Kentucky suffered through its worst season under John Calipari, and one of the worst campaigns in program history. So you knew there would be changes. Today we learned what those changes will be (and maybe a few more on the way). Assistant coach Joel Justus is leaving. He will become the top assistant under Bobby Hurley at Arizona State, a source told ESPN.
Assistant Tony Barbee, who has been on Kentucky’s staff since 2014, will be hired as head coach at Central Michigan. Justus was the was the lead recruiter of many of the top players at Kentucky, including Bam Adebayo, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Immanuel Quickley, Keldon Johnson, Johnny Juzang, and Brandon Boston.
In comes Illinois assistant coach Orlando Antigua, a Kentucky assistant from 2009 to 2014. Fellow Illinois assistant Ron “Chin” Coleman could be coming as well. And Calipari’s son, Brad Calipari, could be joining the staff. He’s spent the last two years at University of Detroit.
So what does that mean for all the prospects Kentucky is in on? At least keep an eye on those players. Antigua is being brought in specifically to recruit big talent. That’s his reputation around college hoops. But it may weaken the already existing relationships UK’s recruits had to the old assistants.
Five-star Zion Cruz has been recruited by UK, but according to 247 Sports has not doled out an offer to him yet. Syracuse has also been recruiting the Jersey City product. While the Wildcats may not have officially extended an offer, it appears they’ve been recruiting him for awhile. He would be the biggest SU target that may shake free from Kentucky with their changes.
“ESPN also updated their rankings for 2022 and 2023, with UK commit Skyy Clark coming in at #13 overall and the #3 point guard in the class. Kentucky target Jalen Duren comes in at #2 overall, followed by Keyonte George at #5, Chris Livingston at #6, Jarace Walker at #8, Jaden Bradley at #9, Brandon Miller at #12 and Cason Wallace at #14.” – Kentucky Sports Radio
At the moment Syracuse and Kentucky don’t have much overlap in their targets, but it’s certainly worth paying attention to the Wildcat recruits to see if all of them stay committed or cool on their interest after the staff changes.