Matthew Mitchell has often been the star of the show at Big Blue Madness in recent years, thanks to dance moves and celebrity musician impressions that entertain the Rupp Arena crowd.
But Mitchell, like his counterpart John Calipari, also uses the season-opening event as a major recruiting tool.
That will be the case again this weekend, as Mitchell — looking to bolster the future of the UK women’s basketball program after a spate of transfers and dismissals over the past year — is scheduled to host several talented recruits who could end up as Wildcats.
This year’s Madness guest list includes about two dozen high school players.
Three of those visitors are from the class of 2017 and will be in Lexington for their official visits this weekend, three more are nationally ranked, in-state prospects from the class of 2018, and 10 others have UK scholarship offers.
The official visitors
UK has two commitments for the class of 2017 so far — three-star point guard Kameron Roach and junior-college shooting guard Amanda Paschal — but Mitchell is looking to add to that group, and three of his guests this weekend will be in town on official visits.
Dorie Harrison — a 6-foot-3 post player from Nashville — is ranked by Prospects Nation as the No. 78 overall recruit in the 2017 class. ESPN pegs her as the No. 14 post player in that group. Harrison is the younger sister of former Tennessee star Isabelle Harrison, who now plays in the WNBA.
Keondra McKinney — a 6-1 wing from Knoxville, Tenn. — is ranked by Prospects Nation as the No. 62 overall player in the class of 2017, while ESPN has her as the No. 88 recruit nationally.
Tatyana Wyatt — a 6-1 forward from Columbus, Ga. — averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds as a junior last season and is ranked as the No. 63 overall player in the 2017 class by Prospects Nation.
The class of 2018 looks to be an especially talented one for the state of Kentucky, and three local players ranked in the top 50 nationally by ESPN are expected to be at Big Blue Madness.
Harlan County’s Blair Green committed to Kentucky last month and is the Wildcats’ only pledge from the 2018 class. Green — the daughter of former UK player Debbie Hoskins Green and a friend of UK sophomore Maci Morris — picked the Cats over UCLA and is ranked by ESPN as the No. 8 wing and No. 42 overall recruit in the class of 2018. She averaged 18.9 points and 7.9 rebounds last season and also had scholarship offers from Louisville, Tennessee and Dayton.
Ashland Blazer’s Mykasa Robinson is the highest-ranked in-state player for 2018 — ESPN pegs her as the nation’s No. 4 point guard and No. 13 overall recruit — and she’ll be a major target for the Wildcats moving forward. The 5-7 player averaged 18.8 points and 6.6 rebounds last season — recording the first quadruple-double in school history in the process — but suffered a torn ACL over the summer that is likely to keep her sidelined for most of this season.
Sacred Heart’s Grace Berger — a 6-foot guard — averaged 14.4 points and 7.2 rebounds last season and has already received dozens of scholarship offers. Hometown Louisville, South Carolina, Michigan and Indiana are a few of the schools pursuing her. ESPN ranks Berger as the No. 46 overall player in the 2018 class.
Others with offers
Mitchell will also be hosting several out-of-state talents with early scholarship offers from the Wildcats:
Brinae Alexander — the 5-9 guard from Murfreesboro, Tenn., is ranked by ESPN as the No. 47 overall recruit in the class of 2018.
Jordyn Cambridge — the 5-8 point guard from Nashville is ranked by ESPN as the No. 39 overall recruit in the class of 2018.
Amy Dilk — the 5-9 point guard from Carmel, Ind., is ranked by ESPN as the No. 49 overall recruit in the class of 2018.
Elizabeth Dixon — the 6-3 forward from Germantown, Tenn., is ranked by ESPN as the No. 20 overall recruit in the class of 2018.
Naz Hillmon — the 6-2 recruit from Gates Mills, Ohio is ranked by ESPN as the No. 11 post player in the class of 2018.
Rhyne Howard — the 6-foot guard from Cleveland, Tenn., is ranked by ESPN as the No. 38 overall recruit in the class of 2018.
Morgan Jones — the 6-2 guard from Jonesboro, Ga., is ranked by ESPN as the No. 19 overall recruit in the class of 2018.
Victaria Saxton — the 6-1 forward from Rome, Ga., is ranked by ESPN as the No. 52 overall recruit in the class of 2018.
Blake Smith — the 6-3 post player from Carmel, Ind., is a high school teammate of fellow Madness visitor Amy Dilk and recently joined the Kentucky Premier AAU program.
Jayla Hemingway — the 5-9 guard from Collierville, Tenn., is ranked by Prospects Nation as the No. 8 overall prospect in the class of 2019.
▪ UK will also host several other recruits from the classes of 2018, 2019 and 2020 who are still being evaluated for possible scholarship offers.
Big Blue Madness
When: 7 p.m. (doors open at 5:30)
Where: Rupp Arena
TV: SEC Network
Tickets: Sold out