NCAA Basketball

The 2011 University of Kentucky Basketball Recruiting Class

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With late 2010 recruiting the the NBA Draft wrapped up, it’s time to begin turning our attention to UK’s targets among rising seniors in the class of 2011. The summer evaluation period is just around the corner and with it, we will begin to hear about lists being cut and official visits in the fall semester being scheduled.

This upcoming recruiting season will be a little unique compared with what we have been accustomed to in John Calipari’s two classes at UK. The talent level will be about the same this year (if not higher), but it could turn out to be much less stressful this time around.

In both 2009 and 2010, we found ourselves with an array of roster holes heading into the spring signing period. Recruiting stretched deep into May with significant uncertainty regarding who would take the floor the next season. In 2011, I think we can expect to feel much more comfortable about what the class will look like much earlier.

That’s not to say UK won’t be involved with an uncommitted prospect or two when April rolls around though. UK is going to have guys with NBA decisions to make every year from here on out, which means that some prospects will be waiting to see what they do.

Another nice thing about 2011 is the fact that UK already has commitments from two players. It’s a big time luxury to have a couple solid players wrapped up before the summer recruiting season heats up. It’s an absolute coup to have two of the top three or five prospects pledged early, especially two guys with the reputations of Marquis Teague and Michael Gilchrist. Kids want to find a way to play with Teague and Gilchrist and these two guys will be UK’s aces in the hole.

The way we’re going to do this will be in four parts. First, I’m going to take a look at UK’s roster for the next season to show how many scholarships will be available, what holes could exist, and who could be potential early entry candidates. Next, I’ll be looking at the point guard prospects UK is targeting, then wing prospects, then big men. We should wrap up by the end of the week.

So, without further ado, let’s take a gander at UK’s roster for next season.

Josh Harrellson – PF/C

Darius Miller – SF/SG/PG
DeAndre Liggins – SG/SF/PG
Darnell Dodson – SG/SF
Eloy Vargas – PF/C (JUCO)

Jon Hood – SG/SF

Brandon Knight – PG
Doron Lamb – SG/PG
Stacey Poole – SG/SF
Terrence Jones – PF/SF
Enes Kanter – C/PF
Jarrod Polson – PG (Walk-on)

Listed here, UK has 11 players on scholarship for next season. However, uncertainty surrounding Darnell Dodson’s status is well documented. At this point, my best guess would be that Darnell is not a member of next year’s team. However, Royce White is still out there as a potential transfer. For that reason, let’s keep that scholarship number at 11.

Josh Harrellson is the only senior on the roster, so John Calipari will have an absolute minimum of three scholarships to give out in the class of 2011. However, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that there will be departures for the NBA, particularly among UK’s talented group of freshmen.

I believe that, of the freshmen, Kanter, Knight, and Jones have a chance of being legitimate one and dones, with Kanter probably being the most likely candidate. Calipari has mentioned Darius Miller and DeAndre Liggins as possibilities for early entry next year, but both would surprise me. Taking everything into account (transfer possibilties as well), I project that three underclassmen will leave the program, putting UK’s scholarship number down at seven, meaning Cal would have six rides to give out in 2011 with a returning scholarship roster looking something like this.

Darius Miller
DeAndre Liggins
Eloy Vargas

Jon Hood
Royce White

Doron Lamb
Stacey Poole

I think six is about where Calipari will want to be in terms of available scholarships. Since he will have just three available for sure, I would anticipate that he won’t take more than one or two more commitments from 2011 prospects until the next year’s roster better sifts itself out.

That’s it for now, but check back tomorrow morning for my look at next year’s point guard crop.