UK Recruiting

Who’s next for 2020? The latest on all of Kentucky’s top basketball recruiting targets.

Jalen Green puts on a highlight reel show with dunks and three-pointers in Memorial win

The standout junior forward/guard sat out much of the fourth quarter as his teammates continued the rout of Madera South, 83-49.
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The standout junior forward/guard sat out much of the fourth quarter as his teammates continued the rout of Madera South, 83-49.

The month of July is finished, and a “quiet period” — that’s the NCAA’s name for it on the recruiting calendar — began Thursday, though things will be plenty active over the next few weeks.

From now until Sept. 9, college basketball coaches are forbidden to evaluate recruits or meet with them off campus. They’ll still be busy. This is a popular time for on-campus recruiting visits, and — coming off the various July evaluation periods — it will be an important window for UK’s coaches to decide which prospects they want to zero in on.

New scholarship offers to players in the class of 2020 are likely coming, and the Cats could even add some commitments for next season in the relatively near future.

Keeping in mind that we’re considering major UK target N’Faly Dante likely to reclassify to 2019 and play this season — that’s not official yet, but an announcement should come soon — here’s a quick look at the Cats’ top 2020 targets heading into the quiet period:

Committed

Brandon Boston: The five-star shooting guard from the Atlanta area became the Wildcats’ first commitment for 2020 with his pledge last weekend. He’s a versatile backcourt player with high upside as a scorer and the ability to play multiple positions, which should allow UK the flexibility to add more talented guards and wings to its class.

Coming soon

Cam’Ron Fletcher: The 6-foot-6 wing from St. Louis started his official visit to Kentucky on Thursday, his second recruiting trip to Lexington in the past few weeks. Though there are four other schools on his list — Alabama, Michigan State, Missouri and North Carolina — it would be a major surprise at this point if he ends up somewhere other than UK.

Lance Ware: If Fletcher isn’t the next 2020 recruit to commit to Kentucky, it’ll likely be Ware, a 6-9 power forward from Camden, N.J., who received a UK scholarship offer last weekend and has long coveted the Wildcats as a college destination. Ware would likely visit Lexington again — he was here for last year’s Big Blue Madness — before making a decision, but Kentucky is the clear favorite in his recruitment.

Looking good

Josh Christopher: By the end of the summer, the 6-4 shooting guard from the Los Angeles area might be in the “coming soon” category. He might even be committed to the Cats by then, but he’s not as close to a sure thing to Kentucky as Fletcher and Ware. His list also includes Arizona State (where his brother is a freshman this year), Michigan, Missouri and UCLA, and the Herald-Leader was told this week that hometown UCLA should be considered the Cats’ top competition, along with the possibility he teams up with his brother in Tempe. Still, UK looks like the favorite for now.

We’ll see

Jalen Green: The top-five recruit from California plays the same position as Boston and Christopher, but the three Nike league alums are close and have discussed teaming up together at the next level. They’re also different and versatile enough to make it work on the court. Memphis is Kentucky’s main competition for Green, who has also talked about the possibility of going pro straight out of high school (like his friend, RJ Hampton, is doing this season). No decision is expected until the spring.

Cliff Omoruyi: UK appears to be in good shape for the 6-10 center from Nigeria, but he has a long list of possibilities and expects to take a dozen campus visits over the next several weeks. That means a lot of uncertainty still remains in his recruitment. He is former teammates with UK freshman Kahlil Whitney, and the two have been in contact since Whitney arrived in Lexington.

Isaiah Todd: Kentucky continues to be mentioned as one of the top possibilities for Todd, who is also taking hard looks at Kansas, Maryland, Oklahoma State and several others. Like Omoruyi, there’s too much uncertainty with the 6-10 forward to name a favorite just yet. And he’ll be changing high schools again this fall for his third transfer in three years, and that can often affect recruitments. His new school, however, is Word of God Academy (N.C.), the alma mater of John Wall.

Four-star post player Cliff Omoruyi talks about his recruiting meeting with John Calipari earlier this year. He earned a UK scholarship offer during that conversation.

