football Edit

Five-stars that John Calipari could land at Arkansas

A.J. Dybantsa
A.J. Dybantsa (Nick Lucero/

The coaching change that shocked the college basketball world has had some time to marinate in the minds of those that follow the sport, but the ripple effect of the move has just begun.

Today, Rivals national analyst Rob Cassidy takes a look ahead to the class of 2025 prospects with whom Arkansas could suddenly find itself in the mix once Calipari begins to work the trail in Razorbacks gear.

MORE CALIPARI: Programs that will benefit from his Kentucky departure | Which prized recruits from 2024 class will likely leave Kentucky | Which transfers could be headed to Arkansas | Krysten Peek on what's next for Kentucky | Just how badly did Calipari want out of Kentucky?




Michigan and Kentucky felt like the main players in the Acuff sweepstakes before Calipari made the move to Fayetteville, so it stands to reason that the volume-scoring guard will begin to consider the Razorbacks should their new head coach continue to push for his commitment.

Toppling home-state Michigan, which has been refreshed by a coaching change of its own, isn't going to be easy but the Razorbacks feel like a lock to be hanging around Acuff’s recruitment until its conclusion. Acuff has already visited Lexington and has a bond with Kentucky assistant Chin Coleman in addition to Calipari, so it’ll be worth loosely monitoring where Coleman lands when the dust settles.

This could end up being a battle that pits Michigan, Kentucky and Arkansas against each other down the stretch.



This feels like a bit of a long shot because the twins seem most focused on hometown school Miami and their famous father’s alma mater of Duke. That said, Calipari managed to get the brothers to Lexington for an official visit in the fall. Expect the lines of communication to be open as the Razorbacks’ new coach gets settled into his new digs.

The Boozers aren’t especially likely to sign with Arkansas, but if reports of Calipari’s massive NIL backing are accurate, nothing is completely off the table.



The No. 1 prospect in the 2025 class, Dybantsa received a Kentucky offer back in November. The Wildcat staff had started to become frequent bystanders at his games late in the season, and traveled several hundreds miles to watch him play on a few occasions.

Dybantsa’s recruitment is crowded obviously so quickly selling him on Arkansas, a program in which he has shown little interest to this point, might be difficult. Still, a chance exists, and Calipari will likely do everything he can to reinsert himself into the five-star’s process.

Should Dybantsa decide to take a visit to Fayetteville, things could get interesting. Dybantsa was close with former Wildcat Terrence Clarke, who played one season under Calipari before he passed in a tragic traffic accident following his freshman season and says the two discussed his time playing for Cal in Lexington on several occasions.



Another blue-chip prospect that has taken an official visit to Lexington, Peterson is the No. 3 prospect in the Rivals150 and is already navigating a hyper-crowded recruitment. That said, the fact that he has been to UK’s campus on two occasions (one official and one unofficial) is notable for obvious reasons.

Calipari offered Peterson back in August 2022, which feels a bit early for those familiar with how the head coach worked at Kentucky. The early offer may end up working in Arkansas' favor, however, as the bond between Cal and those around Peterson will be difficult to break.

It is probably worth mentioning that Peterson has an NIL deal with adidas and Arkansas is a Nike school. Then again, so was Kentucky and the five-star seemed undeterred by that fact while taking a pair of visits.



Thomas has been a priority target for Kentucky for years now, and the five-star guard has already formed a bond with both Calipari and members of his UK staff. Thomas visited Lexington in early February and feels especially likely to check out Arkansas now that Calipari is captaining the pig-shaped ship.

Thomas seemed extremely high on the Wildcats before the coaching change, and a lot of that can be attributed to the legendary head coach running what Thomas once called “a one-and-done factory.”

Expect Thomas to continue to listen to pitches from the new UK staff, but the Razorbacks will almost certainly be deep in the mix as well. Thomas is captivated by the long line of pros Calipari developed in Lexington, so it will be interesting to see if he’s more strongly drawn to the man that coached them or the school that housed them.

Pitt, Alabama, Villanova, UConn, Auburn and Kansas are also worth watching for the time being.