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Kentucky announces three-man class during Early Signing Period

In a year where a lot has changed, one thing has remained a constant: Kentucky men’s basketball head coach John Calipari and his staff have once again begun to build one of the strongest recruiting classes in the country, singing three of the nation’s top players in the early fall signing period. Highly rated prospects Daimion Collins, Bryce Hopkins and Nolan Hickman have all inked national letters of intent with UK.

All three players are consensus four- or five-star prospects and all are ranked in the top 50 by at least one major national recruiting service. They will join the program for the 2021-22 season.

“Our fans have heard me talk a lot about what it means to be ‘Built Different.’ When you talk about this fall class, you’ve got three kids who are built to play here at Kentucky,” UK head coach John Calipari said. “They wanted to be a part of this culture. They wanted to play against other really good players. They didn’t need any promises or guarantees – only the promise that this is going to be the hardest thing they’ve ever done and that we will challenge them to become the best version of themselves.

“This place isn’t for everybody and it takes a certain type of player – a ‘Built Different’ mentality – to come here and be in this competitive environment. These three are ready to take that step.”

With the spring signing period still to go, UK is going to be in the mix for one of the top classes in the nation yet again. Rivals and 247 Sports currently rank UK No. 3 with the three fall signees.

In every season in the Calipari era, the Wildcats have signed a top-three recruiting class according to the Recruiting Services Consensus Index, which tallies major recruiting rankings and plugs them into a formula to calculate a consensus ranking. With the fall additions, Kentucky has signed 61 top-50 recruits, 47 top-25 players and 26 top-10 players (according to Rivals) in what will now be Calipari’s 13 recruiting classes at Kentucky.

The fall signing period began Wednesday and concludes Nov. 18. The spring signing period begins April 14.

UK can only comment on prospects who have signed official paperwork with the university.

Recruiting Class Rankings under Calipari 

2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Rivals 1 1 1 1 1 2 1 1 2 2 2 1 TBD
247Sports 2 1 1 1 1 2 1 2 2 2 2 1 TBD
ESPN 1 1 1 2 1 2 2 1 2 2 3 1 TBD
RSCI 1 1 1 1 1 2 3 1 1 2 2 1 TBD

Daimion Collins


Upside and a high ceiling are the first two things that come to mind when recruiting analysts talk about Collins, who has shot up the recruiting rankings over the last year. Collins, who has an impressive 7-foot-4-plus wingspan, is an elite rim protector and can impact the game in a multitude of ways.

He verbally committed Oct. 31.

“I’m really excited for Daimion and his family to join our program,” Calipari said. “Daimion is an incredible young man with a bright future – someone who has only begun to realize just how good he can be. Our fans know I don’t like to make comparisons to our other guys, but Daimion has that type of length, the athleticism and the versatility that have separated our players from others. He wanted to be pushed and to be in a competitive environment to help him reach his full potential. The staff and I cannot wait to help him grow.”

At 6-9, Collins is explosive and plays above the rim. He finishes with strength and has range offensively. Defensively, Collins is an exceptional shot-blocker who can step out and defend on the perimeter. He averaged 24.6 points, 13.7 rebounds and 7.7 blocks per game as a junior at Atlanta High School. The Atlanta, Texas, native was a Third Team All-State selection by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches.

The five-star prospect is tabbed the No. 10 overall player in the 2021 class by Rivals. He’s ranked as the No. 19 overall player by 247 Sports and the No. 24 player by ESPN.

“I wanted to go somewhere that has developed players that have similar skills as me,” Collins said. “I felt that Kentucky was the only place for me.”

Nolan Hickman


Hickman is simply a playmaker. With Calipari known for utilizing multiple ball-handlers on the floor, Hickman has the ability to play with or without the ball and has the reputation as being one of the best lead guards in the country. He was the first commitment in this class, announcing his intentions on Aug. 22.

“I had the chance to see a lot of Nolan in the year or so before the pandemic hit,” Calipari said. “I am really excited about his ability to play the point guard position. He has speed, vision and scoring ability. One of the best things about Nolan is his competitive spirit. He plays to win, which our best guards I’ve coached do. Nolan is someone who can play multiple positions in the backcourt, who can fly in transition, and most importantly can create for himself and his teammates. Our guys will love playing with Nolan as he is a team-first player who is incredibly mature.”

At 6-2, Hickman also adds a 6-8 wingspan that gives him length to guard a number of positions. A physical player, the Seattle native owns a versatile offensive game and his tenacity makes him a tough defender as well. He averaged 17.3 points, 3.4 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game for Eastside Catholic last season. Hickman also connected on 38% of his 3-point field goals. A First Team All-State selection by Scorebook and a Class 3A Associated Press First Team honoree, Hickman will play his final high school season with Wasatch Academy.

Hickman enters his senior season ranked as high as the No. 30 overall player by 247 Sports and the No. 3 point guard. He’s rated No. 43 overall by Rivals and No. 52 by ESPN.

“Kentucky was upfront with me from the start,” Hickman said. “I felt welcomed right from the jump and I could feel their honesty. They didn’t make any promises. They want to help me get to the highest level of basketball and challenge me off the floor and in the classroom.”

