Next Cats: A look at UK's prospects for 2015

broberts@herald-leader.comFebruary 26, 2014 

Class 5A Boys Championship Basketball

Guard Malik Newman (14), one of the top scorers at the high school level, is UK Coach John Calipari's No. 1 recruiting target.


Charles Matthews became the first basketball player from the Class of 2015 to commit to Kentucky on Wednesday, but there are seven other juniors with early scholarship offers from John Calipari.

Here's a look at those players and a quick glance at where their recruitments stand going into the spring:

Malik Newman: The combo guard from Mississippi is considered the best backcourt player in the class and is arguably UK's top recruiting priority.

He has early offers from Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and several other top programs. UK is widely considered the early favorite in his recruitment, and there is no timetable for a decision. (No. 2 overall in the rankings)

Luke Kennard: Shooting guard from Ohio grew up a UK fan and has ties to the state (his grandfather is from Paintsville and his father played at Georgetown College in the 1980s). Kennard has taken several unofficial visits to UK over the past few months.

His other finalists are Duke, Ohio State, Louisville, Michigan, UNC and Florida, and he is expected to make a decision sometime this spring. (No. 14 overall in the rankings)

Skal Labissiere: A near 7-footer and a native of Haiti, Labissiere plays for a high school team in the Memphis, Tenn., area. He was the first 2015 prospect to receive a Kentucky scholarship offer, and UK and Memphis are viewed as the favorites.

The versatile forward has missed almost the entire season with a back injury. There is no timetable for his college decision. (No. 7 overall in the rankings)

Carlton Bragg: The power forward from Cleveland said last month that he was "playing his butt off" for a UK offer, and he got one a few days later.

Assistant coach Orlando Antigua watched him play Tuesday night, the latest of several recent visits from a UK staff member.

Bragg's mentor, Michael Graves, told the Herald-Leader on Tuesday that they are more focused on the state playoffs than recruiting at the moment. Kansas, Ohio State, Louisville and Arizona are among his other offers. (No. 8 overall in the rankings)

Derrick Jones: Wing player from Philadelphia is one of the most athletic players in the class, and his dunking ability is reminiscent of Andrew Wiggins.

There hasn't been much news on his recruitment, though Syracuse is among the teams considered to have the best shot at his commitment. (No. 13 overall in the rankings)

Stephen Zimmerman: The post player from Las Vegas has had nothing but good things to say about UK, but the early consensus is that he'll end up staying out West. Arizona is the perceived favorite, though he has offers from just about every major school in the country.

Zimmerman plans to take a visit to UK before making his decision. (No. 5 overall in the rankings)

Ivan Rabb: Post player from California is emerging as the No. 1 overall prospect in the class, but he's another player that seems likely to stay out West.

Rabb is a member of the Oakland Soldiers, the summer program that helped develop Stanley Johnson, Aaron Gordon and Brandon Ashley — three recent UK recruits who ultimately chose Arizona. (No. 1 overall in the rankings)

■ Kentucky is looking at several other Class of 2015 prospects, including Milwaukee, Wis., center Diamond Stone, New York forward Cheick Diallo and Huntington (W.Va.) Prep forward Thomas Bryant. Those are three of the players Calipari and his staff are likely to keep an eye on when the AAU schedule begins in the next few weeks.

Ben Roberts: (859) 231-3216Twitter: @NextCatsBlog:

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