Where Kentucky stands with the class of 2015

broberts@herald-leader.comJune 28, 2014 

The Cats' top targets

Players who have received scholarship offers from Kentucky:

Carlton Bragg

Position: Forward

Height, weight: 6-9, 220 pounds

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Rivals ranking: 9

Scout ranking: 11

ESPN ranking: 14

247Sports ranking: 7

■ Bragg is a versatile forward who has established himself as one of the best inside-out players in the class. He's usually listed as a power forward, but he has said that many schools are looking at him as a "stretch-4" that can play on the perimeter. Bragg has gained 40 pounds or so in the past year — and that will help him in the post against more physical opponents in college. He sometimes doesn't go all out, but when he does he's hard to stop. Recent example: His 36-point, 14-rebound performance against elite competition at the NBPA Top 100 Camp this month.

Future in Blue?: He openly lobbied for a UK scholarship offer for the first few months of his junior season, and he got one after scoring 24 points in 24 minutes against Trey Lyles while John Calipari looked on. He hasn't been shy about his love for UK, and he will return to Lexington for a trip to Big Blue Madness in October. Bragg plans to narrow his list to six or seven schools on Sept. 1. Kansas and Illinois look to be the Cats' main competition for his commitment.

Jaylen Brown

Position: Small forward

Height, weight: 6-7, 220 pounds

Hometown: Marietta, Ga.

Rivals ranking: 3

Scout ranking: 4

ESPN ranking: 8

247Sports ranking: 2

■ The recent transformation in Brown's game has landed him in the discussion for the No. 1 ranking in the 2015 class. He's always been explosive and he's always played hard — drawing comparisons to former UK recruit Stanley Johnson. Now, he's added a reliable jump shot, which had been the main knock on him for the past couple of years. Brown has made 30 of 58 three-point attempts (51.7 percent) on the Adidas circuit so far this summer. Search for his name on YouTube and you'll see some of the best dunks of the year. "Jaylen Brown is on the rise," Scout.com's Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader. "We have him No. 4 now, and it wouldn't surprise me if he ended up higher than that."

Future in Blue? UK assistant coach Kenny Payne visited with Brown and his mother at their Georgia home on Easter Sunday. That trip left an impression, and Brown recently said that UK and UCLA are the two official visits that he's positive he wants to take. There's no timetable for Brown's decision, though he has said that he's tiring of the recruiting process. Kansas, Ohio State and Georgia are among the others involved in his recruitment.

Cheick Diallo

Position: Forward/Center

Height, weight: 6-9, 220 pounds

Hometown: Centereach, N.Y.

Rivals ranking: 5

Scout ranking: 5

ESPN ranking: 7

247Sports ranking: 3

■ Nobody plays harder than Diallo, a native of Mali who is arguably the best rebounder and post defender in the class. He was named the most valuable player at last year's NBPA Top 100 Camp despite being a year younger than many of the top players in attendance. He nearly repeated that honor at this year's event. "He has the highest motor in high school basketball, and I don't think it's even close," Scout.com's Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader. Diallo is currently leading the Nike circuit in blocked shots and is second in rebounding.

Future in Blue? Diallo is taking his first visit to UK this weekend and could be ready to make a college decision before the end of the calendar year. He already had a good relationship with new UK assistant coach Barry "Slice" Rohrssen that carried over from Rohrssen's time on the Pittsburgh staff. But UK is not the clear favorite. Diallo is being recruited heavily by Pitt. Kansas and St. John's are among the others pursuing his commitment.

Derrick Jones

Position: Small forward

Height, weight: 6-7, 190 pounds

Hometown: Philadelphia, Pa.

Rivals ranking: 33

Scout ranking: 43

ESPN ranking: 27

247Sports ranking: 28

■ One of the most athletic recruits in the class, Jones is a highlight-reel dunker and intriguing prospect who is still developing as a player. His length and athleticism catch the eye — and his amazing dunks are impossible to miss (another one to search for on YouTube). But he can disappear at times on the court, and it's unclear what role he'll play offensively at the next level. He'll need to be on the perimeter in college, but he struggles to create his own shot and is not yet a good enough shooter to be a threat from long range. That said, he has the potential to be something special.

