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Mo Bamba and Kevin Knox recruiting prediction by ESPN

Where will the two elite recruits land? The answers may surprise you.

USA Today

The Kentucky Wildcats have likely secured the top recruiting class for 2017.

However, Kentucky still needs at least one more player to help offset the draft defections and graduations in order to remain a true title contender. The biggest remaining player that will affect Kentucky’s title hopes is Mohamed Bamba, but getting his commitment has proven to be more difficult than anticipated.

After it appeared the Wildcats were strong favorites to land Bamba, Texas now appears to be a legitimate threat for the five-star big man. The latest recruiting predictions from ESPN indicate as much.

While ESPN still believes Kentucky is the favorite, it’s more of a 50-50 toss-up heading down the stretch:

Mohamed Bamba, C, Westtown School (Pennsylvania), ESPN 100 ranking: 3

Prediction: Kentucky

Confidence level: 55 percent

Other contenders: Texas, Michigan, Duke

Bamba is still publicly considering all four schools on his final list, but most coaches involved believe it's between Kentucky and Texas at this point. Texas' chances received a boost when Jarrett Allen decided to keep his name in the NBA draft, and Kentucky's mass exodus over the past few weeks hasn't hurt the Wildcats' odds either. Neither side is totally confident right now, but Kentucky appears to have a slight edge.

If the Wildcats land Bamba, they’ll be a preseason top-three team next season and one of the big favorites to make the Final Four. Without Bamba, it will be a tough to just make it to the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament.

As for Kevin Knox, Kentucky still appears to be pretty far behind in this recruitment, perhaps even behind the likes of Missouri. ESPN is actually predicting this to come down to Missouri or Duke:

Kevin Knox, SF, Tampa Catholic (Florida), ESPN 100: 9

Prediction: Missouri/Duke

Confidence level: 45 percent/45 percent

Other contenders: Florida State, North Carolina, Kentucky

It has been a very interesting few weeks for Knox. Duke was long considered the favorite, but Knox's final official visit -- at the time, at least -- was to North Carolina and by all accounts, it went very well. Then Michael Porter Jr. committed to Missouri and the Tigers jumped into the mix. Knox immediately took an official visit to Columbia, and it sounds as if Cuonzo Martin's program is a legitimate contender. Knox has a round of in-home visits this week.

To see a guy like Knox pick Missouri over the likes of North Carolina, Kentucky and Duke would be one of, if not the biggest stunner of this recruiting cycle. It would also make the Tigers, who already have Michael Porter Jr. coming in, a legitimate Final Four threat next season.