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John Calipari of Kentucky Wildcats says he's overrated as recruiter

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Hours after seeing James Wiseman, the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2019, choose Memphis over his Kentucky Wildcats, John Calipari called himself "overrated as a recruiter."

The Wildcats still have ESPN's No. 3-rated recruiting class behind Louisville and USC, but missed on Wiseman and are unlikely to land any of the top five prospects in the country.

"I think I'm overrated as a recruiter," Calipari said. "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.

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No. 1 recruit James Wiseman commits to coach Penny Hardaway and Memphis.

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How is Memphis' hiring of Penny Hardaway paying off? With James Wiseman now headed to the Tigers, the answer is very, very well.

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"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."

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.

However, Mike Krzyzewski and Duke have dominated the recruiting game the past five years, with the Blue Devils reeling in the No. 1 class in four of them.

"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."

Kentucky was viewed as the heavy favorite for Wiseman last spring, but Memphis hired Penny Hardaway to replace Tubby Smith as coach -- and the Tigers immediately became a threat. 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.

The Wildcats are the lone program in the country with two top-10 prospects committed in 2019 -- Tyrese Maxey (No. 7) and Kahlil Whitney (No. 9) -- but they don't appear to be the leaders for any of their remaining elite targets. Vernon Carey Jr. (No. 3) and Isaiah Stewart (No. 4) appear poised to go elsewhere; Jaden McDaniels (No. 5) hasn't received an official offer yet; and Matthew Hurt (No. 6) hasn't begun the visit process.

"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. We're not the only ones out there trying to get good players and trying to help kids."

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Tuesday, 11 December 2018