Future in Blue? Jones was one of the first players in this class to land a scholarship offer from UK, but there hasn't been much to report about his recruitment lately. He told the Herald-Leader this month that he's still in regular contact with UK's coaches and plans to visit Lexington later this summer. He's also looking at — among others — UConn, Louisville, Indiana and Syracuse, which is widely considered his favorite at the moment.

Skal Labissiere

Position: Forward/Center

Height, weight: 6-10, 200 pounds

Hometown: Memphis, Tenn.

Rivals ranking: 14

Scout ranking: 10

ESPN ranking: 11

247Sports ranking: 43

■ The native of Haiti is still rounding into shape after missing almost all of his junior season with a stress fracture in his back. Labissiere returned to the court in April and told the Herald-Leader this month that he's been pain-free since then. At 6-10, Labissiere likes to play away from the basket, and he has a good-looking jump shot that could be a major weapon in college. He also possesses good instincts as a post defender, but he'll need to add more weight to keep from getting push around by larger opponents at the next level.

Future in Blue? He was the first player from the class of 2015 to receiver an offer from John Calipari, who has known Labissiere's high school coach since his days in Memphis. The back injury effectively put his recruitment on hold. Other than a handful of unofficial visits to Memphis, he hasn't really taken any college trips. He told the Herald-Leader that he's planning official visits for after the summer and would like to make a college decision by the end of the year. UK and Memphis have been after him the longest, but he said UNC, Kansas and Florida are among the new suitors.

Malik Newman

Position: Guard

Height, weight: 6-4, 180 pounds

Hometown: Jackson, Miss.

Rivals ranking: 2

Scout ranking: 6

ESPN ranking: 3

247Sports ranking: 4

■ He's arguably the best scorer in high school basketball, and he's generally regarded as the best backcourt player in the class. He's also the only uncommitted guard in 2015 with a scholarship offer from John Calipari. Newman uses his strength and a quick first step to get past defenders on the perimeter and create easy buckets for himself around the rim. He's also effective from three-point range and is capable of long scoring runs that include several makes from outside. He's good with the ball in his hands but not a great facilitator, so it's unlikely he'd be the primary ball handler in Calipari's backcourt.

Future in Blue? Perhaps the top recruiting target for Kentucky in this cycle. Through his lack of offers to other guards in the class, Calipari has made it clear that Newman is a priority. The Mississippi star has been effusive in his praise of the UK coach, and many consider Kentucky the favorite in his recruitment. Kansas and UConn are others to watch out for. There has been talk of a possible "package deal" with Newman and five-star classmate Diamond Stone, who seems an unlikely addition for UK. Package deals usually don't pan out in recruiting.

Ivan Rabb

Position: Power forward

Height, weight: 6-10, 220 pounds

Hometown: Oakland, Calif.

Rivals ranking: 4

Scout ranking: 3

ESPN ranking: 1

247Sports ranking: 5

■ He's one of the most well-rounded post players in the class. Rabb led the gold-medal winning Team USA under-16 squad in rebounding last year and is among the leading rebounders on the Nike circuit this summer. He's also an effective post scorer and defender. "Ivan is a very competitive young man," high school coach Lou Richie told the Herald-Leader. "He's very tough and he prides himself on working harder than anybody else. He's a very multi-dimensional player. ... And he prides himself on his defense." Rabb is in the Oakland Soldiers AAU program, which means he's learned from Stanley Johnson, Aaron Gordon and Brandon Ashley over the past few years.

Future in Blue? All three of those former Oakland Soldiers teammates ended up signing with Arizona, and that's the popular prediction in Rabb's recruitment. Other possibilities include Duke, North Carolina, UCLA, Georgetown, California and Kansas. Nothing has happened lately to indicate that Kentucky will be serious candidate in this one.

Stephen Zimmerman

Position: Center

Height, weight: 7-0, 240 pounds

Hometown: Las Vegas, Nev.

Rivals ranking: 7

Scout ranking: 8

ESPN ranking: 6

247Sports ranking: 14

■ Zimmerman has struggled offensively during his first summer on the Nike circuit, but he established himself long ago as one of the best post players in the class. He possesses great offensive skills around the basket and has a good jump shot that can extend out to the three-point line. He's also shown the ability to be an above-average passer. Zimmerman beat out a talented pool of players — some a year older — to make the Team USA under-18 squad that won a FIBA Americas gold medal in Colorado last week.

