ROUNDTABLE: What happens from here?
Kentucky's addition of five-star forward Kevin Knox changes the outlook for John Calipari's 2017-18 team, but how much?
Will Kentucky land Mo Bamba? What about Cam Johnson? What will Hamidou Diallo do?
It's all speculation at this point, but the CatsIllustrated.com staff goes to the roundtable to discuss where things stand and what's coming next.
Between Mo Bamba, Cam Johnson and Hamidou Diallo, who plays for Kentucky next season?
T.J. Walker, Basketball Recruiting Analyst: Mohamed Bamba is my guess, but it's not impossible that UK also lands one of Diallo or Johnson. They won't get all three.
Texas is a serious player for Bamba but if you look at all the dots you would know Kentucky is the team to beat. The Cats haven't reached out to one other big since Nick Richards committed to UK and Kentucky's staff has consistently felt solid about their chances with Bamba.
The risk/reward of staying in the draft will likely keep Diallo from coming back to UK, although you never know exactly what NBA teams are thinking. If Diallo does stay in the draft there's a chance that Calipari could convince Johnson to enroll at UK. Obviously landing Kevin Knox hurt UK's chances with Johnson, and I believe Arizona leads, but Calipari is the best recruiter in the country for a reason.
Bamba is likely, if Diallo stays in the draft UK will have a chance with Johnson but odds are against the Cats for both Diallo and the Pitt-transfer.
Derek Terry, Staff Writer: I think UK lands Mohamed Bamba. The Cats have been the team to beat in his recruitment, and although Texas seems to have some momentum, I believe Bamba will choose UK in the end.
I'll be contrary and say Diallo returns to school as well. No sources or anything, but Diallo can raise his draft stock quite a bit by playing a season of college basketball. If he were to leave, perhaps UK would land Johnson but my guess is that ship sailed when Kevin Knox committed to the Cats.
Justin Rowland, Publisher: Based on everything that's out there, and there's more out there on some guys than others, I'll say that Kentucky lands Mo Bamba, Cam Johnson goes elsewhere and Diallo stays in the draft.
There's obviously plenty of Texas chatter when it comes to Bamba, and everything is going to be scrutinized at this stage, but in a recruitment like this playing the odds just means picking John Calipari. Knox choosing Kentucky probably hurts their chances with Johnson, and it seems like Diallo's draft position is better than many initially speculated that it would be.
How much better would Bamba make Kentucky compared to the team they currently have in place for next season?
T.J. Walker, Basketball Recruiting Analyst: Add at least an extra round in March for Bamba. If you think a Bamba-less UK team is a Final Four team, Bamba makes them a title team. If you're less bullish and think even with Bamba UK should only go to the Elite Eight, then if the Cats don't land Bamba UK would be fortunate to make the second weekend of the NCAA Tournament. Whatever your personal opinion is for UK next season, add or subtract a round based on Bamba.
I do think it will be tough for Kentucky to win the title without the five-star center, who wants to play forward. Would it be impossible? No, but with that much youth it would be difficult. Bamba won't help UK from an experience standpoint but adding the best shot blocker in college basketball wouldn't hurt Kentucky's chances.
Bamba is probably the difference between two or three regular season wins and one postseason win.
Derek Terry, Staff Writer: There's no doubt he'd make a big difference on next season's team. He'd play major minutes and likely be one of the best defensive forces of the John Calipari era. He'd also help for depth purposes. Nick Richards would likely start at the center position if Bamba goes elsewhere, but having him off the bench would give UK very quality depth.
Justin Rowland, Publisher: He would make a huge difference. I don't think he would be a sure-fire insurance policy against some regular season struggles, because there's still the shooting question and I don't think anybody knows how consistent or how good Quade Green will be at point guard.
But he definitely gives an already-loaded front court a different kind of player they don't already have. He would make Kentucky a lot better defensively and could alter game plans. I think you'd have a team that you'd have to say could be vulnerable in some regular season games, based on youth and shooting uncertainty alone, but it would be one of those teams that would easily be a frontrunner by the time the tournament rolls around.
What would the return of Hamidou Diallo mean for Kentucky next season?
T.J. Walker, Basketball Recruiting Analyst: It would be just another sports car in the garage for Calipari. It would solidify this team as Calipari's most athletic team ever assembled, and we know what UK's coach does with athletes. The Cats would be a monster in transition and adding Diallo's wingspan on defense is just a scary thought considering UK may already be the longest team in the country.
I actually think it would help Quade Green a bit. Yes, he will have Shai Alexander and Jemarl Baker who can play some point, but if Diallo were to come back he could handle the ball and bring it up the floor in stretches. That's not to say Diallo is a point guard, he's not, but it could take some pressure off Green if there's a serious press against UK.
But odds are Diallo stays in the draft, but if he were to come back it would just add to Calipari's insane list of options.
Derek Terry, Staff Writer: It would definitely help with guard depth and overall talent. A potential starting five of Quade Green, Diallo, Knox, Gabriel/Washington/Vanderbilt, and Bamba would make UK's roster one of the best in the country. Of course, that roster is extremely young and would have growing pains, but from a talent standpoint few teams would be better.
Justin Rowland, Publisher: I do think he would make a difference. Definitely not as much of a difference as Bamba would make. It would create an interesting question. If Knox is set on playing the two and Diallo were to return then that'd be something to look closer at. Both players would likely start.
Diallo would give Kentucky even more length and defensive versatility. This is already, probably, the most athletic team in the country. It would be the present expected version of that to an even greater degree. It would make an already-deep team even deeper. The biggest thing it would do is give Kentucky more insurance in terms of backcourt depth, and it would allow players like Jemarl Baker and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to ease their way in without being thrust right into the spotlight as a player UK needs to play a ton of minutes.