Kentucky Basketball: The Wildcats' 5 Most Important 2012 Recruits
As the summer drags on, basketball recruiting is beginning to heat up.
Kentucky, led by recruiting guru John Calipari, currently has no commitments for 2012 other than NC State transfer Ryan Harrow.
Anxiety is starting to pick up around Big Blue Nation because of the combination of this lack of certainty and the expected mass exodus of talent after this coming season.
Calipari will have to do some serious work if he hopes to reload in 2012 with an abnormally weak pool of recruiting talent at his disposal. Most of the top recruits are still floating around out there, but the talent level really begins to drop after the first tier of players.
Kentucky will ultimately need to reel in four or five of the top guys in order to field a nationally competitive team in 2012.
Following is a list of the five most important players that the Wildcats must land in the coming months.
Perry Ellis is a 6'8" power forward from Kansas, and is currently ranked as ESPN's No. 19 player in 2012.
He has limited range offensively, but is a strong rebounder and excels at finishing around the basket with a variety of post moves.
He has a decent mid-range game, but will struggle if he shoots from out near the perimeter. His ball-handling could also use some work, especially if he ends up in Calipari's dribble-drive offense, but his ability and willingness to run the court is a rare asset for a guy his size.
Kentucky will likely lose three post guys after next season, including senior Eloy Vargas, sophomore Terrence Jones, and freshman Anthony Davis.
Ellis would help to fill the void left by these guys by providing a good deal of post and transition scoring.
Calipari also appears to have turned up the heat on Ellis as one of his must-get guys after having watched him play in six games over the past week.
The toughest obstacle in getting Ellis to Kentucky will be prying him away from his home state. He is originally from Wichita, Kansas and is currently being recruited by Kansas, Kansas State, and Wichita State.
Mitch McGary is a 6'10" power forward from Indiana who could give the Wildcats the strength and size they will need down low in 2012.
With the graduation of Eloy Vargas, Kentucky will be left with no true big bodies down low. McGary would fill that role and more.
He weighs in at 245 lbs and has a ton of upper body strength. He is a great rebounder on both ends of the court and is known for his physicality. He is not an elite athlete and will not excel as a shot blocker, but he makes up for his shortcomings with a non-stop motor and ability to work off the screen-and-roll.
Think of him as a stronger Josh Harrellson.
The biggest obstacle Kentucky faces in getting McGary is their late start in his recruitment. Calipari put on the full-court press recently, though, as he offered a scholarship to both McGary and his future Brewster Prep teammate TJ Warren.
Warren is a 2012 4-star small forward, who excels as a scorer, especially around the perimeter. Landing Warren would not only give the Wildcats a solid three or four-year player, but it also may go a long way in helping them land McGary.
Kentucky will also be left with a huge void at shooting guard if Doron Lamb elects to put his name in the NBA Draft. Ricardo Ledo could help to shoulder that scoring load.
Ledo is arguably the best scorer in the 2012 class as he can put the ball in the basket from any spot on the floor. At 6'6", he is a long and explosive athlete who can finish around the rim, but his true forte is his jump shot, making him almost impossible to defend.
Ledo also displays good court vision and is an underrated passer. His biggest weakness comes in his consistency as he sometimes settles for more difficult shots instead of properly reading the defense, but that should improve with time.
If Kentucky is looking for a go-to scorer in 2012, there is no better option than Ledo.
He is currently being recruited by a number of different schools, but Kentucky seems to be in a good position to land him.
Shabazz Muhammad is the country's No. 1 overall ranked player, and for good reason.
He is a slasher-type small forward who is almost unstoppable offensively from 15 feet and in. He can finish at the basket, as well as elevate over the defense in traffic. His mid-range game is also potent, as he rarely misses off of a catch-and-shoot.
Muhammad is also an elite defender because of his size and athleticism. Furthermore, he has a high motor that allows him to be a force on both sides of the court.
If Kentucky hopes to reload, then Muhammad is a must-get, especially with the graduation of Darius Miller and likely departure of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
Muhammad would not only serve as a suitable replacement, but possibly an upgrade, as he combines both the scoring ability of Miller and the aggressiveness and hustle of Kidd-Gilchrist.
His only weaknesses at this moment are his consistency from three-point range and his willingness/ability to go to his right. Both of these should improve with repetition.
Kentucky is thought to be one of Muhammad's favorites, along with UCLA. It will be a tough task prying him away from the close-to-home west coast school, but if anyone is capable of doing it, it is Calipari.
Those in Big Blue Nation who miss the play of DeMarcus Cousins should begin to get excited about the possibility of big man DaJuan Coleman landing in Lexington.
Coleman is a 6'10" center from New York whose game and build eerily resembles that of former Wildcat, Cousins. Weighing in at 280 lbs, he provides a massive presence down low with enough strength to match.
He is a huge target in the post and displays the soft hands that allow him to finish around the basket. He embraces contact and is a dominant rebounder on both ends of the court. Furthermore, his size makes him an imposing presence on defense.
His biggest concern is his conditioning, as he must work hard to keep his weight under control. With that being said, he displays a surprising ability to get up and down the court for a kid his size. His shooting touch could also use some work, but it is not a necessity for him to be successful.
Coleman stated that Kentucky is among his top three schools—a list that also includes Ohio State and Syracuse.
Both schools should provide a tough challenge—Ohio State because of their emphasis on dominant big men, and Syracuse because it is his hometown school.