Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: Wildcats' 5 Top Targets in 2014 Class
With arguably the greatest recruiting class of all time coming to Kentucky in 2013, it's hard to look past that year. But that's exactly what we're going to do.
Pretend the Wildcats just went 40-0 and won the national championship if you are a Kentucky fan, or if you aren't part of Big Blue Nation a first-round NIT loss just happened to another John Calipari team.
With many, if not all, of the class of 2013 expected to depart, it will require another top recruiting class to fill the shoes and stats. Calipari and the Wildcats have gotten a head start by already getting a commitment from Karl Towns, who is a 7'1" 5-star recruit.
This slideshow will take a look at the five most important targets for Kentucky to become the class of 2014.
Emmanuel Mudiay very well could be the next great point guard at Kentucky under John Calipari. He also could be the second one in a row from Texas to come to the Bluegrass State.
Mudiay, from Arlington, Texas, is a 6'5" point guard whose game resembles Tyreke Evans. He also could be compared to the player he's most likely to replace in Andrew Harrison.
The Texan is a strong, tall point guard that breaks defenders down off the dribble and often is finishing at the rim. He's capable of throwing down a thunderous dunk but can also step out and hit a jumper in their face. He's not a superb outside shooter but can also knock down threes.
However, Mudiay might be the best defensive point guard Calipari could have at Kentucky. With a long wingspan, he is able to deflect numerous passes and jump the passing lane.
Getting a point guard like Mudiay will make the transition from 2013-14 the easiest for Kentucky.
Stanley Johnson is a 6'6" small forward that fits the new-age type of wing player Calipari loves to recruit.
He is extremely versatile and has the ability to score from all over the floor as well as be a dominant rebounder for his position. Johnson pulled down 15 rebounds in the 2012 state championship game as well as averaging 16 points, eight rebounds, two assists and three steals as a sophomore.
Johnson is a proven winner as well, which is something that truly helps translate from the high school game to the college game. He has won three large division championships in California. The Mater Dei star also won gold medals for the United States at the U-16 and U-17 level.
He has been named to a MaxPreps Freshman All-America honorable mention in 2011. Expect Johnson to be a similar player to James Young, with more athleticism but a weaker jump shot.
If I want to win obvious statement of the year all I have to say is Cliff Alexander is strong. Just take a look at that video up top. Alexander looked effortless not only throwing it down but shattering the backboard into pieces.
The 6'9" power forward from Chicago is a physical specimen in the lane. Alexander does a tremendous job of using his big frame to create position and finishes extremely well at the rim. Coupled with a great set of hands, it almost becomes impossible to guard him in the half court.
Alexander can also fill the void on the defensive end by becoming the next great shot-blocker in Lexington. Alexander isn't overly athletic like a Marcus Lee, but he does a good job of timing his jump to block shots.
Despite being smaller than Towns, he would be a perfect frontcourt mate at Kentucky with him. Towns is able to play inside and out, while Alexander is more limited to playing inside of 12 feet. With Towns bringing his player away from the rim it will allow Alexander more room to work without any double-teams.
Trey Lyles is a 6'9" power forward that was at one time verbally committed to Indiana. He currently is being heavily recruited by Kentucky and rival Louisville.
Lyles is the opposite of Alexander, in the sense of his ability to play away from the rim. He is a very athletic and skilled power forward that can create his own shot off the dribble while also isn't scared to play physical in the post.
DraftExpress describes him as a young Greg Monroe in the sense that he can lead the fast break with the dribble and knock down long range shots off the pick and pop.
As the class of 2013 showed, Calipari doesn't care if he recruits top talent at the same position. His system doesn't have any defined positions except for a point guard and center and with someone like Lyles, Calipari could go big and play him at the small forward spot.
Rashad Vaughn is a 6'6" shooting guard that does just that. He shoots and he shoots extremely well.
One of the, if not the, best shooters in the class of 2014 could be a huge need for Kentucky and Calipari. Vaughn's ability to stretch the floor will only open more driving lanes for whatever classmates potentially join Vaughn at Kentucky.
That's not all Vaughn does though. He is also extremely athletic, a common thread with Calipari recruits on the wing, and isn't afraid to finish at the rim. His ability to break down defenders off the dribble also makes it tough for the defense to decide to give him a step to shoot or pressure him and make him beat them by driving.
Vaughn would likely replace Aaron Harrison and has a similar build and game to him. Vaughn is slightly taller and probably a better shooter but both players have range anywhere once they cross the half-court line.