There have been numerous drawn out and precarious recruitments in the John Calipari era, but the saga of N’Faly Dante has been one to remember. It’s now mid-August, and it seems as if his decision is finally approaching
By all indications, the big man is down to Kentucky and Oregon as his top choices. It’s probable that Dante will reclassify to the class of 2019 and be on a college campus in just a matter of weeks. It has been heavily rumored that he is just awaiting the completion of academic requirements before he can officially make the move.
So which program will be blessed with a five-star center that can make an immediate impact at the Division-I level?
Oregon appears to have the edge over Kentucky, but it’s been reported by many to be a close call. UK’s coaching staff has been all over Dante this summer, which culminated with him winning Peach Jam MVP honors. You have to assume that they communicated the opportunity that was in available to the 6-11 Center considering the uncertainty of the frontcourt for this year’s Wildcats.
The only significant update that’s occurred over the last week is Rivals recruiting expert Corey Evans logging a prediction in favor of Oregon for Dante.
Elsewhere, 247 Sports recruiting guru Evan Daniels gave a brief update to The Leach Report on Dante, who should be making his decision very soon.
“I’m not certain where that will be [between Oregon and Kentucky],” Daniels said via KSR. “But I think a decision is coming very, very soon and I feel he will be playing college basketball this fall. He can be very impactful [at the college level], ridiculous length. I think he impacts the game with shot-blocking, rebounding, and finishes well around the basket. He was tremendous at Peach Jam with his MoKan Elite team.”
Here is what the staff at A Sea of Blue think about Dante’s pending decision:
A few weeks ago, it seemed like a certainty that if N’Faly Dante did in fact reclassify, then Kentucky was in good shape for him. Now that idea is a bit cloudier, as Oregon has emerged as a strong contender to land him. I believe that UK is a perfect opportunity and ideal situation for Dante, who can fill a frontcourt depth void at a high profile school like Kentucky. You can only assume that John Calipari and his staff were preaching the idea of his reclassification and the important role he could play on their team.
I am going to stick with what makes the most logical sense and predict that Dante becomes a Kentucky Wildcat. Coach Cal and his staff have been so heavily involved over the past several months that I can’t bet on them missing out.
There is a real scenario where the Big Blue Nation looks back at this decision and uses it as evidence for the good or bad finish in the NCAA Tournament. The void in the paint could be an issue for the Cats if EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards don’t step up in a major way. So adding another body, especially an intriguing prospect like Dante, could prove crucial for the season’s success.
In the 2015-2016 season, Kentucky was a good big man *cough, Dakari Johnson, cough* away from contending for a national title. While there are better options down low on this year’s roster, you cannot help but think an elite big man could make the Wildcats a title favorite.
N’Faly Dante has the build, athleticism, and game that would mesh perfectly with the rest of Kentucky’s current roster. His size would complement both Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery, and his defensive presence would work well with Nate Sestina in the game. He would also draw attention that could create open shots on the wings.
Unfortunately, I just do not get the feeling that this is going to happen for Kentucky. I was actually on campus during Dante’s visit back in July, and while he looked to be having a great time I could not help but wonder why that visit did not lead to more buzz about a potential commitment to Kentucky, for either 2019 or 2020.
I think he ultimately ends up at Oregon, looking for a chance to dominate for a lesser team in a lesser league. I hope he proves me wrong, but I think Kentucky misses on this one.
With the news that we should expect an announcement from N’Faly Dante “very soon,” it looks like it is going to be a battle between the Oregon Ducks and the Kentucky Wildcats to land the 6-11 star center.
I believe that Dante is going to announce a reclassification into the 2019 class, and if he decides to pick the Cats then they will be getting a needed big for this coming season who is ready for the college level.
Dante went up against other top players in this year’s Peach Jam, and we saw him dominate the event including going for 22 points and 18 rebounds in the championship game as well as taking home the MVP.
Kentucky could use him this season to reach their full potential, and while the national perception is he will end up at Oregon, I don’t think we should count out coach Cal just yet.
I’ve seen a lot of talk that N’Faly Dante would simply be icing on the cake at this point for the Cats. While Kentucky is in a solid position to make a Final Four run already, the addition of Dante would be much bigger than these people tend to believe.
There are a lot of questions down low heading into this season. The backcourt is loaded, but people in Lexington are hoping for a huge jump from EJ Montgomery, as well as a decent jump from Nick Richards. Add in the fact that we don’t really know how Nate Sestina will transition from the Patriot League to the SEC and there are a lot of concerns.
These concerns might already have answers, but Dante would solidify the frontcourt and add significant depth. He’s come a long way offensively, but regardless, he’s an elite shot-blocker. I mean he’s really, really good on the defensive end. And he’ll crash the boards.
Dante would take this team from a Final Four threat to a true national title contender. He would help answer and alleviate a lot of the questions and concerns regarding the frontcourt. And if he does end up in the blue and white, I expect him to take away a lot of Richards’ minutes.
With all that being said, I truly believe this is a toss up. Supposedly, there’s been a rift in Dante’s circle about whether he should choose UK or Oregon. When things like this happen, it doesn’t usually seem to go the Cats’ way. It really shouldn’t be hard to choose between the two schools for basketball purposes.
But here we are. There’s a lot of crystal ball picks for Oregon, but Rivals’ Eric Bossi has a FutureCast pick in for UK and he lives in Kansas - where Dante lives - and has close ties to his Mokan Elite AAU team. My head is telling me it’s the Ducks, but I’m going to follow my gut and go out on a limb and say he ends up in Lexington. Go Cats!
This has been a hard recruitment to find a leader for ever since LSU’s recruiting scandal broke and Will Wade was suspended last season. Prior to that, the Tigers were seen as a significant favorite, but the scandal and ensuing NCAA investigation has seemingly taken them out of the mix.
If somehow the NCAA issues a notice of allegations in the coming weeks and they don’t contain anything to suggest LSU will get hit with a postseason ban or have to fire Wade, I still think it’s possible for LSU to pull this one out.
But with fall classes starting soon and the NCAA being notorious for letting these things drag, I don’t think clarity will come in time for Dante to enroll for the fall semester, which effectively takes them out of the running.
So, that leaves Oregon and Kentucky. Both schools have gotten buzz at various points over the last month, though the recent winds have been blowing toward the Ducks.
Something I find interesting is that while Dante is widely expected to reclassify and supposedly he’s completed the coursework to do so, he has yet to announce he’ll make the move. Maybe he’s waiting to do so when he commits to school, or perhaps his academic situation isn’t settled yet.
With school starting at Kentucky next week, Dante is running out of time to enroll for the fall semester.
Oregon, on the other hand, operates on the quarters system, and their next semester beings in October, giving Dante plenty of time to get everything in order to make the jump.
Unless Dante is simply torn on where he wants to play, I’m wondering if this is a situation where he’ll pick Kentucky if everything gets sorted out on time, but if not, will end up Oregon by default since no one else is really in the running at this point.
This is just pure speculation. All I know is the recent momentum is in favor of the Ducks, who definitely need Dante a lot more than Kentucky does. There’s no real competition for Dante to take the 5 spot in Eugene and have a major role next season, whereas he’ll have to earn his spot at Kentucky over Nick Richards, EJ Montgomery, and/or Nate Sestina, depending on how Calipari wants to use his lineups this year (he could play a lot of small-ball with Kahlil Whitney/Keion Brooks at the 4 and Nate/Nick/EJ at the 5).’
All told, Oregon is the school getting the most buzz at the moment, so I’m siding with the Ducks.