(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Following the departures of Devin Askew, BJ Boston and Terrence Clarke this offseason, along with Davion Mintz’s status remaining up in the air as he decides between pursuing his professional dreams and returning to Kentucky for one final season, John Calipari is desperate need of guard help. Nolan Hickman, Kellan Grady and Dontaie Allen are the only signed or returning players confirmed for 2021-22, meaning UK could add as many as two or three additional pieces in the backcourt, especially if Mintz forgoes his final season of eligibility.
With quality and quantity both needed, it appears the UK coaching staff is casting a wide net in hopes of finding a few perfect fits to add to the roster going into next season. With new names being added to the list of potential options by the day, we’ve decided to group them all together in a transfer tracker of sorts.
Who has Kentucky been in contact with? Potential mutual interest?
Marcus Carr (Minnesota)
- Senior (2021-22)
- 6-foot-2, 195 lbs.
- Toronto, ON native
Carr averaged 19.4 points, 4.9 assists, and 4.0 rebounds last season at Minnesota, shooting 39% from the field overall and 32% from three.
The third-team All-Big Ten honoree scored 30 or more points four times this past season, finishing with 35 points in the season-opener against Green Bay, 32 points against Saint Louis, 30 points against Iowa and 41 points against Nebraska. Carr finished the year with ten games with at least three made 3-pointers. He also finished with 12 games with at least six assists and 11 games with at least five rebounds.
He averaged 15.4 points per game as a sophomore (36.1% 3PT) and 10.0 points per contest as a freshman.
The 21-year-old guard entered the portal last month when the Golden Gophers fired Richard Pitino, opting to explore his professional and transfer options after two years at Minnesota. He previously played at Pitt as a true freshman in 2017-18.
Considered one of the top transfers on the market — No. 1 in Aaron Torres’ rankings — Carr is strongly considering the NBA, but UK is considered to be one of the standout guard’s top options if he decides another year of college is necessary.
In fact, Rob Cassidy of Rivals.com says Kentucky “seems like the favorite” if Carr decides to return to school.
“Kentucky is busy in the transfer market and the Wildcats are front and center in the pursuit of Carr. Michigan, UConn and others are also involved to some extent, but UK seems like the favorite should Carr elect to finish college before testing the NBA Draft waters.”
Travis Branham of 247Sports also added that Kentucky is a team to “keep a close eye on” for Carr.
“Kentucky is in pursuit of several other transfers and will likely land one or two more of the best on the market,” he said. “If Marcus Carr decides to finish out his college career and not stay in the 2021 NBA Draft, Kentucky will be a team to keep a close eye on to potentially land the top transfer.”
Carr is not currently listed in any major mock drafts and ranks No. 93 on ESPN’s list of the Top 100 Draft Prospects.
Adam Miller (Illinois)
- Sophomore (2021-22)
- 6-foot-3, 180 lbs.
- Peoria, IL native
Listed as a four-star and the No. 33 overall prospect in the 2020 247Sports Composite Rankings, the Illinois guard averaged 8.3 points and 2.8 rebounds in 25.5 minutes per contest as a freshman, shooting 34% from three on 4.9 attempts from deep per game. Playing for the Fighting Illini, a one-seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament and a top-five team throughout the season, the true freshman had 13 double-digit scoring performances. His biggest outings came in a 28-point performance against North Carolina A&T in his college debut, an 18-point performance against Nebraska, and 14-point outings against Minnesota, Northwestern and No. 21 Ohio State.
Miller is considered the No. 7 available transfer by both 247Sports and The Athletic, with KSR’s own Aaron Torres listing the 6-foot-3 guard as the No. 4 available target in his latest transfer rankings.
Eric Bossi and Matt Howe of 247Sports listed UK as a potential destination for the 6-foot-3 guard out of Peoria, IL last week, followed by former Indiana player A.J. Guyton sending out a tweet Saturday morning indicating that Kentucky may be a serious contender in Miller’s recruitment.
“DePaul, Kentucky, Michigan and several others have been tossed around as possible destinations,” 247Sports reported, “but he’s another who has been pretty quiet since deciding to transfer.”
“Adam Miller to Kentucky, hmmm that’s interesting!” Guyton said in the since-deleted tweet. “Good luck young fella!”
Sources told KSR that Miller has been working out with Kentucky signee and Oak Park, IL native Bryce Hopkins in recent weeks, with the future Wildcat’s father, Clyde, telling KSR that his son is recruiting the Fighting Illini standout to Lexington.
“Yeah I was actually in the gym with him last week, him and Adam,” Hopkins told KSR early Saturday afternoon. “They were working out together and competing.You know, Bryce did talk to him – I don’t know the details – but he did talk to Adam, trying to get him to come down to Kentucky.
“It’ll be a good move for him, I think. He and Bryce are becoming really close, so I’d like to see him come down and be a part of the team, if possible.”
Illinois is hoping to recruit Miller back to Champaign, as well.
