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Basketball Recruiting News

Nick Richards will be “perfect fit” at Kentucky

With Bam staying in the draft, 7-foot basketball signee Nick Richards is more valuable now than ever. To figure out just how good he is and what he is going to bring to the newest edition of the Kentucky Wildcats,  Kyle Tucker sat down with Richards high school coach and former Rutger’s coach, Mike Rice.

“Rice said he watches a lot of Kentucky basketball and thinks Richards, a consensus top-20 recruit in the Class of 2017, will be a perfect fit for John Calipari’s style of play.

He can guard one through five about as well as any 7-footer has in a long time,” Rice said. “So I think he has such a big upside and Kentucky is getting a special person.”

I don’t know about you all, but Mr. Rice has me lit for next season.

Top Ranked PG for 2018 says Wall is his Favorite Player

John Oubre | The Advocate

John Oubre | The Advocate

Javonte Smart, who’s rated as the No. 1 point guard of the 2018 recruiting class by, recently spoke about his recruitment from top schools. A common question that gets thrown around to these young ball players is, “Who’s your favorite NBA player?”. Being a point guard, it’s no surprise that John Wall was Smart’s answer.

“John Wall is my favorite point guard,” he said. “He’s great, and Calipari coached him. That’s a great thing. … Everybody says you have to have that dog in you. He’s got that. And that’s what I want to learn from him.”

What better way could Smart begin his journey to the NBA than to follow in his favorite player’s footsteps? John Wall was also the No 1. point guard heading into college, so Smart already has that checked off the list. Next up, he just needs that scholarship offer from UK.

Coach Calipari has yet to extend an offer to Javonte Smart, but many believe it’s coming soon. Kentucky has already extended scholarship offers to 2018 point guards Immanuel Quickley and Quentin Grimes. Calipari has attended more of Smart’s games recently, so Smart thinks its coming soon.

“He’s a great coach,” Smart said. “He’s one of the best coaches in college, if not the best.”

He definitely seems very interested in Kentucky and John Calipari, especially since it’s where John Wall played. The 2018 class of point guards has mixed rankings, depending upon which scouting site you visit. Some have Garland at the top, others have Quickley, and then there’s Smart. Of the top 5 PGs in the 2018 class, Smart is the tallest at 6’5.

You can check out more of Smart’s recent comments, including other schools’ recruiting him and living near LSU at the following link:

Two of the Best in 2019 will Visit UK Next Weekend

Two of the Best in 2019 will Visit UK Next Weekend


In the 2019 class you only need to remember two names: Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine.

The New Jersey teammates are two of the best wings in the country.  One is ranked No. 10, the other is No. 5 in the class, but you can toss those rankings out the window.  They are two of the best of the best of the best.  Calipari was wise enough to spot them early in the recruiting process as freshmen.  They still have two years of school left, but they’ll take their first visit to Lexington next weekend.

This is the kind of stuff they do every time they take the floor.

The dynamic duo performed pretty well when Coach Cal watched them play earlier this spring.

Remember Antoine and Lewis.  If you thought the Harrison Twins received a ton of hype, these guys are just getting started.   

Calipari Zeroing In on a Pair of Nike EYBL Teammates

Calipari Zeroing In on a Pair of Nike EYBL Teammates


Last year John Calipari got an early look at small forward Cameron Reddish while recruiting his prep school teammate, Mohamed Bamba.  Now Calipari is taking a closer look at Reddish’s Nike EYBL teammate, small forward Louis King.

The 6’8″ small forward is a top 25 player in the class of 2018.  He does not yet have an offer from UK, but King told ZagsBlog it would be a “privilege.”

“I know they get guys to The League,” King said.  “They had Isaiah Briscoe and Malik Monk and a lot of great players in that program. So going to that program is like a privilege.”

While Reddish struggled in front of Coach Cal last night, King finished with 19 points and 10 rebounds.   The Cats are considered the early favorites for King.  Reddish was once considered a lock for Duke, but told the Herald-Leader’s Ben Roberts he is slowing down the recruiting process.  He will take his time and use all five official visits.  His description of UK is very similar to his teammate’s.

