Amile Jefferson (left) and Torian Graham
We woke up yesterday morning with Xavier transfer Mark Lyons and top-remaining recruit Anthony Bennett still on the board, although (thinking in Derby terms) they were longshots, the possibility of them being a Wildcat were still in the realm of possibility. We went to bed with both names out of the running for good. So that puts Calipari in plan-B mode. Who will his next target be?
There was no doubt Calipari, and even some of the players like Nerlens Noel were recruiting Anthony Bennett hard. But as Matt pointed out yesterday, eligibility concerns and even character issues may have been reason enough for Cal to call off the dogs. While we cannot be happy to hear the news of Bennett dropping the Cats, it may be a blessing in disguise. There are still some names out there that can make an immediate impact on this roster for next season.
— Amile Jefferson is one of the few uncommitted high-profile players remaining in the 2012 class. He is the 36th-ranked player overall, and seventh-best power forward according to Rivals. Jefferson has long been believed to be a Duke lean, but his decision process has been dragging on, and it is very likely Calipari has shifted his focus to Jefferson. It would make sense that Calipari loses a power forward target, he goes after another. With Mason Plumlee returning at Duke and C.J. Leslie returning at NC State — another school high on Jefferson’s list — Kentucky’s late push could be enough.
— Torian Graham is another player out there looking for a school. The four-star, No. 12 shooting guard from North Carolina has interest from plenty of big names — except the two biggest home state schools. He was committed to NC State, but has since reopened his recruitment, suggesting he originally committed too early and didn’t allow other schools to contact him. You can bet Kentucky is a major player in swaying his decision. Not to draw comparisons between Graham and another UK legend, but remember the last time Kentucky landed a player that the two North Carolina schools weren’t interested in? *cough John Wall cough*
— Julius Mays is a dynamic shooter looking to transfer out of Wright State. The only thing you need to know about Mays is he made 42% of his three-point shots last season! Mays may seem like a longshot, seeing as he’s coming from a mid-major and considering a handful of Big Ten schools. But Mays wasn’t originally at Wright State; he played at NC State (weird that the Wolfpack are a continuing trend in all of these players) in 2010 — the same school our own Ryan Harrow came from. Who knows if that offers any real connection, but it certainly cannot hurt.
— A couple of other names are still out there that are distant targets, but still on the radar. First is Mislav Brozja, the Croatian Sharp-Shooting Sensation we hardly know. He still seems pretty unlikely to commit to the Cats, as Calipari is surely holding out hope he lands one of these other guys, but he’s always out there just in case. In fact, he seems to be eagerly waiting for Kentucky to offer him a scholarship before he commits. Surely someone in his circle has told him he’s plan-E for the Wildcats, right? Also, the Virginia Tech decommit Montrezl Harrell is still looking for a new school. He is a four-star power forward, ranked 82nd in the 2012 class.
No matter what happens, this team is going to be fun to watch, if for no other reason than Nerlens Noel’s hair. Calipari wants more — and he’ll get more — it’s just a matter of the talent level he lands. Amile Jefferson has to be considered priority No. 1 at this point, with a close second for Torian Graham or Julius Mays.