UK Men's Basketball

Family hire puts TCU in the mix for five-star UK basketball target

Jarred Vanderbilt is one of the top forwards in the recruiting class of 2017, and Kentucky is one of the main schools pursuing him.
Jarred Vanderbilt is one of the top forwards in the recruiting class of 2017, and Kentucky is one of the main schools pursuing him.

The recruit-in-the-family college basketball coaching hire drawing all of the national attention this offseason has been Washington’s addition of assistant coach Michael Porter Sr., the father of top-five recruit Michael Porter Jr.

Another interesting hire: New Texas Christian head coach Jamie Dixon taking on Corey Barker as an assistant. Barker, who joins TCU’s staff after spending last season at Louisiana Tech, is the first cousin of five-star forward and UK recruiting target Jarred Vanderbilt.

Barker, of course, is now TCU’s point man in the recruitment of Vanderbilt, a Texas native.

“It’s a little weird, being recruited by someone in your family,” Vanderbilt said. “We also talk about just life, family stuff. But he throws in the recruiting stuff, as well.”

Vanderbilt, who is currently sidelined with a stress fracture in his foot, plans to cut his list to 8-10 schools later this month. UK figures to make that cut. The addition of Barker also puts the Horned Frogs in an interesting position.

“We are family, so it plays a big part,” Vanderbilt said. “I’ve been down to TCU, so I’ve actually seen the campus and met the other coaching staff. It seems like they’re putting together a good program. They’re rebuilding, and it looks like a good start to something new.”

Latest on Richards

Five-star center Nick Richards is viewed by some recruiting analysts as the most likely big man to join UK’s recruiting class of 2017, but he offered little of consequence regarding his college decision during an interview last week at the Peach Jam.

Richards — a 6-foot-11 prospect from Queens, N.Y. — said that Kentucky, Arizona, Indiana, Syracuse and UConn are the five schools recruiting him the hardest right now. He said someone from UK’s coaching staff calls his family “basically every other day,” though he didn’t reveal the particulars of those conversations and added that he rarely speaks directly to the Wildcats’ coaches.

“I like their program,” he said. “They’ve proven that they can get you ready for the next level.”

Richards said he hasn’t scheduled any visits and would “most likely” wait until the spring to pick a college.

Young and Porter

Top UK point guard target Trae Young and top-five recruit Michael Porter combined to score 61 points (and make 11 threes) in Mokan Elite’s 93-65 rout of PSA Cardinals in the Peach Jam title game Sunday.

Young and Porter have long discussed the idea of attending the same college, though those plans hit a bit of a snag when Porter’s father was hired as an assistant coach at Washington.

Despite Porter’s protestations that he’s not a lock for the Huskies, every recruiting analyst you talk to says he’ll end up at Washington with his father.

The Huskies have also been recruiting Young, but he’s clearly looking seriously at other schools.

We’re both going to support each other wherever we go. And if Kentucky is the best place for me, then that’s where I’ll be attending.

Trae Young, five-star point guard

After Sunday’s nationally televised game, ESPN’s Jeff Goodman asked the duo: “Why would you guys not play together in college, after watching this?”

Porter quickly responded: “Same question I’m trying to ask him,” referring to Young, who laughed it off.

“We’re still talking that out,” Young said. “That recruiting stuff’s going to happen soon. We’re going to have our little talk.”

Earlier in the tournament, Young said that Washington is in “pretty good” shape to make his list of five finalists, which he’s expected to announce soon. Still, the consensus is that UK and Oklahoma are the current favorites for the five-star point guard, who’s not afraid to split with Porter for his college career.

“Me and him both know that we’re going to go wherever we feel is best for us,” he said. “We’re both going to support each other wherever we go. And if Kentucky is the best place for me, then that’s where I’ll be attending.”

Fox and friends

UK freshman point guard De’Aaron Fox won’t play his first game for the Wildcats for several more months, but he’s already helping out the program.

Five-star recruits Trae Young and Jarred Vanderbilt said Fox, who has been on UK’s campus for a few weeks, is already talking up the Cats.

Young picked Fox’s brain recently at Chris Paul’s basketball camp in North Carolina, and Vanderbilt is a former AAU teammate who still speaks regularly with the UK newcomer.

“He told me he loves it up there,” Vanderbilt said. “He loves everything. The culture, the fans, the basketball. Just the school, in general.”

Ben Roberts: 859-231-3216, @NextCats

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