As this spring recruiting season has progressed, perhaps no five-star basketball prospect has emerged as more of a possible UK commitment than Atlanta area standout Brandon Boston Jr.
Last month, national recruiting experts Andrew Slater and Jerry Meyer both logged predictions in favor of the Wildcats on Boston’s 247Sports Crystal Ball page.
Last week, Rivals.com national analyst Corey Evans put in a pro-UK pick for Boston.
The Cats still have some stiff competition — Auburn, Duke and Florida are his other finalists — but John Calipari’s program appears well-positioned heading into the summer.
“I don’t think it’s a definite, whatsoever,” Evans told the Herald-Leader. “I think it’s moreso that Cal has really made him a priority. And any time Cal and his staff makes a guy a priority this early in the process, it means something. And they took notice of that. And not that Duke and Auburn and Florida haven’t (made him a priority). I think Florida’s done a great job of it, as well.
“Right now, I think it’s more Kentucky-Florida, but I think Kentucky has a lot of momentum headed in their direction.”
Boston — a 6-foot-7 guard from the same Georgia high school that produced Jodie Meeks — is one of the highest-ranked players in attendance at this week’s NBPA Top 100 Camp. He didn’t shed much new light on his recruitment during a short media session at the camp, but Boston did display flashes of his five-star ability during the first few games at the showcase.
Much of that production came from a lesser-known aspect of his game. Long billed as one of the top scorers in the 2020 class — and he is — Boston showed off his play-making ability with creative, crisp passes and solid awareness in ball-handling situations.
On the Nike circuit, he plays alongside Sharife Cooper — another UK target and the best high school point guard in the country — and that pairing limits Boston’s own play-making opportunities. He’s been able to show a little bit more this week.
“I think he’s a great passer, a great facilitator,” Evans said. “I know he’s next to a guy like Sharife Cooper who has to be on the ball a little more, so it’s difficult to see what Brandon really does.”
Partly due to his long, lanky frame and unique scoring ability, Boston has often been compared to Brandon Ingram, a former five-star recruit who ended up at Duke for one season and now starts for the Los Angeles Lakers.
“You always worry about comparisons,” Evans said. “But the thing about Brandon Ingram, too, is he was an underrated play-maker and passer. So I think that’s really what Brandon wants to do. I think he wants to be a play-making kind of guy — a passer, distributor — and also a scorer. And that just makes him that much better.
“I think, once he gets to college, people are going to begin to envision what we see in him. More than just a 15-, 18-point-per-game scorer, but also a four- or five-assist-per game guy.”
Boston said he’s comfortable playing the ‘1’ through ‘3’ positions and said UK’s coaching staff — which often compares recruits to other players from the Calipari era — hasn’t mentioned any former Wildcat that Boston reminds them of. “I believe I’m more unique when it comes to (comparisons). I really haven’t seen a guy like me in a couple of years,” he said.
Rivals.com placed Boston at No. 10 nationally in its new batch of 2020 rankings released last week, and he’s continued to cement his standing as one of the country’s best offensive prospects with his performances on the highly competitive Nike circuit this spring.
Playing alongside Cooper, who’s averaging a league-high 21 shot attempts per game, Boston is putting up 22.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and 2.0 steals per contest. He was named the most valuable player at the most recent Nike stop in Dallas.
Another impressive weapon in his scoring arsenal has been his ability to get to the foul line.
Boston is averaging more than seven free-throw attempts per game — only five players in the 40-team Nike league have had more — and he’s converting those freebies at a 77.4 percent rate. In his first game at Top 100 Camp on Wednesday night, Boston used an array of offensive moves and angles to draw several fouls.
“He has that wiggle to him,” Evans said. “He has that ability to get downhill with the ball. And you wish he was stronger, because he doesn’t handle contact great. But he also sells it well. To where it’s like, ‘Foul call. Foul call.’ And he does a great job of it. His ability to get to his spots on the floor, and his ball skills, and his kind of innate toughness — put it all together, and that’s why he does what he does.”
Boston said he doesn’t have any timetable for a college commitment, though he once again praised Kentucky and looked back fondly on his February recruiting visit to Lexington.
For the time being, he’ll continue to hone his game and work on adding muscle to his frame. And he’ll continue to show college coaches that he’s more than just a scorer.
“I tell ‘em all off-hand I can play the ‘1’ through the ‘3’, and they know that. … You gotta be versatile to play in the NBA.”