John Calipari has already landed one graduate transfer for next season.
Could the Cats go after another?
Virginia Tech big man Kerry Blackshear Jr. — a 6-foot-10, 250-pound player — has added his name to the college basketball transfer portal, and he would be immediately eligible to play at another school next season if he does indeed leave Blacksburg this summer.
Calipari recently accepted the commitment of Bucknell graduate transfer Nate Sestina — listed at 6-9, 245 pounds — but the Cats have been on the lookout for additional frontcourt help next season.
There’s been no word on the future status of possible frontcourt returnees Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery, who played sparingly toward the end of the Cats’ NCAA Tournament run last month but could be major contributors at Kentucky next season.
Montgomery is expected to return to Lexington for a sophomore season. Richards, who has two years of college eligibility remaining, has been mentioned as a possibility to test the professional waters, though he is not listed among the Top 100 prospects on ESPN’s latest NBA Draft board.
Even if both of those players do return to join Sestina in the Cats’ 2019-20 frontcourt, UK might need another big man. All of Kentucky’s other returning players will be guards, and all four of the program’s incoming recruits prefer to play on the perimeter.
Blackshear might be the most talented player to hit the graduate transfer list this off-season.
The standout from Orlando, Fla., averaged 14.9 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game as a junior for the Hokies, who recently lost head coach Buzz Williams to Texas A&M. Blackshear was also a 73.6 percent free throw shooter and made 21 threes this past season.
He has been tied to a possible professional career after this season, but he is also absent from ESPN’s current list of the Top 100 NBA Draft prospects for 2019.
Reid Travis came to UK as a graduate transfer big man last season and raved about the experience. He said being a Wildcat helped him work toward his own goal of playing professionally.
“As far as just being able to prepare a player in one year for what they want to do, getting a collective group of guys that never played with each other in one year, you got to accelerate the process to win at a high level and get in the right shape to play beyond college,” Travis said. “I felt like it was a great opportunity for me. Obviously, I’m a different kind of one-and-done as far as I already had four years in college and coming here for my fifth year. I felt like it was the best spot for me as far as coaches and the players that were already established here. So it’s a great spot, and I feel like it’s done everything that I needed it to do.”