After two high-profile commitments in two days, John Calipari took to Twitter to do a little boasting, poke a little fun at those who have said he’s lost his touch, and perhaps tease that UK’s recruiting efforts for next season aren’t quite finished.
“#BBN, have you enjoyed breakfast the last couple days?” the Kentucky coach said. “We like to be transparent at Kentucky, but let me say this: No one truly knows what we are doing until it’s done. Finished yet?”
The Cats landed commitments from five-star power forward EJ Montgomery on Monday and five-star point guard Ashton Hagans on Tuesday. Montgomery was the top available post player in the class of 2018. Hagans is the top-ranked point guard in the class of 2019, though he’s widely expected to reclassify this summer, jump to 2018, and join UK’s team for next season.
So, finished yet? Probably not.
Kentucky is still waiting on several stay-or-go decisions from this past season’s players, but there’s a good chance at least one more Wildcat opts to play somewhere else next season.
Here’s what we know so far:
Top recruits Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, Immanuel Quickley, Montgomery and (probably) Hagans will be on UK’s team next season.
NBA Draft departures Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Kevin Knox will not, nor will Sacha Killeya-Jones or Tai Wynyard, who have both announced they will transfer. Also expected to enter and stay in the NBA Draft is freshman shooting guard Hamidou Diallo, who is currently projected as a high second-round pick with first-round potential.
That would be five in, five out, and it would leave UK with 11 scholarship players — two under the limit — if everyone else returns from last season’s team.
But that’s no guarantee either. PJ Washington has declared for the NBA Draft, though he has not hired an agent and could still return to UK.
There has been some buzz that Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel could also explore their professional opportunities further in the coming weeks. Neither of those players is included on ESPN’s list of the top 60 prospects for this year’s draft.
Kentucky’s other scholarship players are Quade Green, Nick Richards and Jemarl Baker. None of those players are on ESPN’s Top 100 list for the draft.
Even if all six return, Calipari would have two more scholarships to work with.
Landing a graduate transfer — and giving UK some much-needed experience — is still an option. No specific names have been confirmed as UK targets, but Kentucky’s coaches are looking into the grad transfer possibility.
Former McDonald’s All-American forward Reid Travis, who has played three seasons at Stanford, has already been speculated as a possible UK target if he comes back for another season of college basketball.
Calipari has criticized the pursuit of graduate transfers in the past, but he’s also made it clear he’d be willing to take one under the right circumstances. Last year, UK pursued Pittsburgh’s Cameron Johnson, who committed to Jamie Dixon as a recruit and decided to leave — ultimately for North Carolina — after playing one season under new coach Kevin Stallings.
Travis, like Johnson, committed to and played for another coach at the beginning of his college career.
Kentucky could also grab another recruit from the high school ranks.
There are no uncommitted players in the class of 2018 on UK’s must-have list, but this summer could yield more reclassification options — similar to Hagans’ situation — if the Cats need to add another player before next season.
Kentucky’s other commitment from the class of 2019 — five-star small forward DJ Jeffries — turns 19 years old in December but has told the Herald-Leader in the past that he intends to stick in the 2019 class. His Nike league teammate, James Wiseman, just turned 17 a couple of weeks ago and has also been adamant about his plans to stay put in the class of 2019.
Barring the return of all six current UK players who have not yet declared their final intentions for next season, look for Calipari to add at least one more Wildcat in the future.
Signed for 2018
Committed for 2018
No decision yet
Hamidou Diallo (No. 34 on ESPN’s list of draft prospects)
Nick Richards (CBS report says he’ll return to UK)
Jarred Vanderbilt (No. 63 on ESPN’s list of draft prospects)
*PJ Washington (No. 49 on ESPN’s list of draft prospects)
Entered NBA Draft
Committed for 2019
Ashton Hagans (likely to reclassify to 2018)
*-Declared for NBA Draft but has not hired agent