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Calipari leaving: Which prized 2024 recruits will Kentucky lose?

In one of the most surprising coaching moves in recent history, John Calipari is vacating his post at Kentucky to take the head coaching job at SEC rival Arkansas. The move will not only have wide-ranging effects on the recruiting landscape, but on the sport as a whole.

Just how messy the divorce between Calipari and Kentucky gets may depend on the fate of the six-member 2024 class – currently ranked No. 2 nationally behind Duke – the legendary coach has assembled in Lexington.

It stands to reason that most of the prospects committed to the program will at least consider reopening their recruitment. Still, if multiple members of the class end up asking out of their letters of intent to follow Calipari to Arkansas, bad blood could permeate.

Below Rivals’ Rob Cassidy ranks the six Kentucky commits in order of how likely each is to ask out of his letter of intent and explores the options each will have if he does.

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1. KARTER KNOX

For Knox, a major chunk of the Kentucky allure was Calipari, who helped his older brother, Kevin Knox, become a lottery pick at the school years ago. Because of that, he seems decently likely to re-open his process.

USF was the lone other college on his list of finalists, but there would be wide-ranging interest in the 6-foot-5 wing upon his return to the open market. Pro options would be in play as well, as Knox considered the NBA G League Ignite before the program folded and even thought about staying another year at Overtime Elite, where he currently plays. Obviously Arkansas is worth monitoring.

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2. JAYDEN QUAINTANCE

Missouri was the runner-up in Quaintance’s recruitment and the staff has a strong bond with the five-star big man. Expect the Tigers to be involved once again should he decide to ask out of his letter of intent.

Quaintance’s young age will prohibit him from being a one-and-done as he won’t meet the NBA’s age requirement until after his sophomore season, which could give him pause when it comes to playing for an interim coach or a coach with whom he isn't super familiar.

Arkansas feels like a particularly large threat here should Calipari try to take him along.

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3. BILLY RICHMOND

Richmond, whose father played at both Memphis and Vanderbilt, is the most recent Kentucky commit. He chose UK over finalists LSU, Memphis and Alabama. He seems likely to lean somewhat on former high school teammates DJ Wagner and Aaron Bradshaw for advice on what to do in the wake of the coaching change, as each has now spent a year at Kentucky.

An explosive and dynamic slasher, Richmond will have schools lining up to talk to him if he becomes available but Arkansas and Alabama seem like the most obvious ones to watch.

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4. SOMOTOCHUKWU CYRIL

Cyril has been committed to UK since June and was the first member of Calipari’s 2024 class. Continuity on the staff seems like the key to keeping Cyril around as he has long-standing relationships with multiple UK assistants.

Cyril was drawn to Kentucky by the fact that Calipari coached Anthony Davis, a player he idolized as a child. He also noted the UK fan base and the training technology available to him in Lexington as reasons why he chose the Wildcats.

The Overtime Elite standout visited Tennessee prior to his making a pledge to Kentucky.

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5. BOOGIE FLAND

The five-star point is coming off an impressive week at the McDonald’s All-American Game and is uncertain about his future at this time. Maryland and Indiana were heavily involved with Fland before the New York-born guard chose the Wildcats. It wouldn’t be a massive shock to see Queen-based St. John’s also attempt to get involved should Fland return to the market.

There seems to be at least some chance he sticks with UK should the majority of Calipari's staff be retained by the school. Arkansas is definitely worth watching if Fland does ultimately decide to reopen his process.

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6. TRAVIS PERRY

On the surface, Perry seems like the most likely UK signee to stray from the flock. Kentucky high school basketball’s all-time leading scorer, Perry grew up not just dreaming of playing for the Wildcats, but itching to do so. Perry will have major options if he decides to look around, but he simply doesn’t feel incredibly likely to do so.

He was considering Alabama, Cincinnati and Ole Miss at the time of his commitment to the Wildcats. Western Kentucky was involved, but recently lost head coach Steve Lutz to Oklahoma State. The Cowboys could become involved in the unlikely event that Perry decides to look around.

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