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Kentucky contacts Virginia Tech grad transfer Kerry Blackshear

The big man is the best transfer on the market.

Virginia Tech v Duke Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats have already landed one big man graduate transfer for next season. Nate Sestina represents Coach John Calipari’s changing philosophies after he saw the huge impact another grad transfer, Reid Travis, made on this year’s team.

With the Cats slim on frontcourt options for next season, there’s another name in the transfer portal who got a call from Lexington: Kerry Blackshear, Jr.

Blackshear announced via Instagram that he would be entering his name into the 2019 NBA Draft, as well as entering the the NCAA Transfer Portal.

Blackshear is a 6-10, 250-pound big man for the Virginia Tech Hokies. He did leave open the possibility of a return to Blacksburg, but it doesn’t seem likely after his head coach, Buzz Williams, recently left for Texas A&M.

Next season, Kentucky will likely return Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery and add Sestina and Keion Brooks, Jr. Brooks is more of a wing, but he can play the four, especially in small-ball lineups.

Yes, Sestina is a great addition and a very good college basketball player, but he’s no Travis. He’s a guy that will probably come off the bench and give you a spark, as well as add some veteran leadership, but he won’t dominate the way Travis did.

Clearly, the Cats are in need of some more help in the frontcourt. The best possible options in the 2019 recruiting class are Jaden McDaniels and Matthew Hurt. McDaniels is nowhere near a decision, nor he is much of a force on the block. He’s more like a Kevin Knox type of forward. And Hurt is likely headed to Duke.

There are a couple 2020 big men like N’Faly Dante or Makur Maker who could reclassify, but they’re raw prospects trying to get to the NBA as soon as possible.

Blackshear is better than any recruit available. I’d take him over almost any big man in the 2019 recruiting class. He’s a proven college basketball player with experience in the best conference in the country.

Last season, Blackshear averaged 14.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. He was also a 73.6 percent free throw shooter and made 21 threes. He had 18 points and five rebounds in Rupp a couple of seasons ago. His long-range shot has steadily improved over the course of his career and he could continue to work on that in Lexington, a la PJ Washington and Travis.

And it’s also good news for Kentucky that he’s testing the NBA waters. That would give UK a chance to figure things out with Hurt and McDaniels. Remember, players have until the end of May before they have to pull their name out of the draft.

Kentucky could pick up a player like McDaniels and forget about Blackshear. Or they could miss out and it would give them plenty of time to still pursue him.

I’m not sure if Blackshear’s interested in coming to UK. I’m sure College Station will be on his short list, but Cal should definitely make him a priority. He has the potential to be the Reid Travis of next year’s squad.