Bryce Hopkins

An offensively versatile combo-forward, Hopkins is a mismatch nightmare. He has the ability to score in a variety of ways and can do so with ease on all three levels.

Hopkins announced his intentions to join the Wildcats on Oct. 26.

“Bryce has the skillset and the versatility for where our game is going,” Calipari said. “It’s positionless, high-skilled basketball, and Bryce has both. He can play multiple positions and attack other players in different ways. His ability with the ball allows him to play on the perimeter, but he also has the size and the toughness to play at the basket. Bryce’s dream was to play on the biggest stage in college basketball. He will get to do that here at Kentucky.”

At 6-7, Hopkins is a physical player who has a willingness to impact the game on both sides of the floor. The Oak Park, Illinois, product averaged 24.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game for Fenwick High School as a junior. The News-Gazette tabbed Hopkins as a First Team All-State selection and the Illinois High School Association honored him as a First Team 3A All-State pick following his junior campaign. He also finished fifth in the Illinois Mr. Basketball voting a season ago.

A four-star signee, Hopkins is ranked as high as No. 30 overall by Rivals. ESPN rates him at No. 32 and 247 Sports lists him at No. 39 overall.

“When you look at what Kentucky has done under Coach Cal, it’s clear they develop their guys better than anyone else for the next level,” Hopkins said. “They put their players’ dreams first. I wanted that and I wanted to be with a winning program with a family culture.”

(UK Athletics)

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

13 Comments for Kentucky announces three-man class during Early Signing Period

  1. Theymademesignup
    6:49 pm November 11, 2020 Permalink

    The 61st ranked player and 10th best PG in the class(Yay!)

    The 32nd ranked player and 5th best SF in the class.

    The 24th ranked player and 6th best PF in the class.

    I dunno what the hell you are talking about in this article. This is a horrible start to a class. If this is all Calapari has to offer, he is on his way out the door.

    For anybody that comments about early signing period. Michigan has two top ten guys, Duke has two, Auburn and Oregon both have one. We’ve all seen what Cal does when he does not have a few top ten players. It ain’t pretty.

    • Jack Pilgrim
      6:52 pm November 11, 2020 Permalink

      Thanks for your input, “[email protected]

    • nocode96
      7:49 pm November 11, 2020 Permalink

      lol, this is great stuff from Jack here in the comments.

    • TonyMontana
      7:16 pm November 11, 2020 Permalink

      “If this is all Cal has to offer” he says… Are you new here? He has so much to offer you’re gonna gag on it. You dont even know! Your foolish self would sign those top guys, only to have them leave for the G-League and screw your entire class.

    • Cletis75
      7:43 pm November 11, 2020 Permalink

      Ulis and Herro weren’t highly ranked. When Towns committed he was ranked outside of the top 10, and people like yourself was crying then. Booker wasn’t top 10. Let the coaches do their jobs and evaluate the talent. Remember when we “settled” for Adebayo when things looked like they were getting weak with Harry Giles? I like how that turned out.

    • IrishCat
      8:48 pm November 11, 2020 Permalink

      Get em Jack..

    • 4everUKBlue
      9:20 am November 12, 2020 Permalink

      Again…..remember that time when K had, according to ESPN, the best recruiting class of all time including the best recruit ever? How did that turn out for them? They would’ve lost to UCF had the refs not refused to call Zion for his 5th foul. How about K’s other top recruiting classes over the last 4 seasons with all his number one recruits?

  2. Catman Dan
    6:58 pm November 11, 2020 Permalink

    How many guys from this years team will still be around next year? Especially if this season ends up being basically shut down? At a minimum, shortened considerably. The Rona is getting out of control now, and this winter looks like another lockdown is coming with Biden as president and vaccine still not ready. So it may get a start in couple of weeks…but I can’t imagine this is going to go well. Perhaps they can play games in empty gyms, but teams are definitely going to have games canceled. So a shortened season means less exposure for out deep deep team. And with so much uncertainty, I can easily foresee 6-7 guys returning off this years team. So 3 guys may end up being the whole class.

  3. GACAT
    7:25 pm November 11, 2020 Permalink

    And Cal only has 1 natty, pitiful!!! Cal is sooo overrated

    • Bluehender
      10:14 pm November 12, 2020 Permalink

      How many you got?

  4. IrishCat
    8:50 pm November 11, 2020 Permalink

    I love the foundation these 3 make. Can’t wait to see who else joins and how they mesh w/ the returning guys! We’ve got a few on this years team that I’m expecting big things from in 2021.

  5. KentuckyBoy
    9:56 am November 12, 2020 Permalink

    I have to be honest – I haven’t been a fan of some of the “top” guys we’ve signed in the Cal era (Archie, Ashton, EJ, and a few others) but I love the way this class is shaping up. I think we have three really under-valued/under the radar kids here, who have that “chip”. I think with a few more pieces, this is a class that surprises a lot of fans. Collins is gonna be a problem for a lot of teams we face. Hickman is better than he gets credit for (reminds me of Shai), and Hopkins is one of those versatile swing guys that fits so well into Cal’s style. We’ve seen in the past what happens when our highly rated classes don’t click. Those rankings don’t mean anything when it comes to players having a team first mentality instead of a “ME” first.