It's almost May, and there is still a lot to play out for John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats in regards to his 2017/2018 basketball team. He is still trying to get some guys to commit to his team in order for the talent and depth to be sufficient enough for a legit Final Four run.
With the departure of Bam Adebayo and Hamidou Diallo testing the NBA waters, Kentucky may have more spots to fill. This is how the team looks as far as its roster right now:
Guards- Quade Green, Shai Alexander, Jemarl Baker, Hamidou Diallo (testing the NBA waters), Brad Calipari
Forwards- Wenyen Gabriel, Jarred Vanderbilt, PJ Washington
Centers/Forwards- Nick Richards, Sacha Killeya-Jones, Tai Wynyard
That's not a bad team, but there are still some missing pieces. With the players left for Cal and the decision from Diallo still looming, here is what I think needs to happen for UK in order for importance to make the ‘Cats elite next season.
Get Mohamed Bamba
As expected, Bam Adebayo declared for the NBA draft and then hired an agent, although that happened a little later than we all thought it would. The departure of Isaac Humphries came as a little bit more of a surprise, but the Australian big man dropped some hints late in the season.
Mohamed Bamba is the consensus second-ranked player in the current rankings. The only player ranked better than him is Michael Porter, Jr. With Bamba, Kentucky adds depth and elite talent to a frontcourt that lacks both of those things. Nick Richards is talented and would be a fine starting center, but he isn't elite.
The book is still out on Sacha Killeya-Jones as to whether or not he can play at this level. As for Tai Wynyard, the effort is going to be there, but the talent level isn't there yet and may not be at all.
Bamba may not be offensively refined, but his value as a defensive rim protector is on par with a freshman Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel. Teams will have to develop a gameplan around Bamba, and we saw with both Davis and Noel, that is a tall task indeed.
Get Cam Johnson
Pittsburgh Panthers transfer Cameron Johnson is exactly what the Wildcats need in a player. He will add leadership, experience, scoring, and three point shooting. Johnson is a 6'8 player that can play both shooting guard and small forward.
If Diallo does indeed stay in the draft, Cam Johnson becomes an invaluable asset to Kentucky. He isn't as elite as Diallo in every aspect of the game, but we know right now that he is a better scorer as he proved that in ACC play.
Hamidou Diallo Stays
This is lower on my list because I think he's going to come back and I think if Cal lands Cam Johnson (and I think he will) Diallo's departure would not be as big of a deal.
Hamidou Diallo is an elite prospect that will bring an athleticism to the guard position that it lacks right now. His wingspan and defensive tenacity will make it difficult on opposing offensive players, and while he may not be the caliber of scorer that Malik Monk was, he will be every bit as athletic and maybe even moreso.
Again, I think Diallo stays at UK after he works out for the NBA. This current draft class is full of proven elite guards, and it will be very difficult for Diallo to sniff the first round. One can never tell what a young player is going to do, but I'm about as certain as I can be that we will see Hamidou Diallo in a Kentucky uniform next season.
Get Kevin Knox
Kentucky is still in play for the five-star wing, but how close are they to landing him? The experts still believe that he will either be a Blue Devil or a Tar Heel. Missouri is making a late push thanks to Michael Porter, Jr., but it may be too little too late for Cuonzo Martin.
If I was given the choice of either Knox or Johnson, I'm taking Johnson ten times out of ten. Knox is a very good player, but Cam Johnson is a known commodity. He's proven that he can play in an elite conference and succeed. Cal needs his experience more than he needs the prospect of what Knox could bring to the table.
I'll happily take Knox as a Wildcat, but I don't think it's likely and there are other players that Kentucky needs more.
What do you think Big Blue Nation? Am I right on the money with this or would you change this list?
What is the most important thing that needs to happen in order for Kentucky to be a contender next season?
This poll is closed
Mohamed Bamba Committing
Cam Johnson Committing
Hamidou Diallo Returning
Kevin Knox Committing