Kentucky is looking to finish out their 2019 class strong in the remainder of the winter and spring, as the Wildcats have a solid foundation with players like Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney, and Dontaie Allen coming to Lexington, while also expecting some of the players on this year’s team to return for another season.
Kentucky still has a few targets they are looking at to finish their class, so let’s take a look at the players who could be Wildcats next year.
- Anthony Edwards, Atlanta, Georgia (#4 overall)
This was once a stacked list of players that Kentucky was involved with, but over the last couple months, that has been significantly trimmed down.
Players like Bryan Antoine, Jalen Lecque, and Cole Anthony have all committed to other schools or have moved in a different direction. Anthony was once thought to be a major Kentucky target, but he has taken all five official visits and seems to be leaning toward North Carolina, Notre Dame, or Oregon.
Kentucky’s main guard target now is Anthony Edwards, who reclassified from 2020. The 6’5” shooting guard is thought to be a heavy Florida State lean, and even jokingly committed to the Seminoles in a recent Instagram live video.
Most in the recruiting world think the reclassification came at the insistence of FSU, and it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which he goes elsewhere, but Kentucky is in the mix, and if they can drag this recruitment out and get him on campus, they stand a chance to add a HUGE piece to their backcourt next season.
It seems like Kentucky thinks they may have several of their backcourt pieces return next season. Immanuel Quickley, Tyler Herro, and Jemarl Baker could very well return next season and provide a valuable mix of talent and experience for next year’s backcourt.
Ashton Hagans was thought to be a candidate to return, but at the pace he is going, it’s hard to see him coming back for a second year if he continues to play the way he has.
Nonetheless, if Kentucky can bring back Quickley, Herro and Baker, to go along with Maxey, Allen and Whitney, Kentucky should be strong on the perimeter next season.
- Keion Brooks, La Porte, Indiana (#22 overall)
Kahlil Whitney and Dontaie Allen provide the versatility to play multiple positions and after landing commitments from those two, it seemed like Kentucky would back off Brooks or vice versa.
However, that hasn’t happened, and Brooks is still very much in the mix for the Wildcats. In fact, he recently posted this picture on his Instagram story.
Brooks has been one of Calipari’s top targets for quite some time, and while pulling him away from home state Indiana seems like a tall task, Calipari has made him a priority and is very much right there in the mix.
- Matthew Hurt; Rochester, Minnesota (7th overall)
- Jaden McDaniels, Federal Way, Washington (5th overall)
- Isaiah Stewart, La Porte, Indiana (6th overall)
Kentucky is in the mix with all three of these guys, but the momentum of Stewart heading to Washington continues to grow, as Evan Daniels recently picked the Huskies to land Stewart.
Kentucky, at one point in the process, seemed like the top choice for Stewart, but something happened and the Wildcats seemed to fall off the map with him. Landing Stewart would be huge for Kentucky, but as of right now, it seems like Kentucky’s best chance lies with Hurt and McDaniels.
Hurt is a 6’9” forward with an advanced offensive skillset that projects as a stretch four at the collegiate level. Hurt is solid on the defensive end and as a rebounder, but he isn’t the elite rim protector type of big that is often recruited by Kentucky. However, his offensive skill set and ability to hit shots from everywhere on the floor falls more in line with the approach that NBA teams are taking in playing big men who can stretch the floor.
Hurt is considering Kentucky along with Kansas, Minnesota, Duke and North Carolina. Of Kentucky’s big man targets, I think Kentucky is in the best position with Hurt.
McDaniels, standing at 6’11” and 185 pounds, has the height of a traditional big man but prefers to play on the perimeter. He has drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant obviously for his size and play style, and McDaniels may have as much upside as anyone in the class.
His recruitment is quiet, as he is focused on his high school season and a commitment is expected in the spring, probably in March or April. I think Kentucky is in a good spot with McDaniels, but the main challenge will be convincing him to leave the west coast, where he is also considering Washington and San Diego State (where his brother currently plays).
- Grad Transfer
If Kentucky strikes out with some of the above targets, they could look to the grad transfer market to fill a position of need like they did with Reid Travis last year. We’ll know more about players hitting the grad transfer market in the coming months.
Kentucky could also look to try to convince a 2020 recruit to reclassify into 2019. Some players like N’Faly Dante, RJ Hampton, and others have been mentioned as possible reclassification candidates in the past, so that could certainly be a possibility.
Nonetheless, Kentucky has the chance to finish off the 2019 class strong, but it could be a few weeks until many of the dominoes start to fall to see how the class shakes out.