John Calipari has had an odd run lately of missing out on top frontcourt recruits. Even with guys like Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins, and Karl-Anthony Towns on his resume, big men have consistently been deciding that Lexington is not the place for them. That could all change in 2021.
Paolo Banchero is a consensus top-five recruit, as well as the No. 1 overall power forward in the 2021 recruiting class. Banchero has been on Coach Cal’s radar for quite some time, and likely tried to get him to reclassify and play for Kentucky this fall. While that obviously has not happened, Kentucky has made Banchero’s list of the final six schools he is considering.
Here’s what Banchero said specifically about Kentucky:
“Coach [John Calipari], coach [Tony] Barbee, coach [Kenny] Payne, their resume speaks for itself especially when it comes to my position that count as big, they go pro and be All-Stars and have great college careers. Their pitch to me has always been come in and be the next one, let me play my game, do it all, make plays with the ball in my hands and stuff like that and the big stage will help me fulfill my goal and dream of being a lottery pick, top five pick.”
As for when a decision will be made, Banchero is leaning towards a spring decision, for now.
“I would say that it all depends,” Banchero said. “I don’t see myself committing in the fall and I won’t commit during the season because I want to focus on my season so maybe something happens and I commit in the fall but if not then after the season. So anywhere from March to this time next year.”
But don’t sleep on Tennessee, who has made up a lot of ground in this recruitment, and they’re currently viewed as the favorites for 20201 point guard Kennedy Chandler, someone Banchero has said he’d like to play with in college.
Another thing to watch is Kentucky’s recent track record with west coast players. While Calipari has landed a few in the last five or six seasons, almost all of them have ended up transferring back out west. That is certainly not to say this would happen with Banchero, but it is certainly a trend worth remembering.
Banchero has said this is his final cut and his next announcement will be about the school he plans to attend. We have no idea when that will be, but for Kentucky to have made it this far in his recruitment has to be a good sign.
Where do you see Banchero ultimately landing?