1. It's Deep... and UK Needs It To Be
It feels a little strange to say it out loud, but this will be the ninth class of high school prospects that John Calipari has recruited since taking the UK job in the summer of 2009. One may have to go back all the way to that first class that Calipari signed for UK -- which included John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe, Daniel Orton and Jon Hood for UK as well as Xavier Henry at one point for Memphis before he landed with Kansas -- to find one as deep as the current group of seniors-to-be. The Cats have already expressed interest in approximately 20 prospects and extended scholarship offers to nine of them, which is a bit unusual for Calipari prior to the July evaluation period. But the UK boss knows he's likely going to have a lot of spots to fill with another elite recruiting class rolling into Lexington this year and seniors Dominique Hawkins, Derek Willis and Mychal Mulder set to leave following the 2016-17 season. I would not be surprised to see the Cats need six (or more) players from the Class of 2017.
2. Centers of Attention
Sitting atop a loaded class are Scout's top three players for 2017 -- DeAndre Ayton, Mohamed Bamba and Wendell Carter -- all centers. Apparently, traditional post players are coming back with a vengeance and stealing the spotlight from their smaller peers. Ayton was considered by many to be the best player in all of high school basketball last year, regardless of class. The skilled 7-footer from Arizona has a list that includes exactly who one would expect: UK, Duke, Kansas, and Arizona, among a host of other top programs. While his reputation has been set for quite some time, Bamba has been playing catch-up of late, dominating the spring AAU circuit. UK, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and UConn are among the top contenders for the 6-11 big man from Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, Carter, a 6-10 product of Georgia, has been sensational the last two years on the AAU scene. In addition to being a beast in the low post and a rebounding machine, he also brings a stellar academic profile to the table. UK, Duke, Harvard, North Carolina and Georgia Tech have been mentioned frequently by the Peach State star.
3. Many Options at The 2
With Hawkins set to enter his final season at UK, Isaiah Briscoe likely to test the NBA waters after second year of honing his shooting skills and incoming freshman Malik Monk widely considered to be a potential "one-and-done" talent, the Cats will need to place a heavy emphasis on shooting guards in this class. Connecticut standout Hamidou Diallo (6-5, 180) is quickly emerging as "America's Most Wanted" at the position after putting on a show in the early legs of the Nike EYBL. He recently hauled in a UK offer and seems to have everything Calipari desires at the position -- impressive length, bounce off the dribble, dangerous range and the potential to be an elite defender. UK, UConn, Syracuse, Duke, Kansas and Maryland are among the major programs in the mix. Gary Trent, John Petty, Jay Jay Chandler, D.J. Harvey, M.J. Walker and Paul Scruggs are some other elite names to watch. Florida wing Kevin Knox, another recent UK offer who has blown up this spring, is more of a James Young-mold small forward at almost 6-8, but should also be considered part of the equation thanks to his dangerous perimeter scoring ability. UK, Duke, Florida and Florida State have all been active early in his recruitment. Any of those, paired with potential point guard commitment Trae Young, could give UK yet another dynamic backcourt.