It’s not a shock that John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats brought in another top-20 player when Wenyen Gabriel committed to them yesterday. Gabriel is the No. 16 recruit in the class of 2016, according to 247Sports.
What is interesting though are two things. One, the method of Calipari’s recruiting for the class of 2016. He has two commitments from Gabriel and Sacha Killeya-Jones, who both had a massive summer and shot up the rankings. Gabriel was unranked before climbing up to the No. 16 spot on 247Sports while Killyea-Jones made a jump of about 50 spots. Both players aren’t one-and-dones – at least to CBSSports.com’s Sam Vecenie.
This Kentucky recruiting class is super interesting. Don’t think either of Gabriel or Killeya-Jones are one-and-dones.
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) October 1, 2015
Vecenie also says both players are extremely skilled (obviously committing to Kentucky) but need to work on their bodies, as they are both very lean.
If it’s true that both players aren’t one-and-dones could we see another Kentucky “super team” on our hands similar to what we saw during the 2014-15 season. Having those guys on your roster for two years lets you recruit differently while also having a head start on most teams as you have top-notch players coming in two years in a row without having to transition.
The other interesting part of the Gabriel commitment is how it will play a role in who Calipari recruits for the class of 2016 now. He already has four big men locked up for the 2016-17 season in Gabriel, Killeya-Jones, Tai Wynyard and Isaac Humphries. Humphries, an Australian, reclassified to join the Wildcats this season but because of his age has to stay in college for two years. So, right away there’s an advantage for him and Calipari when it comes to recruiting a year later, he essentially has a top-35 player guaranteed for two years. Wynyard, from New Zealand, could potentially join Kentucky after the first semester if he decides to reclassify, but again he’ll be in college for the 2016-17 season, giving Calipari four big time post players on his roster no matter who leaves for the NBA.
Calipari can now focus on recruiting guards, which he is absolutely doing, considering he just had an in-home visit with De’Aaron Fox, one of the best point guards in the country. Also on Calipari’s recruiting list is Rawle Atkins, a shooting guard from New York, Miles Bridges, a small forward from Michigan who is deciding where to attend college on October 3rd and while it’s likely to be Michigan State, you can’t rule out Kentucky yet. Then there’s also Malik Monk, who is an electric scorer from Arkansas who is likely to decide between the Razorbacks and Kentucky and someone the Wildcats’ staff has been recruiting hard for quite some time.
If you get any sort of combination out of that group you’ll likely see Kentucky with another No. 1 recruiting class and another top-5 preseason ranking.
It’s quite possible Calipari gets at least one more big guy but looking at the roster it’s hard to imagine him grabbing a fifth post player with the possibility of Marcus Lee returning for his senior year.
If you’re a Kentucky fan, get excited, the class of 2016 is shaping up to be one of Cal’s better groups, even if it’s different from the norm.