Welcome to SEC Country’s weekly Kentucky Wildcats basketball podcast, “Everybody’s Superpod,” with Kyle Tucker. Today, we chatted with Evan Daniels, the director of recruiting at Scout.com and college basketball insider for Fox Sports 1. Among many conversation topics: UK’s chances with the top uncommitted prospect in the country.
John Calipari already has six top-50 recruits from the Class of 2017 in the fold. Signing No. 10 Hamidou Diallo, No. 13 P.J. Washington, No. 14 Jarred Vanderbilt, No. 16 Nick Richards, No. 24 Quade Green and No. 45 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (per Scout’s rankings) would be any other coach’s dream.
“This is the best recruiting class in the country. There’s a lot of depth and a lot of athleticism and it covers just about every position,” Daniels said. BUT … “It doesn’t necessarily have that top-tier, elite guy that maybe they’ve gotten over the past few years, like a (De’Aaron) Fox or an Anthony Davis or guys like that.”
The good news for Kentucky fans: Calipari isn’t done. In fact, 5-star center Mohamed Bamba, the No. 2 overall prospect in the country, is visiting Lexington this weekend. He fits the “elite” bill that would take the Cats’ class from terrific to ridiculous.
“He’s most definitely that type of guy,” Daniels said. “He’s 6-foot-11, pushing 7 feet tall, with a 7-8 wingspan and a 9-7 standing reach. That standing reach, I believe, would be No. 2 in the NBA right now. His best days are ahead of him. His length just impacts the game in so many ways.”
Bamba, who likely won’t announce a decision until spring, has narrowed his college choices to Kentucky, Duke, Michigan and Texas. He’s already taken official visits to Ann Arbor and Austin, and he’s planning a trip to Durham next month. So where do the Wildcats stand?
“I wouldn’t count out Texas,” Daniels said, “but I feel like it’s going to come down to Kentucky and Duke.”
Green, the Wildcats’ 5-star point guard signee, has been actively recruiting Bamba to join him – again. They played on the same AAU team. Diallo, who enrolled early and is already practicing with the Wildcats, has also vowed to put on the hard sell to Bamba. And if it works?
“When you add a guy of that stature, with that length, that type of defensive potential, ability to protect the rim, it’s pretty game-changing,” Daniels said. “I think anybody that watched Kentucky’s team when they had Anthony Davis saw that. I don’t think he’s quite the shot blocker that Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel was, at least at this stage, but his length can have such a big impact on the game.”
Check out the complete podcast below to hear how Daniels got his start as a recruiting analyst – it was a humble beginning – what he thinks of the rest of UK’s 2017 class, how Calipari’s success with one-and-dones has changed college basketball and Daniels’ biggest talent-evaluation misses (overachievers and underachievers) among past Cats.
Miss Episode 1 of “Everybody’s Superpod” with Jay Bilas? Find every edition of SEC Country’s weekly Kentucky Wildcats basketball podcast right here.