CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Jordan Brand Classic All-American game Saturday could almost be mistaken for a Kentucky Wildcats intrasquad game.
Four Kentucky signees — guard Marquis Teague and forwards Michael Gilchrist, Anthony Davis and Kyle Wiltjer — are among the 22 players divided among East and West rosters.
They come from a variety of locations — Teague is from Indianapolis, Davis is from Chicago, Wiltjer is from Portland, Ore., and Gilchrist is from Elizabeth, N.J. — but they'll be old friends by the time they arrive in Lexington together later this year.
"We're always just hanging out, kicking it with each other and trying to make each other better," Davis said of his future college teammates.
This isn't the first weekend the four Wildcats have been together. They've been making a tour of national all-star games, which speaks to the quality of Coach John Calipari's latest recruiting class.
If Brandon Knight and Terrence Jones follow through on their plans to enter the NBA Draft this spring, Kentucky already has another wave of incoming freshman to fill the various voids.
Teague and Davis are rooming together for a third time on the all-star circuit, creating a friendship that has them planning to room together at Kentucky.
"We have a bond now," Gilchrist said. "We have so much fun together. I can't wait to get there."
It's a class that has been rated No. 1 by ESPN, which has all four players in the Jordan Brand Classic ranked among the top 18. Davis is ranked first, Gilchrist third, Teague seventh and Wiltjer is 18th.
Davis is the one who has rocketed up the recruiting charts and the growth chart. A year ago, he was 6-foot-3. Now he's 2 inches shy of being a 7-footer.
"That's what makes (Davis) so good," East assistant coach Don Showalter said. "He has guard skills at that height and he has great hands."
Teague is the younger brother of former Wake Forest guard Jeff Teague and the two bear a striking resemblance. Even their point guard styles are similar.
"Marquis might be as good or better (than Jeff) as time goes on," Showalter said.
Gilchrist is a classic scorer more than a shooter, Showalter said, and his ability to get tough rebounds is a rare skill that will pair well with the 6-9 Wiltjer.
Beyond the skills the four will bring to Lexington, they will bring a basketball background built over the past few weeks, something few incoming recruiting classes will have.
"They are all good friends," Showalter said.
They will play for a coach who has used his aggressive recruiting approach to re-energize the Kentucky program, which has become a one-year pipeline to the pros for several players. That hasn't gone unnoticed by the soon-to-be Wildcats.
"Coach Cal is amazing," Davis said. "He puts guys in the league. That's what we all want to do."