It’s one of those rare summers when we are able to take in basketball news up until football starts heating up around the Bluegrass.
John Calipari is in Egypt with his U19 team and play begins this Saturday. There are two major angles to this story that directly affects the Kentucky Wildcats: one being the recruitment of Romeo Langford, Immanuel Quickley, Cameron Reddish, and others; the other being the preview of Hamidou Diallo and PJ Washington and their maturation before the season.
Let’s start off with some recruiting news.
Romeo Langford’s Thoughts, Immanuel Quickley Ready to Wrap it Up, and Cameron Reddish Trending UK
Romeo- USA Today generally gives elite basketball recruits access to blog about their recruitment and their thoughts on their high school season. Julius Randle was one that Kentucky fans followed closely and we were given insight to his relationship with Cal and why he ultimately picked UK.
I know people want to know about my recruitment and it’s going pretty well.
I’m not the guy who’s always talking to the coaches after games and things like that.
My parents and I decided when it all started that the coaches would go through them to contact me. It just works better for me that way so I can just focus on getting better and taking care of my schoolwork during the school year.
The coaches don’t even have my cell number.
By all accounts Langford is a low-key kid that doesn’t like attention. He opted to stay home and play for his New Albany, Indiana high school team for his senior year instead of heading to play for a basketball academy.
Louisville and Duke are thought to lead for him, but Calipari will have one-on-one access with Langford.
Our team is looking really strong.
We’ve had two scrimmages and we share the ball really well. I think we’ll have the biggest advantage with our athleticism and getting out on the breaks.
If the game is fast then no one is gonna beat us.
The player that has impressed me the most in the scrimmages is Hami (Diallo). He’s really good and very athletic.
This last quote is music to Kentucky fan’s ears. Before his departure, Kevin Knox was widely viewed as the most impressive player at the camp in Colorado. Since then Hami Diallo has been earning rave reviews with his improved jump shot and his decision making on the court.
Read the entire blog from Lanford, it’s excellent stuff from an excellent young man.
Quickley: Five-star point guard Immanuel Quickely is a top ten recruit and the number two ranked point guard in the class of 2018 according to 24/7. Their crystal ball has him at 91% going to Kentucky.
He’s been glowing about John Calipari and his time in Egypt thus far. He also stated that he wants to make a college decision before his senior year is over. I’d say he’s a ‘Cat unless something dramatic happens.
Reddish: According to 24/7, Cameron Reddish is the fifth overall player in the 2018 class and the second ranked power forward. As of now, the crystal ball has him 92% going to Duke.
But the tide is turning.
Experts are now starting to lean toward UK and Calipari, thanks to quotes like these about his U19 coach as taken from Kyle Tucker and SEC Country:
“It’s just a blessing, honestly, for a guy that caliber to recognize me for my gifts and talents. That’s just a blessing,” Reddish said. Before a training camp scrimmage in Colorado last week, Calipari grabbed him and “told me he wanted me on the ball more, coming off screens and stuff; that’s how I knew he wanted me to show my versatility more, and I really like that about him.”
The race for Reddish is far from over.
U19 Game Schedule and Times
The games start this Saturday, July 1st and go through July 9th. Team USA will play this weekend at these times:
Saturday, July 1st: vs. Iran 11:30 AM EDT
Sunday, July 2nd: vs. Angola 12:15 PM EDT
Tuesday, July 4th: vs. Italy 10:30 AM EDT
These will be games worth watching, so we will keep you posted on the streaming options. Hopefully we will have it worked out to where someone on staff will be able to give you game recaps and stats once the games conclude.
Way Too Early Look at the 2018 NBA Draft
With all of the recruiting that Calipari is doing, you know he is already piecing together his team for the 2018 season. And much of its construction will depend on which Wildcats will declare for the NBA draft.
This is an interesting group that Cal has this season. While highly regarded for their talent and athleticism, NBA scouts and recruitnics aren’t sure about draft potential. Could this be a team that will see multiple players returning for 2018/2019?
Really the only two players that are viewed as for sure one-and-done players are Hami and Kevin Knox. Who else is likely to throw their names into the draft?
Here are your way too early 2018 Mock Drafts:
NBADraft.net: Jarred Vanderbilt- Tenth Pick; Nick Richards- Eleventh Pick; Hamidou Diallo- Thirteenth Pick; Kevin Knox- Fourteenth Pick
DraftExpress.com: Hamidou Diallo- Fourteenth Pick; Nick Richards- Twenty Second Pick
SINow.com: Hamidou Diallo- Thirteenth Pick; Nick Richards- Fourteenth Pick; Kevin Knox- Nineteenth Pick
Obviously this is all in flux and will change as the season progresses. I think both Knox and Diallo will be in consideration for top ten picks and Richards will stay in the lottery range. Outside of that, guys like Vanderbilt and PJ Washington could make pushes to go in the first round.
Players like Quade Green, Shai Gilgeous Alexander, and Jemarl Baker are all expected to be multi-year players. But there’s always that one guy on Cal’s teams that have breakout seasons like Eric Bledsoe or Devin Booker did.
And then there are the current veterans Wenyen Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones. How improved will they be and will they become NBA first round draft picks?
If things set up the right way for Calipari and only two-to-three guys go pro from the 2017/2018 team, Kentucky could be set up for a veteran-led group with extremely talented freshmen coming into the fold. Remember 2014/2015? I’m not saying that 2018/2019 will be of that caliber, but it could have a similar make-up.
And a mixture like that is truly rare in the Calipari Era.