Kentucky Sports

Next Cats notes: Nine Kentucky targets make first cut for USA U-17 team

Whitefish Bay Dominican's Diamond Stone (33) blocks a shot by Brillion's Michael Rider during the second half of a WIAA Division 4 semifinal basketball game, Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Dominican won 78-47. (AP Photo/Andy Manis)
Whitefish Bay Dominican's Diamond Stone (33) blocks a shot by Brillion's Michael Rider during the second half of a WIAA Division 4 semifinal basketball game, Thursday, March 13, 2014, in Madison, Wis. Dominican won 78-47. (AP Photo/Andy Manis) AP

The first cut was made Saturday at the Team USA basketball under-17 tryouts, and it's clear that the final squad will be full of Kentucky recruits.

Seventeen players remain in the mix for 12 total spots on the under-17 squad following the first round of tryouts, which included 32 players from across the country. Nine of the prospects who made the cut have scholarship offers from UK.

Tyus Battle, Henry Ellenson, Harry Giles, Malik Newman, Ivan Rabb, Diamond Stone, Caleb Swanigan, Jayson Tatum and Derryck Thornton all have a chance to represent the United States at the U-17 world championships next month in Dubai.

Several scouts and recruiting analysts who attended the event singled out the stellar play of Giles, a class of 2016 power forward who is still rounding into shape after missing nearly a year with a knee injury.

The 17 remaining players will continue working out at the Team USA practice facility in Colorado Springs, and the final cut will be made in the next few days.

Only Friday's tryouts were open to college coaches, and many took advantage of the opportunity. UK's John Calipari, Duke's Mike Krzyzewski, North Carolina's Roy Williams and Kansas' Bill Self were just a few of the head coaches who attended.

Among the players who did not make the cut were top UK target Malik Monk and Taylor County guard Quentin Goodin, both from the class of 2016. Goodin was the only player from Kentucky who was invited to the tryouts.

Recruits on TV

There's a good chance that some UK recruiting targets will be on national television Sunday.

ESPNU has scheduled four hours of live coverage from the Adidas Super 64 event from Las Vegas. Carlton Bragg, Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram are among the UK recruits who are playing in the event.

The coverage begins at 4 p.m. ET with the Super 64 showcase game. The Adidas championship game will follow at 6 p.m.

July offers

The July recruiting period wraps up Sunday, and it's been a busy one for John Calipari and his assistant coaches.

Four players from the class of 2015 — Antonio Blakeney, Henry Ellenson, Brandon Ingram and Caleb Swanigan — picked up UK scholarship offers in July.

Swanigan was the latest recipient of a UK offer, earning his Monday night after several great performances at the Nike Peach Jam in South Carolina. UK assistant coach Barry "Slice" Rohrssen recruited Swanigan when he was an assistant at Pittsburgh and stayed in touch with the Indiana power forward after he took the job at UK.

There are now 21 high school players with confirmed scholarship offers from Kentucky, not counting Charles Matthews, who is UK's only commitment from the class of 2015. Thirteen uncommitted players in that 2015 class have UK offers.

The list could grow after this past week's final live recruiting period. UK is still in contact with Eric Davis, P.J. Dozier, Doral Moore and Allonzo Trier, and any of those class of 2015 prospects could pick up an offer in the coming days.

One last look

After this weekend, college coaches will have to wait until September to watch prospective recruits, which means this is the last chance to evaluate players before the start of the next high school season.

Calipari began the week in Las Vegas, checking out Memphis forward Skal Labissiere, who drew quite a bit of UK's attention throughout the week. Memphis Coach Josh Pastner also made Labissiere's game his first stop of the week.

Antonio Blakeney was the only player with a UK offer to show up at the AAU Super Showcase in Louisville. Wildcats assistant coach John Robic kept a close eye on him throughout the week.

UK commitment Charles Matthews (illness) and 2016 target Udoka Azubuike (shin splints) did not make the trip to Louisville with their teams.

Carlton Bragg and Jaylen Brown — two of UK's top 2015 targets — battled in Las Vegas on Saturday. Bragg's Ohio Basketball Club got the victory over Brown's Georgia-based Game Elite, 88-74.

Bragg had 31 points, 13 rebounds and four blocked shots. He was a perfect 12-for-12 from the free-throw line and made three of four three-point attempts. Brown had 24 points and 11 rebounds.

UK assistants Kenny Payne and Slice Rohrssen were both in attendance.

All-Summer Team

With the summer recruiting season wrapping up Sunday, now seems like a good time to name a Herald-Leader All-Summer Team.

The selections are heavy on UK targets (because that's who I primarily concentrate on at summer events). Before we get to it, an honorable mention for Carlton Bragg and Brandon Ingram, two class of 2015 recruits who always seem to play their best basketball when the Herald-Leader is not in the building.

Guard — Derryck Thornton (2016): The Findlay Prep (Nev.) point guard was impressive at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in June, and sources who watched him at later events said his game only improved as the summer went on.

Thornton made all the right passes at the Top 100 Camp and stood out in what can often be a "me-me-me" setting that makes it tough for point guards to showcase their game. He picked up a UK scholarship offer during a visit to Lexington right after that camp, and the Wildcats look to be in good shape with his recruitment.

Guard — Malik Monk (2016): Class of 2015 shooting guards Antonio Blakeney and Allonzo Trier were great at the Nike Peach Jam, but the younger Monk stole the show with his efficient, 40-point game in front of John Calipari and other top coaches.

The Arkansas native's explosiveness led to the best video mixtapes of Peach Jam, but he's not a one-tool prospect. Look past the dunks, and there's a player with great court vision, outside shooting touch and the attributes to be an elite perimeter defender.

He picked up a UK offer after the Top 100 Camp in June, and the Wildcats could end up being the main competition for home-state Arkansas.

Forward — Jaylen Brown (2015): No uncommitted prospect in the country had a better spring and summer than this Georgia native. He put up a 48-point game during the dead period in May and has been nearly as good with college coaches in attendance.

Brown gets to the rim seemingly whenever he wants to, has quick hands on the defensive end and has improved his outside shot, which had been the weakest part of his game.

UK, Kansas and UCLA are all likely to get visits in the next few weeks, and Georgia and Georgia Tech are also hanging around in the recruitment.

Forward — Ben Simmons (2015): The 6-foot-9 prospect from Australia can do just about everything on the court. He's a tremendous passer and ball-handler for his size and often played the "point forward" role for his AAU and camp teams.

Going into the high school season, there's no better player in the country. Simmons has already committed to Louisiana State.

Forward — Cheick Diallo (2015): The native of Mali always comes to play. Diallo continued to live up to his reputation as one of the hardest-working high school players in the country this summer. He's one of the best rebounders and post defenders in his class, and he has more offensive moves than he gets credit for.

Diallo took an official visit to UK late last month and has others scheduled for Iowa State and St. John's in the coming weeks. Kansas and Pittsburgh are also involved in his recruitment.

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