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It’s possible for Kentucky to have two consecutive superteams. Here’s the blueprint.


© Ben Queen | USATSI

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:

2018-19

Returns:

Wenyen Gabriel, Quade Green, PJ Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt, Jemarl Baker, and Nick Richards

Recruits:

Immanuel Quickley, Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, Ashton Hagans, EJ Montgomery

Lineup:

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.

2019-2020

Returns:

Immanuel Quickley, Tyler Herro, Quade Green, Jemarl Baker, and either EJ Montgomery or Nick Richards

Recruits:

Tyrese Maxey, James Wiseman, DJ Jeffries, Vernon Carey Jr., Scottie Lewis, Matthew Hurt

Lineup:

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.

It’s obvious Calipari has something up his sleeve, and I believe building a juggernaut roster just might be it.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

24 responses to “It’s possible for Kentucky to have two consecutive superteams. Here’s the blueprint.”

  1. herm89

    Lots of “ifs” here

    1. Blueballz

      Jack you’re the King of what ifs…

  2. Wynn

    Jack, I gotta commend you for the title of this post. You know how to get clicks haha

  3. 9IsNext

    Left Maxey off of the lineup list for 2019-20

  4. Angelo

    Jack! Single greatest post in all of KSR’s great history!!!

  5. Han

    As people say, a lot of ifs. Maybe Duke’s recruiting suffers without Capel or if they crash and burn again with the best talent (if they self-destruct and people see Zion, RJ and Cam wasted/upset, will be hard to bring in top guys the next year). Maybe Cal does have his swagger back and will land most of the listed guys. Maybe we win the title and lose more than expected while also drawing in big names. Maybe that happens for Duke.

    All I know is that if Hagans reclassifies and no one else leaves, I hope Cal leaves 1 of the 2 schollies left open in case any of those ’19 guys decide to enroll in January like Hami and Tai did (and the reason we missed Jarnell Stokes). Hopefully they warn him if they’re considering it.

    If PJ, Gabriel or Vando goes pro, and assuming no magical reclassification and commitment from Carey or Wiseman, then I hope Cal gets a grad transfer big man to give us points, boards, minutes and a body inside. And who will also then free up that schollie for a Wiseman or Carey in ’19.

    But until we get another superclass, I’m going to expect we don’t get it. People on this blog promised us some of those guys now at Duke, said we were locks. And now they’re going to Duke and we’re hearing how Cal’s gonna land guys next year.

    Get back to me when these guys publicly commit (signed or not). For now, I’m just gonna keep worrying about Vando, PJ, Gabriel and Quade.

  6. Rick_S

    Johnson is NOT a superstar…He would not start over PJ or JV..Watch and see

    1. BlakeBlueNation

      I’ve watched Keldon Johnson play and let me tell you he reminds me of Deandre Liggins in his senior year. He is a lockdown defender, very athletic, and can sometimes shoot the ball. He has a lot of promise and I believe someone like JV could be the star 6th man of the bench like most Nba team have

  7. Earned Not Given

    Your lineups are a mess. Vanderbilt is not a SF in size or scope, he is a PF all the way. In 2019-20, how did Tyrese Maxey become a SF? When did Baker become a PG? How did Quade go from SG to PG?

    1. ClutchCargo

      Does any of that really matter, though? Cal goes with the roster he has. If somebody wants to put labels on positions, so be it.

    2. BlakeBlueNation

      Cal also plays a position less basketball. And Vando was listed as a Small forward coming out of highschool lol. Only reason why he said Baker was a point guard was because the backup (Quickley or Maxey) were both starting.

  8. Alex90

    What if Michael Jordan and LeBron James somehow made a baby and that baby somehow reclassifies to next year’s class?

    1. Blue4Life

      ?

    2. Angelo

      Clone one or both! It works for polo ponies in Argentina! Humans are next.

  9. Western42

    Y’all know Tyrese Maxey is a Point Guard right? Just because a dude is big, athletic, and can score on the inside doesn’t make him a SF.

    1. makeitstop

      I assumed Jack was figuring 3 guard lineup like ‘Nova this year. They would be fast.

  10. Blue4Life

    Lmao^^

  11. Koppdiesel

    If UK were to get Scottie Lewis it would be tough to see them not getting his teammate Bryan Antoine as well

  12. makeitstop

    Jack I like your thesis. It’s the best guess based on what we know, but of course so are the spaghetti models that predict hurricanes. If they say they’re hitting me a week out, I know I’m safe! That said, really no surprises this far. The ones we thought would leave did. The ones we didn’t have not (yet).

  13. kjd

    Superteams unless the strength of the college game becomes their kryptonite.
    Let’s wait and see.

  14. most_wanted1989

    I don’t see Vernon Carey coming to UK

  15. most_wanted1989

    Matthew Hurt is likely headed to KU

  16. coachcalrulz

    The only way for Coach Cal to please some of UK fans(??) will be to win back to back titles with a 40-0 record one season and 38-2 the next. Maybe, just maybe, some of the fair weather fans will get back on the Coach Cal bandwagon and consider him to be almost as good as Jay Wright.