The Kentucky Wildcats are now on the verge of another big recruiting class that may once again finish as the nation's best when it's all said and done.
A big step towards that happening was made Thursday as five-star point guard De'Aaron Fox made his verbal commitment to UK in a live announcement on ESPNU's Recruiting Nation Signing Day Special.
Fox, a 6-3, 185-pound guard out of Cypress Lakes (TX), chose the 'Cats over Kansas, Louisville and LSU. Fox also held offers from the Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Baylor, and Arizona among a host of other Division-I programs.
Just spoke to De'Aaron Fox. "It's the marquee college basketball school. ... Why wouldn't you want to go there if you were in my position?"— Ben Roberts (@NextCats) November 12, 2015
Fox wasn't initially heavily recruited by John Calipari and Kentucky until this past summer, but once the 'Cats amped up their pressure, they've been the favorites. Fox is ranked by Rivals as the No. 5 overall prospect in the 2016 class. 247 Sports has him as their No. 2 prospect while ESPN has him as their No. 7 prospect. Rivals and ESPN have only NC State commitment Dennis Smith ranked as a higher point guard, whereas 247 has Josh Jackson as the only other prospect even ranked ahead of Fox.
It also cannot be overstated how big a top-five recruit in this class is. This is easily one of the best high school classes in recent memory and has several players who would be No. 1 overall prospects in other classes. Fox may very well be one of them as he's drawn comparisons to the likes of Russell Westbrook, who Fox has made it no secret that he looks up to. Fox thrives on attacking the basket and is also considered one of the better perimeter defenders among point guards in his class, and he'll be a major impact player at Kentucky.
Here are four things Fox's commitment to Kentucky means now and in the future:
Calipari all but Guaranteed of having an Elite PG in 2016
The Cats will tip off their 2015-16 season with three guards capable of being a lead point guard for UK next year if any of them opts to bypass the draft. Isaiah Briscoe, Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray are all capable of playing the point at a high level, but all three may be in the NBA come this time next year.
Regardless, Fox' commitment now all but guarantees Calipari will have an elite point guard leading his team next season. After coaching Derrick Rose, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, Brandon Knight, and Andrew Harrison, top-ranked point guards have no reason not to want to play for Calipari at UK, and we've seen that play out once again.
As Calipari would say, "who's next?" That's already been answered for the 2016-17 season.
Kentucky has a Top-5 Class Before Early Signing Period Ends
It's always good to have a great recruiting class wrapped up before your season even begins. That's the case with Kentucky as they now have commitments from three five-star players, including forwards Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones.
November 11 is the first day that senior high school prospects can sign a national letter of intent, and November 18th is the final day to do so in the early signing period. Fox will now join Gabriel and SKJ as UK signees for 2016 as the 'Cats are just now opening their season on Friday.
In other words, a top-five team will take the floor Friday night while a potential top-five team is looking likely for next year as well, thanks to another great recruiting haul by Calipari.
Foundation for Final Four Contender in 2016-17
Looking at UK's current roster, it's hard to project who will stay and who will be back for the 2016-17 edition of the Wildcats. However, with Fox, Gabriel and SKJ, there's a great foundation already in place for a Final Four contender to be built upon. Fox and Gabriel have the talent to be lottery picks after their freshman seasons, and SKJ may be a one-and-done talent as well.
If one of Ulis, Murray or Briscoe joins them next year along with a commitment from say, Malik Monk, we're definitely looking at another Final Four contender. There's also the strong likelihood of Charles Matthews, Tai Wynyard, Isaac Humphries, Marcus Lee, Dominique Hawkins, and Derek Willis returning. 2016-17 is already shaping up to be another fun ride Calipari takes UK on.
Here are some highlights of Fox in action: