Since John Calipari almost always gets his man when recruiting the point guard position, the past few months have gone by with the common belief that either Trae Young or Quade Green would end up a Kentucky Wildcat.
Young – a 6-foot-2 prospect from Norman, Okla. – earned a UK scholarship offer more than a year ago and emerged as Calipari’s No. 1 point guard target early in the 2017 recruiting cycle.
Green – a 6-1 player from Philadelphia – led the highly competitive Nike circuit in assists and steals this past summer, earning a UK scholarship offer in the process.
Both are ranked as five-star prospects. Both came to Big Blue Madness on official visits last month.
There’s a decent chance neither will end up at Kentucky.
Scout.com recruiting analysts Evan Daniels and Brian Snow posted predictions Monday for several class of 2017 prospects. Both analysts picked Young to Oklahoma and Green to Syracuse.
Daniels told the Herald-Leader later Monday that while UK is “certainly still in the mix” for both Young and Green, he felt more strongly about Oklahoma and Syracuse, respectively, for those two players.
“Truth be told, I don’t think either have made their decisions,” Daniels said. “We did a prediction story, so we had to make a prediction. But I’m not going to say with 100 percent confidence that’s where those two are going. Quade is considering Kentucky and Syracuse at this time. And Trae Young hasn’t even decided if he’s going to decide early. I would say he probably does not, but it’s possible that he does.”
Many of 2017’s top point guards are already committed to other schools
Green is set to announce his college decision Nov. 19. Young has said that a December announcement is most likely for him, though he’s left the door open for an earlier commitment.
Kentucky will almost certainly need to land a top-flight point guard capable of starting from day one during this recruiting cycle. De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk and Isaiah Briscoe are all expected to opt for the pros after the Cats’ 2016-17 season.
So what happens if UK misses on both Young and Green?
Enter Shai Alexander, who decommitted from Florida last month, picked up a scholarship offer from John Calipari last week and visited UK this past weekend.
Alexander – a 6-4 prospect from Hamilton, Ont., now playing for a high school in Tennessee – has not yet set a date for his college announcement, but it’s expected to happen in the next few days and UK is widely regard as the favorite if he makes an early commitment.
There’s a lot to like about Shai’s game. But there’s also a lot to like about his potential and upside.
Evan Daniels, Scout.com recruiting analyst
Scout.com ranks Alexander as the No. 46 overall prospect in the class of 2017. Young is No. 22 on that list, and Green is No. 25.
While Alexander, who some classify as a combo guard, would be a great complement if UK were to get a commitment from one of its other point guard targets, Daniels said that he’s also more than capable of starting at point guard for UK right away, should the Cats miss on both Young and Green.
“There’s really not that much of a difference between those two players and Shai,” Daniels said. “Shai is a very good passer, and he has better size than the other two guys. The thing about Shai, too, is that he wasn’t seen a lot this summer. He didn’t play in July. So people didn’t see him as much. But he’s a very good prospect.”
Alexander played the first two sessions on the Nike circuit in the spring – averaging 15.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game – before representing Canada at the FIBA U18 tournament in Chile, then becoming the youngest player selected for the Canadian senior national team that played in the Olympic qualifying tournament in the Philippines.
As a result, he didn’t get evaluated against his class of 2017 peers during the summer. Already a highly ranked prospect, he’s been mentioned as a player who could improve his ranking even more with a strong senior season.
“There’s a lot to like about Shai’s game,” Daniels said. “But there’s also a lot to like about his potential and upside.”