Recruits still aren’t able to physically visit college campuses due to COVID-19 concerns, but that’s not stopping the Kentucky basketball staff from getting in a little quality time with the country’s best players. John Calipari and his staff recently met with five-star junior Paolo Banchero (virtually, of course), according to Jake Weingarten, the owner and recruiting analyst for Stock Risers.
The 2021 five-star forward recently cut his list to six schools, and Kentucky made the cut, along with Washington, Gonzaga, Arizona, Tennessee and Duke. The Seattle native is listed at 6-foot-9, and 247Sports has him tabbed as the nation’s No. 4 player, the No. 1 power forward and the No. 1 player in his home state.
After cutting his list to six, Banchero broke down the finalists with Evan Daniels of 247Sports, saying Kentucky could help him fulfill his “goal and dream of being a lottery pick, top five pick.”
Source: Kentucky’s John Calipari and staff virtually met with five-star junior Paolo Banchero. Major target for the Cats’ who have already hosted him for a physical visit.
— Jake (@jakeweingarten) June 1, 2020
“Coach [John Calipari], coach [Tony] Barbee, coach [Kenny] Payne, their resume speaks for itself especially when it comes to my position that count as big, they go pro and be All-Stars and have great college careers,” Banchero said. “Their pitch to me has always been come in and be the next one, let me play my game, do it all, make plays with the ball in my hands and stuff like that and the big stage will help me fulfill my goal and dream of being a lottery pick, top five pick.”
His recruitment is a tight race, and 247Sports’ Crystal Ball index still has mixed reviews.
Back in September, Banchero joined KSR’s Sources Say Podcast, where he broke down his interest in Kentucky and John Calipari’s pitch to him.
“He’s just telling me that he doesn’t see me as a big man or a center or a power forward or anything like that. [Calipari] just sees me as a basketball player,” Banchero told KSR at the time. “After watching me play, he was impressed by not necessarily how I can play one-through-five, but how I can handle the ball, pass the ball, all that stuff. He knows he has the ability to put me all over the floor, just be a basketball player. He’s honest with me about everything, he doesn’t say anything that is too good to be true. He tells me if I do come there it will be a challenge, it will be hard, but he’ll get the best out of me and turn me into a great pro hopefully. That’s his pitch.”
Banchero’s full conversation with KSR is available here.