“We know what they do best, which is get players to the league,” Reddish said. “And that’s my ultimate goal as well. So that’s a great place to be at.”

Highlights of the pair from last weekend.  


John Calipari Makes Recruiting Moves


Last night John Calipari spent the evening at Under Armour and Nike AAU events in Indianapolis.  After seeing all that he needed to, Cal hit the private jet to Atlanta.

Coach Cal is currently watching his top point guard target in the 2018, Immanuel Quickley.  Calipari is tagging out Joel Justus, who spent last night watching recruits at the Adidas tournament in Atlanta.

Calipari left Tony Barbee and Kenny Payne in Indianapolis where they are currently keeping an eye on another point guard prospect, Javonte Smart, and the nation’s No. 1 player, 7-foot athlete Marvin Bagley.

A Cam Johnson Recruiting Update

A Cam Johnson Recruiting Update


Cameron Johnson is on the move.

The graduate transfer shooting guard from Pittsburgh visited Kentucky Wednesday and Thursday.  One of Calipari’s final targets in the 2017 class, Johnson is visiting Ohio State on Monday and Arizona next weekend, according to multiple reports.

Johnson’s decision will likely be between the two Wildcats.

Jeff Goodman reports Johnson will begin the week by visiting Ohio State. 

Uh oh… Texas trending for Mohamed Bamba

Uh oh… Texas trending for Mohamed Bamba


Things have been very, very quiet on the Mohamed Bamba front, but there has been some recent movement in his Crystal Ball predictions and it’s not the kind of movement we want to see.

Of the four new predictions this month, all four have Texas as the pick for Bamba’s final destination. Now one of those comes from a Louisville blogger with a horrible track record, so we’ll toss him out, but the other three are from Duke and they are pretty trusted and they all came this week:

Screen Shot 2017-04-28 at 6.37.39 PM

I’ve been pretty confident (okay, overly confident) in Bamba to Kentucky since the season ended and I have three separate very legitimate sources that helped me make that prediction. But it’s also been weeks since they got my hopes up, so I pray to the basketball gods something hasn’t changed recently and pushed Bamba toward Texas. I mean, why would he do that???

I’m still driving the Bamba-to-Kentucky train, but Texas is obviously making some noise in the Duke circles.

Make of that what you will.

Have a nice Friday.

Johnson said his UK visit was really good

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

We have an update on Cam Johnson’s visit, courtesy of the well-connected Adam Zagoria.

Zagoria updated his story today to include a quote from Johnson, who said via text, “Just finished up, it was really good.”

So there ya go. It was really good. I know that’s not the greatest update, but it’s an update nonetheless.

Enjoy the rest of your day.


The Ones That Got Away: Checking In On The Recruits Calipari’s Missed On Over The Years

The Ones That Got Away: Checking In On The Recruits Calipari’s Missed On Over The Years


Earlier this week, a KSR caller gave us a great research topic: the recruits that John Calipari wanted but didn’t get. I spent the past few days making a list of the top recruits Cal’s coveted and missed on, and what they’re doing now. Join me as we take a stroll down memory lane…

2009: Xavier Henry


Then: Chose Kansas over Kentucky and Memphis

Calipari brought most of his Memphis recruits with him to Kentucky in 2009, but not Xavier Henry, the second best shooting guard in the 2009 class that was committed to Cal at Memphis but reopened his recruitment once he left. After a lot of drama (including a potential last minute change of heart), Henry decided to follow in his father’s footsteps at Kansas.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Oklahoma City Blue in the D-League

Henry left Kansas after one season, during which he averaged 13.4 points. He was drafted 12th in the 2010 Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies. Since then, he’s spent time on the New Orleans Hornets, the Los Angeles Lakers, and their respective D-League squads. A torn Achilles set him back in 2014, and since then, he’s struggled to find a spot on an NBA roster. He spent this past season playing alongside Dakari Johnson for the Oklahoma City Blue in the D-League.

