Basketball is a big deal in Kentucky. I know it's an understatement, but there's no denial which sport reigns supreme in the Blue Grass state.
Whether we're talking the resurgence of Kentucky basketball this season, or the Rick Pitino led Louisville Cardinals, you can assure that great players are on their way to play in Kentucky.
The same can now be said for NCAA darling Western Kentucky. The Hill Toppers, a team who has beaten Louisville recently along with being a Sweet 16 team, are now proud recipients of the John Calipari and Rick Pitino recruiting strategy.
LEAVE KENTUCKY BEHIND!
The facts are simple really, Kentucky and Louisville consider themselves national programs, which they most definitely are. The problem with this is that the talent in the state is being left behind with WKU becoming the home for this talent.
Currently the team has three players from the Blue Grass state including star guard A.J. Slaughter. Imagine the players they will recruit when Calipari and Pitino neglect their own backyard?
We know that Calipari has already shown the ability to simply find the best players anywhere across the country. Pitino has done the same from his times all around the college basketball landscape.
What does the future hold for Western Kentucky? Currently fans and observers would point to this season as a disappointment, but with the program continually losing head coaches to other programs, it would be hard to see success being exponential.
The super programs of Kentucky will continue to look north and south for recruits in order to compete not just for conference championships but for national championships year-in and year-out.
The problem is that if you neglect players locally, you may miss out on the next best thing to come from your state.
Even Tennessee, with little talent other than in the Memphis area, took a chance on Skylar McBee to make sure that the next recruit worth a scholarship will remember that UT is the place for Tennessee basketball.
Does the system that Calipari and Pitino use not work? Absolutely not. It clearly works with the recruits they bring in, and their countless long runs in numerous NCAA tournaments.
As a fan of the Sun Belt, we must continue to root for WKU to build a program in hopes of getting recruits who want to beat the "giant" of the league.
I have always believed that competition breeds better talent and better efforts throughout a league. The more Western Kentucky succeeds, the better their league looks and better players will eventually follow.
Remember Gonzaga prior to their current lengthy string of NCAA tournament appearances? The same can be said for Western Kentucky as they look to be Gonzaga of the South.
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