Losing five players to the NBA and two contributors to graduation, it was obvious that John Calipari needed to make a big splash on the recruiting trail this year. The class started off a little slow, but it ended on a very high note.
Kentucky's first recruit was Florida swingman Stacey Poole. Poole, a 6-foot-5, 210-pounder, is known for his hard-nosed play. He uses his size and strength to overpower guards and his quickness to get around other forwards. Poole is a hard-working player who continues to improve his game, including adding a consistent three-point shot to his repertoire. Poole also has the ability and drive to be a defensive stopper on the other end of the court.
Poole remained Kentucky's lone commitment until 6-foot-10, 245-pound Enes Kanter switched his commitment from Washington to Kentucky late in the winter. Kanter, a native of Turkey, provides a strong inside presence on the offense end and on the glass. Blessed with great hands, and a variety of post moves, Kanter will come in and get good minutes from day one, likely as a starter. Kanter can face up and knock down the mid-range shot as well as run the floor and score on the break. In the end, Kanter just need to work on his defense to be a very good all-around player.
Thought to be Kentucky's top target all season long, Florida's Brandon Knight finally made it official that he would be a Wildcat in mid April. Knight, a 6-foot-3, 180-pound point guard, was widely considered the top player at his position in the class. While he fell slightly in the rankings at the end of the year, Knight is still the same great player you'd expect from a five-star recruit. Knight can consistently knock down the open three as well as use his strength to get into the lane and finish. Knight also finds the open man on the drive. Where Knight must improve is in running offense and becoming less of a shoot-first point guard, but with the array of talent around him, that likely won't be a problem.
Soon after Knight's commitment, Oak Hill shooting guard Doron Lamb pulled the trigger for the Wildcats. Lamb is thought of as one of the top combo guards in the nation. Lamb can get the ball to the basket, but also has a sweet pull-up shot from mid-range. Lamb also does a solid job making the outside shot. His toughness on the perimeter and his willingness to defend gives Calipari two perimeter players (Lamb and Poole) who could be lock down defenders in the class. Lamb also possesses some point guard skills, so he'll be able to back up Knight at the point even if he starts beside him, ala Eric Bledsoe and John Wall.
Kentucky looked to the junior college scene for another prospect in the 2010 class. Former Florida Gator, Eloy Vargas decided to head to Kentucky after one year at Miami-Dade Community College (Fl.). Vargas provides a long inside presence on defense (6-foot-10, 220-pounds) that can block shots, rebound, and run the floor. Vargas is a face up forward who can knock down open shots from 12 feet. Vargas can come in immediately and provide minutes next season as a backup to Enes Kanter or play along side him for stretches. Vargas has two seasons to play at Kentucky.
The final piece of the Wildcat puzzle is Oregon forward Terrence Jones. Jones is a player who is custom build for the dribble-drive motion offense that Calipari likes to run. Jones can handle the ball on the perimeter like a guard, but also has the ability to score down low. He knocks down the open three point shot, but doesn't camp out behind the arc. Jones is also a willing defender, capable of guarding both forward positions and at times even the two or the five spot. The 6-foot-9 lefty also provides the Wildcats with a likely starter at the four spot from day one.
For the second consecutive year Kentucky has landed the top recruiting class in the nation. And with Marquis Teague and Michael Gilchrist on board for the 2011 class, there's a strong possibility we'll be having a similar discussion this time next season.
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