UK Recruiting

A full history of every Big Blue Madness recruiting visitor in the Calipari era

The excitement of Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena

Rupp Arena was filled with UK basketball fans as the men’s and women’s basketball teams held their first open practice of the season at the Big Blue Madness event in Rupp Arena on October 13.
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Rupp Arena was filled with UK basketball fans as the men’s and women’s basketball teams held their first open practice of the season at the Big Blue Madness event in Rupp Arena on October 13.

The Rupp Arena stands will fill in Friday night for the 10th Big Blue Madness of the John Calipari era, and this event more than any other on the UK basketball calendar has become synonymous with recruiting.

That’s expected to be the case again this year. The tentative guest list includes all three of the Cats’ early commitments — Dontaie Allen, Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney — plus official visits from top-10 national recruits Vernon Carey and RJ Hampton, as well as visits from several other highly touted players from the high school ranks.

Calipari’s list of visitors will be finalized later in the week, and those recruiting guests will no doubt be seen walking across the Rupp floor to take their courtside seats behind the Kentucky bench at some point Friday night.

Until then, here’s a look back at the 66 players who have visited for Big Blue Madness on Calipari’s watch, along with the result of their recruitment and where they went from there.

(Note: *-Committed to UK before Madness | ^-Committed to UK after Madness)

2017: Year Nine

Bol Bol (senior): Well-traveled Kansas post player — and son of former NBA star Manute Bol — had an on-again, off-again relationship with the UK coaching staff that took a bit of a hit when he was cut from Calipari’s USA Basketball team the previous summer. Bol came to Lexington for his visit, but he never seemed like a major UK target down the stretch. He ultimately committed to Oregon and will be a freshman there this season. 247Sports ranked him as the No. 4 player in the class of 2018.

Darius Garland (senior): Nashville point guard who grew up in Indiana visited UK for Madness last fall, but Kentucky was never regarded as a likely landing spot in his recruitment. He ultimately committed to hometown Vanderbilt and will be a freshman there this season. 247Sports ranked him as the No. 11 player in the class of 2018.

Zion Williamson (senior): Spartanburg, S.C., forward was the main recruiting attraction at last year’s Madness, posing for pictures with UK fans outside Rupp before the event. Williamson’s high-flying exploits on the court made him a YouTube sensation long before his senior season of high school. His recruitment was expected to come down to Clemson and Kentucky at one point, but he ultimately chose Duke. 247Sports ranked him as the No. 7 player in the class of 2018.

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James Wiseman is ranked as the No. 1 basketball recruit in the class of 2019. Doug McSchooler

Keion Brooks (junior): Fort Wayne, Ind., small forward is still uncommitted and has narrowed his recruitment to UK, Indiana, Michigan State, North Carolina, Purdue and UCLA. He’s actually expected to be back in Lexington in two weeks for his official visit to UK. 247Sports ranks him as the No. 12 player in the class of 2019.

DJ Jeffries (junior): Memphis area forward committed to Kentucky in March — a few months after his Madness visit — but he later became the first player in the Calipari era to decommit from Kentucky. His recruitment now appears to be a Memphis vs. Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss battle. 247Sports ranks him as the No. 68 player in the class of 2019.

Tyrese Maxey^ (junior): Texas point guard joined Kentucky’s 2019 recruiting class as an early commitment over the summer, and he’s emerged as a vocal recruiter on the Wildcats’ behalf. He took his official visit to UK last month and will be back in Rupp this weekend to help Calipari recruit some more. 247Sports ranks him as the No. 10 player in the class of 2019.

James Wiseman (junior): Nashville post player — now playing for a high school in Memphis — was the first player from the 2019 class to land a UK scholarship offer and has remained at the top of Calipari’s recruiting wish list ever since. He took an official visit to UK last month and is also considering Florida State, Kansas, Memphis and Vanderbilt (with the Tigers looking like UK’s main competition). Wiseman is scheduled to take an official visit to Vandy this weekend, but it wouldn’t be a complete shocker to see him pop up in Rupp ahead of that trip. 247Sports ranks him as the No. 1 player in the class of 2019.

Jaemyn Brakefield (sophomore): Huntington Prep (W.Va.) forward remains on UK’s radar for the class of 2020, though he does not have a confirmed scholarship offer from the Wildcats just yet. 247Sports ranks him as the No. 20 player in the class of 2020.

