The conventional thinking was that the 2017 point guard spot was Trae Young's to lose. The elite player out of Norman Oklahoma was John Calipari's top prospect at the point guard position. He's 6'2, he's fast, and he can be a scoring machine.
As the early signing period approached, Young failed to pull the trigger. He continued to hold out even though it was clear that he was the guy that Cal wanted to run his offense. So instead of being left on the hook until the spring without a point guard, Cal turned up the heat on another elite point guard in Quade Green.
Young is the third-ranked point guard and the eighteenth ranked player overall according to 24/7. Green is the fourth-ranked point guard and the twenty-third ranked player overall. There isn't much separating the two as far as talent is concerned.
But Cal may have won the day in the end because of the players that Green has been attracting to Kentucky. After Green committed in November, he talked about recruiting Hamidou Diallo, Mohamed Bamba, and Kevin Knox to Kentucky:
Green and Bamba, teammates on the PSA Cardinals AAU squad, sat next to one another.“Now it’s my time to recruit him now,” Green said of the 7-foot Bamba. Hopefully.”
Bamba, the projected No. 2 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, is considering Kentucky, Duke, Texas and Harvard, among others. He’s expected to sign in the spring.
Bamba isn’t the only one on Green’s Christmas wish list.“There’s a bunch of guys I want to get there to play with me, Diallo, Kevin Knox, a bunch of ’em,” he said.
Diallo is already in the fold. The big news yesterday was that recruiting bigwig Jerry Meyer of 247 Sports switched his pick for Bamba from Duke to Kentucky. One has to think that the addition of Green, his AAU teammate, has a lot to do with that switch.
After this season, the majority of Kentucky's scoring and starters will be in the NBA or will be graduating. The 2017 class is as an important of a class as John Calipari has had in his tenure at UK since his first class. He will be building a brand new team with very limited veteran leadership outside of Isaac Humphries, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Tai Wynyard, and possibly (probably) Wenyen Gabriel. Not one guard from the current team will be returning.
Cal already had a nice start of the 2017 class with Green, Nick Richards, Jared Vanderbilt, PJ Washington, and Shai Alexander. The recent addition of Hamidou Diallo was huge. The tide turning towards Bamba is huge. If Kentucky can land Kevin Knox, then again people will be talking about whether or not this will be Cal's best recruiting class.
While Cal had a solid class with Washington, Vanderbilt, Green, Richards, and Alexander, players like Diallo, Bamba, and Knox are next level guys that will be almost surefire lottery picks in the 2018 NBA Draft. And if Kentucky lands just one of the two of Bamba or Knox, the ‘Cats will again be in discussions for a Final Four appearance.
And much of this thanks to Green and he hasn't yet played a second of basketball. The lesson here is this: If you don't take your offer from Kentucky while it's hot, someone is going to grab it from you.