LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -John Calipari’s rebuilding project at Kentucky is properly under way.
The Wildcats signed center Enes Kanter and acquired a commitment from guard Brandon Knight on Wednesday, two game enthusiasts Calipari hopes can step in and fill some of the holes left by the defection of 5 players towards the NBA.
Knight, a McDonald’s All-American and a two-time Gatorade National Player of the Year, donned a blue Kentucky hat following creating his nationally televised announcement at Pine Crest Higher in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“I just chose Kentucky because I felt it was a place that had great players, a great environment and a place where I can elevate my game,” Knight stated on ESPNU.
Knight chose Kentucky over Syracuse, Connecticut, Kansas and Florida. The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Knight was ranked the No. 1 prospect within the country by Rivals.com. He averaged 32 factors a game final 12 months at Pine Crest and ended his large university career as the second-leading scorer in Florida history.
Knight will have some big shoes to fill at Kentucky, which loses three players to graduation and could have 5 underclassmen - guards John Wall and Eric Bledsoe, forward Patrick Patterson and centers DeMarcus Cousins and Daniel Orton - leave early to head for the NBA. The departing underclassmen had been the core of a team that went 35-3 and won the Southeastern Conference tournament before advancing towards the regional finals from the NCAA tournament.
Knight cited the achievement young point guards have enjoyed in Calipari’s “dribble-drive” offense - namely Wall and current NBA stars Derrick Rose and Tyreke Evans - as a key factor in his choice.
“The things that’s done with previous players … I think that’s what entices a lot of players with that situation,” Knight said.
Calipari could not comment on Knight’s commitment since the university had not yet acquired Knight’s letter of intent. Nevertheless, he told ESPNU he’s not worried about Kentucky’s capability to sustain its achievement.
“When you get this kid and a few other kids signed with the kids we have coming back, I think we’re going to be fine,” he mentioned.
Knight will join a freshman class that contains swingman Stacey Poole and Kanter, a Turkey native who starred at the Nike Hoops Summit previous weekend in Oregon.
Kanter scored an event-record 34 factors and grabbed 13 rebounds while playing for the International Team in a loss to the United States. Kanter spent last season at Stoneridge Preparatory University in Simi Valley, Calif.
Calipari stated Kanter has the body and possible being “special.”
The Wildcats are expected receive several much more commitments during the late signing period.