Who’s Got Next? Meeting Kentucky’s Next Vaunted Recruiting Class

Posted by Sean Moran on November 24th, 2015


Who’s Got Next? is a weekly column by Sean Moran, the RTC recruiting guru. Once a week he will bring you an overview of what’s going on in the complex world of recruiting, from who is signing where among the seniors to discussing the recruitment of the top uncommitted players in the country. We also encourage you to check out his contributions at The Intentional Foul dedicated to recruiting coverage and analysis. You can also follow Sean at his Twitter account @Seanmohoops for up-to-date news from the high school and college hoops scene. If you have any suggestions as to areas we are missing or different things you would like to see, please let us know at rushthecourt@yahoo.com.

Note: Scout.com used for all player rankings.

Kentucky took down Duke 74-63 in last Tuesday’s Champions Classic and now it has surged ahead of the Blue Devils in the race for the top recruiting class in 2016 as well. Adding two five-star recruits in the span of a week (and three in the span of a month) will usually do that. It started on November 12, when 6’3” point guard De’Aron Fox committed to John Calipari’s program. It continued last week, when 6’8” Edrice “Bam” Adebayo and 6’3” shooting guard Malik Monk followed Fox’s lead with commitments of their own.

Surprise, surprise - John Calipari is cleaning up on the recruiting trail. (Getty)

Surprise, surprise – John Calipari is cleaning up on the recruiting trail. (Getty)

So what is Kentucky getting in these three commitments? Fox will look to follow in the footsteps of John Wall and Brandon Knight, two of the many five-star point guards that Calipari has brought to Lexington during his tenure. He is a three-year veteran of the Nike EYBL, having first played on the Houston Hoops AAU squad as a rising sophomore with Justise Winslow, Kelly Oubre and Justin Jackson. Despite playing with older competition, Fox was usually somewhat of an afterthought in a loaded class of point guards. Even Kentucky originally prioritized Derryck Thornton (before he reclassified) and Kobi Simmons over Fox. However, this was before Fox put together a sensational summer and established himself at the front of the pack in a class that includes Dennis Smith, Frank Jackson (Duke commitment), Lonzo Ball and Simmons. The left-handed Fox is a menacing defensive presence who can lock down guards with his quick feet and fast hands. His primary weakness revolves around outside shooting, but he is a capable shooter off the dribble and is plenty explosive around the rim. While Fox was not always a priority for Kentucky, the Wildcats might have ended up with the best point guard in the class.

Edrice Adebayo is another recruit who wasn’t prioritized early by Kentucky, but things moved quickly after he was offered a scholarship in late July. The 6’8” Adebayo is another North Carolina native (Pinetown, NC) who the Wildcats snatched from the clutches of Tobacco Road. All signs pointed toward the Wolfpack early on: in-state product; played for an AAU team that was sponsored by Adidas; good friends with Dennis Smith, who had previously committed to Mark Gottfried. Unfortunately for NC State, the allure of playing for and developing his skill set under Calipari was too much for the prep star to pass up. Adebayo is one of the best rebounders in high school basketball right now. He is extremely quick off his feet and can outleap almost anyone on a second or third jump near the basket. Calipari certainly won’t have to teach him to play much harder, but he will have to help him expand and refine his overall offensive game. While raw, Adebayo possesses solid fundamental jump shooting form and gets good rotation on the basketball — solid reason to believe he will turn out to be a capable pick-and-pop performer. His post moves are still a work in progress, but there’s no denying that with his athleticism there is still a lot of room for individual growth and skill development.

Malik Monk is another explosive athlete who will be a highlight reel favorite during his time in Lexington. The 6’3” Fayetteville, Arkansas, product chose the Wildcats over his local Razorbacks in a decision that did not sit well among many in Monk’s home state. The prep star is more than just a dunker, too. He is capable of explosive scoring performances, scoring 59 points in an EYBL game in the summer before his junior year as well as notching a 40-point game in the Nike Peach Jam. He put together a season high 39-point performance and scored in double-figures in 20 of 21 games last season.

Once again, there is an embarrassment of riches headed to Lexington, and perhaps not shockingly, there is more to this class than just this trio of blue chippers. Wenyen Gabriel was one of the most improved players on the circuit this summer, and the 6’9″ senior’s stock is still soaring after another inspired performance at the National Prep Showcase. Sacha Killeya-Jones, a long, 6’10” forward will be in the fold next winter, as Kentucky snatched him up almost immediately after he de-committed from Virginia. Per usual, there is no slowing down on the recruiting trail for Calipari and the Wildcats. Your move, Duke.

Sean Moran (79 Posts)

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