As John Calipari and his staff grind out the final stage of recruiting the Class of 2017, let’s take a look at the five names on the board with predictions for each prospect.
As many as three of the following names could join Quade Green, Shai Alexander, P.J. Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt and Nick Richards as new Wildcats from the class.
Power Forward/Center| 7-0 | 216 lbs.
New York, NY | Westtown
AAU: PSA Cardinals
|ESPN||No. 5 | 2 C||Top247||No. 3 | 2 PF|
|Rivals||No. 4 | 1 PF||Scout||No. 2 | 2 C|
By now you know all about Mohamed Bamba. The five-star big man is as good as it gets when it comes to the physical tools of the game. He recently measured out with a 7-foot-9 wingspan and a 9-foot-6 standing reach, which would be the second longest in the NBA. He is a one-of-a-kind rim protector and one John Calipari would love to add to next year’s roster.
As for Kentucky’s chances, there is some noise around Texas and Duke right now, but some folks I’ve spoken to seem very confident he becomes a Wildcat. He is very close with Quade Green and Hamidou Diallo, and those relationships should help steer him to Lexington.
Considering: Duke, Kentucky, Michigan, Texas
Small Forward | 6-8 | 195 lbs.
Tampa, FL | Tampa Catholic
|ESPN||No. 7 | 2 SF||Top247||No. 13 | 4 SF|
|Rivals||No. 9 | 2 SF||Scout||No. 7 | 2 SF|
While Bamba would make a great addition to UK’s class, Kevin Knox is more of a player of need. Knox is a versatile scorer on the wing, which is exactly what Kentucky lacks, and Calipari loves his game. Most believe he will eventually end up in the ACC, but Kentucky isn’t going down without a fight.
Knox will play in the Jordan Brand Classic this Friday night. His father, Kevin Knox Sr., told T.J. Walker today he will make his final college decision on either April 28 or May 1, depending on national TV availability.
Considering: Duke, Florida State, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina
Prediction: North Carolina
Shooting Guard | 6-4 | 180 lbs.
Eastvale, CA | Roosevelt High School
AAU: Earl Watson Elite
|ESPN||No. 65 | 19 SG||Top247||No. 119 | 22 SG|
|Rivals||No. 80||Scout||No. 87 | 20 SG|
Jemarl Baker is one of three new names on the board as Calipari looks for help to rebuild his backcourt. Kentucky loses six guards from this past season and Baker, a former California commit, recently received a scholarship offer to fill one of those spots.
Baker released a list of nine schools he is considering, but he is reportedly leaning toward Kentucky. I expected to hear of a commitment over the weekend shortly after Calipari paid him a visit late last week.
Considering: Arizona, Arizona State, Duke, Kentucky, Marquette, Maryland, Oregon, San Diego State, Utah
Guard | 6-5 | 225 lbs.
Edwardsville, IL | Edwardsville High School
AAU: Ramey Jets United
|ESPN||NR||Top247||No. 184 | 40 PG|
|Rivals||No. 78 |||Scout||— | 35 SG|
Mark Smith was the first of the new guys to pop up as a potential shooter on next year’s squad. Illinois’ Mr. Basketball is a hot name in recruiting right now (the Big Ten loves him) after he emerged as a basketball star in his senior season. He had previously been committed to play baseball at Missouri.
Michigan State is the presumed leader over Illinois and a handful of others, including Kentucky. Of the three backcourt players on UK’s radar, he likely ranks third on the priority list.
Considering: Illinois, Kansas State, Kentucky, Michigan State, Missouri, Northwestern, Ohio State, Texas
Prediction: Michigan State
Guard| 6-8 | 210 lbs.
Moon Township, PA | Our Lady of the Sacred Heart
TRANSFER from Pittsburgh
Rounding up the recruiting board is Cameron Johnson, a very attractive grad transfer out of Pittsburgh. Unlike most grad transfers, Johnson has two years of eligibility as long as he completes his graduation from Pitt this spring. He will be able to play immediately and UK would love to add him as a shooter. He shot 41.5 percent from outside on almost 300 attempts last season.
Over the weekend, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said there is “a good chance” he goes to Kentucky.
Considering: Arizona, Baylor, Florida, Iowa State, Kentucky, Marquette, Michigan, Ohio State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, TCU, Texas