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What Will John Calipari And Kentucky Do When The One-And-Done Era Comes To An End?

One thing we know for sure is that the one-and-done era will not last forever. More than likely, it won’t last five more years. It’s a matter of “when” not “if.” But for the coach who lives and dies coaching top-tier talent and reloading year after year once they depart for the NBA Draft, what comes next?

That’s a hard question to answer. Calipari isn’t worried about it right now, saying Kentucky will still be first to the table, but the recruiting landscape has already changed tremendously in the decade that Coach Cal has made UK the poster child for one-and-done recruits. Coach K has emerged as a more-than-worthy adversary, challenging UK each and every year for the top recruits. And then there are some who would just rather be the star of the show. It’s already not as easy as it used to be. And it’ll be even harder once you have to figure out who’s actually going to play in college and who’s not.

However, I think we’re already seeing the trend that will continue to rise once the NBA abolishes the one-and-done rule: reclassification. High school kids have been reclassifying at a high rate in recent years. This trend came out of nowhere, but it could be a way for coaches like Cal to not be forced into changing their philosophies.

There’s always going to be an age-limit to enter the draft. Right now, it’s 19 years old. Once the NBA allows high school seniors to enter the NBA Draft, that age-limit will be 18 years old. So, instead of players spending their last season of amateur basketball as a senior in high school, they could reclassify and still play one year before going pro. This would vastly improve player development and help NBA teams in the process to see the true talent of some of these kids.

Sometimes, one year of college can hurt a player’s draft stock. The best example of this is Nick Richards. The 7-footer would have likely been a first round draft pick straight out of high school. Instead, he flopped. But then there’s guys like Zion Williamson and Trae Young. Williamson would have been a top-10 pick regardless, but No. 1 overall? No chance. And there’s no way Trae Young would have gone in the first round. He ended up becoming college basketball’s Steph Curry and was drafted in the top five.

The system’s never going to be perfect – there are pros and cons that vary player to player. However, the one-and-done era is coming to an end. An increase in reclassifications is certainly possible once a rule change inevitably happens, as it would allow players to improve their game and build their brand.

Will it happen? We’ll just have to wait and see.


@nickwheatley23


Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Today on KSR: Controversy Swirls as Country House takes 145th Derby

Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

I watched the Kentucky Derby from Great American Ballpark minutes before the Reds and Giants played. My dad and I saw Maximum Security win and made our way to our seats thinking that was the end of everything. It was until I got a notification that said that Maximum Security was DQ and Country House was declared the winner.

I am the furthest thing from an expert when it comes to horse racing. Did Maximum Security “impede” the progress of another horse? I don’t even know that I would know what to look for.

To watch the stewards discuss the ruling, click the link below:

Again, I would be the first to admit that I don’t have a true understanding of the rules that go into a race. What I do know is that this will be a finish that is talked about for the next 145 Derbys.

Now onto the other news of the day:

Jalen Johnson includes Kentucky in Top Four

D1 Circuit Nike EYBL

One of the top juniors in the class of 2020 announced yesterday that Kentucky, along with Wisconsin, Arizona and Duke, are finalists in his recruitment.

Johnson is a 6’8 forward from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He told reporters last year that the hometown Badgers had a slight lead, but his recruitment was still wide open. While their games aren’t the same, if I am John Calipari, I 100% send the five-star prospect footage of Tyler Herro. Show what Kentucky can do for a kid from Wisconsin.

For more on Johnson, including his opinions on Kentucky… and Duke, click this link for a write up from KSR’s recruiting expert Jack Pilgrim.

Beau Allen talks decision

@BeauAllen11

To say the last week has been good for recruiting in Kentucky would be an understatement. Tomorrow could be the cap off of a true trifecta with Lexington native Beau Allen announcing his commitment.

Allen, a four star quarterback, will make his decision between Kentucky, Washington State, West Virginia and Duke. In a recent interview with Rivals, Allen talked about what he likes about each school and his response to Kentucky is interesting. You might think the “hometown hero” card is the biggest factor, but it is something else that he likes.

To find out what that is, and his opinion on other schools, click here.

