Heading into the early signing period this week, John Calipari and his Kentucky Wildcats had not received a single commitment from recruits in the Class of 2017. Many folks began wondering if this was the year where we’d see a drop in the number of five-star recruits choosing to pursue their NBA dreams in Lexington. But no need to panic Wildcat fans. Just one day into the signing period, Calipari has begun receiving pledges from Class of 2017 recruits. His first commitment? Top-15, 6-11 big man Nick Richards, a Jamaican native who attends The Patrick School in New Jersey. With a handful of other top-30 prospects slated to make announcements over the course of the next two weeks, this list can very well grow at any given moment.
Finally, John Calipari has his first commitment from the recruiting class of 2017.
Five-star center Nick Richards — a 6-foot-11 prospect from Queens, N.Y. — announced Thursday afternoon that he has committed to Kentucky, choosing the Wildcats over fellow finalists Arizona and Syracuse.
Richards revealed his decision one day after the start of the one-week November signing period, and it’s the latest in a recruiting cycle that Calipari has gone without a commitment since he became UK’s head coach in 2009.
The Cats got a good one in Richards, who is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 17 overall player in the 2017 class and is regarded as one of the best rebounders and post defenders in high school basketball.
“He brings a defensive presence,” said Scout.com’s Evan Daniels. “He’s a guy that rebounds his area really well. He plays with toughness. He’s physical. He finishes off plays around the rim.
“This is a talented post player who can really help them on that end of the floor.”
Richards, who plays for The Patrick School in New Jersey but is originally from Jamaica, is the latest in a long line of international players to sign with Calipari’s Wildcats.
The current UK roster includes Wenyen Gabriel (Sudan), Isaac Humphries (Australia), Mychal Mulder (Canada) and Tai Wynyard (New Zealand). Last season’s team featured Skal Labissiere (Haiti) and Jamal Murray (Canada).