On Saturday, Kentucky pulled in a commitment from five-star power forward Daimion Collins, the No. 10 player in the 2021 class (Rivals). Collins is the staff’s third pledge in the last week and a half, joining 2021 four-star forward Bryce Hopkins and 2022 five-star guard Skyy Clark. After a slow summer, it’s safe to say Kentucky basketball recruiting is on a roll, thanks in part to Jai Lucas, who joined the staff back in August. This morning, Lucas hopped on a Zoom call with reporters, and although he couldn’t talk specifics, admitted Kentucky is on a hot streak.
“I think right now we’ve got a good little mojo going so hopefully we can keep it going here the next couple of weeks and I think a big part of it is, at the end of the day, I think really good players want to play with really good players. A lot of the time in recruiting, people think it’s all individualized, and some of it is, but at the end of the day, it’s about winning games and winning championships and to do that, you have to have really good players.”
Not hurting matters was the NBA Bubble, which was basically an informercial for Kentucky Basketball. On any given night, recruits across the country could turn on their TVs and see standout performances by former Cats like Anthony Davis, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and Jamal Murray.
“It’s been huge,” Lucas said of the bubble’s impact on recruiting. “I think with the bubble, it’s the one thing that can really put spotlight on us here at Kentucky. It’s just the production rate of when they get there and how early they are able to perform. A lot of that comes from being here for that year. With the environment they’re put in, the coaching, how Coach Cal coaches them and just everything they’re put through, it really prepares you for that and when you get there, you’re able to perform and that’s how you’re able to stay for a long time.”
Recruiting at Kentucky is a little different than recruiting at Texas. Lucas said the best advice he’s gotten from John Calipari since coming on board is only going after guys that are up to the challenge of playing at Kentucky because — wait for it — this is not for everybody.
“The biggest thing is just making sure that the people we are recruiting and the people we are trying to get here are people that fit [Calipari] and fit the culture here. If you’re not going to work hard, if you don’t love the game, if you’re not about basketball and understanding that you’re going to have to sacrifice a little bit because there are other good players and everybody to get what they want out of it, you can do that by sacrificing, and I think that’s a big part of it is understanding what type of kids will fit well with him and when you find that, that’s how you’re able to win games.”
More coming from Lucas throughout the day, but you can watch his entire interview below.