The 2017 recruiting class is going to be perhaps the most vital of any throughout the John Calipari-era at Kentucky.
There is expected to be a plethora of scholarship spots open to fill and not a lot of bodies returning to fill them. The good news is there's a variety of talent throughout the class of current high school seniors, and coach Cal has been relentless in his recruitment.
While there aren't many recruits that are head over heels better than the rest, some certainly hold their value over others. Judging from Calipari's recruiting journey and what each recruit would mean for Kentucky, there are three names as of right now that would be considered must-haves for Kentucky in 2017.
The sharp-shooting point guard out of Norman, Oklahoma has been Kentucky's most prioritized target for the greater part of the past year. With De'Aaron Fox, Isaiah Briscoe, and Dominique Hawkins all likely gone after this upcoming season, the point guard spot will be a stressing matter in 2017. The main reason getting Young is such an important task is simply because the point guards in this class are completely scarce.
Trevon Duval is the top point guard of the class, although his name isn't as relevant for us because he's not considering Kentucky. Young is the primary target for the one spot, and if he were to go elsewhere (Oklahoma is the only real competition there) the only other legitimate option would be Quade Green.
Green is in a dual lock between Kentucky and Duke, and if Kentucky missed out on both of these guys, the next best option would be Tremont Waters. To put that into perspective, Waters hasn't cracked the top-50 in really any recruiting charts yet.
The point guard position is the centerpiece of any great team, and Young is simply the best fit available. With an incredible three point shot, as well as exceptional facilitating and speed, Trae needs to be priority number one for Kentucky going forward.
P.J Washington out of Dallas, Texas is simply one of those guys that'd be perfect in a Kentucky uniform. He's a versatile big that fits the needs of everything Cal looks for in front court players. As much as Calipari philosophizes non-positional basketball, Washington fits the bill.
While this class is certainly loaded at the power forward spot, with a fair share of options available, PJ seems like the top guy for Kentucky at this point of the recruiting stage. Assistant coach Kenny Payne has done a phenomenal job in creating a tight bond between the Kentucky staff and the Washington family.
From reading recent interviews with PJ as well as his father, the Washington's do seem extremely high on what Kentucky could do for PJ. Signs are pointing in the right direction for Kentucky to land Washington, and it would be more than phenomenal if they did.
The main competition for Washington's talents is his home state Texas Longhorns. Better believe that Shaka Smart, as respectable a recruiter as you will find anywhere, has been in on PJ strong. The loss of Washington would certainly be devastating for Kentucky, more so than one may believe at first.
While yes, there are plenty of gifted power forwards in this class, few match what PJ Washington brings. Top to bottom, he is simply a phenomenal kid. There are no negatives surrounding his personality, his academics, or his game.
I know from watching him closely, that Washington works relentlessly on his game, and would be the last to tell anybody about it. A humble and mature kid is what he is, and a prospect as likable as him is simply something you don't get out of every player you recruit.
This young swingman out of Huntsville, Alabama is arguably the most undervalued and least talked about recruits in this class. Petty was a top five recruit in most rankings just a few months ago, but recent lists have him dropped down to the mid-20's for whatever reason.
People always ask me why this kid isn't talked about as much as other top recruits. My answer has always been the same; he's quiet.
Most elite five-star recruits you see are all over social media and all over YouTube and TV. They're bigger bites for the entertainment world, and they simply have swagger. That certainly isn't a bad thing, because honestly all of Kentucky's recruits for 2016 fit that mold.
It's just not what John Petty's about. He keeps to himself, does his own work, does his own things his own way. While the common eye may not see the value in that, it's one of the most respectable parts of John Petty as a recruit.
While we've talked about his personality, let's not forget to include that this kid has game. Amongst the wings in this class, Petty's play style tends to fit better with what Kentucky and John Calipari like to do. Petty's strong, athletic, plays good defense on the perimeter. You have to be versatile to make it at Kentucky, and this guy fits the mold.
From what I know based on when Petty does open up, he's all in on Kentucky. Avery Johnson and hometown Alabama are high in the mix as well, but there has been nothing but praise and high hopes for Kentucky seemingly each time I hear anything pertaining Petty.
A common theme amongst great Kentucky players in the past has been unselfishness and humbleness. When you think of guys like John Wall, Anthony Davis, Willie Cauley-Stein, Karl Anthony-Towns, Tyler Ulis, really any great player that has come from John Calipari's grasps. Those guys just aren't big talkers.
They speak during interviews and such, but even in the NBA you just don't hear these guys in the media. All you hear about is how good they play.
Obviously, Petty's game is spectacular, but that humbleness is what makes him a prized target for Kentucky in 2017.
Simply put, if Calipari can land all three of these guys for the 2017 team, though they're gonna need a lot more depth, I'd say Kentucky will be well put for that year.