2014 Kentucky Basketball Recruiting Notes
- Updated: December 4, 2013
John Calipari has already stocked up the #1 Ranked Recruiting Class in the country thus far by pulling in commitments from 5 Star Forwards Karl Towns and Trey Lyles, along with 5 Star SG Devin Booker and 4 Star PG Tyler Ulis. While this class is strong as it is, it looks like Calipari is looking to take it to another level. With a max exodus of players leaving for the NBA likely after this season extremely possible, Cal will have to build depth for next year and the years following. Here is what he may have planned.
Rumors began swirling yesterday that Kentucky and 5 Star SG Rashad Vaughn have reestablished talks and there is extreme mutual interest. Vaughn previously cut UK from his list due to a lack of interest from Calipari, mostly due to the fact that Cal was focusing on Fall signees, but obviously that interest has been revitalized. Some considered Vaughn a lock to UK in the past when interest was high, so look for this to become a possibility again as his recruitment heats up. Rashad is one of the top scorers in the country, possessing unique ability as an NBA range 3-Point shooter, along with extreme athleticism to score at will around the basket. Vaughn has the size Calipari loves in a Guard, standing 6’5, 205 lbs, which creates great mismatches with smaller defenders. UK fans were quite disappointed when James Blackmon Jr. committed to Indiana, but when they realize how good Vaughn is, they’ll completely forget Blackmon existed. If Calipari can pull in Vaughn to this class, look for UK’s backcourt to be extremely talented next season.
One name that UK fans may not be very familiar with is 5 Star Small Forward Jonah Bolden out of Nevada’s Findlay Prep. Bolden is an under-the-radar prospect that UK fans would love to have suit up in Blue and White. Bolden has shot up the rankings recently due to his high level of play against top tier talent in the country. Some recruiting analysts say that Bolden could be a Top 10 prospect by the time the final recruiting ranks come out. Bolden, coming in at 6’9, 210 lbs, has extreme athleticism for his size. His ability to score with his athleticism is few and far between among top big men in the country, which is why he has the ability to play several different positions. Bolden has the ability to be a low post, back to the basket big man, but also has a tremendous face-up game where he can shoot the mid-range jumper with ease. At UK, Calipari could put him anywhere in the front court or the wing and he would succeed. With Lyles and Towns already signed on, along with the possibility of Marcus Lee, Dakari Johnson, and Alex Poythress returning for next season, UK may have one of the deepest and most productive front courts in the country. Adding Jonah Bolden to the equation would just be scary.
Those that went to the Marshall County Hoopfest last season may remember the name Montaque Gill-Caesar. Gill-Caesar plays for Huntington Prep, which was the same school Andrew Wiggins attended. During the time John Calipari recruited Wiggins, he kept a close watch on Gill-Caesar’s game and began recruiting him for 2015. His game translates well to Calipari’s system, as he is an athletic Small Forward with the ability to slash to the paint or shoot with ease. In a recent game, Gill-Caesar scored 56 points with 9 rebounds, along with shooting 11/20 from 3. His game is beginning to reach a new level, and stats like that may repeat throughout the year. While he is thriving as a Junior, his Senior year is definitely in question. Recent rumors say that Montaque may be thinking about reclassifying to the 2014 recruiting class, which could mean great news for the Wildcats. According to reports, he is extremely high on UK, and some even go as far as to say that UK is the leader in his recruitment. With Calipari needing a wing prospect with Stanley Johnson headed to Arizona, Montaque Gill-Caesar is a legitimate possibility to choose UK if he does decide to reclassify.
The last prospect being discussed is also a familiar name, for more reasons than one. JUCO SG Torian Graham is gaining interest from Kentucky, and talks have already begun between the two. Graham originally played for Word of God in North Carolina, the same High School of former Wildcat John Wall. Graham went the JUCO route due to academic issues, and he’s now ready to go and attend a major D1 college. He’s gaining interest from several top tier schools in the country, mostly due to the fact that he is lighting it from the floor this season, averaging 22.8 PPG, while shooting 62.5% from the field and 51.3% from 3. Graham can do it all, whether it be consistently hitting the 3, giving up an electrifying assist, or driving in and throwing down a highlight reel dunk. Calipari was interested in Graham while he was in High School, so now that he is living up to the hype in the JUCO ranks, he may look to sweep in and get a signature from him to provide veteran leadership. Graham has potential through the roof, and under John Calipari’s wing, he could end up being one of the proven leaders of this Kentucky Wildcats team.
Calipari recently said in an interview that he plans on signing two more to his Class of 2014, so who does he take? He has only offered Vaughn, but I’m sure official offers to the other 3 players are in the making. Huntington Prep Head Coach Rob Fulford recently said that John Calipari told Montaque Gill-Ceasar if he wanted to join the 2014 Kentucky Recruiting Class he could, meaning an unofficial offer is on the table for 2014. If Gill-Caesar does end up reclassifying, I’m sure that offer will then become official. Due to Canada’s schooling being slightly different than that of the US, Gill-Caesar already has enough credits to reclassify if he chooses to do so, making the transition much easier, like Andrew Wiggins. That being said, if he reclassifies, Montaque will likely be a Wildcat. He has said in the past that he wants to play with the top talent in the country, and Kentucky is obviously the place to make that happen. I believe the other player to finish out the class will likely be Rashad Vaughn. Vaughn was previously favoring the Wildcats, and with Cal gaining steam on the recruiting trail again with him, I find it hard to believe he’d resist the second time around. Vaughn’s Assistant Coach at Findlay Prep was recently interviewed by Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader, and this is what he had to say about UK in Vaughn’s recruitment:
“They’ve been recruiting him for a while now,” Kaffey told the Herald-Leader. “We just haven’t been making it public. They wanted to deal with the fall recruits first, and since Rashad was going to be deciding so late it didn’t make sense to go hard (after him) when you could try to get other guys right now.”
“He’s interested, yeah,” Kaffey said. “C’mon, man. It’s Kentucky.”
One interesting note to consider is Jonah Bolden and Rashad Vaughn are teammates at Findlay Prep. Is it possible they decide to become a package deal to attend UK? Possibly, but at this time I’d say that isn’t the most likely scenario. Right now, I’d say that the most likely 2014 Cats are in the following order:
1. Montaque Gill-Caesar (if he reclassifies)
2. Rashad Vaughn
3. Torian Graham
4. Jonah Bolden
Adding two of those prospects would likely solidify yet another #1 Recruiting Class for John Calipari, making it the 6th in a row at Kentucky. Here is what next year’s roster would look like if Gill-Caesar and Vaughn signed, along with Marcus Lee, Dakari Johnson, Alex Poythress, Dominique Hawkins, and Derek Willis returning:
Obviously that lineup is not set in stone, especially when it comes to who decides to stay or go for the NBA Draft, but this just gives you an idea of how dominant this team could be with the depth they may have with two more signees. All four are legitimate possibilities, so don’t count out any of them. You can interchange the other options into the lineup as they become more or less likely in time. This team would have experience and talent all around, making for a team poised to make a deep run in the tournament.