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Get to know UK transfer target Adam Kunkel

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Could UK land the Bluegrass native?

Temple V Belmont Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats have been extremely busy when it comes to landing transfers this offseason.

John Calipari and company have already added Olivier Sarr, Davion Mintz and Jacob Toppin over the past few months, and now there is another name to watch.

Belmont transfer and Hebron (KY) native Adam Kunkel entered the transfer portal Tuesday and the Wildcats reportedly have already reached out, per a report from Kentucky Sports Radio’s Jack Pilgrim, who says that Kunkel was actually considering Kentucky as a potential grad transfer destination next year.

Back in June, speculation grew louder in Northern Kentucky that Kunkel was contemplating a transfer, with sources telling KSR that Kentucky was a school the Belmont star had his eye on and would seriously consider if the interest was mutual.

Kentucky is expected to watch Kunkel’s film this evening and continue maintaining contact throughout the week.

Kentucky joins a long list including nearby Louisville and Cincinnati in addition to Kansas, Iowa State, Xavier and Arkansas of schools that have already reached out to the former Bruin.

Tale of the Tape

  • Position: Guard
  • Class for 2021-22 Season: Junior
  • Hometown: Hebron, Kentucky
  • Height: 6’3
  • Weight: 165
  • High School: Cooper High School
  • Recruiting Ranking: Unranked in Class of 2018

Outlook: Kunkel committed to Belmont after a successful high school career at Cooper High School in Union, Kentucky. He picked the Bruins over a final list of schools that included Wofford, Lipscomb, Northern Kentucky, Chattanooga and Indiana State.

Kunkel arrived in Nashville for the 2018-19 season where he was held to just 9.3 minutes per game as a true freshman in which he played in 25 games, averaged 2.3 points, 0.7 assists and 0.6 rebounds. The Bruins reached the 2019 NCAA Tournament where they were defeated by Maryland in the Round of 64.

As a sophomore, however, Kunkel broke out in a big way. He was named to the Ohio Valley Conference first-team after averaging 16.5 points per game with 2.6 assists and 2.8 rebounds.

Some of Kunkel’s biggest performances included:

  • 35 points on 10/20 shooting in a win at Boston College
  • 28 points on 10/14 shooting in a win vs. Samford
  • 27 points on 10/18 shooting and three rebounds in a win vs. Lipscomb
  • 26 points on 10/18 shooting, four rebounds and four assists in a win vs. Jacksonville State

Kunkel led the Bruins to a 26-7 overall record and remarkable 15-3 conference record that included a 12-game win streak to end the regular season. He went onto lead the Bruins to the finals of the OVC Tournament Championship Game, where they beat Murray State in a 76-75 thriller that saw him score 16 points with five assists, including the pass to Tyler Scanlon for the game-winning layup with three seconds left.

If the NCAA Tournament had been held, Kunkel and the Bruins were projected to be a 14 seed in the Midwest Region by ESPN’s Joe Lunardi, where they would’ve taken on the Duke Blue Devils.

“Belmont will always have a special place in my heart, but I’ve been faced with a difficult decision to make,” Kunkel wrote on Twitter on his decision to transfer. “After lots of thought and prayer, I’ve decided to enter the transfer portal. Knowing my goals and aspirations, this feels like the best decision for me and I am excited about this new chapter in my life.”

It’s unclear what Kentucky’s true interest is in Kunkel, but if they were to land them, they’d be adding a proven shooter with experience playing in a winning culture and even an NCAA Tournament game.

Kunkel will have to sit out the 2020-21 season if not granted an instant eligibility waiver but will have two years left of eligibility remaining afterward. Saying this, it’s been clear this offseason that the NCAA will just about automatically give out waivers to players transferring closer to home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

So, if Kunkel were to transfer to somewhere like Kentucky or Louisville, he’d have a good case to be eligible next season, at least based on how the NCAA has ruled on transfer waivers thus far.

Would Kentucky want him to be eligible next season and join a loaded backcourt that includes Brandon Boston, Terrence Clarke, Devin Askew and Davion Mintz?

Or would Kentucky want him to redshirt and begin what would be his redshirt junior season in 2021-22? That would give him an extra year to develop in Kentucky’s system, not to mention gradually take on a bigger role in a backcourt that likely loses Boston and Clarke to the NBA while Mintz graduates.

Who knows, but it’s clear both sides have some level of interest in the other.

Below, watch more of Kunkel’s highlights from TheBallNeverStops on Youtube. Then, look at his 35-point game against Power 5 foe Boston College from Next Ones.

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