Two very important recruits will (hopefully) announce their college decisions this week: Andrew Wiggins and Drew Barker. One is being called the best high school basketball player since LeBron, while the other is the best football player in the Commonwealth. Both could have major impacts on their respective programs of choice. Whose impact would be the biggest at UK? Let’s break it down.
Choosing between Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas and Florida State
The only certainty about Wiggins right now is that he is a special player. Everyone who has seen him play leaves convinced he could be the face of a franchise. Although he didn’t have the flashiest of performances during last month’s all-star games, he will be a program-changer for whichever school he FINALLY chooses. In terms of next season, Kentucky has the least to gain from his services. Without him, the Cats are already loaded, with what many are calling the best recruiting class in history. Julius Randle, the Harrison Twins, Marcus Lee, James Young, Dakari Johnson, Derek Willis and Dominique Hawkins will join Kyle Wiltjer, Willie Cauley-Stein, Alex Poythress and others on what will likely be another Championship run. If Wiggins picks Kentucky, he would be the difference between a great team and a legendary team. With him, John Calipari’s dream of going 40-0 becomes a legitimate possibility. Marketing wise, Kentucky would reap the benefits of having Wiggins in blue and white for years to come. The nation’s trendiest program would skyrocket even farther in terms of popularity, exposure, and legacy, with little boys and girls wearing Wiggins’ #22 UK jersey for generations to come. If Wiggins picks UK, he’s a golden cherry on top of an otherwise delicious sundae.
Choosing between Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee
Kentucky’s basketball team doesn’t need Andrew Wiggins, but Kentucky’s football team needs Drew Barker. Barker is the best football player in the state, and the 7th best pro-style QB in the nation. Many believe he’s the best QB prospect to come from Kentucky in the past twenty years. If he chooses the Cats, he will flourish in Neal Brown’s system, and would be another red-letter in-state recruit. Stoops and staff have made landing in-state talent a priority since day one, and are off to a pretty big good start with Ryan Timmons and Jason Hatcher. Because he’s a QB, I’ll argue that Drew Barker would be even bigger. UK has a history of homegrown quarterbacks, including Wildcat legends Tim Couch and Jared Lorenzen. The momentum in Kentucky football is on the rise, and Barker’s commitment would send a message to the country’s major programs that they can’t come in and poach our talent any more. The only drawback? Barker hasn’t proven anything. Both he and Wiggins have a lot of hype, but Wiggins has had more of a chance to back it up because he’s played against the other top recruits in his class. If Barker comes to UK and lives up to the hype, he could be the new face of Kentucky football.
Verdict: This is a tough one, but I’m going to go with Barker. The football team is in desperate need of elite talent, and landing Barker would not only give them that, but it would be a huge step for the program in terms of keeping in-state talent in state. Further, the quarterback is the face of the team. If Barker comes to Kentucky and lives up to his billing, he will be the star the program needs to keep growing.
Kentucky basketball is already the gold standard in its sport. Adding Andrew Wiggins could take it to the next realm, but if he goes elsewhere, we will still be the favorite to win the national title. Right now, the football team needs Barker more than the basketball team needs Wiggins.