Kentucky recruiting: 2014's top shooting guard mulls move to Huntington Prep

broberts@herald-leader.comApril 27, 2013 

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Rashad Vaughn, front, might play his senior season at Huntington Prep so he can compete against some of the best players in the country.

BRUCE BISPING — DML - Star Tribune

HAMPTON, Va. — Rashad Vaughn will have an important decision to make regarding his college destination in the next few months. In the short term, he could be making another big move.

The UK recruiting target and No. 1-ranked shooting guard in the class of 2014 acknowledged after Friday night's Elite Youth Basketball League game that he could play his senior season at Huntington Prep (W.Va.). Vaughn, who is from Minnesota, said he wants to compete with and against the best players in the country during his final year of high school.

Huntington Prep Coach Rob Fulford and his staff were in the stands to see Vaughn play Friday night. When asked if he would be playing for Huntington Prep in the fall, Vaughn replied, "I can't confirm that right now."

He said that he would probably disclose his high school plans "in a couple weeks or so."

Fellow five-star prospect Jalen Lindsey announced Thursday night that he will attend Huntington Prep next season. In a separate interview Friday, Lindsey told the Herald-Leader that he was looking forward to playing with Vaughn in Huntington, before adding: "I know he's really thinking about going."

The Express, who finished this past season ranked among the nation's top 10 teams, will lose No. 1 prospect Andrew Wiggins and several other high-level Division I players to graduation.

After Vaughn settles on a high school, he will have to start narrowing down his college list.

At the moment, the 6-foot-5 guard is one of only eight uncommitted 2014 recruits with a scholarship offer from Kentucky. UK assistant Orlando Antigua watched him play Friday night, and Vaughn said he talks to Antigua "every now and then."

Vaughn hasn't spoken with John Calipari in about a month, and the UK head coach was not there for most of his game Friday night.

Still, the Cats remain a viable option.

"I just like their style of play and how they get up and down," Vaughn said. "And Coach Cal's track record for getting players to the league."

2015 star 'in awe'

This past Wednesday marked the last day that college coaches could meet with recruits off campus until September.

Calipari used the opportunity to pop in on Charles Matthews, one of the top players in the class of 2015.

The visit was unexpected.

"I didn't know at all," Matthews said. "I saw a big crowd at the door. And then I was like, 'All right, I see why the crowd's here.'"

Matthews, a 6-foot-5 guard from Chicago, said he had never heard from anyone on the UK staff before seeing Calipari at his high school gym Tuesday.

"I just had my mouth open the whole time," he said. "I was like in awe. That's a big thing — seeing Coach Calipari."

Matthews already counts scholarship offers from Arizona, Illinois, Wisconsin, Marquette, Providence, SMU and DePaul. Coaches from several of those schools have been watching him with his EYBL squad this week.

Calipari also spent a good portion of Friday night keeping an eye on Matthews, who is listed by most recruiting services as a shooting guard but is planning to play point guard in college.

He's already well aware of Calipari's track record with players at that position.

"I love UK," he said. "They really get up and down."

Big man on the bench

The most highly touted player in Hampton this weekend won't be playing in any of the games.

Jahlil Okafor — a 6-11 center considered by most to be the No. 1 overall player in the class of 2014 — is sitting out the second straight week of EYBL action with a high ankle sprain.

Okafor, who plans to narrow his list of colleges soon, told the Herald-Leader that John Calipari sent him a get-well text last weekend.

"He told me to get healthy and to take my time," Okafor said. "He told me not to rush back. Even though I'm competitive, he said just to make sure I'm healthy before I get back on the court."

Okafor said he has a list of schools "in my head" that will make the cut, and UK is on that list.

'Won't happen again'

UK's 2012-13 edition was often criticized for not having the "edge" of past Calipari-coached teams. There were seemingly no Michael Kidd-Gilchrists, Brandon Knights or a DeAndre Liggins to get teammates in line when things got tough.

Class of 2014 star Stanley Johnson knows the next wave of Wildcats well, and the UK recruit doesn't see toughness as a problem in 2013-14.

Johnson's message to UK fans: Get ready for an edgier group of Wildcats.

"Julius (Randle) — edge. Harrisons — edge. James Young — edge. Marcus Lee — edge," Johnson said. "That's not going to happen again."

And if there are momentary lapses of effort, Johnson says Calipari can just move on to the next guy.

"I think he's going to coach through that now," he said. "There's more options now. If (Alex) Poythress isn't playing that hard, 'OK, Julius, you're in.' If Julius isn't playing, 'OK, Marcus Lee, you're in.' He has a lot more options."

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

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