The buzz about a Paolo Banchero reclassification has been picking up steam again after John Calipari paid a visit to the top-five recruit recently.
However, Ben Roberts of the Lexington Herald-Leader reports that it’s highly unlikely Banchero ends up being part of the 2020 class.
The Herald-Leader was told following Calipari’s visit last week — the latest in a string of West Coast trips to see Banchero over the past few months — that there was virtually no chance the 6-foot-9 forward would jump to the 2020 class, a move that has been talked about in recruiting circles but one that Banchero has shot down repeatedly.
There was speculation that Calipari visited Banchero last week in hopes of pushing the reclassification pitch, but Roberts reports that was not the case, and it was instead, “a statement by Kentucky that Banchero is simply that important to the program.”
Depending on who returns for UK next season and if they’re able to land 1-2 more big men from a group of Cliff Omoruyi, Greg Brown and Kai Sotto, UK’s frontcourt could already be deep enough to contend for a title. Or, it could be dangerously thin and in need of a guy like Banchero to ensure the 2020-21 Wildcats are a strong national title contender.
UK will lose Nate Sestina to graduation and likely Nick Richards to the NBA Draft, but EJ Montgomery doesn’t appear to have much, if any NBA stock right now, and Keion Brooks should be back for his sophomore season to go with incoming forwards Lance Ware and Isaiah Jackson.
If Montgomery returns, the frontcourt will be fine. But if not, adding 1-2 more bigs becomes imperative for Calipari, and it sounds like Banchero won’t be an option.
The good news is there are other 2021 reclassification candidates in Moussa Cisse, Moussa Diabate and Frank Kepang, not to mention potential grad transfer options. UK will have plenty of chances to add another big man for next season, but it sounds like you can scratch Banchero off that list.
Be sure to read Roberts’ full report for more insight into the recruitment of Banchero, who could end up being the No. 1 overall recruit in 2021.