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Recapping Kentucky’s Busy Recruiting Weekend




This weekend was a busy one for Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari and his staff, as the major shoe circuits kicked off their seasons. On Friday, Calipari was in Iowa for Adidas 3SSB with Assistant Coach, Chin Coleman, and then arrived at Nike EYBL in Atlanta on Saturday with his other assistants, Orlando Antigua and Bruiser Flint, who were there on Friday.

Kentucky watched a total of 19 recruits through both Adidas 3SSB and Nike EYBL this past weekend:

Here is a breakdown of the top targets that the coaching staff saw, and how each performed over the weekend:


Note: Rankings via 247 Sports


Tre Johnson (2024, No. 1 SG, No. 1 Overall)

Kentucky’s top target in the rising Senior class, Tre Johnson proved why he is the best player in the class. Kentucky’s coaching staff watched every game of his this weekend at Nike EYBL. He averaged 16.0 points, 4.8 assists, and 4.8 rebounds, while shooting 36.7% overall, and 41.7% from three.

Kentucky showed why he is the top priority for Kentucky in the class by seeing all of his games. and showing him that they have all of their chips in for him, making a hard push.

Johnson is expected to make his decision before Peach Jam, which is July 3-9. Recent intel has suggested that Texas currently leads his recruitment, with Kentucky lurking right behind, making a strong push. Baylor is seen to be behind those two schools in the race for the prized recruit.


Flory Bidunga (2024, No. 1 C, No. 3 Overall)

Next to Tre Johnson, Flory Bidunga is right there with Kentucky’s most prioritized target in the class of 2024, and Kentucky’s main big-man target. John Calipari was in to watch him at Adidas 3SSB on Friday night, and the elite big man did not disappoint. In his time this weekend, he averaged 20 points, 5 rebounds, and a jaw-dropping 6.5 blocks.

Kentucky is clearly starting to really ramp up the pressure on the elite big-man, and is trying to beat out Cincinnati, and Auburn among others trying to land him. His intimidating presence and elite shot-blocking have Kentucky pushing very hard for Bidunga.

Boogie Fland (2024, No. 2 CG, No. 13 Overall)

One of Kentucky’s most prioritized players in 2024, the elite Guard is one Calipari and his staff really want. Fland is by far Kentucky’s top Point Guard target in the class, with a lot of different schools also prioritizing him. Throughout the weekend at Nike EYBL, he averaged 12.8 points, 2.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists.

The star guard did not have his best weekend overall, but when he got going, it’s hard to deny how good he was. Saturday afternoon was his best game by far, where he exploded for 31 points, and even shot a very efficient 55% from three.


Fland has a variety of suitors after him, including Alabama, UNC, Villanova, and St. Johns, among others. Kentucky is pushing for him to visit at some point this summer, and according to Kyle Tucker, Kentucky sends him graphics of all of their guards in the NBA, which is a brilliant pitch to your primary point guard target in 2024.

Karter Knox (2024, No. 5 SF, No. 15 Overall)

Karter Knox is one of Kentucky’s top recruits overall. The coaching staff watched every game of his this weekend, and he filled up the stat sheet every time. Through his four games this weekend at Nike EYBL, he averaged 21.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 0.5 assists, and shot 60% from the field, and 41% from three.

Knox actually ranks 4th in points at Nike EYBL among 17U players. The star forward is very efficient shooting and is very good from the free-throw line. He can score in a variety of ways and can fill it up.

Karter Knox has multiple suitors, but all of the intel has suggested it will come down to a Kentucky and Louisville battle. He considers both like family because his brother is former Kentucky standout Kevin Knox, but he has an uncle-like relationship with Louisville Head Coach Kenny Payne. He is in no rush to make a decision, but it will be interesting when it gets closer to time.


Knox is teammates with Liam McNeely, who is a new name for Kentucky in 2024. The star forward has caught the staff’s eye, and may even receive an offer soon, as the staff is increasing their interest.


Darryn Peterson (2025, No. 2 SG, No. 6 Overall)

Darryn Peterson is arguably Kentucky’s main target, but he is one that Kentucky has had eyes on for a long time. The star guard received an offer from Kentucky over a year ago, which is rare for John Calipari to offer at that time, but it marked Kentucky’s first offer in the class of 2025.

