UK Men's Basketball

Calipari could add two high-profile point guards to his 2017 recruiting class

UK Coach John Calipari doesn’t have any commitments for the recruiting class of 2017, but the Wildcats appear to be in good shape with several top prospects.
UK Coach John Calipari doesn’t have any commitments for the recruiting class of 2017, but the Wildcats appear to be in good shape with several top prospects. mcornelison@herald-leader.com

In the past 10 recruiting classes, only twice has one school secured commitments from two of the top 10 point guards in the Scout.com rankings in a single year.

Kentucky did it in 2009 — the first class under Coach John Calipari — by landing John Wall and Eric Bledsoe.

Kentucky did it again in 2015 with Jamal Murray and Isaiah Briscoe.

Calipari might be on the verge of repeating the feat for a third time with the class of 2017.

Oklahoma native Trae Young — the No. 3 point guard in the Scout.com rankings — has long been UK’s top recruiting priority at the position. Connecticut native Tremont Waters — Scout.com’s No. 10 point guard and No. 36 overall player — took an official visit to Lexington earlier this month, and the Cats are now considered to be a major player in his recruitment.

I think it’s become evident that UK wants to take two guards. So in my eyes, the question becomes ... is Trae the type of player that wants to share a backcourt?

Evan Daniels, Scout.com national recruiting analyst

Calipari will almost certainly need two players with point guard skills to join his 2017 recruiting class — current UK guards Briscoe, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk are all projected to be in the pros this time next year — and a combination of Young and Waters would amount to a best-case scenario for the Cats.

“It would be big,” said Scout.com’s Evan Daniels. “That’s what they want. Now, will it come to fruition? That’s the question.”

Tremont Waters talks about Kentucky, Duke, his recruitment and the point guard picture in the class of 2017.

Indiana was the perceived leader for Waters coming out of the summer, but Calipari traveled to Connecticut to meet with him during the opening days of the fall recruiting period, and Waters showed up on UK’s campus two weekends ago for an official visit.

“I think Kentucky has certainly positioned themselves pretty nicely,” Daniels said. “They seem to have made a pretty big impression on him. … From the outside looking in, it certainly looks like Kentucky is in great shape for him.”

Waters — a 5-foot-11 prospect from New Haven, Conn. — took his first official visit to Georgetown earlier this month, then made the trip to UK, then visited Indiana this past weekend and will go to Kansas on Friday for the fourth and maybe final official visit of his recruitment.

There’s no timetable for Waters’ college announcement, but Daniels said that he expects the point guard to make a decision this fall.

Young — a 6-2 recruit from Norman, Okla. — will attend Big Blue Madness next month, his second consecutive trip to UK for that event. He’s already taken an official visit to Oklahoma, and those two schools are the co-favorites. It’s also possible that Young could make a fall decision (the early signing period begins Nov. 9).

“With Trae Young, Kentucky is in a battle with Oklahoma,” Daniels said. “Oklahoma has an advantage with their proximity, but obviously Kentucky is Kentucky. This is an interesting recruitment. I think it’s become evident that UK wants to take two guards. So in my eyes, the question becomes ... is Trae the type of player that wants to share a backcourt?”

Confronted with that question in July — after fellow five-star point guard Quade Green scored a scholarship offer from Kentucky — Young sounded fine with the idea.

“I can definitely see myself playing with another (point) guard,” he said at the time. “Whatever I feel is the best situation for me, I’m going to go there.”

If Young sticks to that mentality, it could lead to another major recruiting coup for Calipari.

Twin towers?

Speaking of landing two star recruits at the same position … John Calipari has zeroed in on Mohamed Bamba and Nick Richards as his top two center targets for the class of 2017.

Calipari has visited both players twice since the start of the fall recruiting period, and Richards will be on UK’s campus this weekend for the first official visit of his recruitment.

The Cats could return several scholarship frontcourt players following this season — Isaac Humphries, Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Tai Wynyard are all expected back — and Daniels said it’s not out of the question that Calipari could add Bamba and Richards to that group.

“Kentucky can recruit a little differently,” Daniels said. “They have a track record of recruiting players at the same position and those guys still being successful. I’m sure they’re going to tell those guys that, and I know that they want multiple players at a couple of these positions.”

Scout.com ranks Bamba — a 7-footer from Harlem, N.Y. — as the No. 2 overall recruit in the 2017 class. Richards — a 6-11 center from Queens, N.Y. — is No. 17 in those rankings.

Return visit

Five-star forward PJ Washington will be back in Lexington next month for an unofficial visit to Kentucky, his father confirmed to the Herald-Leader this week.

Washington — a 6-foot-8 prospect from Findlay Prep (Nev.) — is one of the Wildcats’ top recruiting targets in the class of 2017, and he took his official visit to UK earlier this month.

The second visit — for Big Blue Madness on Oct. 14 — is important because the Washington family will have to pay their own way. High school prospects are permitted to take five official visits — where the host college covers the bulk of the expenses — during the course of a recruitment.

Paul Washington told the Herald-Leader in July that his son wanted to be in Lexington for Big Blue Madness, and that’s still the plan.

“He doesn’t want to miss that event, so I’ll pay on that one,” PJ’s father said in July. “I’m saving up now.”

Washington took an official visit to North Carolina last weekend and has official visits planned for Arizona (Oct. 21) and Texas (Oct. 28). Hometown UNLV is also involved in his recruitment.

Scout.com ranks Washington as the No. 14 overall player in the 2017 class.

Five-star point guard Trae Young talks about his recruitment, John Calipari and much more.

Top 10 point guards in class of 2017 (Scout.com rankings)

Rank

Player

School

1

Trevon Duval

Uncommitted

2

Collin Sexton

Uncommitted

3

Trae Young

Uncommitted

4

Quade Green

Uncommitted

5

Nick Weatherspoon

Mississippi State

6

Jaylen Hands

UCLA

7

Jalek Felton

North Carolina

8

Makai Ashton-Langford

Uconn

9

Matt Coleman

Uncommitted

10

Tremont Waters

Uncommitted

  Comments