Could the Kentucky Wildcats actually add on to their already-stacked 2016 class?
2016 five-star big man Marques Bolden is one of the few highly sought after recruits left in this class in addition to being the best pure center prospect. While UK has commitments from three five-star forwards, none of them are true centers, something John Calipari has had at least one of almost every season at UK.
Whether it was Willie Cauley-Stein, Dakari Johnson, DeMarcus Cousins, or even Josh Harrellson, Cal loves having a pure big man on his roster, and unfortunately we can see a big reason why with this year's team.
247 Sports national recruit director Jerry Meyer told the Lexington Herald-Leader's Ben Roberts that he believes Bolden will end up in Lexington. Bolden, a 6-foot-11 prospect from Texas, is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 1 center and No. 12 overall player in the class of 2016, while 247 Sports has him ranked as the No. 20 overall prospect.
Speaking of, Bolden's 247 Sports Crystal Ball has the Kansas Jayhawks as the favorite, but UK is making a strong push with five straight picks, including Meyer's. A big reason why is Cal's success with big men at Kentucky, something Bill Self hasn't exactly done at Kansas.
"I’ve heard from a couple of sources that I trust that that’s where he’s likely going to end up," Meyer said. "There’s been great success with big guys at Kentucky," he said. "And, this is just me speculating, but you haven’t seen that same kind of success at Kansas with their freshman bigs recently. ... I can’t see how that’s not a factor, and you know that’s part of the recruiting talk that’s going on."
Another five-star big man UK is still in the discussion for is forward Jarrett Allen. In fact, it looked at one point like Allen was poised to commit to the Cats, but that was before they came out of nowhere to lander fellow five-star forward Bam Adebayo.
Scout.com director of recruiting Evan Daniels liked the Wildcats’ chances before Bam committed and still thinks they're in the discussion for Allen.
"UK is certainly still pursuing Jarrett, and Jarrett obviously has some strong interest in them," Daniels told the Herald-Leader. "So, yeah, they’re definitely still a possibility."
At this point, getting either of Allen or Bolden seems hard to imagine because of UK's stacked class in addition to maybe not having enough space.
Assuming Derek Willis, Dominique Hawkins, Charles Matthews, Isaac Humphries, Tai Wynyard, and Mychal Mulder are back to join 2016 signees De'Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha-Killeya Jones, and Bam, that's 11 scholarships accounted for.
Alex Poythress graduates, but then there's the question of who goes pro. At this point, Jamal Murray is as good as gone the way he's playing with the potential to be drafted in the top 10.
But what about Tyler Ulis and Marcus Lee? Do they leave and probably get drafted in the second round with the chance of not even getting a guaranteed contract?
And Isaiah Briscoe and Skal Labissiere may have been viewed as one-and-dones before the season, but their play thus far suggests they need at least another year of college.
So we're looking at anywhere between 2-4 of Ulis, Lee, Briscoe and Skal being back, which means UK may already hit that 13-scholarship limit. I doubt more than two come back, but two is all it will take to hit the limit unless someone transfers or goes on walk-on status.
At this point, it's still early to know exactly what next year's roster will look like, but rarely in the Calipari era has a future team already been close to, if not already full based on how many players are expected to leave and return.
Whatever happens, there are the kinds of problems any coach would love having.