2010: Josh Selby


Then: Chose Kansas over Kentucky, Arizona, UConn, and Tennessee

Selby decommitted from Tennessee in July 2009 and became one of Calipari’s top targets at point guard along with Brandon Knight. In what would be a blessing in disguise, Selby picked Kansas while Knight chose Kentucky.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays overseas in Israel 

The NCAA suspended Selby for the first nine games of the season due to his relationship with Carmelo Anthony’s business manager, Robert “Bay” Frazier. Selby struggled in his one year at Kansas, and apparently, stopped going to class after the season was over, moving to Vegas to prepare for the draft. He was drafted 49th by the Grizzlies and was assigned to the D-League after a few months. He stayed in the D-League until taking his game overseas in 2013. He’s now with Maccabi Kiryat Gat in Israel.

2010: CJ Leslie


Then: Chose NC State over Kentucky and UConn

Power forward and aspiring poet CJ Leslie played alongside John Wall at Word of God Christian Academy in Raleigh, but unlike Wall, Calipari was unable to persuade him to leave his home state.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Raptors 905 in the D-League

Leslie played for NC State for three years before going undrafted in the 2013 NBA Draft. Since then, he’s been in and out of the D-League and played overseas for a few years before landing with the Raptors’ D-League team, the Raptors 905.

2011: Andre Drummond


Then: Chose UConn over Kentucky, Georgetown, Louisville, and West Virginia

Drummond could have been the best big man in the 2012 class and gone straight to the NBA because of his age, but stunned everyone at the last minute by reclassifying to 2011 and enrolling at UConn. In the 2011 class, he was considered the best player behind Anthony Davis.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Detroit Pistons

After a year at UConn, Drummond was drafted 9th overall by the Detroit Pistons and has been there ever since. He was voted an All-Star in 2016 and played for the US in the 2014 FIBA World Cup.

2011: Quincy Miller


Then: Chose Baylor over Kentucky, Duke, Louisville, and Oklahoma

Miller was a top 10 player in the 2011 class and even though he enjoyed doing the John Wall dance, passed on an offer from Kentucky in part because they wouldn’t offer his close friend, Deuce Bello. Also courted by Louisville, Miller was so bitter that Bello didn’t get an offer that he flashed the Louisville “L” at the UK Football team and stared down Calipari while on a recruiting visit to the UK/UofL football game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in September 2010. Ultimately, both Miller and Bello ended up at Baylor.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays overseas in Israel

After one year at Baylor, Miller was drafted 38th by the Denver Nuggets and was in and out of the D-League until he was waived in 2014. After stints with the Reno Bighorns, the Sacramento Kings, and Detroit Pistons, he moved overseas, where he now plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel.

2012: Shabazz Muhammed


Then: Chose UCLA over Kentucky and Duke

Shabazz and Nerlens Noel were considered the best two players in the 2012 class and buzz was that both would land at Kentucky; however, Shabazz elected to stay on the west coast and chose UCLA over Kentucky and Duke.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Timberwolves

Oh boy, where to begin with Shabazz? Muhammed’s year at UCLA was mired in scandal, from his suspension for the first three games of the season for receiving illegal benefits during his recruitment to his father lying about how old he was to pouting when his teammate hit a game-winning shot. Shabazz was drafted 14th by the Utah Jazz and quickly traded to the Timberwolves. After being sent home from the NBA rookie transition program, Muhammed spent time in the D-League before returning to Minnesota, where he’s been ever since.

2012: Alex Oriakhi (transfer)


Then: Chose to transfer from UConn to Missouri over Kentucky

With UConn facing a postseason ban in the 2012-13 season, Alex Oriakhi decided to transfer for his senior season to be able to play in the 2013 NCAA Tournament. With most of the 2012 National Championship team out the door, Calipari was in hot pursuit, but the day before he was scheduled to visit Lexington, Oriakhi decided to go to Missouri instead.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Playing overseas in Spain

Oriakhi did get to play in the NCAA Tournament, but the Tigers lost in the first round to Colorado State. He was drafted 57th in the 2013 Draft by the Phoenix Suns, fizzled on their Summer League team and rotated between overseas pro teams and the D-League. He’s now with Vaqueros de Bayamón in Spain.

2013: Andrew Wiggins


Then: Chose Kansas over Kentucky, Florida State, and North Carolina

Ah, the recruiting saga to end all recruiting sagas. Kentucky was considered the favorite for Wiggins for most of his recruitment along with Florida State, but he surprised us all by picking Kansas. Did landing Julius Randle scare him off?

KSR headlines at the time included:

If you’re curious, 812 posts have been written about Andrew Wiggins on KSR, which has to be a record. Bamba’s recruitment is nothing compared to his.

Now: Plays for the Timberwolves

After a year at Kansas, Wiggins was drafted first in the 2014 Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers and traded two months later to the Minnesota Timberwolves. He’s one of the Timberwolves’ young stars alongside our own Karl Towns, with whom he actually shared a room at the Nike Hoop Summit back in 2013.

2013: Aaron Gordon


Then: Chose Arizona over Kentucky, Washington, and Oregon

Gordon was one of Kentucky’s top targets in the 2013 class along with Wiggins, but like many West Coast recruits, couldn’t tear himself away from that side of the country, not even for Calipari.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Orlando Magic

After a season at Arizona, Gordon was drafted fourth in the 2014 Draft by the Orlando Magic, whom he’s been with ever since.

2014: Emmanuel Mudiay


Then: Chose SMU over Kentucky, Kansas, Baylor, and Oklahoma State.

Emmanuel Mudiay was poised to be the next great Calipari point guard, but surprised everyone when he picked SMU.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Then: Chose China because of eligibility problems

In many ways, not getting Mudiay was a blessing in surprise. Eligibility problems forced him to forgo his college career and play in China for a season. Meanwhile, Kentucky went after Tyler Ulis, now considered one of the greatest point guards in school history.

Now: Plays for the Denver Nuggets

After earning over a million dollars playing for the Guangdong Southern Tigers in China, Mudiay was drafted seventh in the 2015 NBA Draft by the Denver Nuggets. Now, he’s the backup behind Jameer Nelson, and is losing minutes to another Wildcat, Jamal Murray.

2014: Cliff Alexander


Then: Chose Kansas over Illinois and DePaul

Kentucky was high on Alexander early on, but backed off once they got a commitment from Trey Lyles. From there, Alexander cut the Cats from his list and committed to Kansas, making his dad the happiest person in the world:

Confession: That video is the only reason I kept Alexander on the list.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays in the D-League

Alexander averaged 7.1 points and 5.3 rebounds in his freshman year at Kansas until he was suspended in late February over an NCAA investigation. After claiming he “got dealt a bad deck of cards” at Kansas, Alexander entered the 2015 NBA Draft and was undrafted. He signed a training camp deal with the Portland Trail Blazers, but struggled due to injury and was waived. Since then, he’s been in the D-League.

2015: Stephen Zimmerman


Then: Chose UNLV over Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA, and Arizona

2015 was a tough recruiting year for Calipari because many of the players he wanted most decided to stay home instead of coming to Lexington. Stephen Zimmerman was one of those players. Calipari made it clear Zimmerman was one his top targets, but Zimmerman couldn’t bring himself to leave Las Vegas, choosing UNLV instead.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Plays for the Orlando Magic

After one year at UNLV, Zimmerman was drafted 41st by the Orlando Magic in the 2016 NBA Draft. He was in and out of the D-League in his rookie season.

2015: Malik Newman


Then: Chose Mississippi State over Kentucky and Kansas

Kentucky was considered the favorite for the top point guard in the 2015 class for most of his recruitment, but Newman shocked everyone by choosing to stay home and play for Mississippi State instead.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Then: Transferred to Kansas

Newman’s decision to stay home and play for Mississippi State came back to bite him. After averaging 11.3 points in his freshman year, he tried to go pro but discovered his stock wasn’t high enough, so he withdrew his name and returned to school. Unfortunately, he had a bad habit of skipping classes, so he wasn’t exactly welcomed back with open arms, so he decided to transfer.