Jalen Johnson (sophomore): Milwaukee forward became one of the first players in the 2020 class to land a scholarship offer from Calipari earlier this month. Duke, Kansas and Arizona are among his other early offers, and he’s expected to be in Durham for the Blue Devils’ midnight madness event in a couple weeks. 247Sports ranks him as the No. 6 player in the class of 2020.

Zion Harmon (freshman): Marshall County guard has been a well-known prospect in the state of Kentucky since helping Bowling Green win a state title as an eighth-grader two seasons ago. He played last season at Adair County and is still awaiting word from the KHSAA on his eligibility for his sophomore year after transferring to Marshall County. Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 15 player in the class of 2021.

UK basketball commitment Tyrese Maxey talks about who he's recruiting to join him at Kentucky, and what he's telling other recruits in the 2019 class.

2016: Year Eight

Quade Green^ (senior): Philadelphia point guard committed to Kentucky about three weeks after his visit to Big Blue Madness, picking the Cats over Syracuse. He began last season as the Cats’ starting point guard and is back for his sophomore year. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 24 player in the class of 2017.

Kevin Knox^ (senior): Tampa, Fla., small forward visited UK for Madness and then waited nearly seven months to announce his commitment, pulling a surprise and pledging to the Wildcats on Kentucky Derby Day in May. He ended up being the highest-rated player in UK’s signing class of 2017, ranked No. 10 nationally by Scout.com. Knox was the No. 9 overall pick in this year’s NBA Draft.

Nick Richards^ (senior): Queens, N.Y., post player visited Big Blue Madness and then became UK’s first commitment for the class of 2017 nearly three weeks later. He started every game for UK last season and is back for his sophomore year. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 17 player in the class of 2017.

PJ Washington^ (senior): Findlay Prep (Nev.) forward committed to Kentucky a few hours after Richards, becoming the Cats’ second commitment for 2017 about three weeks after his Madness visit. Washington was a key player on last season’s team and is back for his sophomore year. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 15 player in the class of 2017.

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Mohamed Bamba (senior): Harlem, N.Y., post player was one of the most coveted players in the country, and Kentucky looked to be in a good position in his recruitment before he ultimately committed to Texas in June, more than seven months after his Madness visit. Bamba’s trip to Lexington for the event two years ago was also a major surprise, and his plans went unreported until just a few minutes before he stepped into Rupp Arena. He was the No. 6 pick in this year’s draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 4 player in the class of 2017.

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Immanuel Quickley spun a basketball on his fingertip during the Kentucky men’s basketball team photo day held Thursday afternoon in Memorial Coliseum. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

Trae Young (senior): Norman, Okla., point guard was long thought to be UK’s top target at the position, but Green committed first and Young ultimately picked hometown Oklahoma. He also visited Big Blue Madness in 2015. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 25 player in the class of 2017, but he had a terrific season with the Sooners and was selected with the No. 5 pick in the 2018 draft.

Immanuel Quickley^ (junior): Baltimore-area point guard attended Big Blue Madness two years ago and became UK’s first commitment for the class of 2018 last fall. 247Sports ranked him as the No. 19 player in the class of 2018.

Romeo Langford (junior): New Albany, Ind., shooting guard ultimately picked Indiana. 247Sports ranked him as the No. 5 player in the class of 2018.

Cameron Reddish (junior): Philadelphia-area small forward visited Madness last year and was one of UK’s top recruiting targets until he committed to Duke last fall. 247Sports ranked him as the No. 3 player in the class of 2018.

Christian Brown (sophomore): South Carolina small forward is the No. 69 overall recruit in the class of 2019, according to 247Sports. UK is no longer recruiting him.

Ashton Hagans^ (sophomore): Georgia point guard committed to UK last spring and made the move from the class of 2019 to the class of 2018 so he could play college basketball right away this season. 247Sports ranked him as the No. 12 player in 2018.

Trendon Watford (sophomore): Alabama small forward is the No. 36 overall recruit in the class of 2019, according to 247Sports. UK is no longer recruiting him.

2015: Year Seven

Sacha Killeya-Jones* (senior): Chapel Hill, N.C., power forward visited UK for Big Blue Madness about two months after his commitment to the Wildcats. He transferred from UK after his sophomore season earlier this year and will finish his college career at North Carolina State. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 27 player in the class of 2016.

De’Aaron Fox^ (senior): Katy, Texas, point guard came to Big Blue Madness for his official visit and ended up committing to Kentucky a little less than a month later. Fox averaged 16.7 points and 4.6 assists per game as a freshman last season and was chosen with the No. 5 overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 6 player in the class of 2016.