Cats visit five-star guard Daishen Nix

@SimplyFunBBall

The recruiting didn’t end for the Kentucky coaching staff as Joel Justus was in to see Alaska native Daishen Nix. I admittedly don’t know a lot about Nix, but the minute I saw Alaska native, I knew exactly why the Cats were recruiting him. While he now plays in Las Vegas, you never know if an in-home visit could happen in Alaska and isn’t that Coach Cal’s dream to go there? I kid…

Nix is the #13 player in the class of 2020 and holds offers from most of the major west coast programs.

From yesterday’s KSR article, “Josh Gershon of 247 Sports says Nix is an ‘outstanding facilitator’ with ‘elite vision’ and ‘strong natural instincts.’

Good size for position with strong, sturdy frame. Elite vision; outstanding facilitator who is creative as a distributor. High basketball IQ with strong natural instincts for position. Improving shooter with range to perimeter although he is more efficient as he get closer to basket. Quick hands and impressive instincts on defense. Could improve as a shooter but it’s an area he’s shown progress and in general has been on a high trajectory since arriving in Nevada from Alaska prior to his freshman season. Projects as a successful college point guard with NBA upside.

This seems like a good guy to get to join Ramon Harris as Cats from Alaska.

Baseball DH at home this afternoon

UKBaseball

If you are looking for a good way to spend your Saturday, make your way to Kentucky Proud Park where the Kentucky Baseball team will take on Arkansas in a DH beginning at 1pm.

I have heard nothing but good things about the new stadium and with the rain gone, I can’t think of a much better way to spend a Sunday.


RJ Hampton’s father says RJ and Boogie Ellis could go to Memphis

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

John Martin, a popular radio host in Memphis, dropped a line on Twitter that isn’t exciting for us Kentucky fans.

Martin said he spoke to Rod Hampton, the father of RJ Hampton, and Rod told him RJ and Boogie Ellis can play together at Memphis. Ellis is the four-star guard released from his commitment to Duke earlier today.

Memphis’ revived interest in Ellis could’ve been interpreted as giving up on Hampton, but instead Hampton is open to the idea of playing with Ellis in Memphis? The hell is Penny Hardaway telling these kids down there?

Penny might end up with the top recruiting class for the first time in Memphis history.


Pilgrim’s Insider Notes (Part 1): Johnny Juzang visits, RJ Hampton reclassifies

Good evening and welcome back to another edition of Pilgrim’s Insider Notes!

For the first time since I started doing the notes a few months back, I’ll be splitting it up into two parts. For tonight’s post, I’ll be focusing on closing out the 2019 class, including updates on Johnny Juzang and RJ Hampton, among others.

And then tomorrow, I will be releasing part two, where I will be diving into the class of 2020, discussing everything I heard involving the top junior prospects in the nation down in Atlanta this past weekend at the Nike EYBL event.

Let’s get things started.

Johnny Juzang

2019 five-star wing prospect Johnny Juzang recently finished up an official visit with the University of Kentucky, and as expected, things went extremely well for the Wildcats.

Arriving in Lexington on Sunday night and leaving Tuesday, the five-star sharpshooter got the opportunity to tour downtown, campus, basketball facilities, the Wildcat Coal Lodge, etc., before getting into the nitty-gritty of basketball.

There obviously weren’t any live team practices like we see on visits during the regular season, so the majority of Juzang’s time spent with John Calipari and the Kentucky coaching staff was discussing his potential role on next year’s roster, how he would be used, and watching film.

Outside of basketball-specific discussions, this was an opportunity for the high-level prospect to interact with the coaching staff and develop chemistry with one another, something that was important for Juzang. He knows that Kentucky would be a solid fit from a basketball standpoint, so the next step was making sure he was comfortable with the staff on a personal level. I think they did an excellent job here, showing the family-like atmosphere they have behind closed doors here in Lexington.

At one point, I felt Kentucky was going to go in for the kill during the visit and make an attempt at securing a commitment right then and there. While I think there was a slight push from the UK coaching staff, I’m under the impression that they were more than willing to let Juzang go home and think things over with his family before making his decision official. They’re extremely confident in where they stand.

