The Wildcats have had a tougher time than normal in the 2014 class. 5-star recruits and being involved with the top players in each class have been common place for head coach John Calipari. The 2014 class has been full of surprises, but none of them seem to benefit Kentucky. John Calipari has struggled with these recruits deciding to form packaged deals and eliminating Kentucky from their lists early in the process.
On Nov. 5th, 5-star power forward Trey Lyles will choose to play in the state of Kentucky for college. The question is, will it be at the University of Kentucky or Louisville? The ‘Cats have already been spurned a few times by top recruits in this class, they cannot miss on Lyles. Kentucky only seriously involved with one other prospect in the class, making Lyles commitment an essential one for a team that relies on young talent to be competitive.
The first “surprise” for Kentucky was the commitment of top overall player Emmanuel Mudiay to SMU. The Wildcats seemed to be the overwhelming favorite and Mudiay was set in place to be the next great Calipari point guard. Instead, Mudiay decided to shock the world and stay home and play for legendary coach Larry Brown. The packaged deal of No. 2 ranked point guard Tyus Jones and No. 1 center Jahlil Okafor dropped Kentucky from their lists before making their final cuts. CBS’ Jeff Borzello set the recruiting world on fire by saying Kelly Oubre was favoring Kentucky over Kansas. The Jayhawks were probably never behind to begin with as they wound up getting Oubre to commit just a few days later. Rashaud Vaughn? Not interested. Cliff Alexander? Not interested. Dante’ Exum? Probably going to the NBA. Myles Turner? Had a rumored packaged deal with Mudiay to SMU.
Most recently on Halloween night, James Blackmon Jr. tricked the Wildcats and recommitted to Indiana. Kentucky was supposed to be the favorite right up till the decision. Blackmon Jr. had both hats with him when he made his commitment back to the Hoosiers, and Kentucky once again is left looking for answers and players. Trey Lyles has also backed off a commitment from Indiana, but is no longer considering the Hoosiers.
If Lyles decides to play for Louisville, the sting will be a double shot of pain for the ‘Cats. Not only do they lose another recruit, but one that is going to their arch rival. Kentucky is only heavily involved with 5-star SG Stanley Johnson, but most feel he will pick Arizona over UK. The Wildcats may have to seriously watch for graduate students who can play immediately even with a commitment from Lyles. Without him, the search becomes excruciatingly harder.