Now: Plays for Kansas

Newman had to sit out the 2016-17 season, but will suit up for the Jayhawks this fall.

2015: Antonio Blakeney


Then: Chose LSU over Kentucky and Missouri

Blakeney was one of the top shooting guards in the 2015 class and in September 2014, committed to Louisville only to decommit eleven days later. We didn’t know it at the time, but that’s because UofL tried to woo him with prostitutes, which you know, is pretty disgusting, so after the grossness of it all sunk in, he got the heck outta there. From there, it looked like he would come to Kentucky, but he elected to join Ben Simmons at LSU instead.

KSR headlines at the time included:

Now: Preparing for the 2017 Draft

Blakeney’s freshman year at LSU with Ben Simmons didn’t exactly go as planned (JUST LIKE THAT RECRUITING VISIT TO LOUISVILLE, AMIRITE), with the Tigers failing to make the NCAA Tournament and turning down the NIT. It didn’t get any better in his sophomore year, with the Tigers finishing 13th in the SEC behind Missouri. Now, he’s signed with an agent for the 2017 Draft even though he’s barely in Draft Express’ ranking of Top 100 prospects.

…However, he did help expose the Louisville sex scandal and for that reason, will forever be in our hearts.


Mark Smith Commits to Illinois

Mark Smith Commits to Illinois

Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 7.24.46 PM

Shooting guard Mark Smith has committed to Illinois.  The state’s Mr. Basketball will stay home to play college basketball.

Smith’s stellar senior season propelled him into the recruiting spotlight after the conclusion of the college basketball season, drawing attention from Coach Cal, Coach K and many others.  Smith played in the Derby Basketball Classic two weeks ago and planned to visit Kentucky.  After a trip to Champaign, he’d seen enough.

Moving forward, John Calipari has already picked up one postseason commitment from shooting guard Jemarl Baker.  The next shooting guard to commit could be on campus right now, Pitt grad transfer Cam Johnson.

Midday Crystal Ball check: Illinois the runaway favorite for Mark Smith

Midday Crystal Ball check: Illinois the runaway favorite for Mark Smith

Tonight at 7 p.m. ET, four-star shooting guard Mark Smith will announce his decision at his high school in Edwardsville, Illinois. Smith picked up an offer from Kentucky early this month and hosted Duke last week, but Illinois seems to be the overwhelming favorite for the state’s Mr. Basketball. The Fighting Illini have 82% of the predictions in Smith’s Crystal Ball, including all nine in the past week.

Screen Shot 2017-04-26 at 1.21.07 PM

Smith visited Illinois over the weekend, and considering he chose to go ahead and set his announcement before taking a trip to Kentucky, I’d say he’s going to stay home. Before you get too depressed, keep in mind that UK landed a commitment from fellow four-star shooting guard Jemarl Baker a few weeks back and Pitt transfer Cam Johnson is on campus for an official visit starting today.

Regardless, we’ll let you know what Smith decides tonight at 7 p.m.

Wednesday’s Top 10: Cam Johnson on campus, Mark Smith announcing, Preds vs. the Blues

Wednesday’s Top 10: Cam Johnson on campus, Mark Smith announcing, Preds vs. the Blues


Shoutout to this young KSR and UK fan Blaine Colliver, who refused to enter Alberta, Canada without throwing up his three goggles. Well done, Blaine. I hope you enjoyed Wild Rose Country.

Let’s give him the ten things happening in UK Sports today, shall we?

12131405 1. Cam Johnson starts his official visit

The big news of the day is Pitt grad transfer Cam Johnson beginning his official visit to Kentucky. I told you all about Johnson last night and why he would be such a valuable addition to next season’s roster, and it sounds like if he likes what he sees over the next two days, odds are high he’ll become a Cat. Johnson, who will be eligible to play immediately and has two seasons of eligibility remaining, also has Arizona, Ohio State, Oregon, UCLA, and TCU on his list.

