Next Cats: Updates on Stanley Johnson, Jonah Bolden

broberts@herald-leader.comNovember 1, 2013 

Stanley Johnson has long been seen as Kentucky’s No. 1 target in the class of 2014. But the longer his recruitment goes, the more it seems he won’t end up in Lexington.

Several prominent recruiting observers have said in recent weeks that Johnson is looking more and more to be leaning toward Arizona. That camp includes 247Sports national analyst Jerry Meyer, who switched his prediction on Johnson from Kentucky to Arizona this week.

Meyer said he always considered Arizona the favorite in Johnson’s recruitment, but he also thought the top prospect’s official visit for Big Blue Madness would have a big impact on his decision.

“I just thought the allure of Kentucky and the visit (would convince him). That’s really why I had Kentucky,” Meyer told the Herald-Leader. “Through talking to people and the information I was getting and just sort of reading the situation, I don’t think the visit quite had the impact that I thought it would have, as far as swaying him away from the West Coast.”

Meyer changed his Crystal Ball pick back to Arizona, which is what he was predicting before the Peach Jam in July.

The analyst said that, although he and others view Arizona as the favorite, UK is by no means out of the picture for Johnson’s commitment. The 6-foot-7 small forward is not expected to make an announcement until January, giving John Calipari and his staff a few more months to persuade him to come to Lexington.

And if they can’t sell Johnson on UK, there might be another player at the same position who’d be interested.

Findlay Prep senior Jonah Bolden has emerged as one of the hottest names in the class of 2014 since coming to the United States from his native Australia earlier this year. Bolden — a 6-8 small forward — will play his senior season at Findlay before heading to college for the 2014-15 season.

He’s considering Louisville, UCLA, Michigan, Arizona and several other top programs. The list is long, which means there’s time for UK to get involved in his recruitment.

Bolden was unranked just a few months ago, but Meyer now has him as the No. 24 overall prospect in the senior class based largely on his performance at the Adidas Nations event in August. Scout.com put him at No. 30 overall in their updated rankings this week.

“Someone asked me if Kentucky should look at Jonah Bolden. And I was like, ‘Well, yeah. I’ve got him ranked 24th in the country, so that’s what I think about it,’” Meyer said. “Is he a fit for Kentucky? Does Kentucky have the connections to get him? Is it worth investing their time? Those are questions Kentucky has to answer. But I’m looking at it as, ‘Is this guy good enough to play at Kentucky?’ Well, heck yeah, he is. He’s good enough to play anywhere in the country.”

Meyer described Bolden as a “Nicolas Batum-type” player. Batum, a forward with the NBA's Portland Trail Blazers, averaged 14.3 points, 5.6 rebounds and 4.9 assists last season. “Long, athletic, wiry — he’s kind of like Gumby or something. He’s very skilled and plays with a high motor,” Meyer said of Bolden.

Meyer acknowledged that he ranked Bolden at No. 24 based on a small sample size, but he thinks he might not have given the Aussie his proper due. He said that when ranking players, analysts usually peg them to a certain numerical “range” and go from there. It’s possible that the No. 24 ranking could be a “worst-case scenario” placement for Bolden.

“With Jonah Bolden, even though I went pretty aggressive and ranked him in the top 25, the more I thought about it, the more I thought I was probably at the bottom of his ranking range,” Meyer said. “I think that guy could end up being one of the elite players in the class.

“In hindsight, I don’t know if I was aggressive enough. He is a tremendous prospect.”

Read more at Next Cats

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