In a bit of a surprise move Wednesday morning, five-star shooting guard Lonnie Walker announced that he has committed to Miami over Kentucky and three other finalists.
Walker — a 6-foot-4 prospect from Reading, Pa. — was one of UK’s top remaining backcourt targets and took an official visit to Lexington earlier this month. The Wildcats weren’t necessarily considered favorites to land his commitment, but Miami wasn’t the frontrunner, according to any recruiting analysts, entering the early signing period last week.
Arizona, Syracuse and Villanova were also on his list of finalists.
Miami was the first school to host Walker for an official visit this fall, but Arizona was the consensus favorite in his recruitment over the past couple of weeks. Syracuse and Villanova were also considered possible frontrunners at various points throughout his recruitment, and UK emerged last week as a program that might threaten Arizona for his commitment.
The Hurricanes had been recruiting Walker for more than two years. Scout.com ranks him as the No. 23 player in the 2017 class.
Miami’s gain is another big loss for Kentucky, which missed out on four-star wing John Petty last week and likely will need several backcourt players in its recruiting class of 2017.
UK did get a commitment from four-star combo guard Shai Alexander on Monday, but the backcourt options are dwindling.
Five-star shooting guard Hamidou Diallo is now the only uncommitted player at that position that UK has consistently recruited, and he’s not expected to make a college decision until the spring. Diallo — a post-grad player this season — also will have the option of jumping straight to the NBA Draft in 2017, something that he is considering. Scout.com ranks him as the No. 10 prospect in the class.
The Wildcats also remain in the mix for five-star point guards Quade Green and Trae Young.
Green — a 6-1 prospect from Philadelphia — attended UK’s victory over Michigan State in Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night and is expected to reveal his college decision Saturday night. He’s likely to choose either Kentucky or Syracuse.
Young — a 6-2 recruit from Norman, Okla. — is not expected to make a college decision until late December or early January. UK and Oklahoma are considered the co-favorites in his recruitment.