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(Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports)

Five More Transfers that Kentucky Should Consider Pursuing

(Michael Shroyer-USA TODAY Sports)

The lifeblood of any successful college basketball program is recruiting, and after years of mining high school basketball for the top talent, it’s a new world for Kentucky basketball as transfers are all the rage. Sure, UK will still get their share of McDonald’s All-Americans out of high school, but as Reid Travis proved this year, it’s never a bad thing to add older, more experienced players to the roster as well. If they can talk politics with the coach, even better.

Kidding on the last part (sort of) but the bottom-line is that the transfer wave is sweeping college basketball and there’s no turning back, so Kentucky might as well get involved. They have already, with two commitments in the past two years, including a commitment from Bucknell transfer Nate Sestina two weeks ago.

With Sestina in the fold, the question now is, “Who should be next?”

One obvious name became apparent on Tuesday, with the news that Virginia Tech forward Kerry Blackshear has entered the transfer portal. But beyond him, who else should Kentucky look at?

After watching a ton of college basketball, talking to some people around the sport, and just some good old-fashioned speculation, here are a few names they should consider pursuing.

Kerry Blackshear, forward, Virginia Tech (grad transfer)

Blackshear is this year’s version of Reid Travis, as an immediately eligible grad transfer, who has performed at the highest levels of college basketball and can, literally make an immediate contribution to whatever program he decides to commit to.

The 6’10 Blackshear has done it at the highest-level, averaging 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds in the ACC this past season, and saved some of his best games for some of Virginia Tech’s toughest opponents. That included a monstrous 18-point, 16-rebound effort in a near-upset of Duke in the Sweet 16. Again, if you can average 15 and 7.5 in the ACC, you can play anywhere.

Blackshear just put his name in the portal on Tuesday morning, so it’s impossible to know what schools have or will be interested. But considering his success in the ACC and the fact that he’s eligible immediately, expect all the big-name schools to get involved. And yes, that will almost certainly include Kentucky.

Jordan Brown, forward/center, Nevada (sit out next year, three years of eligibility remaining)

Brown is a former McDonald’s All-American and Top 25 prospect who spent last season at Nevada. It didn’t totally work out in Year 1 for Brown with the Wolf Pack, as Eric Musselman preferred to play fifth-year seniors Trey Porter and Jordan Caroline in the front-court over a first-year player. Brown averaged just five points and three rebounds in limited minutes.

With that said, the talent is still there for the 6’11 Brown, and the buzz out of Nevada is that he improved exponentially over the back half of the year and was ready to be a major contributor next season. We’ll never know however, as Musselman is off to Arkansas, and the buzz I’m hearing is that he doesn’t plan on staying at the school to play for Steve Alford. The other buzz I heard is that once he did enter the transfer portal last week he heard from “every major program in the country,” a group that would presumably include Kentucky as well.

Should Kentucky seriously consider Brown, he could serve as a bridge to a new wave of transfers: The players who sit out for a season, develop and are ready to contribute one year down the line. Should he choose Kentucky (and it’s waaaaaay too early to speculate) he’d serve as a great practice player next year, as someone who could do battle every day with Nick Richards, E.J. Montgomery and others, before stepping into a major role in 2020-2021.

Jahvon Quinerly, guard, Villanova (sit out next year, three years eligible remaining)

To be blunt, I have no idea if Quinerly – another former McDonald’s All-American who simply didn’t work out at his previous school, Villanova – would have interest in Kentucky, or vice versa. But I actually think the pair would make a perfect fit.

Let me explain why.

Quinerly was the player who got caught up in the FBI scandal at Arizona, before he was eventually cleared of wrongdoing and ended up at Villanova. Here’s the thing that I’ve been told though: The reason he chose Arizona wasn’t over money. Instead, it was because Arizona was set to lose their entire roster (which they did this season), and he was promised that the ball would be put in his hands from Day 1 and he’d have the keys to the offense. When Arizona got in trouble with the FBI, Quinerly ended up at Villanova, a place where it’s notoriously difficult for freshmen to get on the floor. Especially at the point guard position.

That’s also why I love the fit at Kentucky. Not only would Quinerly get a season to get comfortable with UK and his staff, but he would also go to a school and play for a coach who is notoriously well-known for letting his players play through their mistakes. If you have a point guard that needs to be on the court to feel confident, there literally isn’t a better coach to play for than John Calipari.

With Ashton Hagans almost certainly gone after next season and the possibility that Tyrese Maxey (and who knows, maybe Immanuel Quickley) as well, Kentucky would have its next answer at point guard.

Sam and Joey Hauser, F, Marquette (sit out next year, one year and three years of eligibility respectively)

Of all the names to enter the transfer portal so far this off-season, the Hauser brothers were by far the most shocking. The pair averaged 14.9 and 9.7 points respectively last season at Marquette and were expected to be key components to a team that would have been ranked in the Top 5 nationally to start next season. Had they returned, Marquette would have returned their Top 7 scorers. Now, they have two major holes in the front-court.

It’s fair to ask what to make of two kids who are 1) Getting major playing time and 2) Still elect to leave a team with title aspirations (I would have my concerns) but the fact remains that both will make any team that they join in the 2020-2021 season an instant contender.

In terms of “what’s next” it’s expected to be a “Who’s Who” of big-time programs interested in them, as reigning champion Virginia has already been projected as a leader for their services. No reason to think that Kentucky can’t or won’t make a call to them as well.