Future in Blue? Zimmerman has already announced that he will be in Lexington for an official visit on Big Blue Madness weekend. It's tough to successfully recruit players from that far west — especially now that Sean Miller is on his recruiting roll at Arizona — but Calipari has done it before. Zimmerman also has an official visit set to Louisville in September. His other finalists are Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA and UNLV.

OTHERS TO WATCH

Dwayne Bacon

Position: Small forward

Height, weight: 6-6, 205 pounds

Hometown: Lakeland, Fla.

Rivals ranking: 22

Scout ranking: 28

ESPN ranking: 40

247Sports ranking: 11

■ Oak Hill (Va.) standout was one of the top scorers at recent NBPA Top 100 Camp. He told Herald-Leader that UK coaches will watch him next month.

Thomas Bryant

Position: Center

Height, weight: 6-10, 220 pounds

Hometown: Rochester, N.Y.

Rivals ranking: 34

Scout ranking: 23

ESPN ranking: 10

247Sports ranking: 24

■ Huntington Prep (W.Va.) big man always plays hard in the post. UK has shown interest, but home-state Syracuse is considered the favorite.

Eric Davis

Position: Guard

Height, weight: 6-3, 160 pounds

Hometown: Saginaw, Mich.

Rivals ranking: 39

Scout ranking: 32

ESPN ranking: 35

247Sports ranking: 36

■ He visited UK for Big Blue Madness last year and he's scheduled to return in the next couple of weeks. Hopes to earn offer on that trip.

P.J. Dozier

Position: Guard/Forward

Height, weight: 6-7, 185 pounds

Hometown: Columbia, S.C.

Rivals ranking: 40

Scout ranking: 51

ESPN ranking: 29

247Sports ranking: 18

■ Missed his entire junior season after ACL surgery. He can play four positions and has been tremendous so far this spring. UK showing new interest.

Henry Ellenson

Position: Power forward

Height, weight: 6-10, 235 pounds

Hometown: Rice Lake, Wis.

Rivals ranking: 17

Scout ranking: 7

ESPN ranking: 5

247Sports ranking: 13

■ He's skyrocketed in the rankings recently, and Duke, North Carolina and UCLA have all offered in past few weeks. UK has shown some interest.

Montaque Gill-Caesar

Position: Small forward

Height, weight: 6-5, 185 pounds

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario

Rivals ranking: 31

Scout ranking: 38

ESPN ranking: 41

247Sports ranking: 41

■ Huntington Prep (W.Va.) wing has been on UK's radar for years. There's still a chance he reclassifies to 2014 and plays in college this season.

Brandon Ingram

Position: Small forward

Height, weight: 6-8, 190 pounds

Hometown: Kinston, N.C.

Rivals ranking: 25

Scout ranking: 26

ESPN ranking: 12

247Sports ranking: 27

■ Lanky forward has offers from Duke, UNC, U of L and others. He says he regularly speaks to UK assistants John Robic and Barry Rohrssen.

Doral Moore

Position: Center

Height, weight: 7-0, 225 pounds

Hometown: Stockbridge, Ga.

Rivals ranking: 38

Scout ranking: 35

ESPN ranking: 36

247Sports ranking: 44

■ Includes Kentucky among five finalists even though Cats haven't offered. He's a backup plan to other post players on UK's recruiting board.

Ray Spalding

Position: Power forward

Height, weight: 6-9, 210 pounds

Hometown: Louisville

Rivals ranking: 69

Scout ranking: 66

ESPN ranking: 4-star

247Sports ranking: 64

■ Highest-ranked prospect in the state has been evaluated multiple times by UK. Louisville offered recently and is considered the favorite.

Diamond Stone

Position: Center

Height, weight: 6-10, 255 pounds

Hometown: Milwaukee, Wis.

Rivals ranking: 6

Scout ranking: 1

ESPN ranking: 4

247Sports ranking: 8

■ Not much UK buzz around Stone, arguably the best center in the class. Friends with Malik Newman, but rumored "package deal" might not happen.

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