The Kentucky Wildcats are going through a major overhaul this offseason.
With three graduating seniors and as many as four players leaving for the NBA Draft —not to mention the possibility of one or more players transferring — expect the roster to look vastly different when the 2017-18 season begins.
How well Kentucky is able to overcome that offseason turnover will largely be decided on what Mohamed Bamba and Kevin Knox do. The two elite big men are the last remaining targets for Kentucky in the 2017 class, and both would be instant-impact starters if they came to Lexington.
Scout.com recruiting guru Evan Daniels likes Kentucky’s chances with one, but not both of them. In an interview with Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader, Daniels said he’d pick Kentucky for Bamba right now, but he’s leaning towards either Duke or North Carolina for Knox.
“I like Kentucky,” said Daniels. “If I was going to take a guess at where I thought he was going to go, I’d say Kentucky.”
Knox plans to announce his decision a few days after the Jordan Brand Classic on April 14.
“I like Carolina and Duke in that one,” Daniels said. “If I was going to take a pick, I would go with one of those two.”
In a separate interview with Fletcher Page of the Courier-Journal, Daniels made it clear he doesn’t think Bamba has made his decision, but is willing to call Kentucky the pick.
"I need to preface this by saying, I don't think Mohamed Bamba has made his college choice, but my vibe in the recruitment is that it's trending towards Kentucky," he said. "So if I was going to make a prediction right now, and I usually don't do that this far out, I would say Kentucky."
This is looking more and more like the likeliest outcome for Kentucky is another player is added to the 2017 class. Bamba feels a major need down low with Derek Willis graduating and Bam Adebayo likely entering the NBA Draft.
And while Knox would be a huge get, Kentucky may be fine without him if Wenyen Gabriel returns and make big strides this offseason. He should flashes of being a great player before falling off late in the season. He’s probably better off being the wing in Kentucky’s starting lineup with Bamba (if he commits) at the 4 and either Nick Richards, Isaac Humphries or Sacha Killeya-Jones at the 5.
Regardless, Kentucky must add Knox and/or Bamba to this class if the Wildcats are to be a Final Four contender next season.