Expert: Kentucky’s class No. 1 “without question,” might be John Calipari’s best
It’s been a whirlwind week for Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari, whose big win over Duke on Tuesday night has been overshadowed by his work on the recruiting trail.
The country’s No. 1 shooting guard, Malik Monk, committed to the Wildcats on Wednesday, becoming the third 5-star player to do so in the past week.
We called up Scout.com’s director of basketball recruiting, Evan Daniels, to get his take on Kentucky’s red-hot run.
“In my mind, without question, this is the No. 1 recruiting class in the country,” Daniels said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s got the nation’s best point guard. The nation’s top shooting guard. One of the best wings in the country. The No. 2 center in the country. And then another guy ranked No. 29 in the country. Those five guys; they cover a lot of ground and they fill a lot of needs.”
If you’ve lost track of all the talent, the following lineup is coming to Lexington next year (with 247Sports.com rankings): Point guard De’Aaron Fox (No. 3 overall), shooting guard Monk (No. 6), small forward Wenyen Gabriel (No. 16), power forward Sacha Killeya-Jones (No. 26) and center Edrice Adebayo (No. 10).
“It’s a great group,” Daniels said. “This is up there with one of his best.”
He called Calipari’s 2013 class — which included Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison and James Young — the coach’s greatest feat but said 2016 might not be far behind.
“This one’s comparable,” he said. “I think on paper, we don’t really know how these classes will turn out until they step on the floor. You know, maybe some of those guys in 2013 didn’t turn out as good as we thought they would, like the Harrison twins.”
None of Kentucky’s new commits will be flying under the radar, but Daniels said Gabriel might be able to surprise his early detractors.
“Wenyen Gabriel went from unranked to No. 10 in the country from the beginning of summer to the end of summer,” Daniels said. “So he’s probably the guy that’s been on the national scene the least. I think he has tremendous upside. Long, mobile, athletic, versatile. Can step out and make jump shots, and can also mix it up inside a little. He’s one of the nation’s elite players.”
The Wildcats will be putting an incredible amount of talent on the floor next season. It’ll be a collection perhaps matched only by — you guessed it — Duke, which 247Sports.com says has the No. 1 class (Daniels and Scout.com disagree).
“It’s probably pretty safe to say Kentucky will have the most talent,” he said. “I’m sure Duke’s gonna bring some guys back. They’re bringing in Harry Giles (No. 2 overall) and Jayson Tatum (No. 4), and their class is close. They’re gonna have a ridiculous amount of talent.”
The way Tuesday night’s game went, Kentucky won’t shy away from a potential rematch next year.