While John Calipari and the Kentucky coaching staff is all-in on their 2020 recruiting class and pulling in some of the top rising seniors in the nation, they are already letting their sincere interest be known to some elite 2021 five-star prospects.
Jonathan Kuminga, the No. 1 player in the class, was the first to earn an offer. Then, Kentucky extended a scholarship to Terrence Clarke, the No. 2 prospect in 2021.
A month ago, Paolo Banchero, the No. 3 prospect in the class, became the third player to earn an offer from Kentucky.
In an interview with Kentucky Sports Radio at the 2019 Nike Peach Jam last week, the 6-foot-9 five-star admitted that he was left speechless when he finally got the call from Calipari.
“Psh, that was crazy,” he said. “Talking to Coach Cal for like 20 minutes on the phone, he offered me, it was surreal. I’m not even gonna lie to you.”
During their conversation, Banchero said that the Kentucky head coach wants him to be reach his dreams of playing in the NBA and that Lexington is the best place to make that happen.
“It was just surreal, hearing his voice, talking to him,” he said. “Talking about how much he wants me, about he wants me to follow my dreams, help me achieve my dreams of getting to the NBA as a top-five pick, all that stuff. I’ve been talking to Coach Barbee a lot too, so it’s been really good.”
He added that he is so excited about the offer that he is already planning on taking an official visit to Lexington.
“I plan on taking an official, for sure,” he said.
Back at the NBPA Top100 Camp in Charlottesville, VA last month, Banchero said that he was hoping for Kentucky reach out and show genuine interest, because he would certainly return the love.
“I mean, it’s Kentucky,” he said. “You know, they’ve been putting dudes in the league, getting to the tournament, getting to the Final Four, championship, all that, for 10 years now.”
Banchero, a Seattle, WA native, has been rumored to want to stay on the West coast at the college level. When asked about that speculation, the five-star forward shot it down, saying he’d be willing to play anywhere in the country if it was the right fit.
“No, not at all. I’m willing to go wherever,” Banchero said. “Not saying I won’t stay on the West coast. But if I was trying to go to an East coast school or down South, distance wouldn’t really affect me too much.”
Following Peach Jam, the 6-foot-9 forward received new offers from Duke and North Carolina, adding to a long list of schools that includes Kentucky, Kansas, Memphis, Arizona, and Washington.
Check out some of his most recent highlights: