After a not-so-positive update on R.J. Barrett’s UK visit, it sounds like the Cats are in better shape than Barrett is letting on. According to SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker, Barrett’s visit had a big impact on where UK stands in his recruitment going into the fall.
As you can imagine, Barrett and his family are little concerned about how he’ll be used on a team that could lose just 2-3 players to the NBA Draft next year. We could see guys like Jarred Vanderbilt, P.J. Washington, Shai Alexander, Wenyen Gabriel and Jamarl Baker all return next season. All of those guys can play either the 2 or the 3, where Barrett figures to be in college.
But even with so many potential returnees, Tucker reports that the visit made Barrett feel a lot better about taking his talents to Lexington.
Earlier this summer, our source was skeptical that the Cats would get him, in part because the family had questions about how he would be used and where he’d fit on a roster that is loaded with other 5-star recruits and future pros every season. So how does that source feel about Kentucky’s chances now?
“A lot better,” he said. “I think a lot of things have been cleared up. That was a really successful visit.”
There’s probably also some concern as to how Barrett would be used if he’s playing on the same team as Zion Williamson, another elite wing that UK is strongly in the mix for. UK is very likely getting at least one of them, but for both to pick the same school, they’re going to need a clear picture and game plan for how it’s going to work.
It sounds like John Calipari did a great job at establishing this with Barrett. It remains to be seen if he can do the same with Zion. Both players are currently expected to decide sometime this fall, especially Barrett.
As for who UK would prefer if they can only have one of Zion or Barrett, that may be the million dollar question. While both players could easily play alongside each other, it’s just hard to see UK having those two with the guys who could be coming back next season. That’s a lot of mouths to feed.
Other than the platoon team, we’ve just not seen Calipari be able to convince so many elite prospects that it could work.
Perhaps Calipari is able to do so with Zion and Barrett. That would certainly make the 2018-19 team one that would rival that 2014-15 squad.