Today, 7’3 Grad Transfer Matt Haarms chose BYU over Kentucky and Texas Tech. The Wildcats were going after Haarms hard, as the glaring hole in next year’s roster is a Center. What will Kentucky’s options be in the frontcourt after missing out on Haarms? Let’s take a look.
Potential Grad Transfers
As of right now, there’s really not much of a big man market in the grad transfer portal. There’s only one guy who I can think of in this category.
Marcus Santos-Silva – VCU Transfer – 6’7 250lbs (13ppg, 9rpg, 1.3bpg, 57% FG)
Despite fan speculation that Santos-Silva will be the next Kentucky Grad Transfer, those rumors were shut down by reports that the bruiser from VCU hasn’t heard from Kentucky yet. It’s possible that the UK staff was expecting Matt Haarms to commit, so maybe after missing on him, Santos-Silva will get a call. I believe he is a last resort, as the team has enough power forwards on next year’s roster. Marcus is only 6’7, which would be too small for what Kentucky is looking for. Kentucky could run a small-ball lineup, with Santos-Silva playing an extremely undersized Center, but I just don’t see that working very well. Marcus is a bully down low, scoring efficiently in the post and flaunting elite rebounding. He reminds me a ton of former UK Grad Transfer Reid Travis. I don’t expect Kentucky to pursue Marcus Santos-Silva, but it’s possible as a last resort situation.
Possible 2021 Reclass Frontcourt Players
The other option is a reclassification from a big man in the 2021 class. With a rule passing allowing academic qualifications to be automatically met for incoming freshmen, we will likely see a mass exodus of recruits leaving the 2021 class to play in the 2020 college basketball season. We’ll take a look at those options now.
Moussa Cisse, Memphis TN – 6’10 220lbs (#8 Overall, #2 Center)
Cisse is my personal favorite of all the options we may have for next season’s Center position. He is an elite shot-blocker, as well as a polished rim-runner. He’s currently projected to go to Memphis, but I think with Kentucky’s dire need for a Center, he may seize the opportunity to get the spotlight at the best NBA factory in the country.
Efton Reid, Richmond VA – 6’11 255lbs (#20 Overall, #3 Center)
Reports surfaced today that Kentucky reached out to 2021 Center Efton Reid. Admittedly, I don’t know much about Reid, but he’s a borderline 7 footer with a good bit of weight to him as well. I’d say he’s similar in build to Junior Nick Richards, so take that as you will. It’s unknown if Kentucky has offered him, or if they’re even considering adding him as a reclass. It’s possible they were just checking in with a recruit for the future. We’ll just have to see.
Paolo Banchero, Seattle WA – 6’9 235lbs (#4 Overall, #1 Power Forward)
There have obviously been whispers about Banchero possibly reclassifying and attending Kentucky, which Paolo himself has personally shut down on Twitter. However, with the recent circumstances arising, I find it entirely possible that he ends up making the jump to 2020. Banchero is a Power Forward, but I think his mix of solid height (6’9) and elite athleticism would allow for him to thrive in a small-ball 5 spot. Banchero reminds me a lot of a PJ Washington/Zion Williamson hybrid, so seeing him in a Kentucky uniform next season would be nice.
Looking at our Frontcourt as of Today
If we take a look at the players we already have in our frontcourt next season, I feel pretty confident that things could still work well, even without adding another player. There are currently 3 players suiting up for Kentucky next year at the big man positions, so let’s look at them real quick.
Keion Brooks – 6’7 205lbs (PF/SF) Sophomore
Keion Brooks is the only player returning for Kentucky that played minutes on last season’s team. That is a daunting fact, as we will likely have our most inexperienced team to play for Kentucky. Regardless, Brooks had a strong second half of his freshman season, and I really think he’ll be teh day-one starter at the Power Forward spot. He’s a good rebounder with a polished offensive arsenal. He can score anywhere, from the paint, to the midrange, and even beyond the arc. He showed signs of defensive potential, so we’ll have to keep an eye out for that as well. Keion reminds me a lot of PJ Washington, and I think he can take that freshman to sophomore leap like PJ did. I’m confident in Keion’s ability to be a solid player for us down low.
Isaiah Jackson – 6’9 200lbs (PF/C) Freshman
Jackson is a 4 star recruit (247 Sports) and is considered a top 5 Power Forward in the incoming class. Jackson flaunts a freaky wingspan and some really solid hops for his size, so he projects to be our best shot-blocker on next year’s squad. Many say he could be the best shot-blocker Kentucky has seen since Nerlens Noel, and I can definitely see it. Isaiah is skinny for his size, and needs to put on some weight if we expect him to play any time at the Center position. I think he has the potential to play the 5, but we’ll just have to see how it turns out. Jackson has the most potential of any of teh players in next season’s frontcourt, in my opinion.
Lance Ware – 6’9 215lbs (PF/C) Freshman
Ware is the wildcard in this group of players. I’m not entirely sure how he would project to the Center position, but he’s a very solid Power Forward. Ware is basically EJ Montgomery with more of a motor, if I had to make a comparison. He’s 6’9, which is considered small for the Center position, but if necessary I think Ware could play the 5 pretty well. He’s probably our most likely option in terms of wanting something close to a traditional Center.
Calipari may have a trick up his sleeve.
We all know that John Calipari is able to fill roster spots pretty well. He always has a plan and it always ends up working out pretty well. I think Coach Cal has a trick up his sleeve and will find a way to bolster the frontcourt next season. We’ll just have to wait for him to work his magic.
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