NextCats UK basketball recruiting overview: Class of 2013

broberts@herald-leader.comJune 23, 2012 

[Go to Class of 2012]

Up-to-the-minute news about UK basketball recruiting at NextCats

UK Coach John Calipari surely won’t be content with a fourth straight No. 1 recruiting class. Here's info on six of UK’s biggest recruiting targets for 2013, one in-state player who’s already committed to the Cats, and 10 other high school seniors to keep an eye on over the next few months.

    Recruiting facts:
  • According to consensus rankings, UK has 10 top-10 recruits over the past four years. No other school has more than three in that span.
  • Rivals, Scout, MaxPreps and CBS all have UK with the No. 1 recruiting class for 2012. ESPN ranks UCLA at No. 1 and the Wildcats at No. 2.
  • With its six leading scorers from last season no longer on the team, Kentucky will be losing 93.3 percent of its point production from 2011-12.
  • UK has four signees in the Rivals Top 50 for 2012. Devonta Pollard (Alabama) is the SEC’s only other incoming recruit among the nation’s top 50.
  • There are only four committed players in the Rivals Top 25 for 2013. The top seven uncommitted recruits have all expressed interest in Kentucky.

Class of 2013

JABARI PARKER

Position: Small forward
Height, weight: 6-8, 220 pounds
Hometown: Chicago
Rivals ranking: 1
Scout ranking: 1
ESPN ranking: 1
Some considered Parker the No. 1 player in all of high school basketball last season, and he became only the fourth junior to win the Gatorade National Player of the Year award. Sports Illustrated put the versatile forward on its cover last month, labeling him the best high school basketball player since LeBron James.
Future in Blue? John Calipari has already plucked Derrick Rose and Anthony Davis out of Chicago, and he’s hoping Parker is next on that list. The UK target attends the same high school as Rose, and he’s one of a handful of 2013 players who have scholarship offers from Calipari. Parker visited UK’s campus as a sophomore, and whether or not the Cats secure one of his five official visits will be telling in his recruitment. The competition: Duke and Michigan State have been mentioned as favorites, but Parker’s recruitment remains as difficult to handicap as any player here. His list includes North Carolina, Kansas, Illinois, Ohio State, Louisville and several other major programs. Parker plans to start taking his official visits in the fall.


JULIUS RANDLE

Position: Power forward
Height, weight: 6-8, 240 pounds
Hometown: Plano, Texas
Rivals ranking: 3
Scout ranking: 2
ESPN ranking: 2
A matchup nightmare, Randle can score by bullying defenders in the post or driving by them with impressive ball-handling skills for a big man. He’s starting to establish himself as the clear No. 2 recruit in the class behind Jabari Parker, and he should be able to put up big numbers from the very start of his college career.
Future in Blue? Calipari and Orlando Antigua traveled to Texas at the beginning of last season to see Randle work out. Coaches and analysts have compared him to former UK star Terrence Jones, and Randle has acknowledged the similarities and praised Calipari’s use of Jones in the UK offense. Randle says UK’s coaches have told him he’s their top target for 2013.
The competition: Randle has yet to tip his hand on possible favorites, but six other schools that continually pop up on his list are Texas, Kansas, Baylor, Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State. One factor in the Blue Devils’ favor is five-star shooting guard Matt Jones, who has committed to Duke and is a close friend and AAU teammate.


AARON/ANDREW HARRISON

Position: Guards
Height, weight: 6-5, 205 pounds
Hometown: Richmond, Texas
Rivals ranking: 5/2
Scout ranking: 8/3
ESPN ranking: 8/3
Jabari Parker might be the unanimous No. 1 player in this class, but the Harrisons represent the most important recruitment. Whoever lands the twins will get two top-10 players who have been playing together their entire basketball lives, and two interchangeable guards with impressive size and skill.
Future in Blue? UK has been the perceived favorite for the Harrisons for months. They visited campus during their sophomore year and again last October for Big Blue Madness. Their father has said a third visit to UK might not be necessary as they look at the other schools on their list. They’re expected to make a final decision before their senior season begins in the fall. Both players have offers from UK.
The competition: Baylor represents the biggest local threat to Kentucky. Shoe company conspiracy theorists will point out that Under Armour outfits the twins’ travel team as well as Maryland, another school at the top of their list. Villanova and Larry Brown’s SMU Mustangs are also in contention.


CHRIS WALKER

Position: Power forward
Height, weight: 6-10, 220 pounds
Hometown: Bonifay, Fla.
Rivals ranking: 6
Scout ranking: 6
ESPN ranking: 7
Walker is the top big man in the class and can do just about anything around the basket. He averaged nearly a triple-double during his junior season (tallying around eight blocks per game) and his skill and quickness in the post often lead to easy points. Walker also runs the floor well and seems perfectly fit for Calipari’s style of play.
Future in Blue? Walker’s interest in Kentucky is no secret. He’s used Twitter to lobby for a scholarship offer and even canceled an announced decision last year to give UK more time to recruit him. Walker told Rivals.com earlier this month that he’s planning an official visit to Lexington this fall, and a commitment to UK would hardly be a surprise should Calipari come through with an offer in the next few months.
The competition: Florida and Kansas should be considered the co-favorites. Walker is already well acquainted with Billy Donovan and the home-state Gators. He’s visited Kansas once and is planning an official visit to Lawrence in the fall. Ohio State, Baylor, Syracuse and Louisville could also get official visits.


