UK Men's Basketball

Calipari headed into early signing period with just one commitment. Is that normal?

Immanuel Quickley talks about his time in Egypt with Calipari

Five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley discusses his Team USA experience and wanting to team up in college with Cameron Reddish.
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Five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley discusses his Team USA experience and wanting to team up in college with Cameron Reddish.

Barring a Tuesday surprise, John Calipari will enter the early signing period with just one commitment for next season’s Kentucky basketball team.

That lack of early commitments and the relative uncertainty surrounding many of UK’s top remaining targets in the 2018 class has led to some handwringing among fans who have grown accustomed to getting one of the top one or two recruiting hauls nationally each year.

Recent numbers suggest there’s nothing for Kentucky fans to worry about.

Yes, five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley is the only player from the class of 2018 currently committed to the Cats, but it’s turned into a fairly normal thing for UK to go into the fall signing period light on pledges.

Last year, Calipari came to this point in the calendar with zero commitments — the first time that had happened in his tenure at Kentucky — and the Wildcats ultimately ended up with eight signees and, by one measure, the best top-to-bottom recruiting class in recent history.

Richards
Nick Richards became UK’s first 2017 commitment on Nov. 10 of last year. Alex Slitz aslitz@herald-leader.com

Nick Richards got things started with a commitment during last year’s early period, the Cats added Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Quade Green and PJ Washington before the fall signing window closed. Jarred Vanderbilt committed in December, Hamidou Diallo committed in January and Jemarl Baker and Kevin Knox signed in the spring.

Not bad for a program with no commitments entering November.

In the 2016 recruiting cycle, Kentucky had two commitments — from Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones — going into the early signing period, and the Cats added Bam Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk before the fall window ended.

The year before that, Charles Matthews was Calipari’s only commitment entering the early signing period. Isaiah Briscoe and Skal Labissiere ultimately signed in the fall, and UK added Isaac Humphries, Jamal Murray and Tai Wynyard (ultimately a mid-season enrollee) later in the cycle.

The class of 2018 is shaping up similarly for Kentucky, which goes into this early signing period (Nov. 8-15) with several possibilities for new commitments.

Four-star shooting guard Tyler Herro will be in town this weekend for his official visit, and he could be ready to make a decision before the signing period ends next week.

Five-star shooting guard Keldon Johnson is expected to make a college decision during the upcoming signing window, and Kentucky is the current favorite.

Five-star small forward Zion Williamson has already taken all of his official visits and could also make a college commitment by next week. Kentucky is seen as one of the frontrunners in his recruitment, and the Cats lead on his 247Sports Crystal Ball page.

UK is also in the mix for top guards R.J. Barrett and Quentin Grimes — both expected to make decisions in the next few days — and the Cats recently rekindled their recruitment of five-star center Moses Brown, whose father did not completely rule out the option of committing to a school in time to sign this month.

So, Kentucky should come out of the fall period just fine.

Though the trajectory of this UK class is similar to the last three, the lack of early commitments is a departure from Calipari’s earliest years in Lexington.

He secured just one fall signee during his first season on the job (Stacey Poole in November 2009), but the next few cycles were filled with early commitments.

Calipari had pledges from what was ultimately his entire 2011 recruiting class — Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Kyle Wiltjer — going into the fall signing period for that cycle.

UK had two 2012 commitments going into that fall signing period (and added a third during the signing window), five commitments going into the fall period for 2013 recruits and four commitments entering the fall period for 2014 recruits.

Those were simpler times for followers of UK recruiting.

These past few years, fans have had to sweat out the decisions of Calipari’s top targets a little later into each cycle. But, in the end, the Cats always seem to get their guys.

Timing of UK commitments during the Calipari era

Class

Before fall signing period

During fall signing period

After fall signing period

2018

1 (Quickley)

???

???

2017

0

4 (Gilgeous-Alexander, Green, Richards, Washington)

4 (Baker, Diallo, Knox, Vanderbilt)

2016

2 (Gabriel, Killeya-Jones)

3 (Adebayo, Fox, Monk)

0

2015

1 (Matthews)

2 (Briscoe, Labissiere)

3 (Humphries, Murray, Wynyard)

2014

4 (Booker, Lyles, Towns, Ulis)

0

0

2013

5 (Harrisons, Lee, Willis, Young)

0

3 (Hawkins, Johnson, Randle)

2012

2 (Cauley-Stein, Goodwin)

1 (Poythress)

1 (Noel)

2011

4 (Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, Teague, Wiltjer)

0

0

2010

1 (Poole)

0

4 (Jones, Kanter, Knight, Lamb)

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