The 2011 recruiting class for Kentucky to-date has truly been a tale of two months, with just about as little drama as possible. By April 2010, John Calipari had zoned in on his two primary targets, PG Marquis Teague and F Michael Gilchrist. Almost immediately following the end of the 2009-10 season, Kentucky had secured commitments from arguably the best point guard and best big man in the class.
After little activity in the summer, Calipari brought the recruiting buzz back to campus with a fantastic August. Gilchrist's reign as best 2011 big was short-lived with the emergence of little-known committed to the good guys. The last piece of the puzzle was sniper Kyle Wiltjer, who is almost an afterthought in the class despite also having 5 stars next to his name. Wiltjer committed at the end of August, much to the chagrin of fans of West Coast teams like Gonzaga.. Prior to the summer, no one had heard of Davis. By August, he had shot to the top of recruiting lists and
As mentioned, there was little drama in this class. Kentucky had been linked to a couple other big names (Big 12 signees Quincy Miller and LeBryan Nash, to name a couple), but the offer list didn't extend far beyond the aforementioned four. Gilchrist, Teague, Davis and Wiltjer all signed their Letter of Intents during the early signing period, and since then, it's been all quiet on the recruiting front. The biggest recruiting drama hasn't been with any rival school like the Terrence Jones-Washington Huskies controversy from last year. Instead, it's been a fight between Anthony Davis' reputation and salacious accusations printed by the Chicago Sun-Times.
We'll deep dive into each of the four signees in future Recruiting Spotlights, but right now let's take a look at where Kentucky stands on its remaining 2011 big board (after the jump).
||Commitment (Odds)||Favorite School(s)||News & Notes|
|PF||Perspectives Charter (Chicago)||Rivals: 5*, 8th
ESPNU: 5*, 1st
|Offered||LOI Signed / Committed (8/13/10)
4/9/11 - 16 pts, 10 reb at Nike Hoop Summit
3/30/11 - 14 pts, 6 reb, 4 blk at McDonald's A-A
|Michael Gilchrist||SF/PF||St. Patrick (Elizabeth, NJ)||Rivals: 5*, 3rd
ESPNU: 5*, 3rd
|Offered||LOI Signed / Committed(4/14/10)
4/9/11 - 16 pts, 5 reb, 5 blk at Nike Hoop Summit
3/30/11 - 16 pts, 12 reb, 5 ast at McDonald's A-A, CO-MVP
|Marquis Teague||PG||Pike (Indianapolis)||Rivals: 5*, 2nd
ESPNU: 5*, 7th
|Offered||LOI Signed / Committed (4/22/10)
4/9/11 - 6 pts, 4 reb, 3 ast at Nike Hoop Summit
3/30/11 - 9 pts, 3 ast at McDonald's A-A
|Kyle Wiltjer||PF/SF||Jesuit (Portland)||Rivals: 5*, 25th
ESPNU: 5*, 18th
|Offered||LOI Signed / Committed (8/28/10)
4/9/11 - 12 points at the Nike Hoop Summit
3/30/11 - 11 points at McDonald's A-A, 3 pt contest winner
|Trevor Lacey||SG||Butler (Huntsville, AL)||Rivals: 4*, 34th
ESPNU: 4*, 40th
4/15/11 - Despite below report, Lacey is still planning to take visits to Alabama and Kansas prior to Apr 22.
4/7/11 - The Birmingham News reported Apr 7 that Lacey has made his decision and will announce at a school celebration on Apr 22.
|God's Gift Achiuwa||PF||Eric CC (Erie, NY)||Rivals: UR
|4/15/11 - Achiuwa took an official visit to Cincinnati last weekend and will visit Washington this weekend. Kentucky has yet to offer.|
|DeAndre Daniels||PF/SF||IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)||Rivals: 5*, 9th
ESPN: 4*, Post-Grad
|Offered (reportedly rescinded)||0%
|4/15/11 - Once thought to have Texas, then Kentucky, then Kansas as the favorite. Duke is current leader. Daniels will take an official to Duke this weekend; don't be surprised if a commitment soon follows.|
|Braeden Anderson||PF||Wilbraham & Monson Academy (Wilbraham, MA)||Rivals: 3*
||0%||Kansas||4/6/11 - Anderson committed to Kansas on Apr 6 without ever receiving a Kentucky offer.|
|PF/C||Logan CC (Carterville, IL)||Rivals: UR
||0%||Memphis||4/8/11 - Simpson committed to Memphis on Apr 8 without ever receiving a Kentucky offer.|
|Kevin Ware||SG||Rockdale (Conyers, GA)||Rivals: 4*, 56th
ESPNU: 4*, 93rd
|4/13/11 - Tennessee officially released Ware from his LOI after the Bruce Pearl firing. Kentucky is not currently on Ware's radar.|
There are four signees for the class of 2011 (Gilchrist, Teague, Davis and Wiltjer). There are four definitive returnees (Eloy Vargas, Darius Miller, Jon Hood, Stacey Poole). There are two likely returnees that remain undecided about declaring early for the draft (DeAndre Liggins, Doron Lamb). There are two potential returnees that will likely leave if they declare early for the draft (Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones). Jarrod Polson has a scholarship this year, but would return to walk-on status next year if needed and is not counted as a scholarship. If everyone stays, that leaves only one available scholarship remaining.
