Calipari makes 4 new offers to UK targets

broberts@herald-leader.comJuly 13, 2014 

As expected, UK Coach John Calipari was spotted in basketball gyms all over the country last week.

Calipari started the first day of the July recruiting period in Philadelphia, moved on to Chicago and wrapped up the week at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas.

Along the way, Calipari and his assistants saw many of the program's top recruiting targets and passed out four new scholarship offers to rising seniors.

The new offers

Milwaukee center Diamond Stone was the first player to claim a UK scholarship offer during the July recruiting period. Stone — a 6-foot-10 prospect — told's Evan Daniels on Thursday that UK had offered and that the Wildcats are recruiting him "real hard."

Stone was among the first players that Calipari watched Wednesday night in Philadelphia. ranks him as the No. 1 overall prospect in the class of 2015. He and top UK recruit Malik Newman have repeatedly said that they would like to play for the same school. Kansas, UConn and Wisconsin are among the programs targeting Stone.

North Carolina prospect Brandon Ingram told the Herald-Leader that Calipari called him Saturday night and extended a UK offer. Ingram — a 6-foot-8 small forward — also has offers from Duke, North Carolina, Louisville and several others. He said he is planning an August visit to Lexington.

Calipari and UK assistant Barry Rohrssen watched Ingram several times this week at the adidas Uprising event in Chicago.

Wisconsin power forward Henry Ellenson and Orlando, Fla., shooting guard Antonio Blakeney got their UK offers on Sunday.

Ellenson's father confirmed the UK offer.

"A very exciting day and Henry is very honored," John Ellenson told the Herald-Leader.

The 6-foot-10 prospect was among the standouts at the LeBron camp and has been one of the nation's fastest-rising prospects in recent weeks. now ranks him as the No. 7 overall player in the class of 2015. Duke and North Carolina have also offered, and his older brother recently transferred to play basketball at Marquette, which could have an impact on his recruitment.

Blakeney — a 6-4 prospect — is ranked in the top 20 in the class of 2015 by every major recruiting service and also had a good showing at last week's LeBron Skills Academy. He is one of Louisville's top recruiting targets.

UK has now offered 12 players from the class of 2015, in addition to Charles Matthews, who committed to the Cats in February.

2015 star picks Arizona

Ray Smith — one of the breakout players of the summer — committed to Arizona on Sunday, three days after suffering a torn ACL at the adidas event in Chicago.

Smith — a 6-7 small forward ranked No. 6 overall by 247Sports — was one of Louisville's top recruiting targets in the class of 2015. UK assistant coach Kenny Payne recently made contact and said the Wildcats were also interested in recruiting him.

The Las Vegas native is likely to miss his entire senior season with the knee injury.

Other movements

Calipari and Rohrssen also watched top 2015 targets Jaylen Brown and Carlton Bragg, as well as several class of 2016 recruits, while they were in Chicago.

Payne spent all week at the LeBron camp in Las Vegas, where Matthews, Cheick Diallo, Ivan Rabb and Stephen Zimmerman were among the top class of 2015 recruits competing. Top 2016 target Jayson Tatum was also there.

UK assistant coach John Robic started the week in North Carolina, where he was the only major college coach to watch class of 2016 power forward Harry Giles, another top UK target.

Robic also did some recruiting in Philadelphia, which hosted events that featured Stone, Derrick Jones, Skal Labissiere, Derryck Thornton and Tyus Battle — all players with UK offers.

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

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