The Kentucky Wildcats coaching staff had a busy weekend, traveling across the country to visit with several of the top 2017 and 2018 Wildcats targets. The fall recruiting period opened Friday and likely gave some insight into the players Calipari and staff are targeting most.
This article will primarily focus on the 2017 guys that Kentucky is targeting.
Calipari’s first visit on Friday was to Pennsylvania to see Mohamed Bamba, the No. 2 player in the 2017 class and the top uncommitted player. Bamba stands at around 7 ft tall, with an astounding 7’9 wingspan and 9’6 standing reach. Undoubtedly, Calipari has pointed to Anthony Davis to try to convince Bamba that he can be the same type of player.
While many have projected Bamba to Duke for quite some time, the race is wide open. He hasn’t really cut his list yet, so it’s hard to gauge who the top contenders are, but Duke, Kentucky, Harvard, and Michigan are mentioned often.
Bamba visited Michigan on September 2, and received an official offer six days later. In addition, he has a recruiting visit to Harvard set for September 24. No information was available about any visits with Duke, but it would be a surprise if Coach K doesn’t try to set something up soon.
Friday’s visits also included stops in Florida to talk with 6’8 forward Kevin Knox, as well as a trip to Alabama to see John Petty. Petty was the first 2017 player to receive an offer.
After Knox’s visit with Calipari, he cut his list to five with Kentucky included. That has to be an encouraging sign for the Wildcats, but Duke is still the far-and-away favorite for the No. 7 player in the class. Knox’s final five includes Duke, Kentucky, Florida State, North Carolina, and Kansas. Knox has plans to meet with Duke, Florida State, and North Carolina this week.
Petty has been a curious case, at least in my opinion. He received the first offer of the 2017 class, and was expected to be the first commit. However, he has held off from committing and the home-state Crimson Tide have been going all-in for Petty, something that Kentucky hasn’t really done with many other talented players at the position.
Petty, ranked No. 44 in the class by Scout, will likely choose either the Wildcats or Crimson Tide. The Wildcats are still seen as the favorites, but the longer the recruitment goes on, one would think the tides might change toward Petty staying home.
Calipari wasn’t the only coach busy on Friday, as assistant Tony Barbee headed to New York to check in with one of the top shooting guards in the class, Hamidou Diallo. Diallo has long been a Kentucky lean, but UCONN head coach Kevin Ollie isn’t going down without a fight for Diallo. Ollie also visited Diallo on Friday.
Saturday was much calmer for Calipari, as he made one visit to point guard Trae Young in Oklahoma in the afternoon, followed by a visit to Las Vegas to meet with forward P.J. Washington in the evening.
Young has long been seen as Calipari’s preferred point guard for the 2017 class. As is the case with several of Kentucky’s targets, the home state— and for Young, hometown— school is also a top option as Young is heavily considering going to Oklahoma.
Kansas and Oklahoma State visited Young last weekend, but it seems to be a two-program competition between the Wildcats and the Sooners. Young is planning to visit for Big Blue Madness next month.
The 6’8 Washington, who interestingly was born in Louisville, is heavily considering the Wildcats and has drawn a lot of interest over the summer after putting up some impressive numbers on the Nike Circuit. Washington averaged 17.4 points and 10.9 rebounds per game for Team Penny.
Calipari was joined by assistant Kenny Payne for the trip to Vegas. The meeting was apparently scheduled for Sunday, according to Ben Roberts at the Lexington Herald-Leader.
Washington is scheduled to visit UK on Friday for an official visit. He and Young are the only players to have scheduled official visits to the campus.
The top competition for Washington will likely be the University of Texas (Washington is from Dallas, but plays at Findlay Prep in Las Vegas), UNLV, North Carolina, and Arizona. Kentucky leads the Crystal Ball for Washington with 38 percent.
As the fall recruiting period goes on, hopefully a clearer image of what the 2017 recruiting class will look like for the Kentucky Wildcats.