With plenty of recruiting still left to do to close out the 2019 cycle, UK is making sure it doesn’t get left behind with the top basketball prospects in the class of 2020.
The Herald-Leader’s Next Cats recruiting page dedicated to the Wildcats’ top targets in the junior class has been updated with bio information and the latest rankings, video highlights and more for 20 players from the 2020 class that have continued to draw interest from Kentucky.
The Cats have already extended scholarship offers to five of the top 10 juniors in the 247Sports composite rankings — as well as two other class of 2020 prospects — and more offers are likely coming soon with the high school season entering its final couple of months and another round of travel ball set to begin in April.
The Next Cats 2020 page online will be updated regularly with the latest information on UK’s targets for that class, and new players will be added as the recruiting cycle continues and the Wildcats’ interest picks up.
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Offers so far
Florida wing Scottie Barnes became the first class of 2020 prospect to land a scholarship offer from UK Coach John Calipari back in April — “For him to offer me, it’s a blessing,” Barnes told the Herald-Leader at the time — and six of his classmates have joined him in the months since.
The other juniors with confirmed offers from the Cats are California shooting guard Jalen Green, Wisconsin forward Jalen Johnson, Texas combo guard RJ Hampton, Mali center N’Faly Dante (he plays for a high school in Kansas), Virginia point guard Jeremy Roach and Georgia point guard Sharife Cooper.
Several others are in line for a UK offer down the road, and Georgia shooting guard Brandon Boston could be the next to join that list. Boston — a 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Atlanta — is the No. 10 overall player in the 2020 class and has scheduled a recruiting visit to Kentucky for Feb. 16. Duke, Kansas, Florida, Auburn and Ohio State are all among the schools that have already extended Boston a scholarship offer.
No. 1 in 2020
Unless there’s an unexpected shakeup in the coaching ranks, don’t expect a UK scholarship offer for the No. 1 player in the 247Sports composite rankings for the class of 2020.
That designation belongs to California big man Evan Mobley, who is expected to ultimately commit to Southern Cal. Mobley — a 6-11 prospect — is the son of USC assistant coach Eric Mobley and the younger brother of Trojans signee Isaiah Mobley, a five-star recruit in the 2019 class. Evan Mobley is widely viewed by national analysts as a future USC player, as well.
There’s still some time for a player like Dontaie Allen to emerge in the 2020 class, but it’s not looking like UK will land any in-state prospects from this group.
Of the top 250 players in the 247Sports composite rankings for the class of 2020, only one — Louisville native Justin Powell — is from Kentucky, and he plays his high school ball for Montverde Academy in Florida. Powell, a 6-foot-5 shooting guard, is the No. 191 overall player in the composite rankings, though he’s No. 82 nationally on 247Sports’ in-house list and already holds scholarship offers from several Southeastern Conference schools.
There has been no reported contact between UK and Powell, who previously played for Louisville Trinity.
It’s obviously early, but a few of the 2020 recruits who have already earned UK scholarship offers have also already attracted predictions from national analysts.
▪ National recruiting expert Andrew Slater has logged a Crystal Ball pick in favor of Oregon for Scottie Barnes, the first 2020 recruit to land a UK offer.
▪ Slater and 247Sports national analysts Evan Daniels, Jerry Meyer and Josh Gershon are all predicting Auburn for Sharife Cooper, though all of those picks were made more than six months ago. Rivals.com national analyst Corey Evans also has a FutureCast prediction in favor of Auburn from September.
▪ Daniels logged a Crystal Ball prediction in favor of Louisiana State for N’Faly Dante over the summer, and Slater put in a pick for Oregon on Dante’s page in October.
▪ Meyer and Slater both have Duke picked for RJ Hampton.
▪ Meyer and Slater both have Kentucky as the prediction for point guard Jeremy Roach, though Daniels has a more recent pick in favor of Villanova on Roach’s Crystal Ball page. Evans is also predicting Villanova.
UK target Anthony Edwards announced a couple of months ago that he was moving from the 2020 class to the 2019 class, and he likely won’t be the last to make that jump.
Of the seven high school juniors with early scholarship offers from Kentucky, three — N’Faly Dante, Jalen Green and RJ Hampton — have been repeatedly mentioned in recruiting circles as possible reclassification candidates.
Hampton, who turns 18 years old next month, said before the season started that he planned to stick in 2020, but his father told the Memphis Commercial Appeal last week that the five-star guard is still taking the necessary classes that would allow him to move to 2019.
Green doesn’t turn 17 years old until next month, making him an unlikely candidate for reclassification, but he acknowledged in the fall that he has considered the move.
Dante — a near 7-footer from Mali — might be of the most immediate interest to UK if he chooses to move to the 2019 class. The Cats will likely need more frontcourt help next season, but Dante has not yet said if he plans to play another year of high school ball before heading to college.
All three of those players are set to play on the Nike EYBL circuit this spring, and recruiting analysts — and college coaches — will be keeping close tabs on their future plans.