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Pilgrim’s Insider Notes: Cade Cunningham, Makur Maker, and Olivier Sarr

Following the commitment of Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr, the Kentucky basketball program has flirted with the idea of adding one final piece to its 2020-21 roster.

They began by contacting 2020 four-star center Frank Anselem – seen as a long-term project piece – before picking up momentum with Evansville transfer DeAndre Williams.

When player roles became a concern for both players, Kentucky backed away from the table on each, ultimately deciding to keep the roster as-is barring a can’t-miss opportunity presenting itself down the road.

When the NCAA hit Oklahoma State with a one-year postseason ban and three years of probation, among other sanctions, the basketball world looked to No. 1 overall prospect Cade Cunningham to see if he would back away from his commitment to the Cowboys. And if he did, would he shake up the landscape of college basketball by flipping his commitment to his second choice prior to signing with OSU, Kentucky?

Cade Cunningham

While Cunningham was once Kentucky’s top recruiting target in the class of 2020 and sees him as a transcendent talent, the program is not expecting the five-star prospect to end up at UK, despite the sanctions at Oklahoma State.

In fact, sources tell KSR – as reported late Friday evening – that the current expectation is that the OSU program retains his services, with the overseas and G League routes looming as the second and third options, respectively.

“Oklahoma State, overseas, G League, in that order,” one source close to the UK basketball program told KSR.

Kentucky would obviously welcome the addition of the nation’s No. 1 prospect if the opportunity presented itself, but the current feel around the program is that the 6-foot-7 guard will not explore other college options at this time and will ultimately decide to enroll in Stillwater.

Should he have a change of heart, look for the overseas route – likely Australia – and to a lesser extent, the G League, to earn his commitment.

Makur Maker

While Cade Cunningham is not perceived to be a legitimate option for Kentucky, 2020 five-star center Makur Maker is a prospect the UK coaching staff is keeping a close eye on.

Maker, who is currently testing the NBA Draft waters, has narrowed his focus to three schools – Kentucky, UCLA, and Howard – and is tentatively set to make a decision in August, his guardian tells KSR.

Should he turn down the professional route, Maker’s guardian, Ed Smith, tells KSR that UK associate head coach Kenny Payne remains in consistent contact with the five-star center and that the school is serious about securing his commitment. While the idea of staying home and playing at UCLA is intriguing for the nation’s No. 17 overall prospect in the 247Sports Composite Rankings, Maker and his camp believe the Kentucky coaching staff can develop him into a lottery talent in Lexington, following in the footsteps of the likes of Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns, and DeMarcus Cousins.

Behind the scenes on Kentucky’s end, the program is comfortable with the roster as it stands today with Olivier Sarr and are no longer actively looking to add another piece. Should Maker come knocking on UK’s door, though, the staff would not hesitate to accept his commitment, with or without Sarr’s waiver being approved by the NCAA.

Make no mistake about it, Kentucky is high on Maker’s game, a factor I have admittedly discounted in recent months.

While the two would make a solid pairing, the biggest question right now is whether or not UK will even get that opportunity, as Maker remains serious about the NBA. Maker’s guardian informed KSR on Friday evening that the key factor in the five-star center’s decision will be pre-draft workouts and earning a first round grade.

If in-person workouts occur in the coming weeks and a team makes it clear they will be selecting Maker in the first round, the expectation is that he will keep his name in the draft. With a second round grade, it shifts closer to a 50-50 decision for the near-7-footer, with the odds of going to college raising exponentially with late-second/undrafted grades.

Kentucky will still have to fend off UCLA if it comes down to a college decision, but after speaking with Maker’s guardian, the possibility is greater than I previously gave UK credit for.

Olivier Sarr

This weekend, ESPN’s Dick Vitale spoke to John Calipari, who informed him that the school had officially submitted its waiver request to the NCAA for Olivier Sarr.

While some fans were concerned that this news was recent and the timeline regarding the NCAA’s decision was just getting started, sources tell KSR that the waiver request was submitted several weeks prior back in May.