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Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox both committed to UK after attending Big Blue Madness in 2015. Charles Bertram cbertram@herald-leader.com

Malik Monk^ (senior): Lepanto, Ark., shooting guard also took an official visit to Big Blue Madness and committed to Kentucky the next month, a little less than a week after Fox announced his commitment. Monk was the Cats’ leading scorer last season (19.7 points per game) and was picked No. 11 overall in the 2017 NBA Draft. He was ranked by Scout.com as the No. 13 player in the class of 2016.

Harry Giles (senior): Winston-Salem, N.C., post player made his second trip to Big Blue Madness — this time on an official visit — but ended up committing to Duke about three weeks later. Giles had an injury-riddled freshman season at Duke before being selected with the No. 20 pick in last year’s draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 2 player in the class of 2016.

John Petty (junior): Huntsville, Ala., wing was one of UK’s top targets in the class of 2017 before announcing his commitment to Alabama early in his senior season. He’ll be a sophomore for the Crimson Tide this season. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 46 overall player in the class of 2017.

Gary Trent Jr. (junior): Apple Valley, Minn., shooting guard earned a scholarship offer from UK early in his recruitment, but the Wildcats stopped pursuing him the summer before his senior season. He signed with Duke and was the No. 37 pick in this year’s draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 21 player in the 2017 class.

Kris Wilkes (junior): Indianapolis forward visited UK multiple times, but the Wildcats never extended a scholarship offer. Wilkes will be a sophomore at UCLA this season. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 18 player in the class of 2017.

Trae Young (junior): see above.

2014: Year Six

Charles Matthews* (senior): Chicago wing player came to Rupp Arena for Big Blue Madness a little less than eight months after his commitment to the Wildcats. He averaged 1.7 points and 1.6 rebounds as a freshman before deciding to transfer to Michigan, where he went to a national championship game this past season. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 80 overall prospect in the class of 2015.

Jaylen Brown (senior): Marietta, Ga., small forward emerged as arguably UK’s top recruiting target late in the 2015 cycle before ultimately committing to California in May. He was the No. 3 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 4 overall prospect in the class of 2015.

Carlton Bragg (senior): Cleveland forward made multiple recruiting visits to Kentucky but ended up committing to Kansas, where he played two seasons. Bragg has since transferred to Arizona State and then New Mexico. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 35 overall prospect in the class of 2015.

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Drake was on hand for Big Blue Madness in 2014. Herald-Leader Herald-Leader

Brandon Ingram (senior): Kinston, N.C., forward was one of the breakout stars during the 2014-15 high school season and committed to Duke over Kentucky and others in April. Ingram was the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 3 overall prospect in the class of 2015.

Malik Newman (senior): Jackson, Miss., combo guard was long one of Calipari’s top recruiting targets, but he ended up committing to Mississippi State — his father’s alma mater — over Kentucky following his senior season. Newman had a so-so freshman season at MSU and transferred to Kansas, where he was back on the court last season before going undrafted this year. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 10 overall prospect in the class of 2015.

Stephen Zimmerman (senior): Las Vegas center was thought to be leaning toward Kentucky by many recruiting observers, but he committed to hometown UNLV in April of his senior year. Zimmerman was selected by the Orlando Magic with the No. 41 overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 8 overall prospect in the class of 2015.

Tyus Battle (junior): Gladstone, N.J., shooting guard committed to Michigan, then backed off of that pledge and committed to Syracuse. He’ll be a junior with the Orange this season. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 33 overall prospect in the class of 2016.

2013: Year Five

Karl-Anthony Towns* (senior): Metuchen, N.J., center returned to Rupp Arena for his second Big Blue Madness more than 10 months after announcing his commitment to Kentucky. Towns averaged 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 blocked shots as a freshman and was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 4 overall prospect in the class of 2014.

Tyler Ulis* (senior): Chicago point guard attended Madness a month after his commitment to UK. He averaged 5.6 points and 3.6 assists as a freshman, blossomed into a star as a sophomore and was picked by the Phoenix Suns with the No. 34 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 20 overall prospect in the class of 2014.

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A little more than a year after winning a national title, Anthony Davis was back in Rupp Arena for Big Blue Madness 2013. Amy Wallot Herald-Leader

Trey Lyles^ (senior): Indianapolis power forward attended Madness for the second year in a row and committed to the Wildcats three weeks later. Lyles averaged 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game as a freshman and was selected with the No. 12 overall pick in the 2015 draft. He played two seasons with the Utah Jazz and is now with the Denver Nuggets. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 11 overall prospect in the class of 2014.

