College basketball recruiting rankings: Kentucky edges UNC, Duke for 2020’s top class

In more years than not since John Calipari has been on the job at Kentucky, he’s finished with the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. The Hall of Famer bolstered that track record officially on Tuesday as the 247Sports Composite Team Rankings went final for the 2020 cycle, with the Wildcats finishing on top for the sixth time in Calipari’s 11 years leading UK.

The Wildcats edged out North Carolina and Duke to claim the No. 1 spot, thus ending a four-year drought during which Duke laid claim to the top spot in three of the four years and Memphis last year slid in to boast the top class, led by No. 1 overall recruit James Wiseman. Kentucky finished second in each of the years during that span.

Kentucky’s class is a big one out of necessity after losing each of its starters this offseason to the NBA Draft, but it’s as impressive as it is large. Led by five-star recruits BJ Boston and Terrence Clarke, Calipari and Co. have four top-30 incoming talents — and all six commitments are ranked inside the 247Sports Composite top-60.

“I’m really excited about this group of young men,” Calipari said in the fall.. “They recruited us as much as we recruited them. They wanted this culture. They wanted to be with other good players. They didn’t need crazy promises. They wanted this. In the past, when we’ve had groups like that, it’s led to success both individually and as a team.”

North Carolina finished with the No. 2 class — its highest-ranked class since 2009 — followed by Duke, Tennessee and LSU rounding out the top five. And in perhaps a foreshadowing of just how widespread the talent in college basketball will be next season, the remainder of the top 10 is largely a group of programs that don’t typically recruit at a top-10 level but are getting an incredible influx of talent: Arkansas, Auburn, Arizona, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State.

“Regardless of the reasons, this is a wonderful plot twist in college basketball recruiting,” Matt Norlander wrote in April of many elite recruits headed next season to non-blueblood locales. “Oklahoma State, USC, Stanford, Florida State, Arizona State landing elite recruits is aberrational. Even Gonzaga’s never landed a player ranked as high as Suggs. On an individual basis, college basketball will have a lot of atypical programs boasting one-and-done talent next season, which will make the sport that much more interesting. Variety is the spice of sport, etc.”

Calipari has led Kentucky to four Final Four appearances the last 11 years but only once — in 2012 — has he coached his team to a national championship. That team was led by freshman Anthony Davis and a recruiting class that months before finished No. 1 in the recruiting rankings, a recipe Kentucky, ranked No. 15 in the Preseason CBS Sports Top 25 (and one), will look to replicate in 2020.

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