Justus: Goal is to identify players who see Kentucky as ultimate destination
The atmosphere in Rupp Arena for UK’s dismantling of No. 1-ranked Tennessee on Saturday night was easily the most raucous of the season, a dream scene for recruits who are continually being told of the power and passion of the Wildcats’ fan base.
The visitors that night included Kentucky commitment Dontaie Allen, undecided five-star prospect Keion Brooks and a couple of younger players on UK’s recruiting radar.
Originally on the guest list — but unable to make the trip Saturday night — was five-star shooting guard Brandon “BJ” Boston, one of the top-ranked recruits in the class of 2020. The Herald-Leader was told earlier in the week that the new plan is for Boston to visit Lexington this coming weekend, a trip that would coincide with the Cats’ home game against Auburn on Saturday.
Getting the highly touted perimeter player on campus early in the process would be a major plus for UK, which has clearly pinpointed Boston as one of its top 2020 targets moving forward.
“He has plus size for the position, good length, impressive athletic ability and can really score the basketball,” 247Sports national analyst Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader. “When you’re his size and can get to the rim, create off the bounce and make long-range jump shots, it’s pretty impressive. And he can do all of that.”
Boston, who turned 17 years old in late November, was measured at 6-7 at the USA Basketball training camp in October and has plenty of skill to go with that size.
Daniels said he’s “certainly” one of the best perimeter scorers in the country, regardless of class. He often puts up big numbers for his Norcross (Ga.) high school team — that’s Jodie Meeks’ alma mater — and Boston averaged 14.9 points per game on the Nike circuit this past summer, despite playing alongside two other top 50 national recruits: Auburn signee Isaac Okoro and UK point guard target Sharife Cooper.
Boston’s head coach with the AOT Running Rebels on the Nike circuit is Sharife’s father, Omar Cooper, who has been watching Boston grow into a five-star player over the past few years.
“Brandon is tough, man. He’s electric. The word ‘electric’ comes to mind,” Cooper told the Herald-Leader. “He’s energetic, electric — just a bottle of lightning. I really love BJ’s game. It’s incredible. He can do it all. He can score off the ball, can score on the ball. He can finish you at the rim. He can finish you with the pull-up. He can finish you with his range. He scores at all three levels. And he’s really light and quick with the ball in his hands.”
Cooper said his son — who also might be in Lexington for this weekend’s game — and Boston had actually been working out together the previous day and are looking forward to teaming up again on the Nike circuit this spring. Their AOT squad will likely be among the most-watched by John Calipari and his assistant coaches.
“He’s improved on everything,” Cooper said of Boston’s growth through the years. “He’s always been a good player, but you don’t know which way these kids are going to go. You don’t know if they’re going to stay humble and stay working or feel like they’ve made it already. That’s one thing I would say about BJ and Sharife — they’re two of the hardest-working people that I know. They really, really work.”
Boston is the No. 9 overall player in the 2020 class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, and he’s ranked No. 7 in that group by both Rivals.com and ESPN. “He’s headed in a really good direction,” Daniels said. “He’s oozing with potential and upside, and he has all the natural tools and offensive gifts.”
He’s also turning in to one of the most coveted recruits in the 2020 class.
Boston’s long list of scholarship offers includes Duke, Kansas, UCLA, Florida, Ohio State, Auburn, home-state Georgia and many more, and it won’t be a surprise if he adds Kentucky to that list in the near future.
There are already some early predictions in Duke’s favor on Boston’s 247Sports Crystal Ball page, but there’s still plenty of time for UK to make an impression on the five-star prospect.
“He’s obviously jumped into the recruiting process, but — in terms of a favorite or anything like that — I don’t know who it would be,” Daniels said.