clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Kentucky Basketball: Comparing incoming players to past John Calipari greats

Breaking down which new players on the Kentucky Basketball team are most like past players.

Reid Travis, Keldon Johnson, Ashton Hagans Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

Well, folks, John Calipari has, indeed, done it again.

Kentucky once again brings in a loaded recruiting class, with a transfer grad student, and is poised to be a top team in the country next season, and we get to finally see them in action this week in the Bahamas.

But here in Kentucky, we like to compare players to other players, programs to programs, you catch my drift, right?

So, that’s what I’m going to do, compare every incoming player to past John Calipari coached greats. Sit back, relax, and feel free to include your personal comparisons.

Reid Travis - Comparison: Julius Randle

NCAA Basketball: Oregon at Stanford John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Reid Travis is similar to Randle in a couple regards; both can get to the rim with relative ease, both dominated the boards at their respective schools, and both proved they can give you a double-double every night.

Travis proved last season at Stanford that he can take over a game and dominate any big man that stood in his way. In two games against the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 Draft, Deandre Ayton, Travis averaged 20 ppg and 10 rpg.

Flashback to Randle’s time at Kentucky, and he currently holds the record for double-doubles by a freshman with 24. Now, while Reid is certainly not a freshman, he can easily get 24 double-doubles this season, regardless of his minutes played.

EJ Montgomery - Comparison: Skal Labissiere

Todd Burandt - Adidas

Now calm down, I know what you’re thinking. I’m not saying that EJ will end up like Skal did at Kentucky. I have seen people compare EJ to Anthony Davis in his ability to stretch the floor as a big man, but Skal also did that in his high school days.

One of the reasons I am hesitant to place the Anthony Davis tag on EJ just yet is that I have not seen him be a DOMINATING shot blocker like Davis was. I hope he turns in to that in his time at Kentucky, but until then I am comparing him to Skal. They both are forwards/centers that have the ability to hit outside shots and handle the ball to a certain extent.

Either way, I have a feeling EJ is going to tear up the college basketball world.

Keldon Johnson - Comparison: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

2018 McDonald’s All American Game Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Keldon Johnson is a bad, bad man. Regarded as the top draft prospect on this years Wildcats squad, KJ is a slashing, get-to-the-basket wing who wants to dunk on your face, talk to trash to you, and lock you up on defense.

Any guesses as to who that sounds like?

While MKG might not have been a huge trash talker, MKG scored his points in the paint by cutting and slashing, and then finishing with either a dunk or laying it in. Both play similarly well on defense, wanting to guard the other teams best defender, as evidenced by Keldon shutting down RJ Barrett in the closing minutes of the McDonald’s All-American game earlier in the year.

While Keldon is a better shooter than MKG was, both are very similar in other areas of their game and KJ well definitely have Lexington jumping come November.

Ashton Hagans - Comparison: De’Aaron Fox

Hoop Seen

While not as fast as his predecessor, Hagans is a quick, crafty guard who can put anyone on their butt with a quick crossover. Hagans can get to the rim as he pleases and is also a gifted passer.

Both Fox and Hagans are similar in regards to both being quick guards with quick crossovers and the ability to get to the rim off of their dribbling abilities. Both Hagans and Fox are still not great shooters, but Hagans can hit the outside shot, if left open, much like Fox. I expect Hagans to crack the starting lineup.

Immanuel Quickley - Comparison: Brandon Knight


Both Quickley and Knight are solid point guards who are comfortable with the ball in their hands, quick off their feet, good passers, and can hit threes. Brandon Knight went down as one of the best shooting point guards in Kentucky history with his ability to pop a three coming off a screen or by spotting up and nailing it.

And here’s another reason these two are both similar: they have both been underrated. Knight is not talked about as much as other UK guards like Wall, Fox, Ulis, etc. Quickley has been, sort of, the least talked about recruit of this class, with Tyler Herro and Ashton Hagans getting more of the spotlight.

Tyler Herro - Comparison: Devin Booker

Kelly Kline - Under Armour

I mean, this is the comparison that we have all heard for about seven months now, right? Both Herro and Booker are methodical on the court and their movements look silky smooth. Booker and Herro are knock-down shooters with a great mid-range game.

And much like Booker, Herro could be a major contributor coming off the bench, just speculating on who would start, and can give Kentucky that extra shooter off the bench, along with Jemarl Baker.

Herro could be the surprise of the season.