The first name to know is SG Trevor Lacey. Lacey currently has the only outstanding scholarship offer from Kentucky. That will likely be the case until Lacey decides or Terrence Jones declares for the draft. According to the Birmingham News, Lacey is going to commit at his high school's basketball championship celebration on April 22. It has been long-thought that Kentucky and hometown Alabama were the two favorites. Lacey has a tentative visit set with Alabama, and the latest news is that Kansas may get a visit from Lacey as well. From a Kentucky angle, Lacey's decision is likely contingent on Brandon Knight. If Knight leaves, then Kentucky still has a chance, but if Knight stays, Lacey is likely looking elsewhere. With Lamb and Liggins likely to return to man the 2 (and Poole and Hood as depth), Lacey isn't a need-based target. He would, however, provide quality depth and become a likely contributor down the road.
Kentucky's secondary target area is a big man for depth purposes. With Josh Harrellson graduating and Jones likely to bolt, Kentucky will have only one big remaining on the roster in Eloy Vargas. Davis and Gilchrist will likely snag the starting 4/5 spots, but an additional big for depth both this year and beyond would be welcome. Yet Calipari has not been particularly proactive making this happen. Two potential targets, Braeden Anderson and Stan Simpson, decided not to wait any longer for a forthcoming UK offer. Anderson chose Kansas, which had open spots after the early entries from Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris. Simpson pledged to Memphis to fill out Josh Pastner's up-and-coming roster. Another former Kentucky target, DeAndre Daniels, is no longer being actively recruited by Kentucky and will likely end up at Duke. That leaves one name remaining on the big board, and boy, is it an All-Name Team doozy: God's Gift Achiuwa.
Achiuwa is a junior college freshman, giving him three years of eligibility remaining. That also means he has never played D-1 college ball. Given the dearth of big men remaining in the 2011 class, Achiuwa has become a trendy name in recruiting circles. He recently visited Cincinnati and has Washington next on his list. With the roster crunch the way it is, Calipari has been reluctant to formally offer Achiuwa (or any other big) a potential scholarship. But if Terrence Jones were to declare for the draft, look for Kentucky to swoop in and put the full court press on Achiuwa. That is, if he hasn't already committed to another school.
Right now, Kentucky is not the leader for either Lacey or Achiuwa. Lacey is expected to commit on April 22, and Knight has until April 24 to decide whether to declare for the NBA Draft. Given that Lacey has visits lined up to Alabama and Kansas, Kentucky fans shouldn't feel too optimistic for a Lacey commit. Right now, my gut says Alabama wins this battle, with Kentucky running second with a 25% chance.
Achiuwa is another story. The big man left Cincinnati without pledging, and if he can do the same this weekend at Washington, then it would appear he's in wait-and-see mode about draft statuses. I put Kentucky's percentage chance at a low 20%, simply because a formal scholarship hasn't been offered yet. Should the Wildcats offer, I think that percentage shoots up.
It's very possible that by this time next week, neither target is left on the board. If that's the case, then Kentucky still has the option to go after another under-the-radar recruit that has yet to surface on the big board. The last option of intrigue is the final name on the board, Kevin Ware. We all love Volunteer schadenfreude, and thanks to Tennessee's dismissal of Bruce Pearl, Ware is the hottest remaining target on Top 100 lists not named Daniels or Lacey. Kentucky doesn't seem to be actively recruiting him at this moment (hence the <1% commitment odds), but that could change dependent on the decisions of Lacey and Knight. This late in the game, anything is possible.