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What’s next for John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats?


Last night, a whole lot of pressure was lifted off of Coach Cal and UK next season when Kevin Knox committed to the Wildcats. With Hamidou Diallo’s decision up in the air right now, UK needed a leading scorer to carry the team next year, and they got one.

As of now, UK’s team is in great shape for next year, but the addition of a few more pieces could make this team a nightmare for opposing teams.

Here are the next major decisions coming up, with each potentially making a significant impact on next year.

Mohamed Bamba

The best defender in high school has yet to announce his decision, but most analysts feel a decision is coming this month between UK, Texas, Michigan, and Duke.

The 6-11 forward/center would immediately give UK the most impressive frontcourt in America, and quite possibly the No. 1 team in the preseason rankings next season. His ability to alter and deflect shots at the rim is second to none, falling right in line with the dominant defenders of the Calipari era in Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Karl-Anthony Towns. Bamba and Nick Richards are both defensive minded talents, which would make it nearly impossible for opposing teams to enter the paint next year.

On the offensive side of the ball, he has a few polished moves and a developing mid-range jumper. He’s still raw, but his ceiling is incredibly high.

Bamba has an incredible relationship with UK’s current commitments and signees, and reportedly talks to them on a daily basis. Texas is making a big push, but I believe Bamba’s connection with Kentucky players pushes him to Lexington next season.

Prediction: Kentucky

Cameron Johnson

The sharpshooting transfer has narrowed his decision down to five schools, but UK and Arizona seem to be the frontrunners in his recruitment.

The 6’8 shooting guard shot 42% from behind the arc last season for Pittsburgh, giving whatever school he chooses an elite scoring threat from day one. With two years remaining on his eligibility, he provides a veteran presence, which would be extremely beneficial for an extremely young team like UK.

With Knox committing to Kentucky, it will be interesting to see how this situation unfolds. Though he claimed UK was his leader a few days ago, Johnson is currently on a visit to Arizona, and UK’s latest addition may very well send him that direction.

While Johnson now has a little doubt, I still think there’s a shot he still ends up at Kentucky. As of now, the shooting guard position is “technically” wide open, and he could come in and start alongside Kevin Knox. Can you imagine two guys over 6’8 on the wings at Kentucky?

I believe Johnson’s decision has a lot to do with another guy…

Prediction: Kentucky if Diallo stays in Draft, Arizona if Diallo comes back.

Hamidou Diallo

News recently came out that Diallo will not be performing in five-on-five drills at the upcoming NBA Combine, only going through individual workouts and measurements. But is that good news or bad news for Kentucky?

With the “mystery” aspect still in play for Diallo, he is likely opting out of participating on the chance a team takes him purely based on potential. If he were to participate in live scrimmages and struggled, teams would’ve certainly told him to head back to school. Now that there’s still an “unknown” factor to his game, a team could see Diallo as a 2018 lottery pick, and think it’d be idiotic to not take him a year early late in the first round. The Bucks have done it twice with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Thon Maker, and they’re reaping the benefits on both decisions.

Reports say Diallo has improved his jump shot immensely over the past four months at UK, and he’s still the athletic freak we knew him as when he got to school. It just takes one team to promise a first round pick…

Many folks believe Knox’s addition signals the departure of Diallo, especially with many NBA executives apparently claiming Diallo is the most athletic player attending the combine. Though some of the latest mock drafts list Diallo as a second round pick, Gary Parrish believes there’s not a doubt in his mind the UK freshman will be taken in the first.

Knox’s addition signals a sigh of relief for UK fans worried about scoring for next year, but Diallo’s loss would still sting.

Prediction: Stays in NBA Draft

Let’s take a look at the best case scenario for next season:

Quade Green/Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

Hamidou Diallo/Jemarl Baker

Kevin Knox/Cameron Johnson

PJ Washington/Jarred Vanderbilt/Wenyen Gabriel

Mohamed Bamba/Nick Richards/Sacha Killeya-Jones


Obviously the odds are slim the roster looks exactly like this, with a change here and there likely. Nonetheless, I think it’s a guarantee we see the platoon system activated.


Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

40 Comments for What’s next for John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats?

  1. World Wide Wes
    6:13 pm May 7, 2017 Permalink

    Agreed! Mo commits. Diallo stays in draft. Johnson commits. Should be a fun year.

