Others: Andrew White III 51, Zach Peters 137, Anrio Adams 98, Landen Lucas Outside of Rivals150
Highest rated prospect: Ben McLemore 34
Others: Jamari Traylor 141, Naadir Tharpe 92, Merv Lindsay and Braeden Anderson Both Outside of Rivals150
Highest rated prospect: Josh Selby 1
Others: Royce Woolridge 120
Highest rated prospect: Xavier Henry 8
Others: Thomas Robinson 31, Elijah Johnson 24
Highest rated prospect: Marcus Morris 29
Others: Markieff Morris 49, Tyshawn Taylor 77, Quintrell Thomas 149, Travis Releford 70, Mario Little and Tyrone Appleton Both Outside of Rivals150
Highest rated prospect: Cole Aldrich 30
Others: Tyrel Reed 109
Highest rated prospect: Darrell Arthur 16
Others: Sherron Collins 21, Brady Morningstar Outside Rivals150
Highest rated prospect: Julian Wright 8
Others: Brandon Rush 13, Mario Chalmers 12, Micah Downs 28
Highest rated prospect: Russell Robinson 27
Others: C.J. Giles 62, Alex Galindo 65, Darnell Jackson 54, Sasha Kaun 34