With Opening Night merely a day away, it’s hard not to look ahead 12 months and imagine the team Josh Pastner will likely send to the floor as a 33-year-old, second-year coach. With the signing of local stars Joe Jackson and Chris Crawford now official and the surprising addition of forward Hippolyte Tsafack — never hurts to tap Cameroon for overlooked talent — the Tigers have a recruiting class that could fill the starting lineup in 2010-11. (Brothers Will and Antonio Barton would fill out the Fab Five.)
Presuming Elliot Williams and Wesley Witherspoon return for their junior seasons, and with some development from raw big man Will Coleman, it’s hard not to consider next year’s Tigers candidates for the nation’s Top 20, if not the Top 10. Needless to say, the 2010 class will be the finest bunch to arrive at FedExForum since 2005, when Shawne Williams, Chris Douglas-Roberts, Antonio Anderson, and Robert Dozier first suited up. And consider this: that 2005 bunch was Calipari’s fifth class of recruits at the U of M. Pastner may come close to matching it with his very first. (On the subject of Calipari, presuming John Wall and Xavier Henry — recruits lost to Memphis when the coach departed for Kentucky — play one season of college ball, could the Tigers be in any better position for 2010-11 with Calipari still in charge? I don’t think so.)
Enough about 2010-11, though (for now). FEF will be packed Friday night to see this year’s squad. Nothing like an exciting future to boost the buzz.