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Kentucky meets (again) with 2020 four-star center Frank Anselem

Photo: 247Sports

Photo: 247Sports

Kentucky is zeroing in on 2020 four-star center Frank Anselem.

After meeting with the Anselem – a 6-foot-10, 220-pound center out of Suwanee, GA – on a conference call Sunday evening, sources tell KSR that Kentucky coaches John Calipari and Joel Justus met with the four-star prospect and his coach on a Zoom video conference call again Tuesday evening.

David Sisk of Cats Illustrated and KSR’s Sources Say Podcast was the first to break the news late Tuesday evening.

Anselem, the No. 85 overall prospect and No. 15 center in the 247Sports Composite Rankings, is considered the top-ranked available frontcourt prospect expected to play college basketball. Makur Maker (No. 12) and Kai Sotto (No. 62) are the lone available big men ranked ahead of Anselem in the rankings, though both are expected to explore their professional options.

And as contact continues to pick up, momentum continues to shift toward Kentucky. Both Sisk and Dan McDonald – two highly-respected recruiting experts at submitted FutureCasts in favor of the Wildcats after Tuesday’s video call.

In an interview with Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader, Anselem’s AAU coach, Julius Smith of the Georgia Stars said the UK coaching staff spent last week watching the four-star forward’s film and came away feeling he has NBA potential.

“They watched film of him all weekend as a staff, and they liked him a lot,” Smith told the Herald-Leader. “They like the things that he can do, in terms of next year’s roster and how he can help. They think he’s a pro, like the other schools recruiting him.”

The potential is there, but it may take time to get to that point.

“Frank probably needs two years, maybe three, in college, Smith continued. “He’s a great kid. Incredibly athletic. Really advanced defensively. More raw offensively.”

Anselem, who moved to the United States from Nigeria back in 2016, has only played basketball for five years. Originally a member of the 2021 class, the 6-foot-10 center announced his reclassification to 2020 back on April 14.

After backing off a silent pledge from LSU, the four-star prospect has opened up his recruitment, with Kentucky sitting in solid shape to land his commitment in the not-so-distant future.

So what do fans need to know about the potential future Wildcat?

After speaking with individuals close to the Prolific Prep program, it’s clear that Anselem is a major project and would likely need anywhere from two to four years at Kentucky before becoming a serious threat on the floor in Lexington. While he has physical tools – great frame, phenomenal wingspan, and solid athleticism – he is extremely raw offensively and needs elite coaching to refine his footwork and post moves. Above all else, Anselem struggles with his hands, fumbling the ball with crisp passes down low and in transition. While he thrives catching the ball off the rim for putbacks and offensive rebounds, he simply isn’t there to be a difference-maker on the floor, at least initially.

As a freshman, Anselem would likely see minimal playing time, serving primarily as a clean-up specialist on offense and shot-blocker on defense, similar to what we saw from Nick Richards in his first years in Lexington. The staff, however, sees elite potential out of the 6-foot-10 center, believing they could mold him into a player like Richards down the road.

Securing a commitment from Anselem would also create flexibility for Kentucky to explore their options on the graduate transfer market and potentially the regular transfer market if the NCAA passes a one-time immediate eligibility waiver when voting takes place on May 20. Thus, they’d have two long-term, high-potential options in Anselem and Rhode Island transfer Jacob Toppin for depth, along with the opportunity to pick up an instant-impact player if the opportunity presents itself in the coming months.

Would fans be interested in seeing Anselem in Lexington?

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

22 Comments for Kentucky meets (again) with 2020 four-star center Frank Anselem

  1. Newtype
    2:34 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

    The last highlight is a classic. Lol

  2. crazycatfan65
    2:41 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

    Wasn’t it the last Sources says podcast where you Jack said that UK was “scrapping the bottom of the barrel” by going after Anselem? David even said on the same podcast that Anselem currently ranked 85 in the class is expected to fall completely out of the top 150 and LSU , Georgia and others took a hard NO and pulled scholarship offers? Is this guy a lot like Richards was, only playing basketball for 4 or 5 years? If they can turn Nick around why can’t they do the same with this guy?

    • Jack Pilgrim
      2:51 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

      They are definitely scraping the bottom of the barrel by going after Anselem. Richards was also a consensus top-20 prospect in his class, just so happened to be a project when he arrived in Lexington. This is just all that’s left in the class and immediately on the grad transfer market.

    • Wildfelinebeeline
      4:30 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

      The appear to have decent moves and quickness. And he didn’t fade of the inside which tells me he’s not afraid to battle. Project or not, I think the coaches can make him better by the start of the year.

      Jack, Any word on Jordan (the baseball guy) returning to play?

    • Alex90
      8:46 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

      His footwork looks way better than Richards had his freshman year. Also his dunking ability and offensive putbacks look way better than Richards who struggled to catch a wide open lob his first 2 years. You can’t tell me Richards was a top 20 player in any class, he just wasn’t very good but got rated highly due to his size and what he could be. WCS was like mid 40’s so while it’s not ideal this is the kind of player Cal needs to be recruiting yearly to have depth. Next years team has enough talent and length from 1-4 to make up for the glaring weakness at 5 so he should be fine

  3. WatchutalkinboutWillis
    2:58 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

    What about the Elton kid? He seemed good.

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      2:58 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

      Efton Reid

    • Jack Pilgrim
      3:44 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

      If he reclassifies, Virginia is seen as the leader. UK could make up ground if he stays in 2021, but Tony Bennett is in a good spot if he moves up.

