The 2019 class has been unique for John Calipari. The Kentucky head coach has picked up early commitments before, but currently the Cats stand with three 2019 commitments. Kentucky has never had three commitments this early in a recruiting period, and it’s provided plenty of nice benefits for UK’s coaching staff.
Yes, Ashton Hagans is likely to make the jump to 2018, but currently having Hagans on board with Tyrese Maxey and D.J. Jeffries is doing more than just making UK competitive for 2019-2020.
It’s giving the Cats a chance to get a jump on the tricky 2020 class. And the reason 2020 will be tricky is because it’s the proposed date by the NCAA to abolish the one-and-done, of course if the NBA is willing to play ball.
So, while UK will have extra time to build relationships in 2020, the Cats will need to focus on two things.
1. How interested are the kids in Kentucky? (This is a question they ask every year)
2. Would UK be wasting its time recruiting a kid that won’t play college basketball.
Ben Roberts of the Lexington Herald Leader recently wrote an article about the proposed rule changes, the NCAA and the NBA. This piece will give you some background on the timetable and how likely it is to take place.
Many experts agree that something will change by 2020. Calipari suggested that just a handful of high school players should have the chance to be a one-and-done, as a compromise for the NCAA and the NBA.
It’s even more important UK has extra time to build these relationships because it will give Kentucky’s coaching staff a better idea of who will likely head to the NBA Draft and who is more interested in playing college basketball. Those interested in playing college basketball, even if not ranked one of the top 10 players in the class, will allow UK to turn the corner faster than other programs.
In a somewhat surprising move Calipari has already offered Scottie Barnes and N’Farly Dante in the class of 2020. It’s surprising because Calipari rarely offers players before the fall of their junior year. So, it’s safe to say UK will actively be monitoring those two players, but those two players would almost certainly be interested in the NBA if the one-and-done rule is taken out of play.
So, UK will have to be somewhat creative for the 2020 class, and clearly the Cats are already thinking about the future. Here are a few names to remember for 2020 excluding the two targets Calipari has already offered, and don’t be expecting anymore offers until the fall (click on names for more details):
Isaiah Todd: The 6-foot-9, 190-pound forward is similar to Bol Bol with his outside shooting ability, but he will certainly be on the radar of NBA teams.
Jaemyn Brakefield: Brakefield has been on UK’s campus more times as a 2020 player than I was when I was a college student at UK. He is high on the Cats and probably not quite a candidate to make the jump to the league.
Jeremy Roach: Roach has also visited UK and was on Kentucky’s campus last fall. He is the exact type of player UK will be monitoring in 2020. He’s incredibly talented but will most certainly play college basketball.
Hunter Dickinson: Behind the scenes UK has shown some interest, but with powers like UNC and UVA making Dickinson a priority don’t be surprised to see interest pickup for the big guy.
Brandon Boston: Boston has visited UK and the Cats will continue to watch him this summer. He’s from Norcross, Ga. Hey, that’s where Jodie Meeks was from, too.
It’s too early to say exactly which players will end up at UK, or even who will end up with an offer from Kentucky, but the 2020 class could revert the game back to how it was nearly two decades ago.
The fact UK is sitting so well in 2019 will allow Calipari and his staff to be on top of whatever changes sweep across college basketball.