Basketball recruiting is its own sports at the University of Kentucky and the Wildcats have dominated the game over the last seven years, since John Calipari’s arrival in Lexington. This year, Calipari is poised once again to have one of the best classes in the nation, and it will begin to take shape on Wednesday, the first day of the early college basketball signing period.
Many of you Kentucky basketball fans follow recruiting religiously; again, it is its own sport around here. But there is also a large portion of the fan base that couldn’t name a single player on Kentucky’s radar, including the two players who have already pledged their commitment to the Cats.
With those uninformed blue bloods in mind, I put together a Signing Day Primer, ahead of Wednesday. Pass this along to the casual basketball fan in your office building and let them know UK is on its way to being very, very good in 2016-17, as per usual.
Let’s answer some questions.
What is National Signing Day?
National Signing Day is the first day a prospective student-athlete can officially sign with the university or school he/she plans to attend. As I mentioned above, it begins this Wednesday, November 11, 2015.
Recruits can only sign on that day?
No, Signing Day marks the beginning of the signing period. In this case, the early basketball period runs through November 18, 2015. The regular signing period for college basketball is in the spring: April 13, 2016 through May 18, 2016.
Student-athletes may sign and submit their Letter of Intent during one of those two periods.
Letter of Intent? What’s that?
The National Letter of Intent is a binding agreement between a prospective student-athlete and an NLI member institution. The two-way agreement has two parts: (1) the prospective student-athlete agrees to attend the institution full-time for one academic year; (2) the institution agrees to provide athletics financial aid for one academic year.
For example, if you planned to attend Bumblebee State on a jigsaw puzzle scholarship; signing the NLI would bind you to at least one year at Bumblebee State on the jigsaw puzzle team, and Bumblebee State must honor your jigsaw puzzle scholarship for at least one year. Neither side can back out on the agreement. It’s like a written pinky promise.
Who will sign with Kentucky in the early signing period?
As of now, Kentucky is expected to sign its two verbal commitments: Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones.
However, at least one more prospect is likely to join the bunch before the end of the period.
What’s a Wenyen Gabriel?
Wenyen Gabriel is a versatile forward in the 2016 recruiting class, ranked 16th overall in the 247Sports Composite rankings. He received a scholarship offer from Kentucky in July after a breakout summer on the AAU circuit. He committed to Kentucky on October 1, one week after his official visit, choosing the Cats over Duke, Maryland, Providence and UConn.
Sacha Killeya-Jones, isn’t that the guy from Borat?
No, that’s Sacha Baron Cohen, an English comedian. Sacha Killeya-Jones is the eighth-ranked power forward in the 2015 class. Originally a Virginia commit, Killeya-Jones reopened his recruitment in early June and announced he would become a Wildcat on August 19.
He is the prototypical athletic big man that Calipari has proven he can develop.
Funny you should ask. Just earlier today, De’Aaron Fox, the nation’s top-ranked point guard, tweeted that he will announce his decision on Thursday. He plans to announce at 6 pm on ESPNU.
Kentucky is the very heavy favorite for Fox. Go ahead and plan on him being the next star in Calipari’s long line of point guards.
Who else should we keep an eye on?
No one else is expected to get on board this fall, but keep a very close eye on Malik Monk. Monk is the best shooting guard in the class and Kentucky is the presumed leader to land him and pair him up with Fox in the backcourt.
Monk is likely to hold off until the spring, but it sure would be nice if Calipari could convince him to commit and sign in the early period. Unlikely, but locking down a Fox-Monk backcourt tandem would be huge for this class. Calipari could then direct his focus toward finding another big man and anyone else who may want in.
Sounds like it’s going to be another crazy class.
Yep. Damn sure does.