Bryce Hamilton (UNLV)
- Senior (2021-22)
- 6-foot-4, 205 lbs.
- Pasadena, CA native
In 23 games at UNLV this past season, Hamilton averaged a team-high 17.9 points per game to go along with 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.3 steals in 32.6 minutes per contest. Hamilton shot 43.3% from the field, 31.1% from beyond the arc (4.6 attempts per game) and 65.6% from the free-throw line.
Hamilton has led UNLV in scoring each of the past two season, being named to the All-MWC Second-Team in 2020-21.
He finished this past season with 22 games in double figures, including seven games with 20 or more points and five games of 25 or more points.
Kentucky reached out to the standout guard on April 9, joining the likes of Kansas, USC, Oregon, Texas, New Mexico, UConn, Illinois, Texas Tech and Florida State to express interest, per ESPN’s Jeff Borzello.
Hamilton officially entered the transfer portal on April 8.
Mac McClung (Texas Tech)
- Senior (2021-22)
- 6-foot-2, 185 lbs.
- Gate City, VA native
The explosive guard out of Virginia averaged 15.5 points on 41.9% shooting, 34.3% from three and 79.3% from the free throw line this past season to go with 2.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 0.8 steals per contest.
McClung previously averaged 15.7 points per game in 2019-20 and 13.1 points per game in 2018-19 at Georgetown.
The former three-star prospect announced Sunday afternoon he would be declaring for the NBA Draft, but also enter the transfer portal to explore his options if he ultimately decides to return to college.
“My main focus now is getting ready for the (upcoming) NBA draft,” McClung announced. “While going through this process I will be in the transfer portal.”
— mac mcclung (@McclungMac) April 11, 2021
With his name officially going in the portal this afternoon, coaches have just been cleared to reach out to the standout guard personally. As a result, potential schools of interest are few and far between.
Interestingly enough, though, David Sisk of Cats Illustrated is reporting that McClung may have interest in Kentucky if he decides to pull his name out of the draft.
“I think McClung is expecting a call (from UK),” Sisk reported.
Still a long time to go in this one, but interesting nonetheless.
- Junior (2021-22)
- 6-foot-2, 185 lbs.
- Detroit, MI native
As a sophomore, Watts averaged 7.7 points, 2.7 assists and 1.7 rebounds per contest while shooting 33.6% from the floor and 25.3% from three. The 6-foot-2 guard scored in double figures in nine of 28 games, putting up 20+ vs. Duke (20), Detroit Mercy (23), and Michigan (21). In his first year as a Spartan, he was an All Big Ten Freshman selection, averaging 9.0 points, 2.3 rebounds, and 1.7 assists in 22.3 minutes per game.
Watts was a four-star recruit in the class of 2019, ranked in the top 40 by all of the major recruiting services.
Jake Weingarten of Stockrisers.com broke the news this afternoon that Kentucky recently reached out to the Michigan State guard, who entered the transfer portal two weeks ago. Kentucky joins the likes of LSU, Louisville, Florida, Florida State, Xavier, Baylor, UConn and Maryland to reach out to the former four-star prospect, per Tipton Edits.
Following Watts’ decision to enter the portal, MSU head coach Tom Izzo released this statement on his departure, which he said was a mutual decision.
“The way we live our lives and how we operate were drastically changed by the COVID-19 pandemic over the last year. Even under normal circumstances, making a change like we did this year with Rocket would have been challenging.
In preparation for last season, we had asked Rocket to take on a new role. It’s the type of position change where a spring, summer and fall of practice would have been extremely beneficial for him. Unfortunately, the pandemic created circumstances beyond anyone’s control. As a result, he didn’t get the necessary practice time, which put him in a difficult and challenging situation.
After several discussions over the past week, we mutually agreed that he may benefit from a fresh start elsewhere and is putting his name in the transfer portal. Rocket has made progress in all facets of his life, especially making tremendous strides academically. We appreciate the contributions he’s made over the last two years and wish Rocket nothing but the best in his future. He’ll always be part of the Spartan Family.”
Mason Faulkner (Western Carolina)
- Sixth-year senior (2021-22)
- 6-foot-1, 190 lbs.
- Glasgow, KY native
The former Caverna High School standout led WCU with an average of 16.9 points per game – ninth-most in the Southern Conference – 5.5 rebounds per contest, and a conference-high 4.8 assists per game. The 6-foot-1 guard earned All-Southern Conference Third Team and NABC All-District Second Team honors.
Faulkner originally played at Northern Kentucky from 2016-18, averaging 6.5 points per game over the course of two seasons.
In two seasons at Western Carolina, the former in-state standout has shot 31.3% and 35.5% from three in 2019-20 and 2020-21, respectively.
UK is reportedly in contact with Western Carolina guard Mason Faulkner, per his former travel team, Manimal Elite.
Kentucky joins the likes of Colorado, Louisville, Xavier, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Florida, and Cincinnati, among others, to reach out.
— Manimal Elite (KY) (@ManimalElite) March 27, 2021