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3 new names to watch for on the recruiting trail for Kentucky

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Kentucky is still looking for frontcourt help in 2019, and some new names are emerging.

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Calipari Sea of Blue

With the fall signing period almost here, Kentucky still doesn’t have a frontcourt commitment in the 2019 class.

While John Calipari got off to a hot start with Tyrese Maxey, Dontaie Allen and Khalil Whitney, there’s still a major need in the paint with Reid Travis set to graduate, and all three of PJ Washington, EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards could be in the NBA next year.

That would mean, as of now, Kentucky doesn’t have a frontcourt player for the 2019-20 season. The good news is Kentucky is still firmly in the running for James Wiseman, Vernon Carey, Isaiah Stewart and Matthew Hurt.

The bad news is many recruiting experts expect all four players to end up elsewhere, leaving Kentucky in search for new options.

On Tuesday, Rivals recruiting analyst Corey Evans floated three names that Kentucky could get involved with or may already be looking at.

There has been whispers that Kentucky has expressed interest in five-star forward C.J. Walker and it would not surprise me to see the Wildcats get involved with Kofi Cockburn and Precious Achiuwa. I also wouldn’t be shocked if Kentucky hit the grad-transfer market again, just as the program did last spring with Stanford’s Reid Travis.

Evans also thinks Duke and Michigan State are now the biggest threats for Carey, which makes those three new names even more important for John Calipari to get in the mix with.

Kofi Cockburn is the only one of the three that Kentucky has had previous interest in before getting cut from his list. The 6-10, 280-pounder is a true old-school big man that could develop into a great college center. He’ll probably be a multi-year player, however, that may not be ready to log heavy minutes as a freshman, which may be why Kentucky never offered him.

Saying this, if Cockburn takes his recruitment into the spring, Kentucky should know by then what Wiseman, Carey, Stewart and possibly Hurt will do. If Kentucky misses on all four and Cockburn is still out there, expect Kentucky to ramp up its interest. UConn is the current favorite for the Oak Hill Academy star.

And remember, Cockburn is teammates with Cole Anthony, arguably the best player in 2019, so getting the former could help with the latter.

Then there’s C.J. Walker, who Kentucky has shown no interest in publicly until this report by Evans came out. The 6-8, 200-pounder is actually listed as a small forward by Rivals, while ESPN and 247 have him as a power forward.

Walker is ranked 31st overall by 247 Sports Composite, which measures all of the recruiting services. Miami, Oregon and LSU are the biggest contenders right now, but as usual, an offer from Kentucky could be a game-changer in his recruitment.

If Kentucky believes he can make an impact as a 4 in college, then it makes sense for them to show more interest as the fall period inches closer. The Florida native is ranked 24th overall by Rivals.

As for Precious Achiuwa, his recruitment has been a puzzling one to say the least. He’s a consensus top-10 recruit that has gotten little interest from the blue bloods, as schools like UConn, St. John’s, Syracuse and Memphis are getting crystal ball predictions, though he does have an offer from Kansas.

Listed as 6-9 and 215 pounds by Rivals, Achiuwa is ranked as high as fifth overall by 247 Sports. He’s another combo forward that Kentucky would almost certainly recruit to be a 4 in Lexington. He plays at Montverde Academy in Florida but is a Bronx native.

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