The next step, though, is completely up in the air.

While the wheels are in motion, one source close to the Kentucky program told KSR going into the weekend that the school still has no current timeline regarding a potential answer, nor do they have a feel on which way the NCAA is leaning. The school is, however, hopeful and feel they have presented a solid case when the time does come for a decision.

Should Sarr be declared ineligible, the school will move forward with the appeal process and continue to fight for the Wake Forest transfer’s eligibility. In this case, though, Kentucky will explore potential replacement options in an effort to avoid a depth disaster in the frontcourt. Makur Maker, along with any other new potential graduate transfer and reclassification options, would move to the top of the priority list.

The turnaround time regarding waiver decisions is typically three weeks, but the specific return date varies on a case-by-case basis. At this point, the news could come out tomorrow, a week from now, or several months from now, the program genuinely doesn’t know.

For now, the wait continues.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

16 Comments for Pilgrim’s Insider Notes: Cade Cunningham, Makur Maker, and Olivier Sarr



  1. Wildfelinebeeline
    9:56 pm June 16, 2020 Permalink

    Free Olivier!



  2. UK_fac_boi
    10:13 pm June 16, 2020 Permalink

    Free Olivier!



  3. panicpat
    10:43 pm June 16, 2020 Permalink

    We are in trouble next year



    • UKBigBlueForever
      12:17 am June 17, 2020 Permalink

      I guess your name implies panic… But please don’t panic. Sarr has a better case than Juzang and Juzang has already been cleared



    • UKBigBlueForever
      12:22 am June 17, 2020 Permalink

      I’m done hearing about Cunningham and Maker… they aren’t gonna be here.. I know articles are scarce but it’s being beat down to the ground



    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:31 am June 17, 2020 Permalink

      ^^^This^^^

      I also get tired of seeing articles with titles like “Update on Jager Burton”, when there’s no update, only a “He said he really likes UK” type statement. Yeesh.



    • IrishCat
      1:26 pm June 17, 2020 Permalink

      Maker is waiting as long as possible, so while it’s not likely, I wouldn’t be shocked to land him in the 11th hour IF the Sarr situation isn’t looking good.



  4. Philthy
    12:38 am June 17, 2020 Permalink

    Howard?



  5. Dustin Rumbaugh
    10:34 am June 17, 2020 Permalink

    Things that you’ll only hear once in your life: “Kentucky, UCLA and Howard”



    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:38 am June 17, 2020 Permalink

      That is humorous. I’m guessing it’s a possible affinity for attending an HBCU (I think it is anyway), or maybe his guardian is an alum. Who knows?



  6. WILDCATS1968
    10:45 am June 17, 2020 Permalink

    Pretty much word for word the same “update” that was written as an update last week. So no new update, just a updated update. And the waiver was submitted at the end of May, which would not be several weeks ago, a couple or even a few based on days, but not several. I expect a answer by the end of next week, about the time for a new “update”.



    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:46 am June 17, 2020 Permalink

      ^^^This 2^^^



    • chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door
      10:47 am June 17, 2020 Permalink

      Of course to be fair, like someone above said, there isn’t a whole lot for them to write about right now, so there is that.



    • Jack Pilgrim
      3:02 pm June 17, 2020 Permalink

      The update you’re referring to was tucked into a Saturday morning post. Fans continued to reach out on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday about a post breaking down the final pieces of the 2020-21, specifically with these three players. I also did quick updates on Cunningham and Maker on my Twitter page, but not everyone who reads this site follows me and/or has a Twitter. You may be caught up – and I appreciate that you’ve taken the time to follow my work to read those updates – but not everyone has.



    • _lilman_
      3:04 pm June 17, 2020 Permalink

      Amen



  7. _lilman_
    1:22 pm June 17, 2020 Permalink

    Nobody is forcing unhappy viewers to get on this site. Some people just have to complain in there miserable existence