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Breaking down Kentucky’s new options at shooting guard


With the recruiting dead period over, John Calipari is hard at work to fill in Kentucky’s holes at shooting guard for next season. So far, we know Cal has offered Mark Smith and Pitt transfer Cam Johnson, and he’s expected to extend another offer to Jemarl Baker in Los Angeles today. Once all the offers are out, who will commit first to fill the spots? Let’s break down each target.

Mark Smith

Combo guard | 6’5″ 225 | Edwardsville, Illinois | 2016-17 averages: 21.9 points, 8.4 assists and 8.2 rebounds

Smith focused on baseball for most of his high school career, but an elbow injury last year forced him to hang up his spikes and pick up his sneakers. A year later, Smith won Illinois Mr. Basketball after a monster senior year and picked up a scholarship offer from John Calipari yesterday. At 6’5″ 225 lbs., Smith is similar to the Harrison Twins in terms of size, and can bully to the rim while shooting it consistently from the outside.

Smith has offers from Illinois, Missouri, Texas, Kansas State, Ohio State, Northwestern, Kentucky, and Michigan State. He’s expected to visit Michigan State this weekend.

Jemarl Baker

Shooting guard | 6’4″ 180 | Los Angeles, California | 2016-17 averages: 17.1 points, 4.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds | 2016-17 shooting averages: 39% FG, 34% 3PT, 78% FT

Calipari is traveling to Los Angeles today to visit former Cal signee Jemarl Baker, who was released from his letter of intent after Cuonzo Martin left to take the job at Mizzou. Maryland, Utah, Oregon, Arizona, Duke, Marquette, Virginia, and Arizona State are also interested in Baker, and he’ll likely pick up a scholarship offer from Calipari tonight.

Cam Johnson

Guard | 6’8″ 210 | Moon Township, Pennsylvania | 2016-17 averages: 11.9 points, 4.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists | 2016-17 shooting averages: 44.7% FG, 41.5% 3PT, 81.1% FT

This morning, we found out that Kentucky has offered the ex-Pitt guard, who is a redshirt sophomore, but will graduate from Pitt this spring. Johnson can play right away and will have two years of eligibility remaining, and although Calipari spoke out against grad transfers recently, it’s worth pointing out that Johnson’s coming from a school in a major conference, not a mid-major. Plus, he’s from Cal’s hometown of Moon Township and Cam’s dad played at Pitt while Calipari was an assistant there in the late 80’s.

Johnson is most similar to Kevin Knox, and if Knox goes elsewhere, he’d be more than a consolation prize. Of the three options at shooting guard right now, I may want Johnson most because he’s got two solid seasons of experience at the college level.

So, what happens? My guess is Cal takes whichever guard commits first between Baker and Smith, and Johnson if he misses on Knox, who is scheduled to announce his decision in the coming weeks. But what happens if Johnson wants to go ahead and make his decision?

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.

24 Comments for Breaking down Kentucky’s new options at shooting guard

  1. CatBlue in LR
    12:03 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

    I’m with you, TT. I’ll take Johnson, please. Actually any of them sound good.

    ICWT! (In Cal We Trust)

  2. blackmilk23
    12:13 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

    Mark Smith has the most upside of this group.

    Baker’s shooting percentages don’t convince me he will help us. 39% FG and 34% 3PT? In High School? Give me Smith.

    We are looking for shooters.

  3. runningunnin.454
    12:19 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

    We could use all of them.

  4. callitlikeiseeit
    12:23 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

    Take Johnson. Has college experience and has the best shooting form of all 3. Baker has his feet pointing to the side on his jumpers, hard to be a consistent shooter like that. Smith looks to have pretty good form so he is 2nd choice.

  5. catsarerunnin
    12:29 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

    Get the one who is the best at playing zone…

  6. ukbradstith
    12:33 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

    Those are some pretty bad shooting numbers for Baker. I bet Briscoe’s high school numbers were much better than that. I’d like to get both Smith and Johnson.

  7. t_f_licker
    12:37 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

    I love how Cal was so vocal against grad transfers and he almost immediately offers a scholarship to one. It’s not hypocrisy though, because Pitino didn’t do it.

    • runningunnin.454
      12:51 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

      He just said he didn’t like it; but, it’s allowed so he’s going to do it.
      He doesn’t really like the one-and-done thing either, but he’ll use it until the NBA changes.
      No hypocrisy, he’s just better adapting than some other coaches.

    • chrisg18
      1:02 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

      I love how you ignore the entire context of that quote from Cal.

    • secrick
      1:07 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

      Smart people adjust and win. Change teams.

    • runningunnin.454
      1:22 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

      Cal hasn’t had 4 players transfer last couple of weeks. One giving 2 middle fingers on the way out.

    • runningunnin.454
      1:24 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

      LOL, what happened to the comment from Tubby that I was replying to?

    • Eli
      2:34 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

      Yeah, lets compare taking the star player from a mid-major school with tournament aspirations that subsequently gets that school’s coach fired to taking the third-best player from the second worst-team
      in the ACC. That sounds fair you stupid idiot

  8. Catcasey1
    1:10 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

    Should not take the transfer to much backlash

  9. donjohnson
    1:15 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

    He was critical of graduating kids with a year of eligibility left…….also more so focused on small school to.big schools. This guy plays at a power 5 school.with multiple years of eligibility…not.even related to.what he was talking about

  10. CatManDo
    1:37 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

    A lot of comments on shooting which is obviously very important. I would like to know who is seen as the best, most willing defender and sacrifice-for-the-team type of attitude.

  11. thejeffgoldblumexperience
    1:41 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

    Not going to question any of their 3pt shooing. But, I like Johnson’s size and experience. We Gon Be Alright

    • RealCatsFan
      2:51 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

      Yeah, the size of the Johnson can be very important (in spite of what some might say). 😉

    • Angelo
      3:52 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

      I’ll take 6’8″

  12. Peas and Carrots
    2:30 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

    I’d like Bamba, Smith and Johnson to round out the class.

  13. Eli
    3:04 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

    Has anyone thought that maybe Johnson wanted to transfer last year, but decided to put up with Stallings for a year so he wouldn’t have to sit out for the second time in three years? I’ll take Johnson no matter what people say but there is nothing hypocritical about it.

  14. jrdh13
    7:43 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

    I think mark smith is the best of the 3. Explosive and can shoot it. I think he is the best fit as well as some size at the 2

  15. MAYS24
    8:09 pm April 7, 2017 Permalink

    I like Johnson if he can move and handle the ball like a guard. I definitely do not like the Baker kid shooting percentages. Overall shooting is terrible for a guard and 3 pt percentage is only average. With all the super athletes that cannot shoot we do not need a lower ranked player that cannot shoot. Cal may not like taking transfers but it is within the rules so does not bother me.

  16. dballrb
    11:02 pm April 8, 2017 Permalink

    6’8″ 2 gaurds don’t fall off trees.Smith 1st option,but the experience factors can’t be overlooked,tough call IMO.