UK Recruiting

Nation’s No. 1 point guard recruit picks UCLA. Where will Kentucky turn next?

Here’s where the top basketball recruits are playing in college next season

Here's where the Top 10 recruits in the nation are playing college basketball next season. Rankings are according to ESPN.com.
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Here's where the Top 10 recruits in the nation are playing college basketball next season. Rankings are according to ESPN.com.

One day after announcing a list of five finalists in his recruitment, the nation’s No. 1 point guard prospect went ahead and made a college decision.

Daishen Nix, who listed Kentucky among his top schools in Monday night’s update, committed to UCLA on Tuesday afternoon. The pledge is a major victory for new Bruins head coach Mick Cronin, who is entering his first season in charge of the program.

“They have a new coaching staff,” Nix told 247Sports, which was first to report his commitment. “They develop players well and Coach Cronin says he’s changing his system where he’s running more. It’ll be perfect for me because I like open space and passing the ball. He prioritized me from the start. As soon as he got there, and it was only him recruiting me, none of the assistant coaches.”

John Calipari was much more hesitant to get involved in Nix’s recruitment.

UK was the only school included in Nix’s final five that had not extended a scholarship offer, and it did not appear that one would be forthcoming anytime soon. The other finalists on his list were Alabama, Kansas and Maryland.

247Sports ranks Nix — a native of Alaska and now playing in the Las Vegas area — as the nation’s top point guard and No. 10 overall recruit in the 2020 class. 247Sports national analyst Evan Daniels described him to the Herald-Leader earlier this summer as “the best passer in high school basketball,” but it was clear that he’s not yet a complete player.

Observers this spring and summer had questioned Nix’s potential as a shooter, and — while a capable defender — there were concerns that he might not be dynamic enough on that end of the floor to make up for his perceived shortfalls as a scorer.

Nix made it clear throughout the spring and summer that he was highly interested in hearing more from Kentucky, and the Wildcats’ inclusion on his list of finalists — without extending a scholarship offer — showed they likely would’ve had a real chance at his commitment had they decided to go all-in on his recruitment.

Instead, UK will look elsewhere to fill its point guard needs for the 2020 class.

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 for the 2020 class isn’t as deep.

The first two players to get a UK scholarship offer at that position were Jeremy Roach and Sharife Cooper. Roach committed to Duke earlier this year, and Cooper is widely expected to commit to Auburn, possibly in the next few weeks.

Kentucky has also extended an offer to Cade Cunningham, a uniquely skilled 6-foot-7 prospect who could slot into a number of positions but is expected to play point guard at the college level. Cunningham’s older brother was recently hired as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State — and the Cowboys are considered favorites for his commitment — though UK is in his final five and Rivals.com national analyst Corey Evans told the Herald-Leader last week that Cunningham’s recruitment remains relatively open.

There are no other five-star point guards on UK’s radar in the 2020 class, though there are other options at the position.

Those scenarios include a postseason graduate transfer, a top 2021 point guard reclassifying, a lesser-ranked recruit emerging in the 2020 class, and/or someone returning from this year’s UK team to run the point for the Wildcats’ 2020-21 season.

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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