Several UK recruits on display this weekend in Ohio

broberts@herald-leader.comJanuary 16, 2014 

  • This weekend

    Flyin' To The Hoop Invitational

    What: High school basketball showcase featuring several UK prospects from around the country

    When: Friday through Monday

    Where: James S. Trent Arena in Kettering, Ohio

One of the biggest national showcases of the high school basketball season will take place just a couple of hours from Lexington this weekend.

University of Kentucky signee Tyler Ulis and top UK recruits Luke Kennard and Montaque Gill-Caesar are a few of the players who will participate in the four-day Flyin' To The Hoop Invitational, which starts Friday.

The event will be held in the James S. Trent Arena in Kettering, Ohio, which is just outside of Dayton.

The highlight for UK fans will be Saturday's slate of games, wrapping up with a doubleheader featuring Kennard at 6:45 p.m. and Ulis at 8:30 p.m.

Kennard — a shooting guard and one of UK's top targets in the Class of 2015 — is considered the No. 15 overall junior in the country by Scout.com.

"At 6-4, pushing 6-5, he's a guy that brings a lot of versatility to the guard spot," Scout.com analyst Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader. "He's really skilled, and he even has a little bit of combo to him because of his ability to handle the ball and his passing ability.

"He's an absolutely terrific shooter, solid athlete and a guy who can score the ball in a variety of ways."

Kennard has taken several unofficial visits to Lexington in recent months — twice for UK games — and acknowledged over the summer that he grew up a fan of the Wildcats.

Mark Kennard, the player's father, told the Herald-Leader on Thursday that his son has narrowed his list to seven schools: UK, Louisville, Duke, Ohio State, North Carolina, Michigan and Florida.

All of those schools have offered scholarships, and coaches from all seven programs have been through Franklin, Ohio, in recent weeks to see Kennard play.

He plans to start taking his official visits in the next few weeks and is targeting a spring decision date.

Ulis will be playing for the first time since his dazzling 14-point, 10-assist performance in front of UK Coach John Calipari at the Mustang Madness event in Paducah last weekend.

The 5-foot-9 UK signee has established himself as one of the top point guards in the country. He'll match up Saturday with junior point guard A.J. Harris of Dunbar High (Ohio). Harris — also 5-9 — is a four-star player in the Class of 2015 and has already committed to Ohio State.

The games get underway Friday night with an appearance by Findlay Prep (Nev.), arguably the most talented high school team in the country.

The Findlay roster boasts several five-star prospects, including shooting guard Rashad Vaughn, who has a scholarship offer from UK for the Class of 2014. Vaughn has missed the last five games with a knee injury and is questionable for Friday's game.

Sunday's games will feature some of the best teams in Ohio as well as two of the best senior point guards in the country — Emmanuel Mudiay (Southern Methodist) and Lourawls Nairn (Michigan State). That day's lineup also includes St. Vincent-St. Mary, the alma mater of LeBron James and the current home of sophomore forward V.J. King, one of the top 10 players in the Class of 2016 and a possible UK recruit.

The event wraps up Monday with several elite, national teams and includes another game featuring Mudiay, the probable season debut of five-star 2015 guard Isaiah Briscoe, and Huntington (W.Va.) Prep's matchup with Cleveland Central Catholic, which is ranked No. 1 in Ohio.

Huntington Prep's roster is also made up of several high-level prospects, including Gill-Caesar, junior forward Thomas Bryant and sophomore wing Miles Bridges — all UK recruits.

Full schedules and ticket information can be found online at www.flyintothehoop.com.

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

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