Here's a quick update not meant to detract from the start of conference play. There's been a little action on the recruiting front, most notably the commitment of power forward Jarnell Stokes to Tennessee. With the stellar play of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, it's looking increasingly likely that Kentucky will go into the 2012-13 season with just one experienced frontcourt returnee, power forward Kyle Wiltjer. Kidd-Gilchrist, Anthony Davis, and Terrence Jones are all probable NBA early entrant candidates, and Eloy Vargas and Darius Miller will have expired their eligbility.
Kentucky has just two currently committed frontcourt players for the 2012 class: Willie Cauley, a center, and Alex Poythress, a combo forward. With Stokes now off the Recruiting Big Board, a new name has popped up: former St. John's commit Ricardo Gathers. Gathers recently spoke to Five Star Basketball and expressed interest in teaming up with shooting guard Archie Goodwin, a Kentucky signee.
Along with Gathers, Kentucky is also recruiting a trio of combo forwards. Anthony Bennett, Amile Jefferson, and Devonta Pollard. All three have offers from the Wildcats. Bennett hasn't really yet kicked off the recruiting process but is arguably the most talented of the trio. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Jefferson is down to five schools: North Carolina State, Villanova, Ohio State, Kentucky, and Temple. And per Scouts Focus, Pollard plans to visit Kentucky and Texas in the next month. Both schools are finalists along with Mississippi State and Alabama.
Meanwhile, Five Star Basketball has kept busy. They also interviewed swingman Savon Goodman, a former Villanova commitment who is now re-initiating his recruiting. Goodman is an interesting player. While he's listed at just 6'6", shorter than any of the aforementioned forwards, he's also listed as a power forward. Chuck Hayes redux, perhaps? In the interview, Goodman expressed his interest as a ball-handler in Kentucky's motion offense. Along with Gathers, he's another interesting name to throw in the mix. Goodman lists interest in UCLA, Arizona, and Villanova, among others, while Gathers has talked up Duke, Baylor, Florida, LSU, and St. John's.
If Kentucky feels itself faltering with Bennett, Jefferson, and/or Pollard, expect John Calipari to turn up the heat on Gathers and/or Goodman. While none of those mentioned are prototypical power forwards in the mold of Stokes, they can all slide up to the 4 capably enough. Just look at what Calipari has done with Jones and Kidd-Gilchrist, both NBA 3's, manning the power forward position. I'm still stressing that unless one of Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist or Jones return, the Wildcats need to take two more big men in this year's class. We'll see if that comes to fruition.
Before we end, here's two other noteworthy news items for the 2013 class: Small forward Aaron Gordon, thought to be a west coast lean, told Rivals ($) that Kentucky had been recruiting him hard. He's an outstanding prospect (ranked 6th overall by Rivals), and at this point, it appears like John Calipari is content to recruit every single 5* prospect in the class of 2013. One guy he likely won't get, though, is point guard Kasey Hill. Hill, a Floridian product who plays for Monteverde Academy, committed to Florida just prior to the new year.
Follow my Twitter feed (@JC_Hoops) for the latest recruiting news and keep an eye out for the next big board update.