Following the closing of the spring signing window, Kentucky has introduced the three commits they picked up in that time: guard Jemarl Baker, and forwards Kevin Knox and Jarred Vanderbilt.
Baker is a consensus four-star combo guard. He averaged 17.1 points, 4.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds per game in his senior season at Roosevelt High School in California.
“We looked at this group and we said we need to have someone who is a knockdown shooter, which is what he is, but he’s also a guy who can create his own shot,” Calipari said, according to UK Athletics. “I think he’s a player who can be a terrific defender because of his length and because of his athleticism. We need to come in and we need him to knock down shots.”
Kentucky is hoping that Baker will fill out the backcourt and add depth behind Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
“I want to be great,” Baker said. “I chose to go to the school where I’d get a chance to compete every day and play against the best of college basketball. Kentucky will challenge me to become the best I can possibly be.”
Knox is a five-star wing, measuring in at 6’9”, 203 lbs. He averaged 28.5 points and 11.3 rebounds per game his senior season in high school at Tampa Catholic.
“Kevin Knox is going to be the youngest player in college basketball,” Calipari said, according to UK Athletics. “Similar to a Devin Booker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, he comes in really, really young – but talented. He’s a long, skilled player who, again, has a will to get better. I’m anxious to see his growth because I think it will be off the chain. Great kid, character kid who comes from a great family.”
Knox has already experienced the spotlight as a high school recruit; he played in the McDonald’s All-American Game, and has won gold medals with Team USA basketball.
“There were a lot of reasons why I chose Kentucky; first the coaching staff is phenomenal,” Knox said when he announced his commitment. “They know how to push players to the limit. Then I’ll be playing with a lot of great players every day in practice getting better against the best competition and, lastly, they know how to win. The program knows how to win and I’ll have a lot of players around me that know how to win and want to learn how to win even more.”
Last, but certainly not least is Jarred Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt averaged 28.5 points, 13.4 boards and 8.8 assists per game in his senior season at Victory Prep Academy.
“I love guys that they have to put on the other board and say, ‘Alright, how are we guarding this kid? What do we do?’ ” Calipari said. “You’re talking a long athlete, a playmaking player who can get to that rim. He can really pass it and handle it in transition. He can rebound and go. He’s another one I’m anxious to see the growth as a player, as a shooter and as a perimeter scorer, because he can do both (play inside and outside).”
Vanderbilt is versatile enough to play nearly any position on the floor, which will be a huge help for Kentucky after losing so much this offseason.
"I'm all about the team,” Vanderbilt said, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal. “I want to win. My main goal is to win. Everything is good when you're winning. There's no sense in being productive by myself and you're losing. I want everybody to succeed. I'm that type of guy."
Well, Mo Bamba might have gone elsewhere, but at least we get a reminder of how great this class is going to be. Also, with this No. 1 class, Kentucky has landed a top-two class every single year that Calipari has been head coach (nine straight years).