  4. The Professor
    3:46 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

    Jack Pilgrim, to say the #85 recruit in the country is “scraping the bottom of the barrel” shows a lack of insight to say the least and certainly a lack of respect for a talented kid who doesn’t deserve to be insulted in such a way. I am certain this will earn a reprimand from your bosses. Hawkins and Willis were both ranked outside the top 100 by recruiting sites but both had nice college careers so I think I will put my trust in Cal’s eye for talent over your ignorant opinion.

    • Jack Pilgrim
      4:15 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

      It’s not my opinion, it’s the opinion of the dozen-or-so people I’ve talked to that have watched him, played with him, and coached him that have stressed he is not the answer if you’re looking for an immediate impact player in the frontcourt. And Kentucky is.

      If they’re planning on adding another player of that caliber via the transfer portal/reclassification and allow Anselem to slowly develop, then it’d be a fantastic addition, which I addressed in the article. As for your note on Willis and Hawkins – two in-state prospects who are more likely to stay all four years – Willis was the No. 58 prospect in the final 247Sports rankings, while Hawkins was No. 151. They combined for roughly 11 minutes per game in their first two years on campus. Anselem currently sits at No. 119 in the 247 rankings, No. 133 on, and unranked on ESPN. If anything, I gave him too much credit by listing the 247Sports Composite ranking.

      My job is not to hype up recruits simply because Kentucky is interested, it’s to do my research and thoroughly break down each prospect from all angles.

    • The Professor
      5:16 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

      Jack, it matters not whether he will be a good player or not. You called another human being and a high school kid at that, “scraping the bottom of the barrel”. No kid deserves to be called that. You should contact him with an apology because YOUR WORDS MATTER! I am also sure that more than a dozen people did not use that phrase to describe him. Use your head next time before you write such a hateful comment!

    • Megan
      7:48 pm April 30, 2020 Permalink

      The Prof has a point, Jack. Those are your words. You wrote them in your comment to crazycat above. Even if they originated elsewhere, as you explained when deflecting responsibility, you agreed with the sentiment so much that you repeated those words and added for emphasis that UK was “definitely” scraping the bottom of the barrel going after Anselem. So I’m afraid you own it, Jack.

      That’s a disparaging thing to say about any recruit. And so unnecessary. Can you simply acknowledge that and hold yourself accountable?

    • Megan
      7:55 pm April 30, 2020 Permalink

      There’s a difference between disparaging someone and not hyping them to be something they’re not. That’s a false choice, Jack. You shouldn’t be doing either one of those things.

      Scraping the bottom of the barrel by going after him isn’t a negative comment? Please. KSR sure scraped the bottom of the barrel (or the bottom of someone’s shoe) when they hired you. But I’m not knocking you. (See how that works?)

  5. crazycatfan65
    4:31 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

    Jack, thanks! I understand what you meant by scrapping the bottom now and you’re right, he is not the immediate answer UK needs now. To say he is “raw” offensively is an under statement, and that’s not a knock on the young man. Do you think Reid stays in the 2021 class?

    • Jack Pilgrim
      4:42 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

      Person I talked to at Kentucky said “I don’t think it’s a possibility right now” for Reid, so I’m going off that. Think he’s split on reclass decision, but don’t see UK being the choice right now.

      As for Anselem, I am not knocking the kid at all. Never meant it negatively. He could have a Nick Richards-like career at Kentucky, and the staff thinks he could, too. But it’d be unfair to both fans and the recruit himself to hype him up to be something he’s not (not yet, anyway).

    • RAGE
      5:31 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

      I understood exactly what you mean by saying that statement Mr Pilgrim.. People are way to sensitive these days… My only question though… Are you hearing anything about possible reclassification or maybe somebody that can help us next year with our front court hole we have on the roster??? Or maybe even a player that if they used the one time transfer rule that could possibly come… Also is there no chance we are even interested in the kid from VCU since we missed out on Haarms and seem to not have many options at this point…

  6. Brutal Hustler
    5:01 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

    So he’s somewhere between a Perry Stevenson and a Nick Richards. Good depth piece with potential

  7. Headhurts
    5:11 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

    I trust the coaches decisions on recruiting, not all pan out to their potential, most do.

  8. VirginiaCat
    5:32 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

    Jack, thank you for your insight and honesty. By Kentucky standards, it is scarping the bottom on the barrel for what we need right now. Keep in mind that Jack’s words are rooted in context. I would rather hear an honest assessment, albeit not PC enough for The Professor, than a puff piece. I am sure that Anselem is a fine young man whose self esteem is not so fragile as to wilt.

  9. chris43
    5:45 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

    So basically he’ll be another body to use in practice (we need another big). He won’t get any PT and once the NCAA passes the one time transfer rule he’ll transfer. He’ll transfer due to PT due to incoming players unless he shows drastic improvement over the next season. It is what it is. The more pressing matter is HOW ARE WE MISSING OUT ON ALL THE TOP BIGS LATELY? Something has gotta give.

  10. dandycat
    6:18 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

    I actually like the addition of the kid…the lack of bodies cost us last season and has multiple times in the past…development of these kids with the measurables and just needing an opportunity and being supported by an awesome staff…Call constantly says Kentucky is not for everyone and for a kid like that to want the challenge knowing that he has work to do and will be competing with a load of college stars for his career…will only make him better

  11. dave1964
    8:52 pm April 29, 2020 Permalink

    He would be just another body for practice will not contribute in a game situation maybe in a couple years he could develop but not the answer for next season.