Those two powerhouse programs have routinely had the top-ranked recruiting classes, not to mention a glutton of top-five prospects. The Wildcats and Blue Devils have both landed four top-five prospects in the past three years, while the last three recruiting classes have also seen Duke land three top-three prospects to UK's two.
Now, we have another consensus top-three recruit both schools are battling for. That's Mohamed Bamba, who is easily one of the best 2017 has to offer. The five-star forward from New York is vying for the top spot in 2017, but regardless of where he's ranked, Bamba is a program-shifting prospect that will elevate his team into Final Four contention.
That's exactly what Anthony Davis did back in 2011-12 while helping UK hang banner No. 9. UK head coach. John Calipari already considers Bamba the "next Anthony Davis."
"[UK's] message has been simple," Bamba told 247 Sports. "Actually, Coach Cal says I’m the next A.D., which is a huge compliment.Anthony Davis is probably going to the Hall of Fame."
It's easy to see where that comparison comes up when you see how nimble and athletic Bamba is for a 6-11, 207-pound big man with a 7-8 wingspan. Assuming he adds weight between now and his freshman (and likely only) season in college, Bamba is probably a center in college, though he's versatile enough to play power forward as well.
Best big in the country? Mohamed Bamba future NBA lottery pick. pic.twitter.com/nWzLsGcsBM— Primetime (@PTHoopTeam) May 9, 2016
The top spot in this year's class may very well come down to the wire once again, and a guy like Bamba could be the difference in who claims No. 1. As for when Bamba will decide, it's still looking like the spring, but Bamba did say he plans to cut his list soon.
During Thursday's Peach Jam session, Bamba revealed he plans to cut his list to 10 sometime in August. He also likes Calipari's pitch of 'positionless' basketball since Bamba considers himself "positionless." He also talked about his relationship with Davis, which certainly has to help UK's chances.
Bamba also said he'd like to play with fellow 2017 recruits Quade Green and Wendell Carter Jr., both of whom look likely to land at Duke, but dispelled the notion of a package deal with either of them in a recent interview with SNY.tv.
"It could happen, but it's not a package deal," Bamba said of playing with Carter Jr. "We talk, we're friends and we joke around a lot but it's not a package deal. He's doing his recruitment and I'm doing my recruitment."
Bamba and Green are ASU teammates with the PSA Cardinals, not to mention both have been part of USA Basketball under Coach K's watch.
"Quade's a great kid and who knows what the future holds, maybe we'll play together, maybe we won't," Bamba said.
At this point, Duke is who many view as the favorite for Bamba, but again, I don't see him and Carter Jr. playing together at Duke. I also expect UK to land one of the Big 3 of Bamba, Carter and DeAndre Ayton, and you can't go wrong with any of them.