JAMES YOUNG

Position: Guard/forward
Height, weight: 6-6, 200 pounds
Hometown: Troy, Mich.
Rivals ranking: 9
Scout ranking: 7
ESPN ranking: 5
The “it” recruit of the spring circuit, Young has established himself as one of the premier perimeter prospects in the class with several high-scoring AAU performances. The lefty says he can play either shooting guard or small forward, and his versatility with the ball seems to be a good fit for Calipari’s system.
Future in Blue? Young used his newfound spotlight to turn the tables on recruiting logic — by openly pursuing UK. Though he didn’t even have an offer from the Cats, Young proclaimed them to be his top choice. The combination of good play and pro-UK PR paid off. Young recently received the scholarship offer he was looking for, and a visit to Lexington will be the next step.
The competition: Michigan State was the early favorite — the East Lansing campus is just 90 miles from Young’s hometown — and the Spartans are still among his top schools. Kansas, Ohio State and Arizona have also been prominently mentioned in recent weeks.


DEREK WILLIS

Position: Power forward
Height, weight: 6-9, 200 pounds
Hometown: Mount Washington, Ky.
Rivals ranking: 26
Scout ranking: 91
ESPN ranking: Not ranked
Willis is UK’s lone commitment from the class of 2013. The lanky forward can score in the post, off the dribble and from the perimeter, but he still needs to show improvement with his defense and rebounding. A lack of progress in those areas caused him to plummet in the most recent Scout and ESPN rankings. He’ll have time to work his way back up those lists as he tries to lead Bullitt East back to the Sweet Sixteen in 2013.
Future in Blue? Willis committed to Kentucky in January, saying he was “overjoyed” to be a Wildcat and calling Calipari’s system “the best fit” for his game. He’ll be eligible to sign a letter of intent with UK in November.
The competition: Willis originally committed to Purdue before his junior year, but quickly backed off that pledge. In January, he chose UK over the Boilermakers, Indiana and Louisville in a recruitment that shaped up as another off-court battle between Calipari and Rick Pitino.


Others to watch

Beejay Anya
Position: Center
Height, weight: 6-8, 265 pounds
Hometown: Hyattsville, Md.
Rivals ranking: 20
Scout ranking: 11
ESPN ranking: 13
Impressive shot blocker has 7-foot-9 wingspan and is arguably the No. 1 true center in the class of 2013.

Aaron Gordon
Position: Power forward
Height, weight: 6-7, 205 pounds
Hometown: San Jose, Calif.
Rivals ranking: 4
Scout ranking: 4
ESPN ranking: 4
YouTube sensation has drawn comparisons to Blake Griffin with his powerful dunks but is likely to stay out West.

Kuran Iverson
Position: Small forward
Height, weight: 6-8, 190 pounds
Hometown: Hartford, Conn.
Rivals ranking: 49
Scout ranking: 51
ESPN ranking: 80
One-time top-five recruit has a versatile game and has consistently mentioned UK among his favorite schools.

Jajuan Johnson
Position: Shooting guard
Height, weight: 6-4, 185 pounds
Hometown: Memphis
Rivals ranking: 109
Scout ranking: 29
ESPN ranking: 54
A lights-out shooter and one of 2013’s most improved players, he’s also teammates with Johnathan Williams (see below).

Jordan Mickey
Position: Small forward
Height, weight: 6-7, 190 pounds
Hometown: Arlington, Texas
Rivals ranking: 35
Scout ranking: 21
ESPN ranking: 41
Visited Kentucky (and Louisville) earlier this month and is expecting to see more interest from Calipari this summer.

Austin Nichols
Position: Power forward
Height, weight: 6-8, 200 pounds
Hometown: Eads, Tenn.
Rivals ranking: 40
Scout ranking: 53
ESPN ranking: 29
Athletic forward and versatile scorer who recently received scholarship offers from Duke and North Carolina.

Wayne Selden
Position: Shooting guard
Height, weight: 6-5, 200 pounds
Hometown: Boston, Mass.
Rivals (2014) ranking: 16
Scout (2014) ranking: 6
ESPN (2014) ranking: 20
Friend and former teammate of Nerlens Noel, has a UK offer and reclassified from 2014 to 2013 earlier this month.

Johnathan Williams
Position: Power forward
Height, weight: 6-8, 200 pounds
Hometown: Memphis
Rivals ranking: 17
Scout ranking: 17
ESPN ranking: 16
Calipari has already seen him play multiple times, but local schools Memphis, Tennessee and Arkansas will go after him hard.

Troy Williams
Position: Small forward
Height, weight: 6-6, 190 pounds
Hometown: Hampton, Va.
Rivals ranking: 19
Scout ranking: 27
ESPN ranking: 42
Was set to choose between UK and North Carolina earlier this year before adding Florida, Louisville and two others to his list.

Dominic Woodson
Position: Center
Height, weight: 6-9, 265 pounds
Hometown: Round Rock, Texas
Rivals ranking: 27
Scout ranking: 36
ESPN ranking: 57
Talented, big-bodied post player grew up in Louisville, but he hasn’t had much recent contact with the Cats or Cards.

[Go to Class of 2012]

Up-to-the-minute news about UK basketball recruiting at NextCats

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