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The Duke-Kentucky Recruiting Rivalry Is Still Going Strong

But it’s not as important as it seems

USA v Dominican Republic - Mens Exhibition Game
One side of this equation will change soon but the tension between Duke and Kentucky will probably endure.
Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

It’s a nice thing to have a strong recruiting class obviously and both Duke and Kentucky are, as they so often have lately, in contention for the top class.

It seems a lot more important for Big Blue Nation than it does around Planet Duke though.

Over at, the writers are regularly fretting that Duke might put together a better class than John Calipari does for the Wildcats, a fear that has intensified since Dereck Lively committed to Duke which pushed Duke’s class up to #1.

And while both classes are promising, rating classes based on high school performance is almost always silly because can't-miss guys are a great rarity.

Lew Alcindor, now known as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, was one. David Thompson and Patrick Ewing were too.

It’s very uncommon though. Just consider some of the names of guys who were supposed to be stars who just washed out or never got to true greatness: Raymond Lewis, Renardo Sidney, Jacque Vaughn, Felipe Lopez, Ronald Curry, Eddy Curry, Walker Lambiotte, JR Reid, Shawn could go on for a very long time.

It’s fun to see BBN worry about this, particularly since there was such an expectation that Jon Scheyer would not be able to recruit as well as Mike Krzyzewski, but that hasn’t happened.

And to be sure, Duke fans enjoy topping Kentucky.

There is a difference though.

At Kentucky, Calipari proudly said that the most important day is Draft Day. At Duke, the most important goal is winning.

So as fun as it is to argue about who got the best talent, the better measure is who wins championships. And so far, while Calipari has made six final fours, two have been vacated (one at UMass and one at UK), and he has only one national title.