After losing out on three of the top-three prospects in the class of 2018 to Duke, including two major targets with heavy rumored interest in Kentucky, John Calipari has been a man possessed this recruiting season.
The momentum shifted to the Blue Devils for a brief moment, and Coach Cal wants everyone to know who the real king of recruiting is.
He pulled off two five-star talents on consecutive days last week, and immediately hit the recruiting circuit to bring more talent to Lexington. After today, he will have met with James Wiseman and Tyrese Maxey twice, and Scottie Lewis, Bryan Antoine, Matthew Hurt, and Vernon Carey Jr. once over the last week alone.
Some he is discussing reclassification options with, specifically Ashton Hagans (very likely), Tyrese Maxey (possible) and James Wiseman (doubtful).
Regardless, it looks like Coach Cal is trying to set up back-to-back superteams capable of dominating the college basketball scene. And if the dominoes fall the right way, it’s entirely possible that happens.
Here’s the blueprint:
Wenyen Gabriel, Quade Green, PJ Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt, Jemarl Baker, and Nick Richards
Immanuel Quickley, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, Ashton Hagans, EJ Montgomery
PG: Ashton Hagans/Immanuel Quickley
SG: Quade Green/Tyler Herro/Jemarl Baker
SF: Keldon Johnson/Jarred Vanderbilt
PF: PJ Washington/Wenyen Gabriel
C: Nick Richards/EJ Montgomery
Hamidou Diallo officially made his decision to put his name in the NBA Draft with an agent today, becoming the third and final Wildcat expected to leave to do so. Now, Wenyen Gabriel, Quade Green, PJ Washington, and Jarred Vanderbilt are the only major players left for Kentucky to make a decision on their futures.
Washington and Vanderbilt have been listed as second-round talents in a few mock drafts released throughout and after the season, but most don’t have either listed. Gabriel and Green have not been on any mocks whatsoever.
But this is Kentucky and we’ve seen several guys in the past leave that could have improved their draft stock exponentially with another year (or three) in Lexington.
There are rumors that Gabriel wants to pursue is professional dreams and start earning money for his family. Washington was quick to put his name in the draft without an agent, and sources told KSR’s Ryan Lemond that there is a much larger chance he leaves than people are expecting. There have been transfer rumblings with Quade Green, and you never know what Vanderbilt decides to do due to his injury history. If he’s worried his injury history will be an ongoing problem, he could opt for the NBA to start earning a paycheck as insurance.
That being said, parents of both Washington and Vanderbilt have said in the past they are looking for a first-round guarantee and the financial support that comes with one. With neither likely getting a guarantee, you have to think the Cats will end up getting both back next season, with one at the very minimum. Barring a major shock, Green is likely to return, and though there are a lot of talking heads saying Gabriel is more favoring the NBA, he could build off his late-season spike in production and improve his stock as a junior.
If Kentucky ends up getting back who they should, the Wildcats will be absolutely loaded, and arguably one of Calipari’s top-two rosters since he got to Kentucky. They’d have the elite talent up top, veteran leadership, and depth that would make the Cats title favorites going into this season. No issues with shooting, as Herro, Green, Quickley, and Baker can all consistently knock down jumpers from the outside. They’d have the muscle and athleticism in the front court, and a superstar on the wing in Keldon Johnson.
That’s a dangerous team that would be extremely tough to beat.
Immanuel Quickley, Tyler Herro, Quade Green, Jemarl Baker, and either EJ Montgomery or Nick Richards
Tyrese Maxey, James Wiseman, DJ Jeffries, Vernon Carey Jr., Scottie Lewis, Matthew Hurt
PG: Quade Green/Jemarl Baker
SG: Immanuel Quickley/Tyler Herro
SF: Tyrese Maxey/Scottie Lewis/DJ Jeffries
PF: James Wiseman/Matthew Hurt
C: Vernon Carey Jr./(Montgomery or Richards)
Let me start by saying the fringe guys that return this season will almost certainly leave after next, specifically with Vanderbilt, Washington, and Gabriel. Like we saw with Hamidou Diallo and Isaiah Briscoe, when a guy on the fence makes the decision to come back, it almost always means it’s for just one more year.
And that’s perfectly fine.
John Calipari is recruiting like a madman right now, and like we saw him finish the class of 2018 (and he may not even be done yet) he’s going to ensure the class of 2019 is absolutely loaded to swing the momentum back from Duke to Kentucky. After the Zion Williamson decision, a switch flipped for Cal that showed he wasn’t playing games anymore, and I believe his 2019 class will prove just that. He wants to light the recruiting world on fire again, hence why he has been all across the nation, sometimes in the same place more than once, with top-ten talent since the season ended.
Admittedly, it’s incredibly early in the recruiting process for the class of 2019, and as we have seen in previous classes, things can end up finishing way different than expected. A lot of guys favored to go to Kentucky (Barrett, Williamson) don’t end up landing there, and a lot of recruits that aren’t expected to (Montgomery, Hagans, Herro) come out of left field and end up in Lexington. So the above list will almost certainly not look like the final list when Coach Cal wraps it up in the next year or so, but it’s apparent he is changing up his roster makeup and recruiting style for upcoming seasons. Elite freshman talent combined with seasoned veterans with NCAA Tournament experience. He’s been able to do it a bit in the past (Ulis under Harrison Twins, etc.) but not throughout the entire lineup like he’s making a push for in the very near future.
After Ashton Hagans and EJ Montgomery committed to Kentucky, Swaggy Cal was retired and Chip-On-His-Shoulder walked into the spotlight.
#BBN, have you enjoyed breakfast the last couple days? We like to be transparent at Kentucky, but let me say this: No one truly knows what we are doing until it’s done. Finished yet?
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) April 10, 2018
It’s obvious Calipari has something up his sleeve, and I believe building a juggernaut roster just might be it.