By KEITH PEEL, Contributing Writer
A lot has been written lately about 6-11 Prolific Prep big man Frank Anselem joining the Kentucky next season. Here’s my take on the potential UK recruit and whether he might be a good fit for UK Basketball.
For those of you that have been following UK Basketball recruiting you know that John Calipari is in an all-out search for a defensive minded big man to help out with the UK defense next season. He is looking for a guy that can be a rim protector, grab rebounds and score a few points a game on putbacks and alley-oop plays.
From what I have seen of Anselem he has the physical tools to do that. Once a commitment to LSU, Anselem has de-committed and reclassified to the 2020 class and could come into Kentucky as a guy with some defensive skills but not much offensive polish. Wildcat fans could look at him as a kind of Willie Cauley-Stein type player that seems to have the physical abilities but doesn’t seem to always show it on the floor.
Anselem appears to have excellent leaping ability, long arms, fairly quick feet and the ability to anticipate offensive players’ moves to the basket. That helps him create better spacing to block shots.
The downside appears to be that when he is surrounded by talented players he tends to let them play and he watches the game. It seemed like in some of his Prolific Prep games last season he would take plays off anticipating that his teammates would finish the play on offense. It also seemed like he wasn’t a guy that is looking to score the basketball down low but instead was just looking to be a facilitator of the offense through high screens or low post passing.
All of those weak points would be manageable on a John Calipari team. The coaching staff at Kentucky is famous for putting players, including raw big men, into situations that force them to improve their skills in a two-man pick and roll play or “dribble drive” scenario where they can score on an alley-oop play.
His coach, Prolific Prep’s Joey Fuca, seems to think Anselem has the raw talent but not necessarily the skill set to be an immediate offensive contributor at UK. Fuca, in a Vaughtsviews.com interview about Anselem, said, “He needs a consistent 10- to 12-foot jump shot and a back to the basket move. He has to work on his hands because a couple of times he would drop balls. But he has a good feel for the game.”
Fuca also seemed to think Anselem could fit well into a Calipari-type positionless defense. Fuca said, “He has a great motor and is a really good rim runner. Defensively he’s good laterally and can get out and trap the ball screen.”
I agree. I think he has all the physical tools to perform well defensively in the low post and out on the perimeter.
If Anselem were to come to Kentucky he wouldn’t be expected to be a scoring threat with next year’s loaded class and he would have the opportunity, like Cauley-Stein, to play his way into a future first round NBA draft pick if he is willing to put in the kind of work that other UK big men have done in the past.
Overall I think Frank Anselem would be a great fit for a Kentucky Basketball program that seems to be moving more towards a mixture of one-and-done players and players that might play three or four years in the program. It appears that Anselem probably fits that three or four year mold.
In my opinionUK fans will be much happier if Anselem were to sign with UK than they would have been if former 7-3 Purdue graduate transfer Matt Haarms had opted for UK instead of BYU. Anselem has a better physical upside, three to four years to develop and could potentially become a dominant offensive and defensive player given time in Kentucky’s program.