Over the weekend at Adidas 3SSB, Peterson put on a show, and his scoring ability is very polished at his age. Kentucky was on him early, and for good reason, and other schools have started to catch on.

Kentucky is seen as an early favorite, but not much intel has come about on his recruitment. Kentucky was the first major school to offer early, followed by Michigan and he is now being pursued by UNC, who recently offered him this weekend.


Koa Peat (2025, No. 3 PF, No. 3 Overall)

A player who Kentucky has had their eye on, it comes as no surprise that he received an offer from Kentucky on Saturday.

Kentucky was in to watch him at Adidas 3SSB on Friday night, where he put on a show. In front of John Calipari and Chin Coleman, the star forward had 29 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists.

Peat received recent offers from Ole Miss and Florida along with Kentucky, while already holding offers from a number of high-major programs like Baylor, Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, and Texas among others. He has been high on numerous programs’ radars and is a star, versatile wing.

As Kentucky’s second offer in the 2025 class, it’s clear that Peat and Darryn Peterson will be among the top priorities for Kentucky in their class.


Kentucky spent the weekend scouting, building relationships, and finding new recruits as they look to continue their hot recruiting mojo into the 2024 class and beyond.


National Anaylst Reveals Why John Calipari is Leaving Kentucky



John Calipari observing his team at Kentucky basketball practice at the Joe Craft Center.
UK Athletics

If you were surprised by the news that John Calipari would be leaving Kentucky after fifteen seasons to take the head coaching job at Arkansas, you weren’t the only one. Even some of the people closest to the program were “shocked” when they learned of it.

Just two weeks removed from his “commitment” to Kentucky fans to right the ship, he is leaving Lexington. Why? According to Fox Sports’ John Fanta:

“Sources close to John Calipari say he had bad feelings about his situation at Kentucky, and that the lack of support had grown to the point where he didn’t feel like he could stay on because he didn’t feel wanted. The assets Arkansas put in place convinced him to make this move.”


From 2009-2020, Calipari was the most popular man in this state. Winning a title, going to four Final Fours, seven Elite Eights. He could have won the Governor’s race. When you’re not winning, the opposite can be true. Over the disappointments of the last four years, the relationship between Kentucky and Calipari had become somewhat toxic.

Some fans feel optimistic about the change, while others feel uncertainty, and some feel both. Either way, a change was inevitable at some point. For Kentucky and John Calipari, this could save a tougher separation a year from now, while still on relatively good terms. One Kentucky fan even left a message on Calipari’s lawn on Wednesday morning, saying, “Thank you Cal. We love you.”

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John Calipari and Mitch Barnhart Share Details of Their Meeting, “Exit Strategy”



John Calipari and Mitch Barnhart sit down and discuss the future of the Kentucky Wildcats men's basketball program.

The talk of the town the last few days has been of the meeting between John Calipari and Kentucky Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart. One fan even created a Twitter/X account dedicated to tracking Calipari’s plane from New Jersey to Lexington.

The meeting finally took place on Tuesday afternoon at Barnhart’s farm. Afterward, Kentucky Insider quickly learned that Calipari would be returning for his 16th season as coach of the Kentucky Wildcats, with some changes. There are rumors of what changes are coming, but we are confident that there will be some staff/support staff changes and some day-to-day, operational changes.

Less than twenty-four hours removed from that meeting, the two discussed the details in a pre-recorded interview with LEX18.


Barnhart started the interview by putting to bed the rumor that he and Calipari have “no relationship”, pointing out that both he and Calipari are part of 40+ year marriages, and have worked together going on 16 years.

“We know how to manage relationships,” Barnhart said. “This notion that we have no relationship is garbage… I’m not a guy that gets in coach’s business, and they will all tell you that. At the end of the day, I trust him (Calipari) to do his job. Let’s put the notion of no relationship out the door.”

So what did they talk about in the meeting? “We talked about things we want to get better at. The elephants in the room,” Barnhart said. The biggest elephant in the room has been the lack of success from the Kentucky basketball program over the last four seasons, despite a number of talented players coming in.

