UK Recruiting

No. 1-ranked basketball recruit visits UK this week. Do the Cats have a real chance?

Charles Barkley pays John Calipari a postgame visit

Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari kids around with Charles Barkley after UK’s 82-80 win at Auburn on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, at Auburn Arena. Calipari gave credit to Tyler Herro’s aggressiveness in the win.
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Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari kids around with Charles Barkley after UK’s 82-80 win at Auburn on Saturday, Jan. 19, 2019, at Auburn Arena. Calipari gave credit to Tyler Herro’s aggressiveness in the win.

The battle for the No. 1 ranking among basketball recruits in the class of 2019 was shaken up in November with the reclassification of Anthony Edwards, a gifted scorer from the Atlanta area who decided he needed just one more season of high school before jumping to the next level.

On the same day that Edwards’ move to the 2019 class became public, 247Sports moved him to the top spot in its national rankings.

There’s still a chance he could be a Kentucky Wildcat in the future.

Edwards was scheduled to begin his official visit to UK on Monday, and he’ll be in Rupp Arena for the Wildcats’ home game against nationally ranked Mississippi State on Tuesday night.

The 6-foot-5 prospect lists UK among five finalists in his recruitment, and this will be an important 48 hours in John Calipari’s quest to land the highly touted recruit that 247Sports still ranks as the best in the country.

“He has all the physical tools that you look for in a shooting guard prospect — size, strength, athleticism,” said 247Sports national analyst Evan Daniels, who evaluated Edwards again this past weekend at the Hoophall Classic in Massachusetts. “He’s really developed as a scorer. His shot continues to improve. And he’s an elite-level athlete with the tools to be a two-way player. I think he has tremendous upside.

“I think he has the most upside of the (2019) prospects. I think James Wiseman is a very good prospect, too. We wouldn’t have put Edwards at No. 1 if we didn’t feel good about it. That said, the race for No. 1 in 2019 isn’t over until after the high school all-star games, and James Wiseman is having a really good senior season. So we’ll see how it plays out.”

Daniels and his 247Sports colleagues bumped Wiseman, a former UK target, from the No. 1 spot in the rankings — on the same day that the 7-footer committed to Memphis — to make room for Edwards, who had a stellar summer on the Under Armour and camp circuits.

He hasn’t disappointed in his final season of high school ball, averaging about 25 points, eight rebounds and six assists per game and continuing to prove his ability as a high-impact scorer with high-level potential on the defensive end. (He also shot 45 percent from three-point range in Under Armour play over the summer).

The four schools joining Kentucky on Edwards’ list include two other blue bloods (Kansas and North Carolina) and two programs that have been recruiting him since his early high school days (Florida State and Georgia).

It’s the two non-blue bloods that are getting the most buzz so far.

FSU was long seen as the favorite in Edwards’ recruitment before his decision to reclassify to 2019 — and the Seminoles still have a majority of picks on his 247Sports Crystal Ball page — while Georgia landed his first official visit in early December and has picked up a couple of recent picks from national analysts over at Rivals.com.

Daniels is unsure of Kentucky’s chances at this juncture.

“I don’t know that we know yet,” he said. “Heading into the visit, I would probably handicap it that Florida State and Georgia would be the schools out front. But I’ve been told that he’s really considering these other schools, and I guess we’ll see how it all plays out after he visits Kentucky and Kansas.”

The official visit to Kansas will come on the weekend of Feb. 9.

Daniels acknowledged that he didn’t think Edwards would take the time to visit Lexington and Lawrence if the Cats and Jayhawks didn’t have a legitimate chance to land his commitment. It’s also worth noting that Daniels rescinded an earlier prediction for Florida State — changing his pick on to “foggy” — in late November.

Edwards told reporters at the Hoophall Classic over the weekend that he was planning to wait on a college announcement until after the McDonald’s All-American Game — set for March 27 in his hometown of Atlanta — but fans of the five schools he’s still considering might get an answer before then.

“I would be surprised if he waited that long,” Daniels said Sunday. “It’s certainly possible, but I would be surprised.”

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