Kentucky Basketball: 2015 Recruits Who'd Be a Perfect Fit for Wildcats
With the summer session of camps and AAU in full swing, there's no doubt that the biggest buzz word in college basketball is recruiting. Which is fine if you're a Kentucky fan, because there's not a better recruiter in the country than head coach John Calipari and his staff.
He's already locked up a commitment from the No. 12 player in the country in Charles Matthews from Chicago. Matthews is a 6'6" shooting guard who is on the rise and has drawn comparisons to numerous NBA players, including Bradley Beal and Paul Pierce.
On top of Matthews, Kentucky has been in talks with seven of the top 10 players in the class of 2015, with the only exceptions being those who committed to schools already. It wouldn't shock anyone if Calipari and Kentucky land at least three of these players, no matter who returns from the 2014-15 season.
The biggest question with every Calipari recruiting, though, is how quick and how well can they come together as a team and learn their new roles within the program. This slideshow will take a look at the top recruits who could come to Kentucky and deal with not only those expectations, but the spotlight of playing for the winningest program in college basketball.
Malik Newman is the No. 1 player in the class of 2015 and is looked at as the prize jewel of what could be a loaded year. Why is he perfect for Kentucky? He's one of those athletic combo guards that always seems to thrive under Calipari's tutelage.
He is an electric scorer, often regarded as the best scorer in the class. He has shown the ability to finish both at the rim and from outside with range to keep defenders honest. He's also an underrated passer, with the basketball IQ that you expect in your point guard. Running Calipari's dribble-drive offense is made for a player like Newman.
On top of that, he has said he wants to play immediately at a school that has a strong track record of getting players into the NBA. I'm not sure of another school that can come within miles of Kentucky when it comes to getting its players ready for the NBA. There's a reason the Wildcats have the most players currently active in the big league.
Being the No. 1 player can come with a heavy burden, but it's something that Calipari likes to get in a player. Newman is the type of athlete to be the alpha dog on a team and the person in this class who you can build your recruiting class around.
Diamond Stone is on this list because you can't currently have Malik Newman without him. Stone recently told Scout.com's Evan Daniels that it's definite Newman and himself will be a package deal when it comes time to commit to a college.
Now, it's not like the team they decide to play for, if, in fact, the package deal is still true, will be getting a weak player in Stone. He's a top-10 player in the class of 2015 and arguably the best big man. Stone, who hails from Milwaukee, is not your prototypical big guy. He's similar to Karl Towns in the sense that he can step away from the basket and play a face-up game that includes range from behind the arc.
At 6'10", Stone will be a perfect fit for Calipari's system, especially with the expectation that a couple pieces of the loaded frontcourt in the 2014-15 season will return. Stone's game will be a perfect complement to that of someone like Marcus Lee, who plays strictly in the post.
Stone's outside game also works into Calipari's offensive system, which is designed more for a four-out, one-in approach, so the lane is open for his wing players to slash through. A player like Stone allows Calipari to keep that system without losing any rebounding or defense by playing two big guys at all times.
Similar to Diamond Stone, Bragg is one of those versatile, athletic bigs that always seem to commit to Calipari and Kentucky. However, the difference between Bragg and Stone is the fact that Bragg is a complete athletic freak.
The Cleveland native can jump out of the building and has the quickness you often see in a wing player. Due to this, he's a match made in heaven for Kentucky's offensive and, more importantly, defensive philosophy.
The Wildcats like to use their athleticism to set up a press as well as switch on ball screens. Bragg, who stands at 6'9", is a Terrence Jones type player, who has the ability to guard multiple positions. If his man sets the screen, don't be surprised to see Bragg make the switch onto the opposing guard.
Offensively, Bragg is a player who crashes the offensive glass, something Kentucky fans are quite used to seeing recently, and finishes with tenacity at the rim. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him on multiple SportsCenter Top 10s.
When most fans think of Kentucky basketball under John Calipari they think of an athletic team with an excellent point guard and the ability to make up for any mistakes defensively with its shot-blocking ability.
Well, Newman is the excellent point guard, Stone and Bragg are the athletes, now here comes the star defender in the paint in Cheick Diallo. Now, don't get me wrong, Diallo isn't a bad athlete, he actually gets up and down the court quite well.
But he's made to be the next great shot-blocker in Kentucky history. The Wildcats have had the likes of Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel and Willie Cauley-Stein all come through Lexington, anchoring the defense with their ability to time their jumps and also affect shooters just with their presence.
Diallo is a must-get for Kentucky to help fill the void that will be left, most likely, by Cauley-Stein as that defensive anchor, as he's regarded as one of the best low-post defenders in the class.