This is a huge week as far as recruiting is concerned for John Calipari. At the moment, the only committed player in the class of 2015 is shooting guard Charles Matthews. Matthews started off as a top twenty recruit, but has since plummeted to #56 nationally according to Rivals. Matthews also was downgraded from five star status to four star status. What does all that mean? Not much from Cal's standpoint, as Willie Cauley-Stein was similarly ranked during his recruitment and he is now considered an NBA lottery pick.
But the national perception is that this could be one of Cal's weaker classes. In the past, there was a good indication of who was going to end up at Kentucky. We knew Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was going to be a 'Cat. Same thing for Archie Goodwin, Doron Lamb, DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Dakari Johnson, James Young, and a few others. In every class Cal has had one or two sure things ready to pull the trigger.
This recruiting class is about as murky as I can remember during Cal's tenure as head coach. He has finished in the top two in overall classes since he's been at Kentucky. This year many feel that is in jeopardy. Louisville and Arizona currently hold the top two spots for 2015, and of course Big Blue Nation is in freak out mode as Rick Pitino is putting together the best recruiting class that he's had since being the Cardinal coach.
But all of that changes with the commitments of a couple of guys. And Cal will be in the homes of the cream of the crop in the 2015 class this week. Who is he recruiting and when will he visit? Here is a break down for you:
September 9, 2014:
Jaylen Brown- 6'7, 220 lb, Five Star Small Forward. Alpharetta, Georgia.
ESPN- #8 Overall, #1 Small Forward
Rivals- #2 Overall
24/7- #2 Overall, #1 Small Forward
24/7 Crystal Ball- 35% UK, 31% UCLA, 23% Georgia, 8% Georgia Tech, 4% Kansas
Malik Newman- 6'3, 175 lb, Five Star Combo Guard. Jackson, Mississippi
ESPN- #3 Overall, #1 Guard
Rivals- #3 Overall
24/7- #3 Overall, #1 Guard
24/7 Crystal Ball- 64% Kentucky, 22% Mississippi State, 11% Kansas, 3% UConn
September 11, 2014:
Brandon Ingram- 6'8, 180 lb Five Star Shooting Guard. Kinston, North Carolina.
ESPN- #12 Overall, #2 Small Forward
Rivals- #18 Overall
24/7- #17 Overall, #4 Small Forward
24/7 Crystal Ball- 60% Duke, 37% North Carolina, 3% Other
September 13, 2014:
Stephen Zimmerman- 7'0, 230 lb Five Star Center. Las Vegas, Nevada
ESPN- #6 Overall, #2 Center
Rivals- #10 Overall
24/7- #12 Overall, #4 Center
24/7 Crystal Ball- 47% UNLV, 37% Arizona, 17% Kentucky
September 17, 2014
Carlton Bragg- 6'9, 220 lb Five Star Power Forward. Cleveland, Ohio
ESPN- #14 Overall, #7 Power Forward
Rivals- #14 Overall
24/7- #14 Overall, #5 Power Forward
24/7 Crystal Ball- 32% Kentucky, 29% Kansas, 26% Ohio State, 6% UCLA, 6% Illinois
Many of these players won't be making their decisions until the spring as they will see who leaves for the NBA draft. As of now, the recruits that will attend Big Blue Madness, some may say the biggest basketball recruiting weekend of the year for Kentucky, are Jaylen Brown, Charles Matthews, Carlton Bragg, Stephen Zimmerman, and Brandon Ingram. 2016 targets Derryck Thornton and Tyus Battle will also attend. Antonio Blakeney was set to attend but committed to Louisville. Mailk Newman has hinted at a possible appearance, but has yet to make a solid confirmation.
Out of all of the players that Calipari will visit, Jaylen Brown and Malik Newman are the most important. They are transcendent talents and the most NBA ready. And one has to like Kentucky's chances according the the all powerful 24/7 Crystal Ball.
Carlton Bragg is also a priority, but considering the number of big men at Kentucky and the possibilities of one or more staying, the need for Bragg or Zimmerman may not be as great.
Kentucky is obviously set at point guard for a while with the assumption that Andrew Harrison leaves, and that both Tyler Ulis and Dominique Hawkins stay. Shooting guard is set with Matthews and the possibility of a second year player in Devin Booker.
All of this is conjecture as of now. The entire team could leave for all I know. That is why it is important that Calipari make a big impression on these five players in the next couple of days.
But I'm not worried when it comes to John Calipari.
Cal's got this.
Let's hear it A Sea of Blue Readers! Based on the information, the highlight reels and the possible need in positions, which of these five players do you want the most, and who do you think Cal ultimately lands?