Kentucky’s 5-star recruits recognize pressure on program next year: ‘We’re not losing in the first round’


HOUSTON — Each year, John Calipari and Kentucky land five-star, one-and-done prospects. Kentucky has become a springboard to the NBA since 2012, when Anthony Davis helped lead Kentucky to a national championship and was the No. 1 pick in the draft. Since then, Kentucky has had 11 top-3 recruiting classes led by elite high school prospects who have gone on to be great NBA players.

In the last nine NBA drafts, Kentucky has had 14 players selected in the first round, and there are currently 28 former Wildcats in the NBA or G League — Kentucky has the most active NBA players, with Duke second (24) and UCLA third (15). This year, Calipari will likely return to the NBA Draft green room with freshmen Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham projected to go in the lottery.

Next season will be no different. Calipari has the No. 2 recruiting class coming in with four five-star recruits: Boogie Fland, Karter Knox, Jayden Quaintance and Billy Richmond. Fland, Knox and Quaintance were named McDonald’s All Americans and will be playing in the all-star game Tuesday night. This is nothing new for Big Blue Nation. There have been 14 Kentucky players in the last five McDoanld’s All American games.

But after a disappointing ending to the 2023-24 season and a shocking exit in the NCAA tournament in the first round, there is mounting pressure on this group coming in next season. They recognize something needs to change for Kentucky fans to regain trust in their head coach, who has gone 1-4 in his last five NCAA tournament games and hasn’t reached the Final Four since 2015.

“There’s always pressure coming into a new situation, but we all definitely feel it after how this season ended,” Fland told Yahoo Sports. “We have to go in there with the mindset that we’re not freshmen. The big thing for us is we need to make it about the team’s success first. We all want to reach that next level and make the NBA. The key is to not skip steps and really buy into what coach Cal says and do whatever is necessary to win.”

Seven months from their first collegiate game, the sentiment of changing the narrative around Kentucky is ringing through loud and…

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Author : Yahoo Sports

Publish date : 2024-04-01 14:34:42

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