Question mark

Scottie Barnes: The first player from the 2020 class to land a UK scholarship offer and still one of the top prospects in his age group, Barnes hasn’t said much of note about his recruitment. Kentucky is still on his list, but there’s been little buzz around the Wildcats and the 6-7 wing, who has often been tied to Oregon and Miami, the local choice. For now, there’s a lot of guesswork in Barnes’ recruitment.

Long shots

Sharife Cooper: Brandon Boston’s travel league teammate and an early recipient of a UK scholarship offer, Cooper is one of the top point guards in the class of 2020, but he’s also widely expected to go to Auburn, the heavy favorite in his recruitment.

Cade Cunningham: UK was on his list of five schools announced Thursday night, but his brother has been hired as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State, and the word all spring was that Cunningham would end up wherever his brother did. The 6-7 point guard says his recruitment is open, but the Cowboys are still the major favorite.

Still waiting

Daishen Nix: Perhaps the best passing point guard in the 2020 class, Nix has been linked to Kentucky for several months now, but there still hasn’t been a scholarship offer. His guardian told CBS Sports a few days ago that UK would get one of his five official visits, but — unless an offer comes in the next few weeks — it seems unlikely he’ll end up in Lexington.

Cooper and Cunningham are the only other point guards on this list, so the outlook at that position will certainly be worth watching during the season. There’s always the chance someone like Immanuel Quickley returns for another year. Or UK could explore graduate transfer options after the season — a veteran point guard would likely be attracted to a situation high on playing time and talented teammates. Or perhaps another 2020 point guard will emerge; or a 2021 prospect could reclassify. There are still lots of possibilities here.

Isaiah Jackson, DJ Steward and Ziaire Williams: All were mentioned as potential UK offer recipients toward the end of the July recruiting period, though none has received one yet. Williams (a 6-7 wing) will be high school teammates with Boston this season, Jackson (a 6-9 power forward) is an especially intriguing target, while Steward (a 6-3 combo guard) cut his list to eight schools Thursday. UK wasn’t on it.

Dawson Garcia: Going into July, the 6-10 forward from Minnesota seemed among the most likely 2020 recruits to land a UK offer, but he missed the final major stop on the Adidas circuit and the USA Basketball training camp with an illness. As a result of coaches not getting to see him at those events, he’s holding off on a list cut for now. Kentucky remains a possibility.

Karim Mane: The 6-4 combo guard from Canada was linked to Kentucky earlier in the summer, but he has since learned that he’d be eligible for the NBA Draft in 2020, and he could end up going that route. There hasn’t been as much UK buzz surrounding him recently.

Makur Maker: The top-10 recruit and cousin of Thon Maker says he plans to play college ball instead of jumping straight to the pros after high school, but the Herald-Leader was recently told by someone close to that recruitment that it’s probably slightly more likely he’ll go pro instead. The Australian-based NBL could be a destination. That’s where RJ Hampton and LaMelo Ball will be this season, and recruits will be watching them. Maker also spent much of his childhood in Australia. The 7-footer could still end up in college, however, and UK has had plenty of contact this spring and summer. This one is likely to drag on awhile.

Makur Maker, the No. 2 basketball recruit in the 247Sports rankings for 2020, addresses reclassification rumors and his first impression of Kentucky Coach John Calipari.

Wild cards

All four of the recruits in the class of 2021 that have received UK scholarship offers — that’d be power forward Paolo Banchero, wings Terrence Clarke and Jonathan Kuminga, and point guard Devin Askew — have been mentioned as possible reclassification candidates. Another early UK target (Huntington Prep power forward JT Thor) is also a 2020 reclass possibility.

With the group that has offers, Clarke seems the most likely to make the reclassification jump, while Askew told recruiting sites a few days ago that he intends to stick with 2021.

All of these players will be worth paying attention to as Kentucky fills out its 2020 class, and others currently in the 2021 class are likely to emerge as possibilities to move up a year.

The next “recruiting period” — when college coaches can visit with prospects off campus — begins Sept. 9. By then, Calipari’s recruiting efforts for 2020 will likely be even more in focus.

Five-star recruit Terrence Clarke is one of UK's top targets.

Ben Roberts covers UK basketball, football and other sports for the Lexington Herald-Leader and has specialized in UK basketball recruiting for the past several years. He also maintains the Next Cats recruiting blog, which features the latest news on the Wildcats’ recruiting efforts.
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