What is John Calipari to do?
In his tenure at Kentucky he has been notoriously ridiculed for his methods in recruiting. Within his first 5 years, it was not uncommon for Cal to sign multiple players ranked in the top 5 of their class. With only the 2012 National Championship to show for it, this left many to insist that the Cats begin looking for players that would stay multiple seasons.
Fast forward to today, a climate where Duke, not Kentucky, is owning the recruiting world. Are they getting bad players? Hell no! Kentucky is loaded with talent at every position. Plenty of 5 stars to go around. Oh, and guess what? Calipari has likely positioned the program to return experienced players next season, while also locking down an excellent 2018 class.
Immanuel Quickley – Meet your annual Calipari signature point guard commit. Quickley was UK all the way. He signed early and has been repping the BBN with pride. An injury sidelined Quickley for the start of his Senior campaign. But he is back with his team and has been playing well. Depth at guard is a good recipe for March.
Keldon Johnson – The Oak Hill guard is gaining more national respect every day. I see him as an immediate impact player that will start for Kentucky next season. His game is both smooth and ferocious at the same time. It will prove to be an asset that he plays for a prestigious school like Oak Hill Academy. Johnson should come in to the bright lights of Kentucky having already been conditioned to play at a high level.
3. Tyler Herro – Get pumped. Tyler has been doing work this year. He is known for his sharp shooting ability and a quick release. But I’m telling you, do not sleep on his athleticism. His slashing ability will prove to be valuable. I had a chance to watch Jordan McCabe, who is also from Wisconsin, play twice in December. On a side note, look up Jordan McCabe. Amazing player signed to West Virginia. I spoke to a few of Jordan’s coaches who were familiar with Tyler’s game and stressed how much the BBN will love him. They also hinted at his tendency to come off as a bit cocky. Confidence is needed to play here. I’m glad he is rumored to have it in droves. The BBN will love Tyler. Next Devin Booker?
Didn’t get em:
Moses Brown – Don’t get flustered over this one. Moses Brown committed to UCLA in the middle of January. An offer was never in place by Kentucky. I have seen the 7 footer play a few times and his motor is impressive considering his size. Overall, I do not think UK fans would have been in love with his unpolished skill-set. I expect we return some front-court depth anyway.
Zion Williamson – This one stung. Not only did several fan bases miss out on a generational talent like Zion, but they also had to swallow the reality of him unexpectedly choosing Duke. WTF. I do not even want to rehash this. So let us just leave it. This was the type of player we had become so used to signing. Times seemingly have changed.
Bol Bol – It would have been really enjoyable to see Bol Bol play at Rupp. He can do some unique things for his size. Sorry, you won’t see much of him since he chose to stay out west and attend Oregon.
Cam Reddish – Cam has been elite since he was a sophomore. I always believed he was Kentucky’s to lose. They lost him. To who? Yep, Duke. Another top 3 player that is physically gifted. I expect him to be a lottery pick next year.
R.J. Barrett – I cannot overstate how good this kid is. He packs a special mindset – it reminds me of Kobe Bryant. He has the ability to change the game in every aspect, and he can do it without pressing. R.J. Barrett showed exactly what he was about during FIBA. He destroyed the USA by himself in the FIBA semi-finals. I expect Adam Silver to call his name early in 2019. Like, #1.
E.J. Montgomery – The 5 star power forward has emerged as the prized jewel remaining in the 2018 class. Kentucky is making E.J. a priority. All of the Blue Bloods have been putting on the full court press to sign him. In predictable fashion, Duke has been reported to take the lead. This will be a huge story to follow in the coming weeks. He could put a program over the top.
James Wiseman – This is as about as complicated a scenario as it gets. Wiseman is currently in the class of 2019, but there is heavy speculation he is considering the reclassifying to 2018. He still would not eligible for the NBA draft until the year 2020. In my opinion, the 7 foot big man out of Memphis East High School is ready for college right now. However, I do not expect him to reclassify. There are just so many variables in his decision making process. Including the pending decision of the NBA to create an even longer post high school age requirement. Assuming he does enroll in college, I think Kentucky will be his landing spot.
The seemingly inevitable reality that Kentucky adds the returning depth to a great 2018 class should have the Big Blue Nation content, right?
Wrong. The overwhelming consensus across college basketball and the fan base seems to be that Duke is king and Kentucky is now struggling. I am not sure I agree with that wholeheartedly. However, I do believe that Coach K is essentially hand-picking players from each class. Thus, leaving everyone else scramble and revamp their previous strategy to finish out their class.
Zion Williamson really put the finishing move on this narrative. I am not worried. Fans should know better than anyone, that formula is a tricky one. I believe we are in a great situation to look elite in the 2018-2019 season.
There are probably things you can roast Calipari on, recruiting is not one of them. In Cal we trust.