With that as a backdrop, it was a busy first day of the summer evaluation period for the UK boss. Calipari was a highly visible figure along the sidelines on the first day of the Nike EYBL Finals at Peach Jam.
Calipari opened the event watching the PSA Cardinals and two of his scholarship offers in the senior class, point guard Quade Green and center Mohamed Bamba. Both played well in their team's 89-79 win over Nike South Beach.
The 6-foot Green, who recently picked up his offer from UK after an unofficial visit to Lexington, had 15 points (including a 9-for-12 night at the foul line) while dishing out seven assists and recording six steals. Meanwhile, the 6-foot-11 Bamba filled the stat sheet with 21 points (9-12 FG), 14 rebounds and six blocked shots.
Splitting his time between two courts as multiple elite prospects played at the same time, Calipari also had a close eye on 2017 shooting guard Hamidou Diallo, perhaps his primary target at the position in this class. The 6-6 Diallo did not disappoint, scoring 23 points (2-5 3PFG) while recording a key steal and step-back 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime in his team's 91-84 win over E1T1.
E1T1 featured another elite UK target in the form of 6-8 forward Kevin Knox. He also had a stellar game with 28 points (11-13 FT) and 13 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Session 1 also gave Calipari, along with assistant coaches Kenny Payne and Tony Barbee, a chance to look at Team Penny's talented 2017 wing John Petty and 2017 power forward P.J. Washington. They scored a 90-77 win over the Phoenix Phamily, with the 6-7 Petty going for nine points, nine rebounds and three assists while the 6-9 Washington posted 15 points, six rebounds and three assists.
Mokan Elite gave the UK staff a chance to watch perhaps its top point guard target for 2017, Trae Young, work his magic against King James in a 105-74 blowout. The 6-2 floor general finished with 26 points (6-6 FT), seven assists and four steals in a dynamic overall floor game.
Calipari closed the night by watching 2017 center Nick Richards and 2017 point guard Tremont Waters while also slipping over to another court to scout the No. 1 overall prospect in high school basketball, 2017 center DeAndre Ayton.
The 7-foot Richards had a terrific performance in Expressions Elite's 74-71 win over Team Takeover. He was active on both ends of the floor, impacting the game with his offense and defense. He finished with 16 points, 17 rebounds and four blocked shots, flashing some style similarities to former UK All-American Anthony Davis at times. A weakside help block, in particular, brought a smile from the UK boss.
Meanwhile, Waters chipped in with 16 points (including 3 treys) and dished out seven assists, although he was a bit careless at times with six turnovers.
Ayton was simply his dominant self in California Supreme's 75-56 romp over the Albany City Rocks. The agile 7-footer was a man among boys, barely breaking a sweat in posting 23 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots while resting for most of the final 10 minutes. His assortment of thunderous dunks brought oohs and ahhs from Court 2 on a frequent basis.