Are you worried, Kentucky fans, about the Wildcats heading into college basketball’s early signing period without a single pledge from the Class of 2017? Don’t be.
“They’ll probably end up with at least two commitments” this week, Scout.com recruiting director Evan Daniels said, “and it’s not out of the question that they could be up to four or five.”
Center Nick Richards and power forward P.J. Washington, both 5-star Kentucky targets, will announce their decisions on Thursday – Richards at 2 p.m. at his high school and Washington at 6 p.m. on ESPNU’s live signing-period special.
“I think (Richards) has been a lean to Kentucky for a long time,” Daniels said, adding of Washington: “I like Kentucky for him, too.”
The Wildcats are also in great shape to land 4-star combo guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a former Florida commit who visited Lexington over the weekend. If he also pulls the trigger in the next few days, that would give Kentucky at least three top-50 players (per Scout’s rankings) in the early period: No 14 Washington, No. 17 Richards and No. 46 Gilgeous-Alexander.
That would vault the Cats from unranked to probably the No. 2 class in the country, Daniels said. “No question they’re going to end up 1 or 2. If Kentucky starts their class with P.J. Washington and Nick Richards, they’re off to a great start.”
John Petty, a 4-star shooting guard from Alabama, is also making his announcement Thursday night, but the Crimson Tide are now expected to land the one-time Wildcats lean. Likewise, 5-star point guard Quade Green’s announcement on Nov. 19, just after the early signing period, is not expected to go in Kentucky’s favor. Syracuse looks like the favorite there.
But if fellow 5-star point guard Trae Young – John Calipari’s top target at the position – decides to announce early, UK is in great shape. Kansas and his hometown Oklahoma Sooners are the top competition for Young.
“It’s definitely a possibility that Trae Young does something. His father told me it’s something they’re looking into and thinking about,” Daniels said. “Originally it was a foregone conclusion that they were going to wait, but I think they’re rethinking that.”
Daniels also believes there is a chance 5-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker, who visited UK this weekend and attended the Wildcats’ wild, 93-point exhibition win, could decide early. No announcement has been set for him, but Daniels likes the Calipari’s position there, too.
“And then there’s a lot of guys Kentucky is on that are waiting,” he said. “Guys like Mohamed Bamba, Kevin Knox, Hamidou Diallo. That’s three top-10 players right there. And then there’s some wild cards like Jarred Vanderbilt. I don’t think anybody knows what he’s thinking. But when it’s all said and done, Kentucky is going to have another great class.”
KENTUCKY’S 2017 TARGETS (Scout.com rankings)
Likely early signees: No. 14 P.J. Washington (6-8 PF), No. 17 Nick Richards (7-0 C), No. 46 Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (6-5 PG)
Possible early signees: No. 22 Trae Young (6-2 PG), No. 23 Lonnie Walker (6-4 SG)
Likely to sign elsewhere early: No. 25 Quade Green (6-0 PG), No. 44 John Petty (6-5 SG)
Likely to sign in spring: No. 2 Mohamed Bamba (6-11 C), No. 7 Kevin Knox (6-8 SF), No. 10 Hamidou Diallo (6-6 SG), No. 15 Jarred Vanderbilt (6-7 PF)