Kentucky fans believe John Calipari is a master at developing his young players and getting them ready for the NBA. UofL fans frequntly like to boast about Rick Pitino’s ability to develop players.
Many Louisville fans like to make the argument that John Calipari does not “develop” his players, because every player he’s gotten thus far would have been in the NBA anyway. Obviously, this logic is ridiculous. Not all five-star recruits end up making it to the NBA. Using the RSCI rankings from 1998-Present and the HoopScoop rankings from 1984-Present, let us look at the Top 25 recruits that Rick Pitino and John Calipari have had in their careers who failed to get drafted
Donta Bright- Ranked #4 by HoopScoop in 1992, Undrafted
Charelton Clarke- Ranked #14 by HoopScoop in 1995, Undrafted
Darius Washington Jr- Ranked #15 by RSCI in 2004, Undrafted
These three, in addition to his 13 other Top 25 recruits that did get drafted, gives him a success rate of 81.3%. Of those 13 players that were drafted, every one of them was picked in the first round, with 10 lottery picks and 7 top five selections.
In addition to his success rate, Calipari has also developed NBA draft picks such as Antonio Burks (Unranked, Walked-On at Memphis), Josh Harrellson (#972 by Hoop Scoop in 2007), Robert Dozier (#180 by Hoop Scoop in 2004), Rodney Carney (#173 Hoop Scoop in 2002), and Joey Dorsey (#131 by Hoop Scoop in 2002).
Samardo Samuels: Ranked #4 by RSCI in 2008, Undrafted
Wayne Turner: Ranked #7 by HoopScoop in 1995, Undrafted
David Padgett: Ranked #7 by RSCI in 2003, Undrafted
Carlos Hurt: Ranked #12 by RSCI in 2001, Undrafted
Juan Palacios: Ranked #16 by RSCI in 2004, Undrafted
Derrick Caracter: Ranked #17 by RSCI in 2006, Undrafted
Steve Wright: Ranked #21 by HoopScoop in 1984, Undrafted
The list of Top 25 recruits under Pitino that never got drafted is over twice as long as John Calipari’s list. Unlike Calipari, this list is composed almost entirely by players at his current school, with five former Top 25 recruits during his tenure at Louisville failing to get drafted. I was unable to find recruiting rankings for his years at Boston University and first couple years at Providence. However, since 1984, I was able to find 14 top 25 recruits that Pitino coached. Factoring in his 7 undrafted top 25 players, that leaves Pitino with a success rate of 50.0%, which is significantly lower than John Calipari.
Of the seven players that were drafted, all went in the first round, but only 4 of the seven were lottery picks, and only one player (Jamal Mashburn) was ever drafted in the top 5. Its also important to note that of the seven former blue chip recruits that were drafted, six of them played at Kentucky, while only one played at Louisville.
Top 25 Recruits in Career: John Calipari (16), Rick Pitino (14)
Top 25 Recruits Drafted in 1st Round: John Calipari (13), Rick Pitino (7)
Top 25 Recruits Drafted in Lottery: John Calipari (10), Rick Pitino (4)
Top 25 Recruits Drafted in the Top 5: John Calipari (7), Rick Pitino (1)
Top 25 Recruits Drafted from Current Job: John Calipari (10), Rick Pitino (1)
If it is truly as easy to get Top 25 recruits drafted as Louisville fans claim, it speaks volumes about Rick Pitino as a developer of talent.
Edit: The above information was written prior to the 2012 NBA Draft.