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The curse of California and Kentucky basketball

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Historically speaking, guys from California don’t typically work out at Kentucky. That’s been painfully evident under John Calipari.

NCAA Basketball: Tennessee at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Editor’s note: Following the news that Devin Askew will transfer, we decided to republish this article from one year ago following the 2020 offseason departure of Johnny Juzang.


With the news of Johnny Juzang’s transfer, it makes you wonder: do guys from California ever work out at Kentucky?

As the Kentucky Wildcats have lost California players via the transfer portal in consecutive seasons, it’s a fair question to ask. And while it’s not usually the best idea to make generalizations like that, this one might have some footing.

According to @bigbluehistory on Twitter, 15 players from California have played at Kentucky. Of those 15, only four have completed their eligibility at UK.

Of course, Juzang and Jemarl Baker are the most recent transferees, but you can’t forget guys like Marcus Lee and Kyle Wiltjer that also transferred during the Calipari era.

EJ Floreal didn’t transfer, but he did switch to track and field and ended his basketball career. Michael Porter graduated a year early.

But with all trends, there are always outliers. And for the Cats, two of the four players that have made it through Lexington were certainly huge pieces of the program then and now.

Tayshaun Prince and Chuck Hayes are Kentucky basketball icons, Prince being one of the most widely loved UK players of all time.

Personally, I loved Derrick Jasper when he played at Kentucky. I’m not entirely sure why—maybe his size, length, and versatility—but I thought he had the potential to be a special player before Billy Gillespie came along and Jasper made his way closer to home.

So, what does all this mean? Maybe nothing, but it’s something to keep in mind. Throw in the fact that Kentucky’s possible starting point guard next season—Devin Askew—is a probable multi-year guy from California and it’s certainly something in the back of a lot of people’s minds.

Moreover, the Cats starting point guard the following year will most likely be Skyy Clark and he’s from California, too.

As I said, with all trends come outliers. Let’s just hope Askew and, potentially, Clark, are more like Prince and Hayes than Baker and Juzang.

Askew, in particular, is a competitor and I know he’s ready to hop on the college basketball scene and make some noise. But with the possible return of Immanuel Quickley, it could push him to a role off the bench.

Only time will tell, but if the trend continues, Coach Cal and the Cats might have to consider looking other places for their talent going forward.