With the 6-foot-8 sharpshooter’s trip to Lexington now over, I’m told that there are no more visits expected before a decision is made. While he is down to four schools (Kentucky, Virginia, Kansas, and Oregon), this thing will come down to the Wildcats and the Cavaliers, with UK being the odds-on favorite.

I will be shocked if Juzang isn’t a Wildcat by this time next week, if not sooner.

RJ Hampton

@CourtsideFilms

Yesterday afternoon, five-star combo guard RJ Hampton announced what we’ve all been expecting for a few months now, telling the world that he would be making the jump to 2019.

While the timing was a bit of a surprise (the announcement was expected later this summer after Peach Jam), Hampton made it known down in Atlanta at Nike EYBL this weekend that the jump was more likely than not.

“I don’t think I have anything left in high school to prove to anybody,” the five-star guard told reporters.

His father, Rod Hampton, then said that he had been telling the Kentucky coaching staff that he was “over 50%” likely to reclassify and that it was in their best interest to recruit him for the class of 2019.

“We told him that we’re really, really considering reclassifying, so his pitched toned up,” the elder Hampton said. “He had no clue that we were going to do it. I just told him that we’re really considering it. It’s over 50% now that we’re going to reclass, so he’s trying to put the pieces together. It’ll be interesting if Johnny Juzang chooses them after the visit. It’s a good program. I just feel that he can fit in with all the schools we’re looking at.”

When asked about his interest in Kentucky, the five-star guard said that he isn’t scared of anyone in the backcourt and feels he can earn playing time from day one no matter who is already there.

“I’m not scared off of anybody that’s there,” Hampton said. “I’m confident in my game. I know they are too. They’re great players and I don’t know why any other great player wouldn’t want to play with other great players.”

While he’s saying all of the right things about Kentucky remaining in contention, I just don’t see them being the final choice. There have been rumors going back to his sophomore season in high school that he was wanting to be the star of the show in college, and with how loaded the UK backcourt is (especially with Juzang likely joining in the coming days), it’d be tough for him to make that happen in Lexington.

It’s also interesting that Hampton decided to cut Duke from his list and add Texas Tech. I’ve been hearing for the last few weeks that the Blue Devils were essentially out of the running the minute Tre Jones returned to school, but I assumed he would just cut his list to three and move on. His father said that Chris Beard and the Tech coaching staff was the first to contact him when the recent recruiting period opened, so it might be just a courtesy to the local school in including them.

He says he’ll be scheduling visits to Lexington, Memphis, and Lubbock in the coming weeks before sitting down and coming up with a final decision.

While these upcoming visits could change things, I believe his recruitment will come down to Kansas and Memphis, with the Tigers likely having a slight lead right now over the Jayhawks.

Jaden McDaniels

Photo via Endless Motor

For the first time in months, there seems to be some movement in the recruitment of 2019 five-star forward Jaden McDaniels.

While I still don’t think an announcement is imminent, now that the All-Star circuit is over, the 6-foot-11 prospect is starting to think more about the final schools on his list and weigh the pros and cons of each. I don’t think Texas or UCLA will be major contenders, and three main programs of focus will be Washington, Kentucky, and San Diego State.

When the time comes, I have been told that McDaniels will simply be tweeting his decision and nothing more. There’s also a strong chance we don’t even receive an actual announcement date and he’ll just release the news to the public and move on.

While it’s still (somehow) too early to know who is the true favorite to land the athlete out of Federal Way, WA, the whispers right now are still that the hometown Washington Huskies will come out on top. He told KSR at the Jordan Brand Classic that “there is nothing like playing at home,” and considering he has always shied away from the spotlight, it just feels like that’s the likely scenario.

The deadline to sign a national letter of intent is May 15, so we should know more over the next two weeks.

NBA Draft decisions

As mentioned earlier today, neither Nick Richards nor EJ Montgomery reportedly received an invite to the NBA Combine, which obviously means that teams feel they should both return to school for another year.

While I still feel that the expectation is that both players return to Kentucky, there is still some uncertainty surrounding Montgomery’s status. At one point, there were significant rumblings that he was going to either keep his name in the NBA Draft or transfer next season. Since then, though, I have heard some tidbits that made me feel much more confident in him returning, but I still don’t believe it’s set in stone. If I had to make a bet, I’d say that Montgomery returns for one more season in Lexington.

