Kentucky Basketball is no longer considered the favorite for five-star guards Jaden Hardy and Skyy Clark. What does this mean for the Wildcats?
News recently broke (courtesy of Rivals’ Corey Evans) that Kentucky Basketball is no longer the outright leader for blue-chip recruits Jaden Hardy and Skyy Clark. This obviously isn’t good news, as the Wildcats may lose out on two elite talents.
Hardy is the top-ranked combo guard in his class (2021) while Clark is trending upward as a top-15 prospect in his class (2022). Note: Clark is a candidate to reclassify to the Class of 2021, but he has not made that decision yet.
To add to Evans’ evaluation, his colleague (and Kentucky expert) Travis Graf also forecasts Hardy to UCLA. As for Clark, the outlook is still positive, as Kentucky is still listed as the favorite by many other recruiting analysts. Nonetheless, this is a downgrade, and Corey Evans nails more than 90% of his recruiting picks. This news also comes on the heels of four-star guard Nolan Hickman (2021) committing to Kentucky.
So, what does this mean for Kentucky? Most importantly, Kentucky fans shouldn’t pretend like the world is ending.
Because Kentucky sees more personnel turnover than a temp agency, any September roster outlook will age like yogurt left out of the fridge. That said, the depth for 2021-22 currently appears as if the Wildcats need just two guards in the upcoming recruiting class. They already have one in Nolan Hickman. Aside from Hardy, UK is still in the running for five-star Hunter Sallis.
Times have changed, too. This news would have been devastating 20 years ago, let alone a decade ago. College basketball roster situations are more fluid than they used to be. In the last 10 years alone, the number of transfers has increased from 421 to nearly 700! In that same period, the NBA Draft early entrants list has doubled – 103 underclassmen in 2010 and 205 underclassmen in 2020. More now than ever, there is flexibility and opportunity in recruiting.
Other potential 2021 options for Kentucky Basketball
If Hardy and Clark don’t end up at UK, there will be other options later in the recruiting process. There will be other prospects who decommit from other schools. Some recruits will wait for next year’s draft decisions. There will be transfers available to fill that roster hole. Again, there is more opportunity if you don’t land your first targets.
Let’s jump back to Nolan Hickman – don’t sleep on this guy. No, he’s not an athletic freak like Eric Bledsoe. He’s not as big as a Harrison twin. He doesn’t have that 8th gear like John Wall or De’Aaron Fox. But Hickman is smart, slippery, has excellent vision, and will get you a bucket.
For those concerned with overall rankings, so what if Hickman’s the 76th ranked player in his class? You know what other guards were ranked 76th (per Rivals.com)? Scottie Reynolds. Jeremy Lamb. Frank Mason.
All those guys were recruited by legendary coaches and thrived as collegiate players. Sometimes the person running the program knows best. Speaking of legendary coaches, remember that Kentucky has never finished worse than 3rd in recruiting rankings since Calipari took over.
Even with the recent uncertainty, Kentucky should still be hopeful that Skyy Clark ends up in Lexington. Clark announced his final 4 schools on September 10 – that list includes Kentucky (along with North Carolina, UCLA, and Memphis).
Regardless of Hardy and Clark’s decisions, this is not panic time for Kentucky. If they don’t commit, someone else will. Experts figured Devin Booker was the consolation for missing on James Blackmon. UK lost out on Malik Newman only to get Jamal Murray. They whiffed on Cliff Alexander and ended up with Karl-Anthony Towns.
Cats fans: It’s going to be O.K. Just take a deep breath and have faith in the coaching staff.