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Kentucky closes 2016 with a strong recruiting push

The Wildcats picked up four pledges—including three five-star prospects—in December to surge to No. 1 in Scout's class rankings.

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Kentucky continues to add to top class

John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats surged into the No. 1 spot in the team recruiting rankings during the month of December when they snagged four pledges from top 50 prospects, including three five-star prospects.

Right before Christmas the Wildcats added to their lead in the rankings when they landed a pledge from Jarred Vanderbilt. The combo forward ranks as the No. 15 prospect overall and gives Kentucky four total five-star prospects committed in the class.

That number is notable because at this point only Duke and UCLA have multiple five-star commitments in their classes, and each of them only has two top-tier commitments.

Calipari just continues to keep things rolling on the recruiting trail. He has had Kentucky in the top two of the team recruiting rankings every year since he took over in Lexington, and that streak will absolutely continue this year as well.

The addition of Vanderbilt was nice for Kentucky, but it also comes from a spot of depth. The Wildcats already had landed a similar player in P.J. Washington, so now Calipari and his staff have two players who are more power forwards than small forwards, but who are elite rebounders with athleticism and tremendous motors.

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It is clear by the makeup of this class that Calipari isn’t worried at all about positions on the basketball court. He simply wants to get the most talented players that he can find, and then dominate with athleticism, physical play, toughness, rebounding and defense.

With a frontline of Vanderbilt, Washington, and five-star center Nick Richards, there likely won’t be a more imposing front-court in the country on the defensive end or rebounding-wise in the 2017–18 season. None of those three players are dynamic offensive players yet, but they’ll be a nightmare to contend with on defense.

It is possible the Wildcats will continue to add to their class going forward as well. They remain in the top group for five-star small forward Kevin Knox, five-star shot-blocking center Mohamed Bamba, and recently hosted top-10 wing Hamidou Diallo for an official visit.

The situation with Diallo is interesting. Since Diallo graduated last year, he is actually NBA draft eligible in 2017, and NBA teams have been scouting him all year. He could enroll in a college for the second semester and practice without playing, or he could enroll and play right away with the NCAA team. Of course, he might also never play in an NCAA game, if he elects to jump straight to the draft.

What Diallo does is up in the air, but his combination of elite athleticism and size could potentially give Kentucky one more weapon to come in and make an impact right away.

Tucker likely next to decide

There aren’t many top-100 prospects left on the board for college coaches to choose from, but one who is close to deciding is Jordan Tucker. The four-star forward, who likely ends up either as a wing or a stretch power forward, will pick between defending national champion Villanova and Indiana.

Both the Hoosiers and Wildcats recently hosted Tucker for official visits, and he narrowed his school list to those two. Tucker ranks as the No. 79 prospect in the class, and is one of the best catch-and-shoot forwards in the country.

Whichever school is able to land Tucker will immediately add a lethal three-point shooter. Tucker has good size at 6' 7" and proved his worth all summer long in the EYBL, where he averaged 15 points per game and shot 39% from distance.

At this point Tucker needs to continue to add to his game off the dribble, as he is much better off the catch, but he does have the requisite size and athleticism to be someone who spaces the floor and who will give either Indiana or Villanova a quality weapon to add for next season.