Calipari works recruiting magic again, adds 4-star shooting guard Jemarl Baker

John Calipari (Vicky Graff Photo)


Never say never when it comes to John Calipari and recruiting.

What I’ve always liked about Calipari when it comes to recruiting is that he not only has Plan A, but he has Plan B and Plan C.

He proved that again today when former California commit Jemarl Baker of Los Angeles, a four-star shooting guard, confirmed he had committed to Calipari after receiving a visit from the Kentucky coach Friday.

What makes that significant even though UK already has the No. 1-ranked recruiting class is that the Cats needed a 3-point shooter and that is Baker’s strength. He’s also ranked among the top 75 players overall in the 2017 recruiting class.

He had received interest from Duke, Arizona, Oregon, Virginia, Utah and Maryland since he asked out of his commitment to California.

Kentucky already has five-star point guard Quade Green, four-star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, five-star shooting guard Hamidou Diallo, five-star forward Jarred Vanderbilt, five-star center Nick Richards and five-star forward P.J. Washington in its recruiting class. But the Cats are also going to lose the top seven scorers off last season’s Elite Eight team.

If Kentucky has had a weakness under Calipari, it has been consistent outside shooting. Baker made 94 treys last season and averaged 17.1 points, 4.1 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 1.8 steals for Roosevelt High School in Corona, Calif.

Calipari has also been pursuing Pittsburgh graduate transfer Cameron Johnson as well as 2017 Illinois Mr. Basketball Mark Smith.

Of those three, Baker not only seemed like the best shooter, but unlike Johnson who will only be around for one year, he should be at UK for at least three years, it not four. Calipari needs to continue to add some players like that and to fit in just the shooter he needed so late in this recruiting season is just another example of the depth of Calipari’s recruiting plan.


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  1. How can any player disregard an offer from Coach Calipari/UK? That is the recruiting magic, and Calipari understands this better than anyone else in the coaching ranks, and all the players understand this. When Calipari extends an offer, it represents so much more than simply an offer of a basketball grant in aid. It says that Calipari has determined that you are UK Good, both on and off the court. It says that Calipari will be 100% committed to your success, on and off the court, not just when attending UK but well into the future.

    I do not know how many real offers he extends in to any given recruiting class, but my guess is the number is relatively small, and his success rate, acceptances/offers is very high. Recruiting Magic by the numbers.

    1. I read a few years back that he had offered 8 that year and by contrast lil bro and Fla with Donovan had offered 20 plus each. So I would guess less than 10 a year.

  2. Just heard this morning that Sir Isaac is leaving the program….what a bummer. He did show the last game what many of us knew he could do along. Whether it was internal or external, he didn’t take advantage of the limited opportunities he would get. Cal always had him on the quick leash, and you could tell he didn’t have the confidence he probably should have had. I put a lot of this underachieving at the feet of Cal and Kenny for not developing and coaching him up thru the season. Last near it was the same thing with Skal. Look how good he is starting to play now. Isaac seemed like a great young man, and I think he would have been a major asset next year had he stayed.

  3. Every player that has left this program to get a paycheck would have been a major asset the next year had they stayed.

    1. True that

  4. UK basketball just starts all over again every year with a new team of star freshmen that have to be coached up, so what’s new? Many that didn’t play a lot, or rode the pine permanently, transfer, or look for an agent like Humphries has. . All that said, UK has but one national championship under Calipari to show for it, but Cal is making millionaires. I have a hard time keeping up with their names.

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