Stanley Johnson (senior): Fullerton, Calif., small forward committed to Arizona about a month after his Madness visit. Johnson averaged 13.8 points and 6.5 rebounds a freshman and was selected by the Detroit Pistons with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2015 draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 3 overall prospect in the class of 2014.

James Blackmon Jr. (senior): Marion, Ind., shooting guard committed to Indiana two weeks after his Madness visit. He averaged 15.7 points per game and made 38.7 percent of his three-pointers as a freshman but was injured during his sophomore season. Blackmon played one more season with the Hoosiers and signed with the Philadelphia 76ers as an undrafted free agent last year. Scout.com ranked Blackmon as the No. 32 overall prospect in the class of 2014.

Eric Davis (junior): Saginaw, Mich., guard did not receive a UK scholarship offer and ended up committing to Texas, where he played three seasons. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 53 overall prospect in the class of 2015.

Harry Giles (sophomore): Winston-Salem, N.C., power forward received a scholarship offer from Kentucky before his sophomore year of high school and was recovering from knee surgery and on crutches during his visit to Madness 2013. He eventually signed with Duke. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 1 overall prospect in the class of 2016.

Quentin Goodin (sophomore): Campbellsville, Ky., point guard did not receive a UK scholarship offer and ultimately signed with Xavier, where he will be a junior this season. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 68 overall prospect in the class of 2016.

Joshua Langford (sophomore): Madison, Ala., shooting guard ultimately signed with Michigan State, where he’ll be a junior this season. He was the No. 24 overall prospect in the class of 2016, per Scout.com.

Kobi Simmons (sophomore): Alpharetta, Ga., shooting guard ultimately signed with Arizona, where he averaged 8.7 points per game as a freshman. He went undrafted as a one-and-done player last year and is now with the Cavaliers. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 18 overall prospect in the class of 2016.

Jayson Tatum (sophomore): St. Louis small forward was the first player from his class to earn a UK scholarship offer. He ultimately signed with Duke as was the No. 3 pick in last year’s NBA Draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 4 overall prospect in the class of 2016.

Brian Bowen (freshman): Saginaw, Mich., small forward never received a scholarship offer from Kentucky and committed to Louisville last year. He never played for the Cardinals as a result of the federal investigation into college basketball. Bowen transferred to South Carolina, though he never played for the Gamecocks either, and he then signed to play professionally in Australia. His father testified about his recruitment in federal court last week. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 19 overall prospect in the class of 2017.

2012: Year Four

Andrew Harrison* (senior): Richmond, Texas, point guard made his second straight visit to Big Blue Madness. Harrison averaged 10.1 points and 3.8 assists in two seasons at UK and was selected with the No. 44 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 5 overall prospect in the class of 2013.

Aaron Harrison* (senior): Richmond, Texas, shooting guard made his second straight visit to Big Blue Madness. Harrison averaged 12.4 points in two seasons at UK but was not selected in the 2015 draft. He later signed a contract with the Charlotte Hornets. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 6 overall prospect in the class of 2013.

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John Calipari hugged former UK coach Joe B. Hall, during Big Blue Madness in 2012. Mark Cornelison Herald-Leader

James Young* (senior): Detroit-area wing made the visit to Madness just a few days after announcing his commitment to Kentucky. He averaged 14.3 points per game as a freshman and was selected by the Boston Celtics with the No. 17 overall pick in the 2014 draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 11 overall prospect in the class of 2013.

Derek Willis* (senior): Mt. Washington, Ky., forward had been committed to Kentucky for nearly a year when he made the trip to Madness. He graduated from UK last year and signed a one-year contract with the Detroit Pistons. Scout.com ranked him as a three-star prospect.

Marcus Lee^ (senior): Antioch, Calif., power forward made his first visit to Lexington for Big Blue Madness. He committed to the Wildcats six days later. Lee played three seasons with UK but then transferred to California, where he played his final season of college basketball in 2017-18. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 24 overall prospect in the class of 2013.

Karl-Anthony Towns^ (junior): see above

Trey Lyles^ (junior): see above

JaQuan Lyle (junior): Evansville, Ind., guard did not have a UK offer when he attended Big Blue Madness and did not get one during his recruitment. Lyle committed to Louisville in 2013 before backing out of that pledge a few weeks later. He later signed with Oregon but never played for the school. He ended up playing two seasons for Ohio State. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 49 overall prospect in the class of 2015.

