Kentucky signee Derek Willis won’t be making a return trip to Rupp Arena this week, but there will still be plenty of college prospects at the Sweet Sixteen.
Willis is the only in-state senior who has signed with UK or U of L. His Bullitt East Chargers were upset in the semifinals of the 6th Region last week. Cordia point guard Emmanuel Owootoah, who UK recently evaluated, also missed out on a trip to Lexington when the Lions fell to Perry Central in the 6th Region semis.
Here are five recruits to watch who did make it to Rupp and will be in action this week:
DOMINIQUE HAWKINS, Madison Central
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The 2013 guard has long been a top priority for Morehead State and Western Kentucky, but some bigger schools have expressed interest in recent weeks. Louisville offered a preferred walk-one spot, and UK assistant Orlando Antigua attended one of Hawkins’ practices before last week’s 11th Region tournament. Kentucky is apparently on the look out for a backup point guard for next season and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see someone from UK’s staff at Hawkins’ game Wednesday. Last week, the Richmond native told the Herald-Leader that he’s always been a UK fan: “Since I was a little kid — I grew up as a Kentucky fan. It’s been my dream school.” Alabama, Tennessee and Purdue have also been in to see Hawkins. First game: Madison Central vs. Wayne County, Wednesday at noon.
QUENTIN SNIDER, Ballard
The only committed player on this list — Snider will play for Louisville in 2014 — is widely regarded to be the best player in the state of Kentucky. He is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 24 overall prospect in the junior class and the No. 7 point guard. Snider committed to the Cardinals in August 2011 and should be the frontrunner for Mr. Basketball honors next season. He’ll try to lead Ballard to its fourth title and first since 1999. First game: Ballard vs. Johnson Central, Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
SHANE HALL, Johnson Central
The 6-foot-8 power forward is considered the No. 97 overall player in the class of 2014, according to Scout.com. Hall already has an offers from Butler and Tennessee, and Purdue, West Virginia and Alabama are among the others that have shown interest. Kentucky and Louisville have been mentioned with his recruitment, but there haven’t been any recent developments with either school. Hall has dealt with injuries throughout his junior season. “He’s still got a lot of swelling in both ankles, and still has some discomfort when he makes sharp cuts. I think it’s taken a toll more mentally that physically,” Coach Tommy McKenzie told the Herald-Leader. First game: Ballard vs. Johnson Central, Thursday at 6:30 p.m.
JAMES BOLDEN, Holmes
He’s just a sophomore, but “Beetle” Bolden is already making noise on the Kentucky high school hoops scene. The 5-foot-11 point guard picked up his first offer — from Xavier — over the weekend. Cincinnati is expected to offer soon, and other big-name schools will likely jump into his recruitment as his career moves forward. Scout.com considers Bolden a three-star prospect and he’ll certainly be a recruit to keep an eye on over the next couple of years. First game: Holmes vs. PRP, Wednesday at 1:30 p.m.
CAMRON JUSTICE, Knott County Central
Another sophomore, Justice made headlines back in December when he scored 62 points in a single game at the the Republic Bank Holiday Classic at Lexington Catholic. The 6-foot-2 guard told the Herald-Leader earlier this year that he already has scholarship offers from Tennessee, UAB, Morehead State, and Western Kentucky. He’s also heard from Louisville, according to Scout.com, which considers him a three-star recruit. Like Bolden, his recruitment should continue to pick up over the next few months. First game: Knott Central vs. Clay County, Thursday at 8 p.m.
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