  2. Cmart0907
    6:16 pm May 7, 2017 Permalink

    Didn’t Calipari say he wouldn’t use the platoon system again?

    • Luether
      6:58 pm May 7, 2017 Permalink

      Yes he did – several time…

    • KYcats11
      7:51 pm May 7, 2017 Permalink

      According to my sources, it should be “Yes he did – several times*…

  3. Cokely53
    6:24 pm May 7, 2017 Permalink

    Reading the tea leaves I felt our chances with Knox were better than most people. Duke signed a random guard that was supposed to commit to EKU and directly after Knox said when he was going to make his decision and Cameron Johnson at nearly the same time was all but a lock for UK decided he needed to see more schools all of the sudden. Knox is a fantastic add and eases my mind for a lot reasons. It’ll be interesting to see how things shake up. That best case scenario would be incredible but what about our worst? Diallo goes, bamba and Johnson go elsewhere and Vanderbilt is out for the season with this mysterious injury. I still think Knox makes us a good team even in that horrific scenario. Now even if 3/4 things were to happen but we got bamba I think we’re scary good aside from the early season hiccups due to freshman growing pains.

    • gobble gobble
      6:32 pm May 7, 2017 Permalink

      The “tea leaves” lol… the commitment of a 3 star POINT GUARD to Duke had absolutely ZERO influence on Knox, a 5 star forward/wing. That’s just silly.

    • Cokely53
      6:39 pm May 7, 2017 Permalink

      What’s silly is that you don’t understand what I’m saying. They may have signed him after they found out they weren’t getting him and had an open roster spot that may not have previously been there. Just because common sense doesn’t come easy to you doesn’t mean you need to lash out at others.

    • kenny
      7:22 pm May 7, 2017 Permalink

      I think them signing a 3 star pg says more about how they feel about their chances with duval, not Knox. After all, Knox is a forward and the 3 star they signed is a pg.

  4. Bobbum Man
    6:49 pm May 7, 2017 Permalink

    Let’s say we get bamba and diallou comes back… Cals best class ever? Heck maybe even with diallou staying

    • Luether
      6:59 pm May 7, 2017 Permalink

      No – and not even close…

    • Eli
      11:57 pm May 7, 2017 Permalink

      I wouldn’t say it’s not even close because we’re not sure what kind of production we’re going to get from them or how far we go. I’d say it definitely has a chance right now mainly because there could be multiple players who stay for multiple seasons and if it doesn’t end up being the best, it could be the most important recruiting class Cal has ever had.

  5. JClayton23
    6:52 pm May 7, 2017 Permalink

    If Bamba commits you have to start him at PF and Richards at C

    • CatBlue in LR
      1:40 pm May 8, 2017 Permalink

      No. PJ’s gotta be on the floor. Richards comes off the bench at the 5.

  6. luke_emberton
    6:59 pm May 7, 2017 Permalink

    are you guys gonna say oh he’s just getting his feet wet when Diallo doesn’t come back? that’s called playing the system and not doing your job. you basically make an agreement to play 35 games and then go pro he played 0

    • bdmnky81
      8:36 pm May 7, 2017 Permalink

      No, im going to tell him good luck and that Iwill be rooting for him on the next level. Where is this “agreement” that says he would play 35 games? Is that the same agreement that Sacha signed? The same one Enes signed? Is that the one that thousands of nameless players sign only to be buried on the bench? The system is what it is, why are you blaming a young man for wanting to make millions?

    • Eli
      12:02 am May 8, 2017 Permalink

      You do realize it was Cal’s choice not to play him this season, right? I’ll never knock a kid for doing what’s best for him even though I really want to see him suit up for us next year

  7. JustUrAvg
    7:00 pm May 7, 2017 Permalink

    His father said none of the schools knew until it was confirmed with his tweet…I guess Duke read their own “tea leaves” and hurried to get on that EKU commit. LOL

  8. BoogieDMC
    9:30 pm May 7, 2017 Permalink

    Bamba looks like he’s going to Texas. He told Knox he’d follow him, but looks like he’s flipping.

  9. Eli
    12:06 am May 8, 2017 Permalink

    Am I being shortsighted or is Knox’s commitment the most satisfying ever? Because of what we’re getting and what Duke and UNC aren’t.

