What KSR is hearing about Kentucky's options for the 2021-22 roster

by:Jack Pilgrim04/15/21
[caption id="attachment_343715" align="aligncenter" width="2560"] (Photo by Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)[/caption] The Kentucky coaching staff is hitting the recruiting trail hard this offseason, but not in typical John Calipari fashion. The transfer portal is the hip new way to bring in perennial talent and the 'Cats have followed suit over the last several weeks. It seems almost every day now a report surfaces where Player X has made some sort of contact with Kentucky, along with several other top-tier programs. Calipari is clearly casting a wide net in his search for an extra piece to next season's roster. In particular, UK is going after two handfuls of point guards and combo guards to help fill the biggest void left: a reliable and dominant ball handler. Below is a breakdown of every available transfer (or high school senior) that Kentucky has some sort of connection to and what KSR is hearing about where they stand as of today.

Marcus Carr (R-Jr., PG) - transfer from Minnesota

The standout scoring guard is exploring his professional and transfer options at this time, with an emphasis on the former. Entering the portal last month after Richard Pitino was fired at Minnesota, Kentucky quickly emerged as a potential option if the third-team All-Big Ten honoree decides to pull his name out of the draft. Carr is expected to take his time with the draft process and complete in-person workouts before making a final decision. Should he return to college, he will consider only a handful of programs, with multiple sources telling KSR that Kentucky will be at or near the top of that list. Michigan State has also been a rumored destination, though buzz around the Wildcats continues to be much more prominent. This process is one to keep an eye on but remain patient with. It could be a month or two before any legitimate movement.

Adam Miller (Fr., PG) - transfer from Illinois

Eric Bossi of 247Sports was the first to confirm that Kentucky would be interested in the freshman guard, adding that DePaul and Michigan are also in the running. Sources have since told KSR that LSU is a top contender to land Miller, even following the commitment of Missouri transfer Xavier Pinson. KSR learned last week that Miller has been working out with Kentucky signee and Oak Park, IL native Bryce Hopkins in recent weeks, with the future Wildcat’s father, Clyde, telling KSR that his son is recruiting the Fighting Illini standout to Lexington. “Yeah I was actually in the gym with him last week, him and Adam,” Hopkins told KSR. “They were working out together and competing. You know, Bryce did talk to him – I don’t know the details – but he did talk to Adam, trying to get him to come down to Kentucky. “It’ll be a good move for him, I think. He and Bryce are becoming really close, so I’d like to see him come down and be a part of the team, if possible.” Despite averaging 25.5 minutes per contest for a one-seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament and a top-five team throughout the season, Miller wasn't content with his role within the program, thinking of himself as more of a lead guard and primary ball-handler rather than a catch-and-shoot scoring threat.

TyTy Washington (HS, PG) - 4-star from class of 2021

Washington earned an offer from Kentucky on April 13 and announced not long after that he would be cutting his list to five this weekend. Numerous sources tell KSR that Kentucky will be on the list - he confirmed as much to Kyle Tucker of The Athletic - with Kansas, Arizona and Auburn also being seen as potential suitors. The professional route was once seen as an option, but that no longer appears to be on the table. A situation to keep a close eye on is that of 2022 five-star guard Scoot Henderson, who is contemplating a jump to 2021 and considering Auburn as a potential destination. If Henderson reclassifies and commits to Auburn in the near future, it would likely take the Tigers out of the running for Washington. Based on conversations with several individuals familiar with this recruitment and Kentucky's recruiting efforts, I would list the Wildcats as slight favorites at this point in time. Not a lock by any means, but UK should feel comfortable about its position. Other items of note: -- Washington has been friends with Nolan Hickman since grade school, with the Kentucky signee both publicly and privately recruiting the four-star guard to Lexington in recent days. -- Washington's head coach told KSR on Wednesday that UK's staff showed the four-star guard's family film of past guards such as Tyrese Maxey, Immanuel Quickley and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander -- No timeline for a decision as of yet. Washington is expected to cut his list to five this weekend and weigh his options from there.

Rocket Watts (So., G) - transfer from Michigan State

Kentucky may have put out a feeler call for the Michigan State guard transfer, but Watts is not expected to end up at UK, sources tell KSR. Frankly, it would be a significant shock to see Calipari and his staff express any semblance of serious interest.

Jaden Hardy (HS, G) - 5-star from class of 2021

Sources continue to tell KSR that Hardy is expected to explore his professional options, likely signing with the G League. "Everything points to the G League route," one source told KSR on Thursday. "If he does go to college, it looks to be UCLA right now." Kentucky would love to sign the dynamic scoring threat - he’s been the school’s top guard prospect for well over two years - but that possibility appears to be off the table at this point in time.

Mac McClung (Jr., G) - transfer from Texas Tech

Adam Zagoria and Pat Lawless both confirmed on Thursday that Kentucky has reached out to the Texas Tech transfer. Leading up to the reported contact, one source told KSR that UK was a school to “keep an eye on,” though the confirmed level of mutual interest was (and remains to be) unclear. Sources tell KSR that among college options, Texas is expected to be a serious contender, even considering the school’s addition of Kentucky transfer Devin Askew and the return of guard Andrew Jones. The opportunity to reunite with Chris Beard, his former Texas Tech head coach, is obviously an intriguing one. Beyond Kentucky and Texas, Gonzaga, Georgia, Florida, Memphis, N.C. State and Boston College have also reportedly been in contact. Like Marcus Carr, though, McClung is expected to focus on the draft process and hold off on any final decision until receiving feedback. Until then, sources tell KSR that the veteran guard plans to be “guarded” about his potential recruitment.

De'Vion Harmon (So., PG) - transfer from Oklahoma

Just entering the portal on Thursday, sources tell KSR that Kentucky is expected to reach out to the standout scorer, though the early expectation is that Harmon is interested in staying in the Big 12. UPDATE: Adam Zagoria has since confirmed that Kentucky officially reached out Thursday evening.

Garrison Brooks (Sr., C) - transfer from UNC

Kentucky was rumored as a potential option for the UNC transfer before he even entered the portal, and then again after he announced his departure. Despite the early rumblings, the expectation is that Brooks ends up at Mississippi State, with sources telling KSR earlier on Thursday that an announcement could come in the next day or two. UPDATE: Brooks officially committed to Mississippi State late Thursday evening.
Obviously, Kentucky can't land all 45 of the names above, but will likely look to add one or two more players to round out the 2021-22 roster. A point guard is the No. 1 priority. After that, they could go a couple of different ways. If Davion Mintz or Keion Brooks (or both) decide to stick with Kentucky, that might be all they need if a true point guard picks UK. If one or both elect to transfer, the 'Cats could be in search of another player or two who can run the wing. It's only April, though, so expect more and more names to surface as we move into the summer.

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