Exactly. I’ve never said Duncan Robinson (or Levert, or Hardaway) was our first choice. What I meant is that we are pretty good at spotting under-the-radar guys who turn into really good players under the staff’s guidance, after we don’t get our Plan A guys.
Hardaway was at least a Plan C behind Casey Prather and Trey Ziegler. Levert was a late spring pick up. Would we have rather closed out that class with Gary Harris? No doubt.
Certainly, we have missed on a lot of Plan A guys over the years. Guys like Prather, Ziegler, Ray McCallum (though he probably never gave us strong consideration), Nate Lubick, the Plumlee brothers (all three), and lately Booker, Bates-Diop, Blueitt (though I assume we could have gotten back into it had we wanted to), and Blackmon.
End of the world? Not in my view.
When I say people want us to emulate Kentucky, what I mean is that every time we take a guy who isn’t a consensus top 100 player (or heck, top 40), people seem to get all freaked out.
A few points:
We still have a LOT of top 100 players on the roster: Irvin, Walton, Chatman, Donnal, Wilson. That’s hardly bad recruiting.
Of the “under the radar,” outside-the-top-100 guys we have signed over the past five years, many of them have turned into legitimate college stars: Burke, Hardaway, and Levert come immediately to mind. And of the rest, plenty have become important contributors, even if they are not stars: Morgan, Stu Douglas, Novak, Spike, and Horford.
In short, there is reason to believe that when we offer a player, even if that guy isn’t at the top of our priority list, we can still develop that guy into a contributor, and even sometimes into a star and future NBA talent. Among Dawkins, MAAR and Doyle, I’m willing to bet one of those guys is a future NBA player, and I’m also willing to bet Chatman and Wilson are, too. So if three guys from this entering class wind up in the NBA, even though we missed all our top targets except Chatman, that’s pretty darn good.
Finally, one more point: the more five stars you land, the more you’ll be replacing them immediately. No one wants to turn down talent, of course. But I’d predict a guy like Thornton, for example, is at least a 50/50 bet to turn pro after one year. We have a great offense, and players flourish in our system. That’s a good thing, of course, but it has also led to seven early entries over the past four years (Manny, Darius, Trey, Tim, Nik, Mitch, and Glenn). It’s not always a bad thing to land guys that take three years (like Tim and Caris) to develop into NBA draft picks, as opposed to one year or two. In that same vein, that’s why all things considered, getting Seth Towns over TJ Leaf may not be a bad thing if it happens. I’m not saying I wouldn’t take Leaf - I’d love to get him. I’m just saying that some of these Plan B types have worked out quite well for us.