  10. Eli
    12:22 am May 8, 2017 Permalink

    It feels like we’re reliving the Andrew Wiggins saga with Bamba and Kevin Knox playing the role of Julius Randle. Hopefully it turns out differently this time around and we go from favorites to overwhelming favorites.

  11. BBNDan7
    12:39 am May 8, 2017 Permalink

    Man y’all are some recruiting experts apparently

  12. ThreeGoggles
    2:25 am May 8, 2017 Permalink

    You are out of your mind… zero percent chance Cal ever uses the platoon system again. ZERO.

  13. Wilfred Smith
    6:55 am May 8, 2017 Permalink

    Cal said he would never platoon again. Memory>crystal ball

  14. Aar
    7:05 am May 8, 2017 Permalink

    The depth chart is missing a certain Kiwi.

    As far as platooning is concerned, I take Cal at his word on not using a rigid “blue-white” platoon system again. If Johnson and Bamba come regardless of Diallo’s decision, I suspect Cal would go 10, 10+ deep and there would be significant periods in which there were no starters on the floor.

    Due to lack of experience across the team, I think Johnson is the most important “moving piece” remaining.

  15. catsarerunnin
    7:17 am May 8, 2017 Permalink

    The platoon worked pretty well. But of course one loss changed the opinion of some.

  16. WatchutalkinboutWillis
    8:19 am May 8, 2017 Permalink

    You can’t make a depth chart for this team because the push is “Positionless Basketball”. However, if you do make a depth chart you should put SKJ at the 4 and don’t leave out Tai Wynard…

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      9:52 am May 8, 2017 Permalink

      5 Mo Bamba Nick Richards Tai Wynard
      4 P.J. Washington Wenyen Gabriel Sacha Killeya-Jones
      3 Kevin Knox Jarred Vanderbilt
      2 Hamidou Diallo Cam Johnson Jemarl Baker
      1 Quade Green Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

  17. ukbradstith
    8:19 am May 8, 2017 Permalink

    Cal wasn’t using the platoon system by the end of the year. People always seem to forget that. Poythress had gotten hurt, Lee was barely even playing at that point.

  18. smahurin
    8:33 am May 8, 2017 Permalink

    Cal had largely ditched the platoon by the end of the year. But the reason he said he’d never use it again was because it killed him on the recruiting circuit.

  19. BobNWeaver
    9:49 am May 8, 2017 Permalink

    NO Platoon!! Whoever is practicing best gets the most game time. Period!

    10:58 am May 8, 2017 Permalink

    Cal finally has his small forward, the first one since MKG. We can finally say good bye to 3 guard lineups where guys like Briscoe have to play the 3, even the year they went 38-1 he has to use Trey Lyles (a natural 4) at that spot. That is why the platoon will work better this time around, because of balance and people playing their natural position. Remember this is assuming hammi comes back and we can somehow get Mo.

    2015 Platoon

    AA. Harrison

  21. UK Fan In Nashville
    11:03 am May 8, 2017 Permalink

    Pretty sure Gabriel will play the 3 next year. He was really a point forward this year. Don’t see that changing, just take out Briscoe who technically played the 3 even though he’s a PG.

    • UK Fan In Nashville
      11:03 am May 8, 2017 Permalink

      As Knox’s backup.

    • Eli
      11:14 am May 8, 2017 Permalink

      Agree with your first statement for the most part, but did you really just call Gabriel a point forward? Lol I can’t recall one time he handled the ball or even showed us ability as a passer. He’s way too trigger happy with his shot which looks fine but needs to be more consistent if he’s going to shoot every time he gets the ball passed to him

    • UK Fan In Nashville
      12:22 pm May 8, 2017 Permalink

      Sorry, meant small forward. You are right.

  22. UK Fan In Nashville
    12:31 pm May 8, 2017 Permalink

    At the beginning of the season we’ll be 11 deep:

    By the end we’ll be 8 deep:

    • UK Fan In Nashville
      12:35 pm May 8, 2017 Permalink

      I could even see Diallo move to the PG if Green is in foul trouble and move Knox to the 2.

    • CatBlue in LR
      1:52 pm May 8, 2017 Permalink

      If/when Green is in foul trouble, I think you’ll mostly see Gilgeous-Alexander at point.