His trip to Lexington comes as…

 2. Jemarl Baker wrapped up his official visit

After committing to Kentucky a few weeks ago, the four-star shooting guard from Los Angeles took his official visit to Lexington to check everything out before signing on the dotted line. Based on his SnapChat story, it looks like he enjoyed himself. Highlights of the story include him hanging at Calipari’s house and getting an up-close look at Cal’s new Air Jordan 8 “Calipari Pack” from Drake, a tour of Rupp Arena and the Joe Craft Center, and even a trip to a horse farm (maybe to meet American Pharaoh like Bamba?).

smith3. Mark Smith announces at 7 p.m.

Kentucky’s other offer at shooting guard, Mark Smith, will announce his decision at 7 p.m. ET at his high school in Illinois. Other than Baker’s commitment, there’s been no indication that Kentucky’s backed off Smith, but the fact that he decided not to visit Kentucky and is announcing on the heels of his official visit to Illinois seems like writing on the wall to me. We’ll have all the coverage on the site tonight.

4. Will Kentucky face West Virginia in the Big 12 Challenge next year?

If you listened to KSR a few weeks back, you heard us mention the possibility of West Virginia being Kentucky’s opponent in next season’s Big 12 Challenge, and yesterday, Oscar Combs took a break from Twitter polls to double down on the rumor, adding that the Cats will likely travel to Morgantown for the showdown with the fighting Huggy Bears. As then-#1 Baylor and #2 Kansas learned last season, taking down the Mountaineers at home is no easy feat. Regardless, I’m already looking forward to the media opps with Cal and Huggins.

5. UK Baseball hosts Xavier

Need a baseball fix? The 6th ranked Bat Cats host Xavier tonight at 7 p.m. at Cliff Hagan Stadium. UK’s recent success has them in the mix for a national seed in the NCAA Tournament, which means they’ll be able to host postseason games, so every game’s important now. You can watch on the SEC Network. This weekend, the Bat Cats travel to South Carolina to take on the Gamecocks, who rank third in the SEC East behind Kentucky and Florida.

On that note, be sure to check out the latest episode of the KSR Baseball Podcast featuring Trey Huntsman, former head coach Keith Madison, and this week’s guest, D1 Baseball writer Aaron Fitt. You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play.

6. The Preds start their second round series with the Blues

After sweeping the Chicago Blackhawks, the Nashville Predators are back in action tonight in Game 1 of their second round series with the St. Louis Blues. As a relatively new hockey fan, I’ll admit, I don’t know much about the Blues other than the Preds won their regular season series against them 3-2 and they’ve got a great goalie. So, we’ll see what happens when the puck drops tonight at 8 p.m. ET in St. Louis. It’s on NBC Sports Network if you’d like to watch.

Oh yeah, in a fit of excitement after Game 3 last week, I gave in and bought a jersey. PK Subban, you and I are in this together now, buddy.

7. One episode left in 13 Reasons Why

The 13-part Netflix sensation about a teenage suicide has been the talk of the nation in pop culture the past month and thankfully, it’s finally picking up after a long stretch of “Why won’t he just go home and listen to the tapes?!”. Seriously, I know that would make for a terrible TV show, but isn’t that we all would do? Looking forward to finishing it tonight. 

8. Forecast for this weekend’s half/full marathons looks steamy

Lots of half and full marathons going on this weekend, including the Kentucky Derby Festival marathon in Louisville and the Rock and Roll Marathon here in Nashville. I’m running in the Nashville half for the second year in a row and unfortunately, the forecast looks hot and humid. If you need me, I’ll be drinking water today.

9. Catch Bam Adebayo on his autograph tour

Yesterday, Bam made the news that he’ll stay in the draft official via a release from UK, thanking his coaches, teammates, and the fans for helping him grow as a player and person over the last year.

