The Kentucky Wildcats are hoping to finish off their 2017 class in style with Mohamed Bamba and Kevin Knox.
Those two five-star forwards would not only clinch another top-ranked recruiting class, but it would give UK a great shot at the No. 1 ranking when the 2017-18 college hoops season opens.
However, it continues to look like the best-case scenario for UK is getting one, but not both of those elite prospects. In an interview with SEC Country, Scout.com’s Evan Daniels again said he really likes UK’s chances for Bamba, giving John Calipari the elite rim protector he hasn’t had since Willie Cauley-Stein and Karl-Anthony Towns were roaming the paint.
“If I was going to make a prediction, I would say Kentucky for Mohamed Bamba,” said Daniels. “I think they’re in the best shape right now. He doesn’t have a timeline, and I don’t think he’s truly made a decision yet, but just from what I’ve been able to gather and examining the situation, it seems like Kentucky is in great shape.”
But the news is not so good for Knox, who appears to be favoring Duke and North Carolina at the moment.
“I think Carolina and Duke are, in some order, one and two,” said Daniels, who believes a crowded roster could be hurting the Wildcats. “He would deny that if you ask him, but the fact of the matter is they’ve got two combo forwards already. He’s different than those guys, but he fits that type of mold.”
One thing to note with Knox is that he’s focusing on who’s about to leave for the NBA Draft or possibly transfer from the schools he’s considering. If UNC were to keep Justin Jackson, that would damage their chances, but Jackson is expected to turn pro.
As for Duke, they’re still waiting on NBA decisions from Grayson Allen and Luke Kennard. If they come back to join Frank Jackson and Gary Trent, that’s suddenly a crowded backcourt for a guy who thrives on the wing.
Until Knox decides, Kentucky is showing interest in other guys who can light it up from deep, namely Jemarl Baker, who Daniels gave a brief update on.
“I think they solve it, potentially, with a guy named Jamarl Baker from California, a top-75 type guy who can really shoot,” Daniels said. “They’re starting to recruit him. I think they’re going to look at some other guys, too. They need a shooter — they know it — and they’re trying to find one late.”
All said, I think Kentucky will finish this class with one more guard/wing-type player, whether it’s Knox, Baker or one of the other guys they’re looking at.