Next Cats notes: 2015 recruit climbing rankings with every inch he grows

broberts@herald-leader.comMay 17, 2014 

2015 prospect Brandon Ingram (Rivals.com photo)

INDIANAPOLIS — One of the newest names on UK's recruiting radar for the class of 2015 is Brandon Ingram, who continues to go up in the rankings with every growth spurt.

"It seems like I grow 2 inches every year," Ingram said.

He was 6-foot-2 when he started his freshman season and is already up to 6-8 a few weeks removed from the end of his junior year.

Kentucky has been one of the many schools to take notice.

Ingram said Saturday that he speaks to UK assistant coaches John Robic and Barry Rohrssen on a regular basis. He had a strong showing at the Adidas event in Dallas late last month, and UK Coach John Calipari was there to see some of it.

"They said they've watched a lot of film of me and they love how I play. They loved how I played in Dallas and they want to keep in touch," Ingram said. "I know Coach Calipari is a great coach. He pushes his players. He's a players' coach."

Most of the schools on his list are recruiting him as a tall wing player. He still has a lot of work to do to fill out his rapidly growing frame, and he acknowledged that bulking up and getting better at finishing through contact should be among his top priorities.

Along with Kentucky, Ingram said that Duke, Kansas, Louisville, Florida, Wake Forest, North Carolina and N.C. State have been in contact quite a bit recently.

Duke, Louisville and UNC are among those that have already extended scholarship offers. UK is one of the schools that's still evaluating him.

The Kinston, N.C., standout is considered the No. 14 overall prospect in the class by 247Sports. He's not planning on making a decision any time soon, but he does want to narrow his options.

The plan is to cut his list to around six schools, hopefully sometime next month, and then start making some campus visits.

Will UK be one of the finalists?

"I think so," Ingram said with a nod.

Waiting for a call

Since the beginning of the AAU season a little less than a month ago, Dennis Smith Jr. has picked up scholarship offers from Arizona, Kansas and Wake Forest.

New Louisville assistant coach Kenny Johnson has reached out to Smith, and he's expecting an offer from the Cardinals soon. It's the same story with Michigan.

Duke and North Carolina are also keeping tabs on the Fayetteville, N.C., point guard. 247Sports considers him the No. 5 prospect in the 2016 class and the No. 1 player at his position.

But there are still a couple of schools that Smith would like to get involved in his recruitment.

"I've heard from just about every school except for Kentucky and Florida," he said. "So — those two schools — I would be looking forward to hearing from."

The 6-foot-2 prospect has been trading texts for the past few months with fellow North Carolinian John Wall, who was John Calipari's first great point guard in Lexington. "They produce a lot of good guards," Smith said of UK. "I would definitely be interested in talking to them."

A return trip?

Georgia guard Kobi Simmons still has two more seasons of high school basketball left, but he's already hearing from some of the nation's top college coaches.

Simmons took one of his first campus visits before his sophomore season even started. That was a trip to Lexington for Big Blue Madness last October.

"It was exciting," he said. "A lot of people. Just crazy."

He added that John Calipari and others on the UK coaching staff have been talking to his parents, and they're expecting Simmons to make another visit to Lexington sometime soon.

The 6-foot-4 point guard from the Atlanta area is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 19 overall player in the class of 2016. He's a quick, skilled prospect who is adept at getting to the rim and can finish in a variety of ways. He's also a good facilitator, as he showed with six assists during Friday night's opener in Indianapolis.

Simmons said that he's not concentrating too much on his recruitment just yet. For the time being, his parents are handling most of that.

So far, the whole family is cool with Calipari.

"They like him," Simmons said. "They like his demeanor. But we're all still looking. It's a long time away."

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

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