John Calipari’s latest transfer target wants to be one of the next “Kentucky pros”

Kentucky basketball is looking to add a veteran presence this offseason and it appears that Calipari’s coaching staff has honed in on BJ Freeman, a second-team All-Horizon League wing, to replace Antonio Reeves’ scoring.

Milwaukee Panthers guard BJ Freeman (10)
Milwaukee Panthers guard BJ Freeman (10) / Jovanny Hernandez / Milwaukee Journal

The Horizon League champions knocked Kentucky out of the NCAA Tournament, and now it appears that the conference has the program’s attention. According to Portalupdates, the Wildcats have been in contact with BJ Freeman, a 6-foot-6 junior who averaged 21.1 points a game last season at Milwaukee. 

On top of entering his name into the transfer portal, the North Carolina native has also declared for the 2024 NBA Draft, while retaining his eligibility and the option to return to school. Freeman spoke with Kentucky Sports Radio this week and said that he hopes to visit campus after having preliminary conversations with Kentucky. 

Freeman appears to view Calipari as the best path to the NBA. “Pro-wise, guard-wise, the success he’s had, it doesn’t get any better than that,” Freeman told KSR. “I feel like my game can carry on and play his play style. If I love it there and we continue this process, maybe I could be one of the next Kentucky greats and Kentucky pros.”

With the program’s recent downturn, a common criticism of Calipari is his focus on the NBA draft in June over winning in March and April. Freeman’s NBA-centric point of view could mean Calipari is making the same one-and-done mistake, only with a veteran transfer instead of a freshman. However, Freeman didn’t just mention making it to the league. 

“I’m willing to do whatever to win and put another banner up there at Kentucky.”

If Kentucky does pursue Freeman, Coach Cal needs to make sure that UK’s next banner is priority No. 1, not an NBA future. We know that Calipari can provide the league with plenty of talent, but with just one NCAA Tournament over the last four seasons, it’s hard to be certain that he’s capable of winning a second national title.

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