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10 takeaways from Calipari’s busy recruiting weekend


If you spent your weekend away from the computer like I did, you missed a lot of recruiting news. This weekend was the second of the spring evaluation period and most of UK’s 2017 targets were in action at the Nike EYBL event in Indianapolis. As always, John Calipari was a busy man, holding court at the Jonathan Byrd’s Grand Park Fieldhouse from Friday to Sunday, with a quick detour to Atlanta on Saturday afternoon for the Adidas Gauntlet. Oh, the places you’ll go and the recruits you’ll see when you have access to a private jet!

A lot happened in the last recruiting period before July, so I spent the day catching up on the latest and breaking it down into ten takeaways for you.

1. He pretty much saw everybody

All thirteen 2017 players with Kentucky offers played in the event in Indianapolis, making the EYBL event the perfect opportunity for Calipari and staff to really hone in on who they want to prioritize in the class. Here’s a list of who Calipari and Kenny Payne watched in Indy Friday through Sunday:

  • Kevin Knox
  • Gary Trent Jr.
  • John Petty
  • Mohamed Bamba
  • Hamidou Diallo
  • Michael Porter Jr.
  • Trae Young
  • Nick Richards
  • Tremont Waters
  • PJ Washington
  • Wendell Carter
  • Jarred Vanderbilt
  • DeAndre Ayton

While the act of making that list is enough to wear me out, Calipari did as Calipari does, straddling courts and watching several targets at once.

2. Cal ran into Tubby Smith


This blurry picture of the two made the rounds Saturday morning, inspiring captions upon captions. It’s still a little weird to see Tubby decked out in Memphis gear, but here’s hoping Calipari passed along some good advice, like, “There are better rib places than Rendezvous,” or “I’m sorry to break it to you, but the pyramid really is just a Bass Pro Shops now.”

3. The Trae Young/Michael Porter package deal remains strong

I know, I know, NOT ANOTHER PACKAGE DEAL. While the majority of package deals between elite basketball recruits rarely come to fruition, Mokan Elite teammates Trae Young and (Not That) Michael Porter set the likelihood that they’ll attend the same college at 85%. Right now, a handful of schools have offered both, including Kentucky, and the Cats seem high on both’s lists, with Porter calling Kentucky a “dream school” and Young getting a ton of attention from Calipari this spring. What would you get in the 6’2″ Young? Calipari told the Norman, Oklahoma native he considers him a combination of Tyler Ulis and Brandon Knight.

Yes, please. We’ll take both.

4. Wenyen Gabriel is in Hamidou Diallo’s ear

A few days after getting a scholarship offer from Kentucky, five-star shooting guard Hamido Diallo scored 33 points (12-18 shooting) and grabbed 12 rebounds with Calipari in the stands, including this ridiculous dunk:

It turns out Diallo is friends with future Cat Wenyen Gabriel, who is already recruiting him to come to Lexington:

“Yeah, he’s basically telling me, ‘What am I waiting for?’,” Diallo told Ben Roberts. “He’s just been telling me to join and stuff like that.”

Kentucky already has a solid lead over UConn in Diallo’s Crystal Ball, but keep it up, Wenyen.

5. Four 2017 targets are already planning on coming to Big Blue Madness

We still don’t even have a finalized roster for the 2016-2017 season, but that’s not stopping the 2017 recruits from planning their visits to Kentucky for the fall. Wendell Carter, John Petty, Gary Trent Jr., and PJ Washington all confirmed to Ben Roberts they plan on attending Big Blue Madness in October, which, really, I’m only excited about because it will be the debut of the new center-hung scoreboard. Hopefully it will live up to everyone’s expectations.

6. Calipari really, really likes Romeo Langford

How much does Calipari like 2018 shooting guard Romeo Langford? After watching his 2017 targets play in the morning session in Indianapolis, he flew to the Adidas event in Atlanta just to see Langford play one game. Langford earned scholarship offers from Kentucky, Duke, and Kansas last week, and if that wasn’t indication enough that Calipari wants him, Saturday afternoon’s jetsetting should hammer the message home. With Calipari watching, Langford put up 20 points and 11 rebounds in a performance ESPN’s Adam Finkelstein called “nothing short of sensational”:

ESPN 25 guard Romeo Langford was nothing short of sensational this weekend. At 6-foot-4, he is a high-level athlete with a terrific wingspan. His physical tools don’t initially jump out, but he is the total package. He has a skill-set and the type of effortless smoothness that just can’t be taught. He is also a truly elite perimeter rebounder.

From there, Calipari flew back to Indianapolis to — you guessed it — do some more recruiting.

7. In Atlanta, Calipari was joined by Twany Beckham


Beckham lives in Atlanta and stopped by the Adidas Gauntlet to check out the action, and, coincidentally, see his former coach, who was sporting quite possibly the most Dad pair of Dad jeans I’ve ever seen. Twany even joined Cal and Robic courtside to see Romeo Langford:


8. John Petty talked to Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins about playing for UK

Petty was the first player in the 2017 class to get an offer from Kentucky, and many, including this blogger right here, think he could be the first to commit. The 6’6″ small forward from Huntsville, Alabama has been a UK fan since he was nine, and told Ben Roberts this weekend that he’s already talked to fellow Alabamans DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Bledsoe about playing for UK.

