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Could Calipari Complete the 2017 Class with a Grad Transfer?



John Calipari already has six players in his 2017 recruiting class, but he is far from finished.

Coach Cal is still pursuing two elite athletes — Kevin Knox and Mo Bamba — while looking elsewhere for shooters to provide depth in the backcourt.  Former N.C. State signee Thomas Allen, former Cal signee Jemari Baker and Illinois Mr. Basketball Mark Smith are three underclassmen at the top of Calipari’s list.  Another player has not been linked to Calipari, but could end up at Kentucky.

Redshirt sophomore Cameron Johnson will graduate from Pitt and transfer to another school for his final two years of eligibility.  Johnson was the Panthers’ third-leading scorer in Kevin Stallings’ first season, averaging 11.9 points per game while shooting 39 percent from behind the three-point line.  The 6’8″ shooter is also from Calipari’s hometown of Moon Township, Pa.

Johnson’s rap -heet fits like a glove into what Calipari needs, and he has more than a year to play at Kentucky.  However, Calipari has frequently shared a disdain for graduate transfers and their ability to play right away.

“By playing right away, I don’t think it’s good for the kids,” Calipari said last Saturday. “Many of them leave the school, don’t even tell the coach. They text him and say, I’m going. What? How about teaching them to be a man. If you want to sit down with the coach and say I’m thinking about doing this, what do you think? Well, let’s talk through this. You have coaches now that are holding kids back academically so they can’t graduate. Is that what we want? I mean, it’s real simple; it’s awful for mid-major coaches, for programs, and I don’t think it’s good for the kids. I really don’t.”

Calipari has taken a grad transfer before, Julius Mays.  He has no regrets.

“He really wanted to come to Kentucky. And I’m happy that we took him because he is one of the greatest kids I’ve ever coached, and he gave us a veteran guard.”

Calipari has two problems with grad transfers:

1. He doesn’t like the idea of coaches having a “grad transfer recruiting board.” Recruiting is already nasty enough.
2. He doesn’t like that mid-major programs invest time into developing a player, only to be poached by a power five program before their best year.

The latter gives Calipari a loophole.  If Johnson comes to Kentucky for his final two years, Cal will be taking a player from this guy, not a mid-major program.



After an abysmal start to Stallings’ tenure, Calipari can understand why Johnson wants to finish his career elsewhere.  A pair of Moon Township natives, I’m sure it wouldn’t be difficult to spark up a relationship.  With just two years of eligibility, it could also benefit Cal, knowing he’ll have an available scholarship in the near future.

It’s a win-win situation for Calipari, even though just a week ago he admonished the practice.  Will he be too proud to take in Johnson, or will it be a perfect match?

Johnson netted six threes for a career-high 24 points vs. North Carolina. 


Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

14 Comments for Could Calipari Complete the 2017 Class with a Grad Transfer?

  1. Pup, MD
    11:57 am April 1, 2017 Permalink

    I live in Pittsburgh and have Pitt season tickets (because every year or so I get to boo Rick Pitino and wear my I Still Hate Laettner shirt to a Duke game).

    Cam Johnson is not the answer to any question.

  2. somerset bill
    3:14 pm April 1, 2017 Permalink

    “said he wouldn’t. then he did.” can’t imagine any player being worth hearing that for the rest of his career.

    kevin stallings head looks like someone wearing a halloween mask–hanging slack around the mouth, slightly larger than normal. which makes me wonder if ksr couldn’t make a lot of money on coach halloween masks. zombie pitino. mad frank martin.

  3. bhb71
    6:18 pm April 1, 2017 Permalink

    I’m just hoping we can somehow snag the newly back-on-the-market Makai Ashton-Langford. He just decommitted from UConn yesterday.

  4. ABthetruth502
    6:32 pm April 1, 2017 Permalink

    U mean the most outspoken Coach in D1 against the 5th year transfer rule might be going after a backup so he won’t have to play 7 players next year?? I hope maybe now even the braindead big baby nation idiots can figure out he’s completely full of shit

    • dballrb
      8:43 pm April 1, 2017 Permalink

      That’s right,We do what the hell we want,Why?,because we can…Bring’em all in..Only Zebulons paid by the Good fellas can stop the mai-chine.

    • dballrb
      8:53 pm April 1, 2017 Permalink

      Y’all can have the mid-season games,still sore about the ass whoopings when it matters most I see.Call Rick I’m sure he has “freinds”on speed dial to loosen ya up a Lil’ bit.I sence alot of tension.

    • justaguyinthebackrow
      10:18 pm April 1, 2017 Permalink

      LOL, he’s so bullshit he’s only 8-2 vs. Louisville and only makes the final four 50% of the time. He’s so bullshit they have to throw 3 30 win teams in his team’s way and then not call half the fouls committed against his team to keep them out of the final four. Maybe you missed the part where Nick said Cal and the player have not been linked and this was all complete speculation. Why U mad? Probably the 8-2 and the fact that you’re about to lose that last championship.

    • catsarerunnin
      8:02 am April 2, 2017 Permalink


    • RealCatsFan
      10:05 am April 2, 2017 Permalink

      Yeah, Pitino ALWAYS speaks the truth!
      Hah hah.
      Hah hah hah hah hah hah hah hah!

  5. chris43
    11:48 pm April 1, 2017 Permalink

    I hate to admit it but I’m not sure how good we’ll be next year if Bam leaves and we end up not getting Mamba or Knox. I hope that I’m wrong but this just doesn’t seem like the type of recruiting class that we’ve grown used to. Yes, I’m aware that as of now it’s still the number one class overall but it just doesn’t seem to have the “heavy hitters”. Monk, Fox, and Bam were all top 10 players overall coming out of high school even Gabriel was 14th. If not mistaken the best we have this year (so far) is the #11 guy. Once again I hope that I’m bad wrong.

    • Angelo
      1:31 am April 2, 2017 Permalink

      We have to get Mo Bamba to be any good. It is a very down year for talent. People have been saying this for 3-4 years.

    • catsarerunnin
      8:04 am April 2, 2017 Permalink

      Well “they” say lots of things and “they” are everywhere.

  6. RealCatsFan
    10:03 am April 2, 2017 Permalink

    Yes, it’s very possible that next year will be a diwn year for UK, but it will be that way for much of college BB. The other big boys like Duke, UNC, KU, and UCLA will also be losing a lot of players to the draft and graduation. Even Louisville might lose two of their top scorers. Next year might resemble 2011.

    • justaguyinthebackrow
      4:40 pm April 2, 2017 Permalink

      2011 as in 2010-2011 or 2011-2012? Either way you’re guaranteeing at least a final four. You heard it here first, folks.