NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. — The University of Kentucky basketball program has picked up most of its recruits from the Nike circuit in recent years, but that's not stopping John Calipari from looking past The Swoosh in the class of 2016.
Calipari started this week's live recruiting period at the Adidas showcase in the Atlanta area. Two of the biggest stars on that circuit — Kobi Simmons and Rawle Alkins — have emerged as two of UK's biggest recruiting targets for next year.
Scout.com's Evan Daniels was also evaluating Adidas talent to start the live period, and his recruiting service ranks both Simmons and Alkins as top-25 prospects in the 2016 class.
Simmons — a 6-foot-5 point guard from Alpharetta, Ga. — comes in at No. 5 in those rankings.
"Kobi is just a really gifted guard," Daniels told the Herald-Leader. "He has good size. He's long, he's athletic, he's fast. He's so versatile, and you could use him in different ways. You could put him on the ball and he can make plays for others. You could put him off the ball and he can really score.
"He has a lot of potential as a perimeter defender. He plays well in up-and-down, fast-paced environments. I think his upside is tremendous."
Simmons is likely Calipari's top target at point guard, though the Wildcats could return Tyler Ulis and/or Isaiah Briscoe at that position for the 2016-17 season. That wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing for Simmons, who could play a variety of roles for UK even if he joined a loaded backcourt.
"He's just a guy you can throw on the floor and you don't have to worry about whether the ball's in his hands or not," Daniels said. "He just goes out and plays."
Simmons will take an official visit to UK in late August, and Daniels called the Cats "one of the teams to beat" in his recruitment. The player's father is from Cincinnati, and Ohio State and Xavier are also among his possibilities.
Scout.com ranks Alkins as the No. 21 overall player in the class of 2016, but his stock could rise even further after his performances of the past few weeks.
Daniels watched the 6-4 shooting guard from New York City play Thursday and said it was one of the best efforts he's ever seen out of him. On Friday, he scored 34 points in the championship game of the Adidas event, leading his New York Rens squad to a victory over Simmons and the Atlanta Celtics.
"He's just so tough and aggressive and physical," Daniels said. "There's not a lot of guys in high school basketball that can handle the kind of physical punishment he gives when he drives to the rim."
While Daniels said Simmons could make his college decision this fall, he's expecting a longer wait to find out where Alkins will play at the next level.
"It just seems so wide open," he said.
Five-star small forward Jayson Tatum will reveal his college decision Sunday from the Peach Jam, and the announcement will be shown live on ESPNU.
Tatum recently narrowed his list to Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina and hometown Saint Louis. The Blue Devils are considered the favorites heading into Sunday's announcement.
It's unclear what time Tatum will announce, but ESPNU's live coverage from the Peach Jam is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
ESPN ranks Tatum as the No. 2 overall prospect in the class of 2016. He was the first player from that class to earn a scholarship offer from Kentucky and has visited Lexington several times, though UK's coaches barely watched him play at the Peach Jam over the past few days.
Five-star power forward Wendell Carter was one of the first players from the class of 2017 to earn a scholarship offer from Kentucky.
That was last month, and Carter said he's only heard from UK "a little bit" since then.
So which school has been calling him the most?
"Duke is the very top school that's working the hardest," Carter said. "I hear from them every day."
Scout.com ranks the Atlanta standout as the No. 2 overall player in the 2017 class.
UK recruiting targets Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum — arguably the top two players on the Nike circuit — will face off in the Peach Jam semifinals Sunday at 10:30 a.m., and the game will be televised live on ESPNU.
The other semifinal features UK targets Udoka Azubuike and Wendell Carter of the Georgia Stars against Louisville commitment V.J. King and UK target D.J. Harvey of Team Takeover. That game will tip off at 9 a.m., and will also be on ESPNU.
The Peach Jam finals are set for Sunday at 3 p.m., on ESPNU.