By LARRY VAUGHT
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.