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Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: Early Signing Period Primer and Predictions

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Who will be part of what’s shaping up to be another massive haul for John Calipari?

NCAA Basketball: Kentucky at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016-17 college basketball early signing period opens this week.

Beginning on Nov. 9th, high school senior prospects around the nation can sign their national letters of intent with the schools they are committed to. Nov. 16 is the final day to do so in the early signing period.

For the Kentucky Wildcats, we could see 4-6 signatures by the time the period ends. Here is a look at which players to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.

Already Committed and Expected to Sign

None. Amazingly, UK has been unable to secure a commitment to this point. It’s very rare UK enters the fall signing period with no one on board, but this has been a very interesting class that’s seen UK strongly in the mix for seemingly every elite prospect at some point, but varying factors have led to no pledges coming thus far.

Last year, UK entered the fall signing period with Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Tai Wynyard already committed. They ended the fall period with Malik Monk, De’Aaron Fox and Bam Adebayo also signed, giving UK the best six-man class assembled in the one-and-done era.

Considering Signing Early with Kentucky

Nick Richards
Five-star center Nick Richards, who has the potential to end up being UK’s best recruit in this class, will likely sign with the Cats this Thursday. He is currently ranked as a top-15 prospect, but he has the potential to finish in the top 10 when the final rankings come out in the spring. That’s the kind of talent he has.

Richards is one of the rare true centers that has the potential to be a monster in the paint in college. We haven’t seen UK land a lot of true elite centers under John Calipari, but Richards will almost certainly be one.

Prediction: Commits and signs with Kentucky
247 Crystal Ball: Kentucky has 100 percent of the predictions for Richards.

P.J. Washington
In a 2017 class LOADED with talented wings, P.J. Washington often gets lost in the shuffle behind guys like Michael Porter, Kevin Knox, Hamidou Diallo, Troy Brown, and Jaren Jackson.

But Washington has all the talent in the world to be an instant-impact freshman wherever he signs and possibly be a one-and-done. And contrary to most of the above mentioned names, Washington is a prefect forward for John Calipari’s positionless approach.

He has the speed and athleticism to play the wing, but also has enough size and strength to play the 4 and even sneak in minutes at the 5 in college. Expect him to sign with UK on Thursday.

Prediction: Commits and signs with Kentucky
247 Crystal Ball: Kentucky has 88 percent of the predictions for Washington.

John Petty
This is a recruitment that has been all Kentucky for the past year, but Alabama has made a late surge that could have the Tide come out on top. Avery Johnson has been an A+ hire for Bama over his first year in Tuscaloosa, and the Spurs great is poised to land both Petty and five-star point guard Collin Sexton on Thursday.

It’s possible this is all one big smoke screen Petty put out to drum up more interest for his decision. It does seem odd that he’s been so high on UK, though some hesitation on UK’s part may have caused him to sour.

Prediction: Signs with Alabama
247 Crystal Ball: Alabama has 55 percent of the predictions for Petty.

Shai Alexander
As quickly as UK appears to have fallen out of favor with Petty, the opposite is true with Shai Alexander. The former Florida pledge went from decommitting on Oct. 17 to getting an offer from UK on Oct. 31, and may now sign with UK this week.

Alexander just wrapped up his visit with UK, which likely sealed the deal in this recruitment. He’s a combo guard that would give UK depth at the point in the event they miss on Trae Young or Quade Green...

Prediction: Commits and signs with Kentucky
247 Crystal Ball: Kentucky has 100 percent of the predictions for Alexander.

Trae Young
This recruitment has gone from UK looking like the heavy favorite, then a surge by Oklahoma, then UK going back to being favored, and now there’s no telling what will happen with signing day almost here.

The corundum comes not from whether UK is favored, but rather if Quade Green is who UK would rather have and who makes their decision first. Young initially planned to sign in the spring, and it sounds like that’s still the case, but UK does not want to come out of November without a point guard secured.

If Young ultimately decides to wait and commit later, I think it’s a real possibility that UK takes Green now as their point guard for 2017.

Prediction: Commits to UK in December and signs in spring
247 Crystal Ball: Kentucky has 75 percent of the predictions for Young.

Quade Green
Green is making his decision on Nov. 19, but could fax in his NLI to whichever school he wants to commit to by Nov. 16, then not make it public until he wants. It’s also possible he just commits but does not sign an NLI, giving him the option to flip later.

I believe Green is set on UK ‘if’ he knows Young isn’t coming. Green wants to be the alpha of this class. If he follows through with his plans, UK is in a real bind where Green and Young do not want to play at the same school.

Does UK take Green now and move on from Young? Does Calipari gamble and pass on Green to see if he can secure Young’s pledge later?

Hopefully, both players decide to make the call this month, but if not, figuring out who Green picks is a tough call. Syracuse is right there with UK, but the prevailing thought is Green picks UK if he knows Young isn’t coming.

Prediction: Commits to Cuse in fall but signs NLI in spring, leaving open the possibility of a flip to UK.
247 Crystal Ball: Syracuse has 79 percent of the predictions for Young.

Lonnie Walker
Fresh off his visit to UK, Lonnie Walker is planning to sign with a school this fall, though no decision date has been set at this point. Arizona appears to be in the driver’s seat, but UK getting a late official visit from him could have given John Calipari the chance he needed to get Walker.

Prediction: Signs with Arizona
247 Crystal Ball: Arizona is getting 80 percent of the picks for Walker.

Considering Signing in Spring with Kentucky

Jarred Vanderbilt, Hamidou Diallo, Mohamed Bamba, and Kevin Knox are all heavily considering UK, but are planning to announce their intentions in the spring. I feel very good about UK landing at least two of those four guys, and it’s not out of the question UK lands all four depending on how the fall period shapes out.

UK is favored for only Diallo in the 247 Crystal Ball with 67 percent of the picks. UK trails Duke for Bamba and Knox, while TCU leads for Vanderbilt.

Also Read:

10 Recruits to Watch & Wish List for 2017

What would Trae Young and Quade Green each bring to UK?

Post-Summer Evaluation for 2017 targets

Kentucky recruiting ‘8 or 9’ in 2017; We guess them

Petty and Washington doing package deal?

Is Mohamed Bamba the Key to the #1 Recruiting Class for 2017?

Shai Alexander offered by Kentucky; playing in Marshall County Hoopfest

Taveion Hollingsworth gets visit from UK

UK ramps up recruiting efforts on Lonnie Walker

Trae Young clearly has his parents’ blessing to join UK

Hamidou Diallo says skipping college for 2017 NBA Draft is real option

Kevin Knox says John Calipari had best recruiting presentation

Brian Bowen reportedly would come to UK if they offer

Class of 2017 shooting guard targets