“Our fans know what the standard is. We know what the standard is. The mantle of what we have been entrusted with is critically important to us. We talked about that,” Barnhart said. How do we change that dynamic in a world of NIL, transfer portal, older rosters?”


Calipari says, “We gotta get older,” and it sounds like he will be doing so, combining young and veteran talent, rather than being reliant on one or the other.

“There have been teams that have taken a bunch of transfers. One year they did okay, the next year they fell flat on their face,” (cough, cough, Arkansas) Calipari said. “With the current environment, you can’t have five freshmen starting. If you have freshmen, they’ve got to be supplemented with some veteran, talented players.”

Barnhart is confident in the guy who he hired 15 years ago can adjust to the current landscape of college basketball.

“If there has even been a person that has been able to adapt and adjust in the game, Cal has,” Barnhart said. I remember when he first came here, he made the comment, ‘We’re going to have to adapt to this new era of ‘one and done’.’ He adapted. We will have to adapt and just to a new world of NIL and transfers.”


Barnhart and Calipari also discussed the absence of defense and toughness from recent teams, and it will adjust how Calipari uses the summer.

“I’ve never worked on defense in the summer. Now, I’m looking at this summer and say this may be where we try to get the foundation set defensively,” Calipari said. “Toughness. Some of it is recruiting toughness. I think the class we are bringing, a bunch of these guys have more toughness to their game.”

It’s clear, that both Barnhart and Calipari, who are in the twilight of their careers, want to end on a positive note. Now on more common ground, they will look to make changes in hopes that it pays off with postseason success.

“Not a lot of people in our industry get to exit the way you want to exit. I want us to be able to exit well and be able to say we left it (Kentucky basketball) in a really good spot for the people that came behind us.”


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Men's Basketball

Everything Players and Staff Had to Say after Losing to Oakland



© Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Well, Kentucky’s 2023-24 season is over after getting upset in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to 14-seed Oakland. A lot of questions are surrounding the Kentucky basketball program.

Head coach John Calipari and players let all of the sadness out and spoke on the touching subjects after the loss.

John Calipari

Calipari really felt like this team was built March. “They shouldn’t be and our team and our season, defined by that game, but it will be. This one is painful. … This team, I really felt was built for this moment, even though we were young.”


Calipari says the mistakes from the team was due to the youth. “We made some critical mistakes at critical times today. When you have a really young team and look at where did the mistakes come from, they were freshmen.” When asked if his philosophy will change moving forward, Calipari says he doesn’t know, but he has changed lives doing it the way he is. “”I’ve done this with young teams my whole career. It’s gonna be hard for me to change that because we’ve helped so many young people … I don’t see myself just saying, ‘Ok, we’re not going to recruit freshmen.’ … We have an unbelievable group coming in.”

It was clear, though, that Calipari really believed that this team could have done something special. “I just come back to, I hate it for these guys that people try to define this season by that game, and it’s natural and it’s how this business works but this group was a ball to coach.”


Then, it was the players’ turns to talk with the media, and as you can imagine, it was a devastated locker room. Tre Mitchell, one of the veterans on the team, appreciated his time at Kentucky. “I’ve loved every single second of being at Kentucky. I got an opportunity to live out a dream, and I built bonds with people that will last a lifetime.”

Reed Sheppard was very emotional after the game, talking about how this team was fun to play with, and it being their last time on the court together. “It sucks losing, but it sucks losing knowing it’s your last time playing with this group. This group has been unbelievable. There’s no team that’s been like this on/off the court. We’re all super close. Being able to play at Kentucky and have a special group of guys around me.”


Sheppard continued on how “special” this Kentucky team was. “You guys could tell how special we were. How close of friends we were on and off the court. It sucks ending the season no matter what. Especially with this group. We’re all really close. We’re all best friends. Knowing that we won’t play with the same group of guys next year is tough. But you know, we have a lot of memories.”

Rob Dillingham also expressed that same comradery feeling. “It means everything to me. I might not show it all the time, but I love everybody on the team. I love putting this (Kentucky) jersey on. Every time I go out there I get chills looking at the crowd. It’s just crazy to think we’re done right now.”

Just like that, Kentucky’s season has come to a shocking halt. A special team ended with a very disappointing March. Now, big questions will need to be answered .

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