Marques Bolden is the five-star center in the class of 2016 getting most of the attention from UK basketball fans, but another highly touted post player from Texas is still on the Wildcats’ radar.
Jarrett Allen told the Herald-Leader on Monday that John Calipari and UK assistant coach Tony Barbee called to talk to him before he flew up to Chicago for this week’s McDonald’s All-American Game.
“They were just checking up on me,” he said.
Allen — a 6-foot-10 power forward from Austin — said he’s still considering UK, along with Houston, Kansas, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Texas. After the McDonald’s Game, he heads to Portland, Ore., for next weekend’s Nike Hoop Summit.
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He said he’s not going to think about his recruitment until that all-star game is finished, then he expects to look at the situation more closely and make a decision.
Hometown Texas has emerged as a possible favorite — and Coach Shaka Smart has made keeping Allen home a major priority — but the five-star prospect also had plenty of praise for Kentucky on Monday.
“The name speaks for itself,” Allen said, talking up Calipari and the job UK has done with recent post players.
The Wildcats will have several talented frontcourt players next season. The 2016 recruiting class already includes McDonald’s All-Americans Bam Adebayo and Sacha Killeya-Jones, as well as five-star small forward Wenyen Gabriel, a 6-10 prospect who will likely play some in the post.
Returning players could include Marcus Lee, Derek Willis, Isaac Humphries and Tai Wynyard.
Calipari has been telling Allen there’s room for him, too.
“With Kentucky, Coach Cal keeps talking about how you don’t have to play 30 or 40 minutes to show your skill set,” he said. “He keeps saying that we all can play together — me, Bam, Sacha and Wenyen.
“As long as I can show what I have, as long as they can develop me, then I’m fine with that.”
Monk takes title
UK signee Malik Monk heated up in the finals and won the McDonald’s All-American Game three-point contest during the Powerade Jam Fest at the Chicago Theatre on Monday night.
Monk made 15 of 25 three-point attempts (60 percent) in the final round, using only 50 of the allotted 60 seconds on the clock. He scored 21 points in the finals, besting Virginia signee Kyle Guy by two points. Monk made four of five shots from the “money ball” rack, worth two points apiece.
After the contest, Monk was asked on the ESPN broadcast whether UK Coach John Calipari should be proud of his performance.
“I think he should be very proud,” he said, “because I can shoot.”
A (presumably) UK fan then yelled out, “Go Big Blue!” from the audience.
Fellow UK signee De’Aaron Fox also participated in the three-point contest, but he did not make it out of the preliminary round.
“Malik’s a better shooter than me,” Fox told the Herald-Leader on Sunday night.
Monk is the first UK signee to win the McDonald’s three-point contest since Kyle Wiltjer took home the trophy in 2011.
▪ Duke signee Frank Jackson won the McDonald’s slam dunk contest later Monday night, finishing just ahead of Monk, who had several impressive jams but ended up in second place.