Jabari Parker off UK basketball's radar as '13 class narrows

broberts@herald-leader.comSeptember 25, 2012 

With the contact period in full swing and John Calipari racking up the frequent-flyer miles, the number of recruits that seem to be serious UK targets is starting to dwindle.

On Monday, new stories on Jabari Parker, Demetrius Jackson and Beejay Anya hit the web. Combined, those three stories were more than 2,800 words. Not one of those words was "Kentucky."

It's really not surprising in any of these three cases, but it is telling.

So far in this contact period, Calipari has visited eight recruits from the class of 2013 — Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Julius Randle, Aaron Gordon, James Young, Marcus Lee, Kennedy Meeks and Tyler Roberson. All eight of those recruits now have UK offers.

Basically, Cal doesn't seem to be wasting his time with players he doesn't think will end up in Lexington.

Parker is the most highly touted 2013 prospect Calipari has yet to meet with. Though UK is on his list of 11 schools, Parker hasn't arranged a visit with the Wildcats and there are no indications that one is in the plans. The UK coach was in Chicago last week to meet with 2014 stars Cliff Alexander and Jahlil Okafor, but he didn't drop in on Parker, who has scheduled meetings with nine other schools.

Parker's in-home visits will be finished this week, and he will then trim his list to the five schools where he plans to take official visits in anticipation of a possible fall decision. Odds are he won't be in Lexington anytime soon.

The reason for the (apparent) end of the UK/Parker relationship is two-fold. First, Michigan State and Duke have long been considered the favorites in his recruitment, and UK never really broke into that discussion. Second, UK has plenty of other solid options at his position that are more likely to pick the Cats. (A reclassified Andrew Wiggins comes to mind).

Jackson was seen as a possible fall-back option at point guard should the Cats miss out on the Harrison twins. But the Indiana native hasn't received a visit from Calipari despite implying that UK was among his top five schools a few weeks ago. Jackson visited Notre Dame over the weekend, and it looks as though he'll choose Illinois or the Irish. He's expected to announce his decision Thursday.

Anya was briefly on UK's radar as a possible frontcourt option for 2013, but he's made little mention of the Cats in recent months. Indiana hired one of his former AAU coaches, and the Hoosiers are now squarely in the mix with Syracuse, Ohio State, N.C. State and others.

Troy Williams, another 2013 recruit with previous ties to UK, also hasn't mentioned the Cats in a while. Williams nearly committed to Kentucky in the spring before reopening his recruitment to include several new schools. Though he seemed a top target at one time, Calipari hasn't visited Williams, and it seems the Virginia native no longer has a UK scholarship offer.

A few others, such as Jermaine Lawrence, Johnathan Williams and Dominic Woodson, are still considering Kentucky. But they haven't seen much interest from the UK coaching staff in the last couple of weeks. Five-star forward Noah Vonleh announced Monday he would reclassify from 2014 to 2013, but immediate reports made no mention of UK being a major player in his recruitment.

As Calipari and these prospects go their separate ways, the pool of possible future Cats gets even clearer.

So, barring unforeseen developments, it looks as though UK's recruiting class of 2013 will be some combination of the following 10 players:

Derek Willis: UK's only commitment so far.

The Harrison twins: They're expected to pick UK or Maryland before November.

Julius Randle: The do-everything forward is expected to wait until the spring.

James Young: Michigan wing has UK high on his list and could commit at any time.

Aaron Gordon: California dunk machine is expected to visit UK next month.

Marcus Lee: The only confirmed 2013 visitor for Big Blue Madness.

Tyler Roberson: New Jersey forward narrowed his list to UK and five others Sunday.

Kennedy Meeks: Big-bodied North Carolina center got his UK offer earlier this month.

Andrew Wiggins: UK is considered the favorite and he could reclassify to 2013.

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216. Twitter: @NextCats. Blog: ukrecruiting.bloginky.com

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