In case you haven’t heard yet, the long awaited, quiet recruiting saga of Jaden McDaniels is over, as he opted to stay home and play for the Washington Huskies. After weeks of Kentucky and the Huskies battling, the Wildcats just could not bring the west coast kid to the east coast.
Now that John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats staff missed on the last remaining uncommitted player, where do they go from here?
Let’s look at the few options they have.
Kerry Blackshear Jr.
The big one, of course, is Kerry Blackshear Jr. from Virginia Tech. Kentucky has inquired about Blackshear ever since he opted to throw his name in the transfer portal over a month ago, and most people seem to think that Kentucky is the leader to land him.
However, Blackshear must opt to return to college before Kentucky can have a chance at landing him. KBJ is participating in the Professional Basketball Combine, which I wrote about and you can read all about here. After not getting an invite to either the NBA combine or the G-League combine, Blackshear was invited to the Pro Basketball Combine, along with 23 other players, in hopes of getting a two-way NBA contract.
While not getting an invite to either the NBA or G-League combine normally gives a kid a good indication that they need to return to school, I actually think that KBJ is just tired of playing college ball and wants to move on.
But, as I said, if he were to withdraw his name from the draft and return, I would put Kentucky as the team to beat for his services, followed by Texas A&M with the hiring of his former coach Buzz Williams, and the Florida Gators being the hometown school.
There are four main targets for Kentucky to after for a potential re-classification; Isaiah Todd, Makur Maker, Cliff Omoruyi, and N’Faly Dante.
Both Todd and Dante are top-ten players in the class of 2020 and both are seen as major targets for Kentucky and Coach Cal.
We touched on Dante’s recruitment just two weeks ago, but it still holds true that Dante could indeed still make the jump to 2019 and if he does that, then Kentucky would be in a decent spot to land the No. 8 player in 2020. However, according to Jack Pilgrim of KSR, the two schools in the best position for Dante are LSU and Oregon.
I have no doubt that, if worst comes to worst with KBJ and EJ Montgomery, that Cal would go all-in, and convince Dante, who I think is the most likely option to make the jump and become Cat this season.
Isaiah Todd currently has 50% of his crystal ball trending toward Kentucky at this very moment. Todd has been seen as a lock to end up at Kentucky for a while, and the No. 19 player in the country could even be the first player to commit to the Wildcats should he opt to stay in the class of 2020.
There was rumblings a couple months ago that Todd might make the jump to 2019, but as Ben Roberts of Kentucky.com reported, Todd said he has no plans of re-classifying to 2019 right now and that he is “100 percent” staying in the class of 2020.
However, Todd was asked if he would make the jump if a team was in desperate need for another big man, like Kentucky, would he make the jump?
Asked over the weekend if he would reconsider a move to 2019 if a program — like Kentucky — really needed another big man next season, Todd grinned.
That doesn’t sound like it’s “100 percent” that he’s sticking in 2020, but reclassification is still seen as a long shot to those who have been closely following Todd’s recruitment.
Makur Maker, related to Thon Maker, received a visit from Kentucky back in April and a scholarship could soon be on the way, Maker is 19 and already eligible to re-classify.
Cliff Omoruyi is the last known name of the bunch, but has already received an offer from Kentucky and as Jack Pilgrim wrote, “was nearly in tears when Kentucky extended a scholarship.” There is a great chance that Omoruyi ends up at Kentucky, but it’s more than likely to be part of the 2020 class.
Todd is seen as the last likely option to make the jump to 2019 and commit to the Wildcats. All four players are on the table, and we know that Coach Cal can work wonders and convince a kid to re-classify and come to Kentucky (Ashton Hagans, Johnny Juzang, etc.)
Returning Big Men
The two remaining draft decisions for Kentucky have one week to make their intentions known for next season.
While Nick Richards is expected back next year, EJ Montgomery is not as clear. Richards had just been going through workouts to get feedback and improve his game for next season, nothing wrong with that.
EJ Montgomery, however, is getting foggier and foggier every day. After originally saying he would only go if he was a guaranteed lottery pick, he changed it to first-round pick. And now, Matt Jones of KSR has been saying on his radio show that EJ had been close to leaving. But according to TJ Walker on Kentucky Roll Call, there is growing belief that Montgomery is coming back for a second season at Kentucky.
If EJ were to leave, It could be the case that EJ is just wanting a guarantee from a team, no matter the round, similar to Jarred Vanderbilt last year.
I believe it’s still more likely than not that EJ returns for next season. If he does, he could have a Willie Cauley-Stein-esque improvement from his Freshman to Sophomore year and could have the chance to anchor Kentucky’s frontcourt next season.