Updated rankings show Kentucky in good shape with nation's top recruits

broberts@herald-leader.comJune 27, 2013 

The class of 2014 rankings are in for all four major recruiting services, and John Calipari once again seems to be in great shape with the nation's top prospects.

Scout.com and Rivals.com updated their rankings this week, cementing lone UK commitment Karl Towns as a unanimous top-10 prospect.

Towns — ranked No. 9 overall by Rivals and No. 10 overall by Scout — is a 7-footer from New Jersey who committed to the Wildcats last December.

Many scouts and recruiting analysts hadn't seen much of Towns until recently. The future Wildcat doesn't play AAU ball and his high school team rarely strays far from New Jersey.

He competed in the nationally televised Nike Hoop Summit in April and participated in the National Basketball Players Association Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville, Va., this month.

Scout.com's Evan Daniels was one of several national analysts who attended the latter event.

"I like his hands, I like his size and length," Daniels told the Herald-Leader. "At his size, he can step out and shoot jump shots pretty consistently, and that's a weapon.

"He's turned into a much better rebounder than he was at a younger age. I also really like his ability to pass. He's a pretty good passer out of the post and the high post."

Towns is rated fourth overall by 24/7 Sports and sixth overall by ESPN, making him one of six players in the class of 2014 to be ranked in the top 10 by all four major services.

UK is pursuing the other five: Jahlil Okafor, Tyus Jones, Emmanuel Mudiay, Cliff Alexander and Myles Turner.

Turner — a 7-footer from Texas — is the only player on that list who does not yet have a UK scholarship offer.

The defensive-minded center missed last year's summer circuit with an ankle injury and flew under the radar for most of his junior season.

Turner went from an unranked three-star prospect to No. 5 in the country in the Scout.com rankings, which were released Tuesday. He moved up 72 spots — from 78th to sixth — in the Rivals rankings released Thursday.

Daniels called Turner "this year's Anthony Davis" in reference to the former Wildcat's meteoric rise in the recruiting rankings late in his high school career.

Daniels also said Turner and Towns could coexist.

"I think they complement each other pretty well," Daniels told the Herald-Leader. "Karl stands out on the offensive end. ... Right now, Turner's strengths are on the defensive end. There couldn't be a frontcourt better than that one."

Turner is also hearing from Duke, Kansas, Louisville and several other high-major programs. He's expected to trim his list of schools later this summer.

Okafor — a center from Chicago — was listed as the No. 1 overall player by both Scout and Rivals. He is also first on ESPN's list, which was updated a couple weeks ago. Okafor is No. 2 according to 24/7 Sports, which also updated its list this month.

Jones got the top spot in 24/7's rankings. The Minnesota point guard is ranked No. 2 by Scout and Rivals, and No. 3 by ESPN.

Okafor and Jones are planning to play together in college. Both prospects have UK on their short list, but national analysts aren't bullish on Calipari's chances to land the duo.

UK's chances are better with Mudiay, who is widely considered to be the next great point guard in Calipari's line.

The Texas native was rated No. 3 overall by both Scout and Rivals. He's also considering Baylor, SMU and Kansas, among others.

Alexander is No. 4 on Rivals' list and No. 6 according to Scout. ESPN rated him as the No. 2 overall prospect in the class.

The 6-foot-9 post player from Chicago has repeatedly said that UK, Michigan State and Illinois are the three schools recruiting him the hardest.

Alexander, who was in Rupp Arena for last season's Big Blue Madness, took an unofficial visit to Kansas this week.

The other four players with UK offers are California forward Stanley Johnson, Indianapolis forward Trey Lyles, Minnesota shooting guard Rashad Vaughn and Mississippi shooting guard Devin Booker.

Johnson was eighth in the Rivals and Scout rankings. 24/7 Sports has him at No. 7 and ESPN puts him 12th.

UK and Arizona are widely viewed as his favorites, though six other schools are on his list.

Lyles is rated in the top five by every service except 24/7 Sports, which ranks him 12th. He's visited Lexington four times since decommitting from Indiana last summer.

Vaughn is rated between seventh and 13th overall. He plans to attend a prep school next season and nearby Huntington (W.Va.) Prep is under consideration.

Booker is rated as high as 16th (by ESPN) and as low as 31st (by Scout). UK is one of several schools on his list. He took an unofficial visit to Michigan State on Wednesday.

UK has also expressed interest in Colorado point guard Josh Perkins and New Orleans forward Craig Victor.

Victor achieved five-star status in the newest rankings — 14th by Scout and 21st by Rivals — after a solid showing at the NBPA Top 100 Camp.

Perkins is rated No. 18 by Scout and No. 28 by Rivals.

UK will evaluate both players over the remainder of the summer schedule for possible offers.

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

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service