Twitter Tuesday: UK's 2021 class, James Graham, Trey Kaufman
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The commitments keep coming but so do the questions for who is next and if there will even be a college season this year. In our latest #TwitterTuesday, we take a look at Kentucky’s 2021 scholarship situation, leaders for James Graham and Trey Kaufman and much more.
Great question form Zach. Let's start with its reclassification targets. Sure, I can see Brandon Huntley-Hatfield and Skyy Clark remaining in the 2022 class, but wasn’t it just a year ago when Devin Askew was saying similar things, only to reclassify into the 2020 class and pick Kentucky? Of the two, Clark, despite telling our own David Sisk that he is set on sticking in the 2022 class, is the likeliest to reclassify later in the year, a move that I still believe he makes. I believe it would be in favor of Kentucky but do not sleep on North Carolina with Clark.
If Kennedy Chandler does go forward with his commitment to Tennessee, and Jaden Hardy prolongs his recruitment too long for John Calipari’s liking, don’t be shocked if UK’s interest in Hunter Sallis becomes an offer. Sallis is one of the best guards in the sport and now at 6-foot-5 and with tremendous backcourt versatility, Sallis is a no-brainer for Kentucky, even if Calipari never has seen him in person due to the pandemic.
The frontcourt is a bit more of a mystery. Granted, Lance Ware, Isaiah Jackson and Cam Fletcher should all still be there, but at least one 2021 recruit would be nice. Paolo Banchero is more gettable than Pat Baldwin, but even Banchero will not come easy. Do they kick the tires with someone like Efton Reid or Charles Bediako, or just hope they land Banchero?
In the end, a Clark-Sallis backcourt would be lethal, especially if Askew returns. Look for Kentucky to hand out another offer or two in the coming weeks but also to be an active participant within the transfer portal this spring in searching for potentially another ballhandler and center, just like this past spring when Davion Mintz and Olivier Sarr picked the Wildcats.
I was fairly pessimistic as recently as just last month that a college basketball season would actually take place. Despite recent rumblings that there may not be a college football season, at least in the fall, I still do believe that a basketball season will take place in some form.
Just as I first outlined last week in my Three-Point Play, I would be surprised if a non-conference season happened, as far as buy-games are concerned. Such contests take place, for the most part, for the host team to see a kick-back from gate receipts. If there won’t be fans in attendance, what would be the use?
However, one of the more noteworthy ideas that have popped up is the pod-system. Similar to what the NBA has done with its bubble concept, potentially bringing a group of regional teams, whether it is conference play or not, to a host site, to play five or six contests within a two-week time frame, only to return to campus for another two weeks, and then for another pod to be established with different teams, could be how things get done this winter. In doing so, travel would be cut down, quick quarantine and testing methods could be attainable, and an NCAA Tournament, which is a must for college athletics, as a whole, would be within grasp.
Unlike college football, time is now on the side of its counterparts; hopefully, better testing measures and a vaccine of some sort can be made by the time the winter arrives, but I would not bank on college games beginning in early November.
Maryland has been the most discussed landing spot for James Graham. With Memphis just taking Josh Minott, Florida State out after its own run in the 2021 class, and Michigan State all but finished at his particular position, the amount of realistic landing spots for Graham has only dwindled in recent weeks.
Maryland would still have to beat Auburn, Georgetown, Marquette, Vanderbilt and Wisconsin. Graham is a versatile wing-forward with ball skills and the ability to play many spots on both sides of the ball. Standing close to 6-foot-8 but having grown nearly three inches over the past two years, Graham has kept his ball skills intact throughout his growth spurt, which allows for him to play inside and out. He has good touch on his deep ball, is a fine athlete off his left foot and can sit down and guard further away from the rim.
While Mark Turgeon has been one of the small-ball averse coaches in the sport, I could see a point where all three freshmen play at the same time. Reese at the small ball five and Cornish and Graham flip-flopping between the three and the four at a moment’s notice could cause issues on both ends of the court for the Terps’ opposition. Graham has the potential to make an impact in a number of ways once his college clock begins next fall.
I am becoming less and less sure of it as the fall approaches. Indiana should still be seen as the favorite for Trey Kaufman, but the longer things go, the more difficult you have to think it will be for Kaufman to pick the in-state bunch compared to all others.
One would have to assume that if Kaufman was going to commit to Indiana, it would have happened already. It is never easy to be declared the favorite so early in the process and remain the leader for a long time. North Carolina offered last week so it is definitely one to watch, as is Virginia, a program that has remained involved for Kaufman for the past year and has a need in the frontcourt that is tailored for Kaufman’s abilities.
Indiana’s class does not depend entirely on Kaufman picking the Hoosiers, but he would help in a lot of ways. IU is one of the few to beat for Mason Miller, too, so if not Kaufman, maybe Indiana attempts to pick up things even further with the four-star. With word going around that Kaufman might want to leave his state for college and with UNC’s latest offer, Indiana’s chances have begun to dwindle.
You’d have to say Gonzaga. It doesn’t feel that Chet Holmgren is anywhere near his commitment and he has he been adamant about taking all of his visits before deciding.
Holmgren has already visited the WCC program, his good friend and former teammate, Jalen Suggs, will be a freshman in Spokane this fall, and Gonzaga is a program that has done tremendous work with those in his mold in recent years.
If not Gonzaga, Minnesota is worth monitoring as the local program. His father played for the Gophers, and his mother worked at the school. North Carolina Michigan, Ohio State, Georgetown and Memphis are on his list but before visits can be taken and with how things currently sit, it would be foolish to not say that Gonzaga is one of, if not, the school to beat.
Not too sure that Marquette will try and land three more high school prospects, but rather, keep one open for the spring so that it wouldn’t have nine underclassmen on its roster next season and also so that it could take one of the more talented transfers, a route that they have been successful at in recent springs.
After solidifying its backcourt for years to come with Kameron Jones and Stevie Mitchell, a duo that I absolutely love together and should pair well in Steve Wojciechowski’s up-and-down system, look for the Golden Eagles to go big with its next two commits.
James Graham will come off the board at some point in the coming weeks so there is always that, but Marquette is playing catch-up so maybe they make a late run at David Joplin or try to make up even greater ground with DaRon Holmes. All are hybrid, versatile forward, as is Kordell Charles.
Landing a true center is also a necessity. There is not many available in the 2021 class, so if it isn’t Mac Etienne or Wilhelm Briedenbach, might the transfer portal be an avenue that Marquette takes for filling such a need?