“They tell me it’s a great school,” Petty said. “They tell me how Coach Cal is as a coach and as a man, period.”

Petty said the pull to stay home and play for Avery Johnson at Alabama is also strong and that he’s not in a rush to make a decision. Totally the right way to do it, but whenever I read his quotes, it sounds more and more likely he’ll be a Wildcat.

9. What is going on with DeAndre Ayton?

The oddest story on the recruiting scene in recent weeks has to center around De’Andre Ayton, the consensus #1 player in the class. Seems like everyone would be all in on trying to land the 7-footer from the Bahamas, who looked every inch the best player in the country over the weekend; however, when Ayton spoke with reporters, he said only one school is after him right now: Kansas.

Huh? Ayton said he thinks other coaches believe he will skip college and take the Thon Maker route; however, he claimed that isn’t so, telling SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell that both he and his mother think college is “a must.” Ayton insisted there are no eligibility concerns, but right now, I’m questioning his sanity after reading his response when asked if Kentucky was still involved in his recruitment:

“Kentucky, right now they’re mediocre. I’m not really big on who is really out there right now.”

Maybe “mediocre” means something else in the Bahamas. Or maybe Calipari and others are backing off for a good reason.

10. Nick Richards’ quotes about Kentucky and Indiana speak volumes

Kentucky is considered the early leader for the nation’s number two center from St. Patrick’s in New Jersey, where Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Dakari Johnson also played high school ball. The 6’11” New York native also has an offer from Indiana, and when asked about the two programs, gave TJ Walker a response that speaks volumes:

I realize the Hoosiers just got the best of us, but that’s pretty telling commentary on the trajectory of each program in the past ten years. Brag all you want about your two wins over Kentucky, Indiana fans, but I’m pretty happy with how things are going in Lexington.

That’s it — no more coaches at recruiting events until July. If only we had some commitments to keep the news flowing between now and then…

Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

13 Comments for 10 takeaways from Calipari’s busy recruiting weekend

  1. jonthes
    8:43 pm April 25, 2016 Permalink

    Tubby was telling Cal, “Watch your back.”

  2. Hicksy
    10:58 pm April 25, 2016 Permalink

    Assuming we lose basically our entire team at the end of next year, I think my wish list for 2017 is Young, Diallo, Porter Jr., Bamba and Richards along with Petty as the 6 man. If we miss on Porter hopefully Knox is there and if we miss on Bamba maybe we can steal another top 10 big man to keep the streak alive. I’d love to add Waters, Vanderbilt or Washington to that since we could have plenty of open spots, but 7 or 8 elite recruits in one class might be asking too much, even from the master.

    • a21CATSfan
      11:40 pm April 25, 2016 Permalink

      I think you are right about losing (almost) everyone next season. Floreal, Willis, Hawkins, Mulder and Lee, assuming he comes back, are all Seniors. Briscoe, if he doesn’t this year, and the freshman could all easily turn pro. Leaving Matthews, Humphries and Wynyard who will all surely test the waters. Those 3 guys could return along with Killeya-Jones and my wish list of Trae Young, Tremont Waters, Hamidou Diallo, Michael Porter Jr, Mohammed Bamba, Nick Richards and DeAndre Ayton. If Ayton thinks we are “mediocre” we will take Wendell Carter. Cal will have to make a haul the next season or three.

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      8:14 am April 26, 2016 Permalink

      I like the potential in this class, especially on the wings. I would love to get Petty, Diallo, and Porter Jr. Along with Young, Waters, Bamba, and Richards…is that asking too much? NO…

    • runningunnin.454
      9:50 am April 26, 2016 Permalink

      Whoa there…getting ahead of ourselves aren’t we? We have a championship to win next year first.

  3. KevinM
    11:31 pm April 25, 2016 Permalink

    MTT, when was the last time Cal ran into Tubby on the recruiting trail? Right, this is the first time because Tubby had no idea what he was doing there. I guess Saul can guide him back to the shadows again.

  4. FlatTopsAndBlockedShots
    11:53 pm April 25, 2016 Permalink

    DeAndre Ayton is exactly who the media wants you to think DeMarcus Cousins is. He’s a fake teammate, he’s really only out to get his on the court, he shoots 3’s because he lacks post moves and just gets away being 7’0 feet tall and athletic. That being said he will go to Kansas where Bill Self has no shame whatsoever while coaching in that sorry BIG 12 that produces extremely low lever pros.

  5. Mathlete
    8:22 am April 26, 2016 Permalink

    On the 2016 recruiting class, any rumors about Bolden or Allen? Do we still care that much?

    • WatchutalkinboutWillis
      8:35 am April 26, 2016 Permalink

      I care. A little too much honestly. I personally feel like Bolden’s decision will come down to Marcus Lee’s decision now. I didn’t feel that way before…but what else could he be waiting on?

    • Mathlete
      8:44 am April 26, 2016 Permalink

      Sounds like Lee is pretty set on going pro whether he’s drafted or playing overseas, and by my last count Duke is out of scholarships until they tell someone else to hit the bricks (and who wants to play for a coach who would tell a kid to leave so he can recruit over you anyway?)

  6. WatchutalkinboutWillis
    8:56 am April 26, 2016 Permalink

    Can you tell me who is getting scholarships at Duke? Because it is my understanding that Thornton cleared the way for Bolden and Jefferson was already included before.