The Kentucky Wildcats got big news Wednesday when Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr announced his commitment to John Calipari’s program. However, Calipari still has some work to do in finishing off the 2020-21 basketball roster.
Coming into the week, the belief was that Kentucky would add two players from a three-man group of Sarr, Evansville transfer DeAndre Williams, and four-star high school recruit Frank Anselem. Calipari has technically never filled all 13 scholarship spots since coming to UK, though there were a few instances where he awarded scholarships to walk-ons prior to the season. He also likes having an extra scholarship open in case there’s a big mid-year enrollee like Hamidou Diallo in 2016-17.
Because of this, we should assume Kentucky won’t fill out the 13-man roster for next season with 13 actual scholarship players.
And with Sarr’s commitment, that means we’re likely looking at just one more addition for next season between Anselem and Williams.
Both players are vastly different, as Williams is more of a point forward who can score at all three levels but isn’t going to give Kentucky much paint defense. He’d also be slated to play the 4 spot, which is where Keion Brooks Jr. figures to play a lot next season. He can also play the 3, but that’s where Brandon Boston and Terrence Clarke figure to log heavy minutes.
There is really no doubt that Williams is going to be the better player next season, and his addition could propel Kentucky into being a national title favorite. He would also be another experienced veteran who actually won at Kentucky while with the Purple Aces last season and had outings of 37 points vs. Miami-Ohio, 26 vs. Ball State and 28 vs. Valparaiso.
However, Williams has a few red flags that could scare Kentucky off. He was a non-qualifier his first year at Evansville, then missed almost half of last season with a back injury. Kentucky has not exactly had great luck with injuries in recent years either.
While Williams is easily the superior player between himself and Anselem (Williams has the potential to be one of Kentucky’s top three players), how much of an upgrade is he going to be over a sophomore Brooks, especially for a program that’s had major sophomore breakouts the last two years from PJ Washington and Immanuel Quickley? That is not to mention the fact that Lance Ware and Isaiah Jackson are two promising players who will mainly play the 4 next season.
Anselem would actually give Kentucky another athletic center who can actually defend the post with a 6-10 body and 7-5 wingspan. He is not going to give Kentucky much of anything on offense early on outside of some lob dunks, but he can help solidify the Wildcats’ interior defense.
What makes Anselem even more important is that there is no guarantee Sarr will be eligible next season. He has to get a waiver from the NCAA, and The Athletic’s Kyle Tucker makes it sound like this eligibility case will be a toss-up that could go either way.
If Sarr does not play, then Anselem is potentially the only true center Kentucky would have next season, if he ultimately commits. He would also be a true freshman who should be in college for 3-4 years, whereas Williams is a junior and could leave for the NBA next season (he is actually still testing the waters for the 2020 NBA Draft).
Kentucky fans have been (rightfully) clamoring for Calipari to recruit more multi-year players to balance out a roster that’s typically full of guys leaving after 1-2 years, which really came to a head this offseason with eight players departing, six of which were either freshmen or sophomores. Anselem is a guy who everyone expects to be in school for the foreseeable future.
So, who do you think Kentucky ‘will’ land to finish off the 2020-21 roster? Who do you think they ‘should’ want? Let us know in the comments section.
Who should UK target for next season?
This poll is closed
Neither. The roster is set.
Hold out for a different name to emerge.