After failing to land a big man in the 2019 class, John Calipari scooped up Bucknell big man Nate Sestina to add depth to Kentucky’s frontcourt. With the incoming class stacked with small forwards alongside Tyrese Maxey, it seemed as though the roster was close to being set, although there are a few big fish out there.
On Wednesday, however, it was discovered that guard Jemarl Baker hard entered the transfer portal. It seems that he wants to play closer to home, and it is hard to blame him for that.
The backcourt currently consists of sophomores Immanuel Quickley and Ashton Hagans, freshman Tyrese Maxey, and...that’s it. It’s great to have three quality guys that can run the point, and Quickley and Maxey can both play off of the ball.
But what happens when one of them gets hurt or in foul trouble?
Perhaps Cal can put in a bigger lineup and put one of the other incoming freshman at that spot. But it seems pretty clear that more depth is needed in the backcourt.
There may be a few more guard prospects out there for 2019, but none that Calipari has offered a scholarship to. So, it seems the most logically place to grab a quality guard could be the transfer portal. There are a few guys that would be immediately eligible that may be just what Kentucky needs.
The majority of top transfers seem to be big men, but there are a few listed in ESPN’s top 50 that Calipari may take a flyer on.
Admon Gilder - Texas A&M
Gilder is a redshirt junior from Texas A&M. He missed the entire 2018-2019 season due to injury, but he may have just the skill set Kentucky needs. In his sophomore year, he averaged 12.3 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. He is a strong defender. And he his 39.5% of his three-pointers that season. It is tough to find a guy with a higher percentage that is still available. He also has experience playing in the SEC, so he would not have to adjust from mid-major competition.
Jaevin Cumberland - Oakland
Cumberland is a high volume scorer. He averaged over 17 points per game for the Oakland Golden Grizzlies. He hit 40% of his shots from deep last season as well. His brother is Cincinnati guard Jarron Cumberland. Could he be looking to make a move closer to family?
Cameron Justice - Vanderbilt, IUPUI
The Hindman, KY native exploded in 2018-2019 at IUPUI after struggling for two years with the Vanderbilt Commodores. He averaged 18.6 points last season, shooting over 35% from deep. While he would not come to Kentucky and immediately compete for minutes, he could be a solid backup option. And we all know that having a home-state player on the team (joining Dontaie Allen, of course) really gets the fan base excited.
Jake Toolson - BYU, Utah Valley
Toolson has played for Mark Pope at Utah Valley the last two seasons. In 2018-2019, he averaged 15.7 points per game. His major selling point, however, is shooting. Toolson knocked down a staggering 44.8% of his three-point attempts last season. If shooting is what Calipari feels like he is missing, Toolson might be worth a look.
Terrell Allen - UCF
If Calipari is looking for a defensive ball-stopper, Allen can do just that. He would have to get more comfortable playing off the ball, as he has primarily ran the point at UCF. However, he is very strong defensive player. Oh, and he shot 40.6% from three last year. So if you’re looking for a direct replacement for Baker’s skill set, Allen might be the closest available prospect.
Bubba Parham - VMI
This one may be a bit of a stretch, at only 5-11, 155 pounds. But Parham is a very dangerous scorer. In shooting 40% from deep, he averaged 21.4 points per game in 2018-2019. He put up 35 points against Kentucky back in November, hitting 10 of 16 three-point attempts. If he can consistently hit 60% of his threes in Rupp Arena he’d be a great addition, but he won’t be eligible until 2010-21.
There will be other guys that come available in the next few weeks, and Calipari could certainly look to get a 2020 recruit to reclassify. But as far as graduate transfers go, these are some of the top players in the portal that are eligible immediately. Are there any of these guys you’d like to see rock Kentucky blue next season?