Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: Players Who Could Make or Break 2014 Class
John Calipari will most likely need to completely revamp his Kentucky basketball team in the 2014-15 season.
After hitting the jackpot with the class of 2013, Calipari is going to have to work his magic again for another top recruiting class. Kentucky currently has commitments from Karl Towns and Tyler Ulis and is heavily recruiting more 5-star players.
There are key visits and commitments coming up in the near future that could determine how good the recruiting class will be for Kentucky. Read on to see what players will make or break the Wildcats' offseason efforts.
If Kentucky wants to fill the shooting void expected to be left behind by James Young and Aaron Harrison, James Blackmon is the answer in 2014. Blackmon is arguably the best shooter in the class and one who would benefit in Kentucky's offensive system.
On top of that, Blackmon is the son of former Kentucky player James Blackmon Sr., who played in Lexington from 1984-87. The younger Blackmon is deciding between Kentucky, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan and Michigan State.
Blackmon was on campus for Big Blue Madness last week. While all signs pointed to a strong visit, the Indiana native has decided to visit his home-state school one more time. He'll be in Bloomington this weekend for an official visit with the Hoosiers.
If Blackmon chooses to go elsewhere, it would leave a gap at the shooting guard position for Kentucky as well as missing out on someone who can stretch the floor and allow the dribble-drive offense to take over.
The importance of Trey Lyles committing to Kentucky comes down to much more than his talent. It's because Lyles has his list cut to two teams.
One of those teams is the Kentucky Wildcats.
The other team is Louisville.
After missing out on arguably the top point guard in Emmanuel Mudiay and having Cliff Alexander, the No. 1 player in the class, take Kentucky off his list, John Calipari and the Wildcats need to land another top-10 player to help replace those expected to leave after this season.
Besides the obvious reason of losing a top recruit to their rival, Kentucky needs Lyles to decide on the Blue and White to be the go-to scorer for the Wildcats in 2014-15. The Indiana native is a big-time scorer who can help stretch the floor with his height.
Most importantly, his commitment to Kentucky will help the progression of point guard Tyler Ulis, who already committed to the Wildcats earlier this month. Ulis, a 4-star point guard, is expected to be more than a one-and-done player due to his lack of height and recent explosion on the scene.
However, some people might argue the most important reason for Lyles to decide to go to Lexington instead of Louisville is the fact it will keep Big Blue Nation sane. If they were to lose a top recruit to Rick Pitino and the Cardinals, there will be some upset Wildcats fans.
In order to have an extremely strong recruiting class, it comes down to one player's decision. That player is Stanley Johnson from California.
Rivals.com ranks Johnson as the third-best player in the class of 2014 and the best small forward in the class. For an extended period of time, Johnson was the only small forward Calipari even offered a scholarship to.
Much like Lyles, it seems to be a two-team race to land Johnson. However, this time it is Sean Miller at Arizona going against Calipari at Kentucky. Johnson is also considering USC, UCLA, Oregon, Florida and Kansas, but expect it to come down to Arizona and Kentucky.
Johnson was in the stands for Big Blue Madness with Lyles and Blackmon, and that appears to be a good sign. However, he also made an official visit to Arizona for the Red-Blue scrimmage.
If Johnson is to spurn Kentucky, Calipari might have to look at internal recruiting and convince James Young or Alex Poythress to return for another year if possible. If both players can't pass up entering the NBA draft, Calipari is going to be forced to recruit for a small-ball lineup in 2014-15.