UK recruiting notes: Top 2014 prospect Lyle still looking for a home

broberts@herald-leader.comJanuary 10, 2014 

PADUCAH — JaQuan Lyle was the hero of Huntington (W.Va.) Prep's victory over Our Savior New American (N.Y.) on Thursday night, scoring 23 points and hitting the game-winning free throws in the Mustang Madness event at McCracken County High School.

He's also one of the only top-rated players in the Class of 2014 who hasn't made a college decision.

Lyle, who decommitted from Louisville in September, was supposed to take his first official visit — to Kansas — this weekend, but that trip had to be postponed. Lyle's nephew was born a couple of months premature and is scheduled to come home from the hospital this weekend. So he'll spend the next few days in Indiana with his family before returning to Huntington Prep, which is off until next week.

Lyle hasn't rescheduled the official visit to Kansas and has no other trips planned. He said he was unlikely to take any visits until March, when Huntington Prep has finished its season.

The 6-foot-5 guard mentioned Kansas, Oregon, West Virginia, Providence and Memphis as the schools that are recruiting him the hardest at the moment. He also said he has had no contact with U of L or Kentucky since he decommitted from the Cardinals, and he's not expecting to hear from either school.

One program that has popped up in the past few weeks is Oklahoma State. Lyle said he played "phone tag" with Cowboys Coach Travis Ford, who was able to get in contact with Huntington Prep Coach Rob Fulford and later Lyle.

Ford said he wanted Lyle to come to Stillwater for an official visit. He also compared him to Marcus Smart, the current Oklahoma State point guard who is expected to be among the first players chosen in this year's NBA Draft.

"I need to make the best opportunity for myself. And I think that's a good opportunity to come in and play right away with them losing Marcus Smart," Lyle said. "It's just something I need to think about.

"He said he likes me because I'm a big guard. He compared me to Marcus Smart and said he could develop me into the best player I can be. Eventually, I want to go to the NBA, and I've seen what he did with Marcus Smart."

Lyle has no timetable for making a college decision.

Scout.com ranks him as the No. 22 overall player in the Class of 2014. Myles Turner and Rashad Vaughn are the only uncommitted seniors ranked higher. Both of those players have UK offers.

Bragg angling for UK offer

Class of 2015 forward Carlton Bragg was wearing a UK sweatshirt as he left McCracken County High School following Friday's practice.

He returned that night for what turned out to be an exciting, back-and-forth matchup with Kansas signee Cliff Alexander.

Bragg went right at Alexander — one of the top five players in the Class of 2014 — and finished with 18 points and double-digit rebounds, but Alexander's Curie High (Ill.) team defeated Bragg's Villa Angela St. Joseph (Ohio) squad 66-63.

There's no UK offer yet for Bragg, but the 6-foot-8 prospect says he's "playing his butt off" to land one. He added that Kentucky is the one offer he wants that he doesn't have yet. Kansas, Ohio State, Louisville, Illinois, Arizona and several others have offered.

Bragg said he's not anywhere close to a decision and doesn't even plan to cut his list to 10 schools until September.

Latest on Graham

Junior-college shooting guard Torian Graham took an official visit to Missouri this week, but he left Columbia without a public commitment to the Tigers.

Graham is considered one of the top junior-college players in the country and has received recent interest from Kentucky. He visited UK during his high school days in North Carolina before eventually committing to N.C. State. He never made it to Raleigh, landing instead at Chipola College in Florida.

UK has not yet offered Graham a scholarship for the Class of 2014.

Calipari is coming

UK Coach John Calipari is expected to attend the final day of Mustang Madness on Saturday following the Cats' game against Vanderbilt in Nashville.

Calipari will see UK signee Trey Lyles take on Class of 2015 target Carlton Bragg, and then he'll watch UK signee Tyler Ulis play in the final game of the event. There's a possibility Calipari will also get to evaluate Thon Maker, who ESPN considers the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2016. Maker is scheduled to play at 7 p.m. EST on Saturday. UK's game is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. EST in Nashville.

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

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