By LARRY VAUGHT
Just how interested is 6-11 Frank Anselem in being part of Kentucky’s 2020 recruiting class?
The athletic Anselem, a one-time LSU commit, is a top 100 player in the 2020 class after reclassifying from the 2021 class. He spent last season in California playing for Prolific Prep against a difficult national schedule after playing two years in Atlanta and has emerged as priority for coach John Calipari to help fill a void on next season’s roster.
Anselem talked to Kentucky coach John Calipari Tuesday night and Kentucky assistant coach Joel Justus Monday.
“It is Kentucky,” said Anselem. “Anybody would have 100 percent interest in Kentucky. You can’t mess around with them. It’s a great school with great history.”
The potential perfect fit for Anselem at Kentucky comes because UK lost Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery to the NBA draft and needs a rim protector who can also guard multiple positions and run the court at the fast pace UK will probably play at next season. Anselem checks all those boxes after averaging 10.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game last season when Prolific went 31-3.
“I just talked to coach Calipari about the same thing,” Anselem said. “He said, ‘How often will a Kentucky team have nobody of my physical make up? But stuff happens and that is the situation we are in right now.’ He really likes how I fit with his system. If I sign there, the transition would go real smooth.”
Anselem played in Kentucky twice last season at the Marshall County Hoopfest and McCracken County Mustang Madness. He’s not been on Kentucky’s campus and with the COVID-19 will not be able to visit any time soon. He also won’t be able to have face-to-face meetings with Calipari or any UK assistant coach.
“Recruiting is harder definitely but all you can do is go by word of mouth since you can’t be at the physical place or meet with coaches,” Anselem said. “Not being in the town or seeing the facilities is not ideal but hopefully I can still make the right decision.”
He already has got a taste of how passionate UK fans can be.
“It has been a crazy last few days. Kentucky fans are hitting me up (on social media) all the time. It’s not irritating at all. At some point in life if I make the next step (to the NBA) there will always be a lot of people around,” Anselem said.
Calipari often says Kentucky is not for everybody in part because of the fan and media attention that overwhelms some players. Anselem isn’t worried about that.
“It is high risk, high reward,” Anselem said. “If you are good, you will really look good. If you are bad, it can be a bad look. You can’t do a lot wrong because you will be playing on a good team. You can’t have too many bad games before you have to pick it up.
“Playing at Prolific we were always under the spotlight. You had to keep working and getting better. It’s the same at Kentucky I think.”
He hopes to make a decision “soon.” Anselem said he was close to committing a few weeks ago before holding off.
“I don’t think I will let it play out for too long,” the 6-11 forward/center said. “I think it (a decision) is coming soon.
“Kentucky’s coaches have told me to stay on my own timetable. There’s no pressure at all from them for me to make a decision by a certain time. Calipari is not putting any pressure on me at all. He just said if I did sign it would not be a cakewalk or walk in the park and that I better be ready to go.”