Are you over Sunday yet? Me neither.
Luckily the axiom “Basketball Never Stops” is truer for the Kentucky Wildcats and the Big Blue Nation than at any other school or for any other fan base.
This season’s annual High School All Star Game in Chicago is yet again filled with Kentucky commitments as well as a couple of guys that may still end up in Lexington. The game tips off at 6:00 PM on March 29th from the United Center.
First, let’s take a look at the rosters for the East and the West:
Mohamed Bamba- Undecided
Wendell Carter, Jr.- Duke
Trevon Duval- Undecided
Quade Green- Kentucky
Kevin Knox II- Undecided
Nick Richards- Kentucky
Mitchell Robinson- Western Kentucky
Collin Sexton- Alabama
Jarred Vanderbilt- Kentucky
Lonnie Walker IV- Miami
PJ Washington, Jr.- Kentucky
Kris Wilkes- UCLA
DeAndre Ayton- Arizona
Brian Bowen II- Undecided
Troy Brown, Jr.- Oregon
Jaylen Hands- UCLA
Jaren Jackson, Jr.- Michigan State
Brandon L. McCoy- Undecided
Charles O’Bannon, Jr.- USC
Michael Porter, Jr.- Missouri
Billy Preston- Kansas
Gary Trent, Jr.- Duke
MJ Walker- Undecided
Trae Young- Oklahoma
The Rich Get Richer
Obviously the one thing that stands out the most is the fact that Kentucky has by far the most players in the game with four players with the prospect of landing two more. The Duke Blue Devils have two players with the possibility of landing multiple players as well.
UCLA, Kansas, Arizona, and Michigan State also have multiple guys. All four of those teams are perennial top 25 programs that have been mainstays in the tournament.
The SEC is well represented by the UK guys as well as the number one overall recruit Michael Porter, Jr. going to Missouri and shooting guard Collin Sexton going to Alabama.
It’s odd to not see North Carolina’s name beside any of these players but they are high on Kevin Knox’s list. UNC will lose multiple players due to upperclassmen and players that will opt for the NBA draft. They will indeed be in a rebuilding mode.
What to Watch For
Quade Green vs. Trae Young- Young was once expected to be the heir apparent at Point Guard U. But instead of pulling the trigger during the fall signing period, he backed off and Quade Green took his spot. It is debatable whether or not this ultimately impacted Young’s decision, but those in the recruiting world have the understanding that Young wants to be the focal point on the team, which is why you saw him choose the Sooners over the Jayhawks and the Wildcats.
Mohamed Bamba vs. Deandre Ayton- The two best big men in the class will clash. Bamba and Ayton are high on everyone’s draft boards and it will definitely be a highlight match-up. Throw in Nick RIchards and this looks like a very solid class of centers.
Jarred Vanderbilt and PJ Washington Positioning- Where will the two play? Both could see time at power forward and small forward positions. It will be interesting to see where they are placed on Wednesday. Vanderbilt showcases skills that are accustomed to the three spot.
Kentucky Chemistry- What kind of chemistry with the future ‘Cats showcase? All of them are on the same team and Quade Green figures to be running the show at some point.
Recruiting- Quade Green will no doubt be in the ear of Bambe for the entire week. Both are friends and they played for the same PSA Cardinals AAU team. Bamba is buddies with Hamidou Diallo as well. Will the other UK players also push for Bamba and Knox?
Quade Green’s Leadership- Green has been vocal throughout the week and other players seem to be drawn to him. One of his attributes is that he makes everyone around him better.
Highlighting the Kentucky Commits and Prospects
Quade Green- Point Guard- 6’1, 170 pounds: Green is a shifty guard with good size at 6’1. He is known as a distributor more than a scorer, though he does have that ability. He is a guy that other players want to play with because of his ability to get everyone around him involved in the offense. Watch the video and notice that his eyes are always surveying the court.
Nick Richards- Center- 6’11, 250 pounds: Richards is more of the traditional back-to-the basket type of center. He isn’t as athletic as Bam Adebayo but he is more offensively skilled coming out of high school. He has the makings of a good defender and a decent rim protector.
PJ Washington, Jr.- Forward- 6’8, 225: Washington has been an early surprise at the McDonald’s All American Game practices. He’s been showcasing offensive skills and athleticism, highlighted by dunking on fellow ‘Cat Quade Green. He’s your prototypical power forward but he can stretch floor with decent outside shooting. If he continues to work on bulking up, he will be formidable under the rim rebounding the ball.
Jarred Vanderbilt- Forward- 6’8, 200 pounds: Vanderbilt has been the energy guy at the event. He’s everywhere on the court and is committed to defense. Due to his weight, I see him more as a small forward/wing player than someone that Kentucky can work with in the post. He has good ball handling skills and nice range on his shot. He can get to the rim with a quick first step. It has been a while since Cal has had a true wing/small forward, but Vanderbilt fits that mold nicely.
Uncommitted but Still Considering Kentucky:
Mohamed Bamba- Center- 6’11, 210 pounds: Bamba would be a game changer for Kentucky. As the roster is constructed now, John Calipari has some quality bigs in the post but nobody with the caliber of defense and rim protection that Bamba brings to the table. He can be an eraser on the level of Anthony Davis, Willie Cauley-Stein, or Nerlens Noel. He is as elite as there is in the class and will be in contention for the top spot in the 2018 NBA Draft. As I said earlier, Bamba is a teammate of Green’s and he’s good friends with Hamidou Diallo.
Kevin Knox- Forward- 6’8, 203: Kevin Knox is a special talent on offense. At his size, he is naturally a small forward but could slide over and play shooting guard without missing a beat. He can drive, slash, shoot, and score from anywhere on the court. Out of the players left uncommitted in the class, he is arguably the best. While I think a Bamba commitment would be huge, one from Knox would arguably more important considering some of the offensive limitations next year’s team may face.
There you have it folks, that’s just about everything you need to know heading into the MCDAA game from Chicago. We will have you covered here with highlights and an open thread for the game on Wednesday night.
Go high school ‘Cats.