“This process we went through at Kentucky was a tough but a rewarding one. It was everything I wanted when I decided to come to Kentucky. It taught me a lot. It taught me how to be a better man on and off the court. I have improved so much since the beginning of the season thanks to the hard work of the coaching staff. They helped me with every step of the process along the way and they never gave up on me.

“I also want to thank my teammates. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to grow with. We were all like brothers. I also want to thank the fans for their support and everything they do for us. Their passion is like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”

You can catch Bam on his autograph tour, which starts Friday in Somerset and Glasgow:

10. KSR is live from Sleep Outfitters in Morehead

Come on out to 352 Kroger Center Drive to enjoy the show, and when it’s over, stick around to see Derek Willis and Isaac Humphries, who will be signing autographs starting at noon.

The 10 Things You Need To Know About Cam Johnson

The 10 Things You Need To Know About Cam Johnson

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Tomorrow, shooting guard Cameron Johnson will arrive on Kentucky’s campus for a two-day official visit. Johnson is a grad transfer from Pitt in search of a new home and Kentucky is one of six schools he’s considering. Given Johnson’s skills as a shooter, his three years of college experience, and two remaining years of eligibility, he is a hot commodity on the transfer market for programs in search of experience, like the Cats. With that in mind, let’s get to know Cameron Johnson, aka “Cam.”

1. The Basics


Shooting Guard
6-8, 210 lbs.
Birthdate: March 3, 1996
Hometown: Moon Township, Pennsylvania
Class: Redshirt sophomore

As a high schooler, Johnson was considered the 60th best shooting guard in the 2014 class by 247 Sports. He picked Pitt over Columbia, Penn, Boston College, Stanford, Rice, Richmond, and Virginia. If those Ivy League offers aren’t indication enough, Johnson is one smart cookie, a two-time all-ACC academic team selection with a 3.9 GPA. After three years at Pitt, he will graduate this spring and have two years of eligibility at the school of his choice. His final list: Kentucky, Arizona, Ohio State, Oregon, UCLA, and TCU.

2. He averaged 11.9 points off 44.7% shooting last season

Kentucky is in dire need of shooters for next season, and Johnson’s a pretty good one. Last year, he averaged 11.9 points off 44.7% shooting, 41.5% from behind the three-point line. He also averaged 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game.

Here are his season averages:

2016-17 33.3 0.447 0.415 0.811 4.5 2.3 0.3 0.9 1.2 11.9
2015-16 11.7 0.397 0.375 0.808 1.8 0.5 0.2 0.3 0.5 4.8
2014-15 14.4 0.394 0.348 0.500 1.1 0.5 0.4 0.1 0.5 4.5

Here’s how Johnson’s 41.5% three-point shooting average compares to past Kentucky shooters:

  • Malik Monk: 39.7%
  • Jamal Murray: 40.8%
  • Devin Booker: 41.1%
  • Doron Lamb: 47.5%

Man, who would have guessed Doron Lamb had the highest three-point percentage of that bunch?

3. He injured his shoulder his freshman year

Johnson played in the first eight games of his freshman season before injuring his shoulder and receiving a medical redshirt. That’s why as a graduate transfer, he’ll have two years of eligibility remaining, which is pretty rare. Yet another reason Calipari wants him, despite his disdain for the grad transfer process (which I’ll get to in a bit).

4. His father played for Pitt around the time Calipari was an assistant there

Not only was Cam Johnson born in Calipari’s hometown of Moon Township, Pennsylvania, his dad was a player at Pitt around the time that Calipari was an assistant on the Pitt staff. Cal left Pitt to take the head coaching job at UMass in 1988, which is also the year that Gilbert Johnson, Cam’s dad, joined the program as a junior college transfer. Calipari’s years at Pitt were the time in which he was cutting his teeth as a recruiter, so odds are he had a hand in bringing Johnson on board. If that’s not enough, Johnson Sr. has known Kenny Payne for over 30 years, according to the Herald-Leader.

In a hilarious aside, check out “Tips from the Panthers” on the back of Gilbert Johnson’s playing card:

True then and true now.

