Is this next recruiting class the most important of Cal’s career?
I’d have to say yes, and based on that – as well as my need to do anything to take my mind off the UK football debacle – I’ve gone to the Internets to check out our NEXT crop of incoming basketball talent.
Cal and most fans would agree we need to pull in about seven guys (the thought here is that Sasha, Wenyen, Isaac, Tai and Brad Calipari return). If so – and if we could choose who we want still left on the board – who would we want?
That was the idea when I started looking at recruits a few weeks ago. So here’s my order, counting down, if I could pick anyone we want, to make the best TEAM:
7. Taveion Hollingsworth, PG/SG, 6-3, 175 (Previous Writeup)
The local product from Lexington’s Dunbar High has the chance to take his game to another level, to be more Darius Miller than Jarrod Polson. The kid can really shoot it, and last spring he led his team to the Sweet 16 championship. He’s got a nice handle, and can hit the mid-range jumper and the three-ball.
Hollingsworth has only recently made it on to the radars of programs like Cincinnati and West Virginia, and OVC schools like EKU and Murray have recruited him for a while. Would be a GREAT 4-year player for the Cats – a good mix with the one and done talent.
DOWN TO: Offered by St. Louis, Morehead State, Eastern Kentucky. BUT: Louisville, West Virginia, others are sniffing around
6. Quade Green, PG, 6-1, 170 (What Green would bring to UK)
The late bloomer I'd love to see as a backup at the point. He's a pure point guard, pass-first, who can run the team and rarely turns it over. He would be a great change of pace at the point. Can Cal get Green as well as his first PG pick, Trae Young? Young says he's open to playing with Quade.
DOWN TO: UK, Syracuse
5. John Petty, SG, 6-6, 180 (Bama and UK battling for Petty)
Long. Strong. Ready to get the friction on. Kid is really athletic and can fill it up in a variety of ways: off the dribble, step-back, crossover and pop. He was the first player in the class to get an offer from Cal and that says something.
Because of his athleticism, you just look at him and project him to be an elite defender. Also seems to have a great team attitude, comfortable with Kentucky's bright lights and competitive environment. It seems like the kind of kid North Carolina used to get. Would like him in case other shooters (Diallo – below) don’t make it to campus.
DOWN TO: UK, Alabama
4. Hamidou Diallo, SG, 6-5, 195 (Diallo skipping college?)
The kid has a stroke. The step-back. The three-ball. It goes in - and it's one of the prettiest shots in the class. I want guys who can shoot, so I want him on the team. Cal's putting on the full-court press, and I want a backcourt of Young and Diallo, but the lure of the pros could be too compelling.
DOWN TO: UK, Connecticut, Syracuse, Arizona, Duke, others .... And he could play overseas.
3. Trae Young, PG, 6-1, 170 (Young teasing good news for UK?)
I trust Cal. He's zeroed in on this kid, and I'm 99 percent sure Kentucky gets him. I watched his highlights and his games at the Peach Jam online. The kid can run a team. He's not as big as a normal Cal point guard, (does that matter? See: Ulis, Tyler) but he gets to the rack and here's the thing: He can really shoot from deep.
The kid dominated the Peach Jam which is good enough for me. (For people who know basketball better than me: His shot seems a bit slow to get off. Am I right? I know - who cares? But I'm just wondering ...)
DOWN TO: UK, Oklahoma
2. Mohamed Bamba, C/PF, 6-11, 210 (UK trending for Bamba)
Tall. Smart. A rim protector with a surprisingly good handle and stroke. You can't coach his 7-foot-9 wingspan, and Cal calls him "positionless." Bamba seems intrigued by the academic reputations of other schools, but he also says he wants to go to a place that's developed a player with talents similar to his.
UK had Anthony Davis. No other school had someone like that. Many think Bamba is possibly a future No. 1 pick, the last truly elite player in this class who has yet to commit.
DOWN TO: UK, Duke, Harvard
1. Kevin Knox, SF, 6-8, 195 (Knox praises Cal’s presentation)
Oh my God this kid is good. I know everyone has different opinions in recruiting, but for me, Knox is it. He's so smooth, like D Booker, but he has a frame and a game more like K Durant. It's why they call him Young KD.
He's a shooter, for sure, and he can straight fill it up, but he has a great basketball vision and can find teammates all over the court. To me, I want him the most. But I just look at him and think: This the kind of guy that normally goes to Duke.
Think Brandon Ingram or Jabari Parker or Grant Hill or Luol Deng or some other freakish big dude who can shoot. Transcendent talent.
DOWN TO: UK, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Florida State
OTHERS TO WATCH WHO I WOULDN’T TURN DOWN:
Nick Richards C, 6-10, 225
Michael Kidd. Dakari Johnson. Nick Richards? The latest from New Jersey would be a physical man in the middle. Love his strength. Some say he reminds them of Tyson Chandler. I'm cool with that.
DOWN TO: UK, Kansas, Arizona, Syracuse
P.J. Washington, PF, 6-7, 225
Size and athleticism, he's a rebounder around the basket who can also step out and make the perimeter jumper. He's lived in Louisville and Bowling Green, so the lure of UK is nothing new. Family loves Kenny Payne. The kid could really stretch defenses.
DOWN TO: UK, UNLV, Texas, North Carolina
Lonnie Walker, SG, 6-5, 195
Big, physical guard who can play inside and out, Cal put the push on Walker over the summer, after a dynamite Peach Jam where Walker averaged 16.4 points, 6.4 rebounds and nearly 4 assists per game.
DOWN TO: UK, Syracuse, Villanova, Miami
There you go. It’s a team of big guys, shooters and toughness. Blend them in with the experience from the holdovers from this year and we’re real, real good next season.
So be prepared to grab the ladders and scissors. I’ve got a feeling some nets are coming down.