I expect Richards back for a junior season regardless.

As for Kerry Blackshear Jr. and his status, I don’t expect we’ll hear much until the NBA Draft evaluation process is over. As I told you guys last week, the potential Virginia Tech graduate transfer is expected to take the draft process very seriously before focusing on cutting his list, scheduling visits, etc.

That will have to wait a bit longer.


I’ll be back tomorrow for more.


BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Analyzing our 66 McDonald’s All-Americans

BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Analyzing our 66 McDonald’s All-Americans

The University of Kentucky has had 66 players selected for the McDonald’s All-American game, not counting this year’s crop.  And while coming into school those 66 players land in one bucket, they all didn’t perform in that manner.  Keep in mind that the first McDonald’s All-American game wasn’t until 1978 so there are a lot of UK legends who didn’t even have a chance to receive that honor, but nonetheless a large chunk of this school’s history is comprised in this era.

So just what does being a McDonald’s All-American translate to in terms of a UK career?  Below are some different categories and just how many of the 66 guys were able to accomplish certain things.  Keep that in mind when you consider what percentage of these guys actually accomplish something:

National Champions (10): Tony Delk, Antoine Walker, Ron Mercer, Wayne Turner, Terrence Jones, Doron Lamb, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Kyle Wiltjer

Final Fours (19 plus the 10 guys above): Sam Bowie, Bret Bearup, Jim Master, Roger Harden, Kenny Walker, Winston Bennett, James Blackmon, Brandon Knight, Alex Poythress, Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Dakari Johnson, Marcus Lee, Julius Randle, James Young, Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Karl Towns, Tyler Ulis

1st Team All-American (6): Kenny Walker, Tony Delk, Ron Mercer, John Wall, Anthony Davis, Tyler Ulis

All-SEC First Team (23): Sam Bowie, Derrick Hord, Kenny Walker, Winston Bennett, Rex Chapman, Tony Delk, Antoine Walker, Ron Mercer, Tayshaun Prince, Keith Bogans, Patrick Patterson, Demarcus Cousins, John Wall, Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Julius Randle, Karl Towns, Tyler Ulis, De’Aron Fox, Malik Monk, Kevin Knox

Transferred From Kentucky (12): Dwight Anderson, Clarence Tillman, Irving Thomas, Eric Manuel, Chris Mills, Rod Rhodes, Marvin Stone, Rashaad Carruth, Kyle Wiltjer, Marcus Lee, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Quade Green

Transferred to Kentucky (1): Reid Travis

Most Total Points: Kenny Walker (2080), Keith Bogans (1923), Tony Delk (1890), Tayshaun Prince (1775), Ed Davender (1637)

Fewest Total Points: Jarred Vanderbilt (82), Clarence Tillman (100), Irving Thomas (120), Rashaad Carruth (143), Sacha Killeya-Jones (152)

A 1 in 6.6 chance in winning a national title.  A little under 50% of the guys made a Final Four.  One in three become 1st team All-SEC.  And maybe most amazingly, more of those 66 players transferred from the school than won a national title.  


Kentucky makes Final 4 list for 2019 wing Johnny Juzang

Kentucky makes Final 4 list for 2019 wing Johnny Juzang

After officially reclassifying to the class of 2019, Johnny Juzang made another big announcement Sunday afternoon: his final list of possible college destinations. The five-star wing included Kentucky on his list, in addition to Kansas, Virginia and Oregon.

ESPN lists him as the No. 19 overall player, while Rivals has him at No. 22.

The 6-foot-7 prospect out of Studio City, CA is set to officially visit Kentucky starting Monday, April 29. Sources tell KSR that the Kentucky staff believes they can seal the deal on a commitment before he leaves campus. If not, the expectation is that an announcement comes not long after that.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Top 4 ! What looks good ?

A post shared by Johnny Juzang??? (@jsilky5) on

Kentucky encouraged the recent reclassification, explaining the specific role he could play on the roster next season. Kentucky is viewed as the heavy favorite in Juzang’s recruitment – his Crystal Ball currently has the Cats listed at 89 percent.

Based on his Instagram Story, he’s already in Lexington.

For more on the 6-foot-7 wing, click here.