UK Recruiting

Nation’s top point guard includes Kentucky on his list of recruiting finalists

The top-ranked point guard in the class of 2020 is still waiting for a scholarship offer from the University of Kentucky, and it appears he’s willing to wait a little bit longer.

Alaska native Daishen Nix — a 6-foot-5 prospect now living in Las Vegas — narrowed his list of recruiting possibilities to five schools Monday: Alabama, Kansas, Maryland, UCLA and Kentucky.

The first four schools on that list have extended scholarship offers. UK has not.

That the Wildcats still ended up in Nix’s final five is a great sign for their chances if they do indeed decide to go all in on his recruitment in the coming weeks.

Kentucky had been keeping tabs on Nix for months — assistant coach Joel Justus visited him in his current home of Las Vegas earlier this year — and John Calipari got to see him play on multiple occasions this summer, but the UK head coach had not yet decided on whether or not to extend the offer by the time Nix decided to trim his list of schools.

247Sports ranks Nix as the No. 10 overall player and No. 1 point guard in the 2020 class, and national analyst Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader over the summer that he is “the best passer in high school basketball,” though he’s not yet a complete player.

Observers this spring and summer have questioned Nix’s potential as a shooter, as well as his ability to be a game-changer on defense. Calipari also didn’t get much of a chance to see Nix play against top competition. His travel team, which is led by his guardian, who is also his high school coach, is not affiliated with any of the major shoe companies and doesn’t play on one of the elite summer circuits.

UK did get to see him play at the NBPA Top 100 Camp in June, though that setting — with dozens of prospects who had never played together being teamed up for a few days of games — was not conducive to player evaluation. Nix was also part of a recent USA Basketball training camp, but he spent more time on the wing in that setting, away from his natural point guard position.

It’s still possible that Kentucky could come through with an offer for Nix, who made it clear during the summer that he was highly interested in UK and was eagerly looking forward to a visit to Lexington and a meeting with Calipari.

Time might be getting short, however.

There will be no more evaluation opportunities until the high school season begins, and Nix said in a recent interview with 247Sports that he’d like to make a college decision before that, possibly as soon as the next few weeks.

UK looks to be in great shape with their perimeter recruiting in the 2020 class, but the point guard spot is still a question mark.

The Cats already have commitments from five-star shooting guard Brandon “BJ” Boston and four-star wing Cam’Ron Fletcher, and UK is among the favorites for five-star shooting guards Josh Christopher and Jalen Green, who are both considered top-10 national players.

The point guard pool isn’t as deep.

The first player to get a UK scholarship offer at that position was Jeremy Roach, who committed to Duke in the spring. The second was Sharife Cooper, who is widely expected to commit to Auburn.

Kentucky has also extended an offer to Cade Cunningham, a uniquely skilled 6-foot-7 prospect with point guard skills. His older brother was recently hired as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State — and the Cowboys are considered favorites for his commitment — though UK is included in his final five and Rivals.com national analyst Corey Evans told the Herald-Leader last week that Cunningham’s recruitment is not yet decided.

Other than those players, there are no five-star point guards on UK’s radar in the 2020 class. If Kentucky ultimately doesn’t land Nix, additional options would include postseason graduate transfers, a top 2021 point guard reclassifying, a lesser-ranked recruit in the 2020 class, and a player (or two) from this year’s UK team — like Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey or Immanuel Quickley — returning for another season with the Wildcats.

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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