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R.J. Barrett gets recruiting visit from John Calipari

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Coach Cal spent some time today with the top recruit in the 2018 class.

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According to Rivals’ Corey Evans, John Calipari made an under-the-radar visit to see the number one player in the class of 2018 today. Perhaps he was stealing a little bit of Arizona’s thunder before they host Barrett for an official visit this weekend.

Along with Zion Williamson, Barrett is Cal’s top priority and would be an absolute star in Lexington. He has stiff competition for the forward in Duke, Arizona, Oregon, and Michigan. Barrett has already took his official to Lexington earlier this month, as well as Durham. The recruitment has been called a “business decision,” as it’s believed he’ll go wherever he thinks best prepares him for the next level.

Calipari has been all over the place lately, offering several players in the 2019 class while covering his bases with his 2018 targets. In the last week alone he has offered 2018 three-star Jaxson Hayes, along with 2019 five-stars James Wiseman, D.J. Jeffries, Bryan Antoine, Scottie Lewis and Vernon Carey. In seven days Calipari has offered nearly more players in the 2019 class than he did in years recruiting the 2018 class. It could be a new approach in his recruiting strategy to counter Duke’s early offering.

While it’s nice for Cal to get a head start on the 2019 guys (a class he’s in great position with), his visit today shows that landing a monster 2018 group is his top priority and that he’s not ready to concede his wishlist to Duke. It almost seems now that there’s a perception that Duke leads anytime they want a top recruit. Have we forgotten about Cal?

Landing Barrett, who many believe Duke leads for, would go a long way in ending that narrative. If the recruitment of Kevin Knox taught us anything, it’s that John Calipari always has a chance whether he gets credit for it or not.

The timing of the visit is notable, given the rumors that point guard target Immanuel Quickley could announce his decision this weekend (Update: Quickley will announce this Friday, September 22nd). He is expected to pick Kentucky. Maybe Coach is pitching Barrett on his plan to use them together in the backcourt, if he indeed knows for certain that Quickley will play in blue. There’s no doubt he intends to surround him with a lot of talent.

Calipari has been infatuated with the forward for a while, but has really went after him following Barrett’s demolition of Cal’s USA team in the U19 World Cup to the tune of 38 points and 13 rebounds. If all goes well for Kentucky here, Barrett could very possibly be the best recruit Cal has landed since Anthony Davis.

It is believed that Barrett could make his decision in November so that he could sign during the fall period. If true, any time that Cal can get with him between now and then can go a long way. Visiting Barrett today is enormous news and it will certainly be a hard fought recruitment.