This is turning into a special season for the Kentucky Wildcats.
However, that could lead to another exodus of players to the NBA Draft. Recent mock drafts have included Ashton Hagans and Tyler Herro in the first-round range, while Keldon Johnson and PJ Washington are viewed as near-locks to go pro. Then you’ve got Reid Travis graduating, which could leave Kentucky without its entire starting lineup going into the 2019-20 season.
That’s putting a much bigger level of importance on Kentucky having a strong finish to its 2019 class, and it may come with guys not currently in said class.
In his latest #TwitterTuesday post, Corey Evans of Rivals.com fielded many questions about top recruits. On the surface, you would think Kentucky’s name appearing multiple times in the article would be a good sign, but that was not necessarily the case.
After the Wildcats have missed on so many frontcourt players in 2019, the biggest question for next year’s team obviously lies with the big men. Calipari has some talented backcourt and wing players coming in, and several guards are expected to return. But with the imminent departure of Johnson, Washington and Travis, who can Calipari get to compliment EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards down low?
“Keep an eye on Isaiah Todd and N’Faly Dante, each five-star juniors that could reclassify a year up,” Evans wrote. “Meanwhile, expect for Kentucky to make another look at the grad-transfer waters this spring.”
Speaking specifically about Todd, Evans believes Kentucky could make him a priority as his reclassification picture becomes more clear. As of now, Evans handicaps those odds at 50/50.
“Kentucky is now involved with Todd, and while the Wildcats have yet to offer, they could make a major push for him in the coming weeks. With Kentucky struggling to land frontcourt talent this winter, it would not be a shock to see Todd become a top target if he decides to move up a year.”
Evans also agrees with other recruiting analysts that Kentucky is currently not the favorite for top targets Anthony Edwards, Matthew Hurt, or Jaden McDaniels. Of the three, he believes Calipari has the best chance to land McDaniels. But as of now, you would have to guess that none of these guys end up at Kentucky.
For what it’s worth, KSR did have an encouraging update on Edwards, who seemed to really enjoy his recent visit to Lexington for the win over Mississippi State.
No matter what random camera shots the television viewers caught, I genuinely don’t remember the last time I’ve seen a recruit as invested in a game at Rupp.
As the game went on, Edwards watched every single Kentucky possession I saw when I glanced over, pointing out specific plays and talking to his father in the stands about what he saw. He was standing up with the crowd, clapping for the Wildcats on big plays, shaking hands/hugging fellow Georgia product Ashton Hagans after the game, etc.
Big Blue Nation has learned to trust that John Calipari will come through in one way or another. He could certainly pull an upset and sign one of those top three targets. He could get a stud via reclassification a-la-Ashton Hagans. Or he could try to replicate the Reid Travis experiment and bring in a bruiser to play alongside Richards and Montgomery.
While things do not look great as of now for big men in the 2019 class, I would not count Calipari out until the class is complete.
Top 10 Isaiah Todd DID DAMAGE despite playing limited minutes tonight in a BLOWOUT WIN! (senior night) @TAR_Basketball was operating on ALL cylinders as they took down St. Thomas More!!! ️: @d0nniebui pic.twitter.com/xBJ9fcMHX0— Hoop State Network (@TheHoopState) January 30, 2019