Cliff Alexander (junior): Chicago power forward was one of UK’s top targets at the time of his visit. The Cats backed out of his recruitment midway through the 2014 cycle and he eventually committed to Kansas, where he was forced to sit out the end of his freshman season due to an NCAA investigation. Alexander went undrafted in 2015. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 6 overall prospect in the class of 2014, and he was the Naismith high school player of the year that season.

2011: Year Three

Archie Goodwin* (senior): Little Rock, Ark., shooting guard was the only UK commitment among seven visitors for Big Blue Madness six years ago. He averaged 14.1 points as a freshman before being selected with the No. 29 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 14 overall prospect in the class of 2012.

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Michael Kidd-Gilchrist greeted the crowd at Big Blue Madness in 2011. Herald-Leader

Willie Cauley-Stein^ (senior): Olathe, Kan., center committed to UK a little more than two weeks after visiting for Madness. He averaged 8.2 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocked shots in three seasons with Kentucky before being chosen by the Sacramento Kings with the 6th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 48 overall prospect in the class of 2012.

Alex Poythress^ (senior): Clarksville, Tenn., forward committed to UK less than a month after visiting for Madness. He completed his Kentucky career three seasons ago, was not selected in the 2016 NBA Draft but later signed a free-agent deal with the Indiana Pacers. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 7 overall prospect in the class of 2012.

Dajuan Coleman (senior): Syracuse, N.Y., post player committed to the hometown Orange less than two weeks after visiting Lexington for Madness. He averaged 4.8 points and 4.0 rebounds as a freshman, and his college career was riddled with injuries. He was granted a final season of eligibility at Syracuse for 2016-17. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 19 overall prospect in the class of 2012.

Shabazz Muhammad (senior): Las Vegas small forward was one of the most high-profile Madness visitors in the Calipari era. He eventually committed to UCLA after his senior season. Muhammad averaged 17.9 points as a freshman before being selected with the No. 14 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 2 overall prospect in the class of 2012.

Andrew Harrison^ (junior): see above

Aaron Harrison^ (junior): see above

2010: Year Two

Anthony Davis* (senior): Chicago post player was already committed at the time of his Madness visit. He averaged 14.2 points, 10.4 rebounds, blocked 186 shots and won several National Player of the Year honors as a freshman before being selected by the New Orleans Pelicans with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2011.

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Anthony Davis returned to Kentucky for Big Blue Madness 2015. James Crisp AP

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist* (senior): Elizabeth, N.J., forward was already committed at the time of his Madness visit. He averaged 11.9 points and 7.4 rebounds as a freshman before being selected by the Charlotte Hornets with the No. 2 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 6 overall prospect in the class of 2011.

Marquis Teague* (senior): Indianapolis point guard was already committed at the time of his Madness visit. He averaged 10.0 points and 4.8 assists as a freshman before being selected with the No. 29 overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He has played for the Chicago Bulls and Brooklyn Nets and spent parts of the last few seasons with various NBA G League teams. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 8 overall prospect in the class of 2011.

Kyle Wiltjer* (senior): Portland, Ore., forward was already committed at the time of his Madness visit. He averaged 5.0 points as a freshman and 10.2 points as a sophomore before announcing his transfer to Gonzaga. Wiltjer finished his career with the Bulldogs three seasons ago, was not drafted last year but eventually signed with the Houston Rockets. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 24 overall prospect in the class of 2011.

2009: Year One

Tobias Harris (senior): Glen Head, N.Y., forward committed to Tennessee about a month after his Madness visit. Harris averaged 15.3 points and 7.3 rebounds as a freshman before being selected with the No. 19 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 7 overall prospect in the class of 2010.

Kyrie Irving (senior): Elizabeth, N.J., point guard committed to Duke less than a week after his Madness visit. Irving averaged 17.5 points and 4.3 assists in an injury-filled freshman season before being selected with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. He won an NBA title with the Cleveland Cavaliers two seasons ago and is now with the Boston Celtics. Scout.com ranked him as the No. 2 overall prospect in the class of 2010.

Michael Kidd-Gilchrist^ (junior): see above

Achraf Yacoubou (junior): Brookville, N.Y., shooting guard committed to Villanova less than a week after his Madness visit. He averaged less than 3 points a game in both of his seasons with the Wildcats before transferring to Saint Louis following the 2012-13 season. He finished his college career with the Billikens. Scout.com ranked him as a three-star prospect.

UK basketball players serve pizza to Big Blue Madness campers outside of the Joe Craft Center.

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