UK Recruiting

National analyst breaks down new basketball rankings — and which recruits UK might get next

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.

Following a busy summer of player evaluation on the shoe company and camp circuits, 247Sports updated its basketball recruiting rankings for the class of 2020 on Wednesday

There were no major shakeups at the top of the list, but there was some notable movement among a few of Kentucky’s top commitments and targets for this recruiting cycle.

And it appears the Wildcats’ future signing class will be getting some more star power soon.

First, the rankings: California big man Evan Mobley, a Southern Cal commitment, held onto the No. 1 overall spot ahead of UK point guard target Cade Cunningham, who moved up one spot to No. 2 overall. The rest of the top five consists of major UK target Jalen Green at No. 3, uniquely skilled 7-footer Makur Maker at No. 4, and California wing Ziaire Williams at No. 5.

Another major UK target, Josh Christopher, moved up two spots to the No. 6 overall position, and he was followed by Duke commitment Jalen Johnson (No. 7), UK targets Scottie Barnes (No. 8) and Greg Brown (No. 9) and recent UCLA commitment Daishen Nix at No. 10.

247Sports national analyst Evan Daniels, who oversees the website’s rankings process, spoke to the Herald-Leader on Wednesday about the overall state of the 2020 class and UK’s potential for more additions in the group. The Cats already have commitments from shooting guard Brandon Boston, ranked No. 15 overall, and wing Cam’Ron Fletcher, who was ranked No. 44 on the updated list, but Kentucky’s class will obviously grow throughout this recruiting cycle.

It seems likely that part of that growth will consist of top-10 players.

“I would say they’re certainly in what I think is very good shape for a guy like Josh Christopher,” Daniels told the Herald-Leader.

Christopher — a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from the Los Angeles area — was the only player to move up multiple spots within 247Sports’ top-10 rankings. He recently narrowed his list to five schools — Kentucky, Arizona State, Michigan State, Missouri and UCLA — and he has said in the past that UK was his “dream school” growing up on the West Coast.

“It’s very hard to move up, but I think he deserved it,” Daniels said. “I think Josh Christopher is the best scorer in the country. I think he’s competitive. I think he’s continuously getting better. I think he can really create off the bounce. And he’s just equipped to score points. He was well-deserving.”

Another mover in the new 2020 rankings was New Jersey power forward Lance Ware, who rose eight spots to the No. 33 overall position on 247Sports’ list. Ware — a 6-foot-9 prospect — had a positive end to the summer, which included a scholarship offer from Kentucky.

He attends the same high school that produced Dajuan Wagner, who was John Calipari’s first major recruit at Memphis, and Ware has been mentored by former Louisville great Pervis Ellison, who maintains a friendship with UK assistant coach Kenny Payne.

Daniels mentioned Ware next when talking about prospective UK commitments for the future.

“There’s some obvious connections to Kentucky there,” he said. “He’s consistently gotten better over the last year, year and a half. He’s got good size for the position. He’s lean, he’s long, he’s mobile, he’s fluid. He’s a fine athlete, and I think he’s got good hands. His scoring touch around the basket has continued to develop and improve. He can score on the block, and he can also make mid-range jump shots. I think there’s a lot to like about his potential and upside.”

Ware is also considering Miami, Michigan, Ohio State and Providence, but Kentucky is looking like the favorite heading into the fall.

“I would say that Christopher and Ware, I think they’re in very good position,” Daniels said. “And then there’s a bunch of guys that are starting to figure out their recruitments, and they’re in the mix for.”

Daniels mentioned three players specifically in that group: Green, Brown, and power forward Isaiah Todd, who rose six spots to No. 13 overall, the biggest mover of anyone in five-star territory of 247Sports’ new rankings.

Green — a 6-foot-5 combo guard from California — is arguably UK’s top recruiting priority. He has said he plans to announce a college decision Dec. 25, and he’s expected to play at the Marshall County Hoop Fest in western Kentucky a few weeks before that.

“I wouldn’t call (UK) the leader, but they’re right there for him,” said Daniels, who has not yet made a Crystal Ball prediction for the dynamic perimeter player. Memphis is widely seen as the Wildcats’ top competition for Green.

Other 2020 prospects with UK scholarship offers include point guard Sharife Cooper (No. 19 overall) and center Cliff Omoruyi (No. 40 overall).

One major addition to the 247Sports Top 100 was Bardstown power forward JJ Traynor — the son of 1993 Kentucky Mr. Basketball Jason Osborne — who is now ranked No. 76 overall and is getting recruiting attention from both Kentucky and Louisville, his father’s alma mater.

Two other Kentucky natives made the new 247Sports rankings: Auburn commitment Justin Powell (North Oldham) at No. 159 overall, and recent Western Kentucky commitment Dayvion McKnight (Collins High) at No. 179 overall.

Boston — a smooth, 6-7 scorer from the Atlanta area — remains UK’s top-ranked commitment, for now. He dropped one spot to No. 15 overall.

“I’ve always liked Brandon,” Daniels said. “He has plus-size, good length, good athletic ability, and the kid knows how to score. He can do it from all three levels. I think he can improve his efficiency going forward — that’s probably the next step — and get stronger. But he’s a bucket-getter.”

Fletcher — a 6-6 wing — took a bit of a tumble from No. 36 to No. 44 overall following an uneven spring and summer where his Nike league squad failed to qualify for the Peach Jam finals. He’s still a top-50 recruit, however, and UK’s coaches will have a lot of raw talent to work with when he gets on campus next year.

“Cam has a lot of natural ability,” Daniels said. “He’s got good size for the position. He’s got good length. He’s got good athleticism. I think the next step for him is to become more efficient and consistently productive, especially as a perimeter shooter. And some of that has to do with fine-tuning shot selection and stuff like that. There’s potential there, but there’s fine-tuning to do.”

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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