5. His brother played for Calipari’s alma mater

Need another Calipari connection? After transferring from Princeton, Cam’s brother Aaron played for Clarion, just like Calipari. Not only that, Aaron was a recipient of the John Calipari Endowment Scholarship. When it comes to this grad transfer, it really is a small world.

6. His breakout performance came against Syracuse in the 2016 ACC Tournament

Johnson came into his own in the opening round of the 2016 ACC Tournament, when he scored 24 points including four threes to help Pitt beat Syracuse:

7. He carried that performance into next season

Johnson finished fifth in the ACC in three-point percentage (.415) and eighth in three-point field goals (2.36 3pg.) last season. Not too shabby in a conference that also included Luke Kennard, Joel Berry II, and Kyle Guy.

8. Why is he leaving Pitt?

Aside from the fact that he’s finishing up his degree and can go to a higher profile program, is the fact that Kevin Stallings is now his coach good enough reason? It would be for me. Stallings took over at Pitt after Jamie Dixon left for TCU last year, which also explains why TCU is on Johnson’s list.

9. Why Calipari would make an exception for this grad transfer

During the tournament, Calipari went on a rant about grad transfers during one of his media opportunities, complaining that they leave mid-major programs in a lurch. This was in response to Drexel firing Cal’s friend Bruiser Flint after the program struggled to recover from Damion Lee transferring to Louisville. While Calipari pursuing a grad transfer a month after going on that rant seems hypocritical, here are three reasons why it’s not:

  • Pitt is in the ACC, arguably the best conference in the sport
  • Stallings is just in his second year there and a player wanting out after a coaching change is pretty common (especially when it’s Stallings…it’s worth mentioning that Johnson is one of four Pitt players to leave the program since the season ended)
  • Johnson has two years of eligibility remaining. That’s a lot of time to reshape your future, and considering Pitt’s in rebuilding mode, this is the perfect opportunity

10. He’s more than a consolation prize for Kevin Knox

Most recruiting pundits don’t think Kentucky is among the favorites for five-star small forward Kevin Knox and consider Johnson as an excellent consolation prize. I think he’s more than that. On what will essentially be a brand-new roster, Johnson can provide some much needed experience in the backcourt, along with reliable shooting. His off the court success in the classroom doesn’t hurt either. For all of those reasons, while we would love to have Knox, I think Johnson’s a more important addition. Fortunately, we’re hearing if this visit goes well, the chances are high he’ll be a Cat.

So, come on down and enjoy yourself, Cam.

Green, Washington team up with Mo Bamba in another All-American game


Thanks to the good people at Ballislife, Quade Green will get yet another opportunity to continue recruiting his good friend Mohamed Bamba to Kentucky.

Earlier today Green and Bamba were named to Team Elite in the Ballislife All-American Game next month, along with Kentucky’s P.J. Washington, who will join Green and Bamba on the Elite roster.

The game is set for May 6 at Long Beach City College in California.

Full rosters are as follows:

This past weekend Green and Washington stood out in the Allen Iverson Roundball Classic in Portsmouth, Virginia, where Washington took home MVP honors with a game-high 37 points. Green chipped in 32 of his own for the other team.

Speaking of Bamba, things remain extremely quiet in and around his recruitment as the wait continues.

Cameron Johnson will Visit Kentucky This Week

Pitt Athletics

Pitt Athletics

Pittsburgh graduate transfer shooting guard Cameron Johnson will take a visit to Lexington this Wednesday and Thursday, according to Evan Daniels and Jeff Goodman.

A graduate transfer, Johnson will be eligible to play immediately.  Unlike most grad transfers, he has two years of eligibility remaining.  Last year Johnson averaged 11.9 points on 41.5 percent shooting from behind the three-point line (44.7 overall), adding 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists in about 33 minutes per game.

Also considering Ohio State, Oregon, USC, Arizona and TCU, the “Johnson to Kentucky” buzz has been generally positive over the last week.  A great visit this week could put the Cats over the top.