UK Recruiting

USA Basketball camp roster is out. Top recruits could still attend Big Blue Madness.

The roster for next weekend’s USA Basketball minicamp — the event that will conflict with Big Blue Madness — was released Wednesday, and the lineup of players still leaves some options for high-profile guests at Kentucky’s signature recruiting event.

The most notable omission from the USA roster is five-star forward Paolo Banchero, who had previously announced plans to attend Big Blue Madness and will still be able to travel to Lexington next weekend for his official visit. Banchero — a top-five player in the 2021 class, and a candidate to reclassify — participated in a USA Basketball training camp over the summer.

Bardstown forward JJ Traynor, who is expected to be on UK’s campus Wednesday for an unofficial visit, had also announced plans to attend Big Blue Madness and is also not on the USA Basketball training camp roster, meaning he’ll be able to be at Rupp Arena on Oct. 11.

None of UK’s four early commitments for next season — Brandon Boston, Terrence Clarke, Cam’Ron Fletcher or Lance Ware — were included among the 23 players from the 2020 class on the USA Basketball training camp roster. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see some of those recruits pop up in Lexington next weekend.

Uncommitted five-star center Isaiah Jackson is also not on the USA Basketball roster, despite participating in past USA events. Jackson has already taken his official visit to Kentucky, but he is free on Madness weekend. He’ll take an official visit to Alabama later in October and hopes to make a college decision in time for the November signing period. UK and Alabama are the favorites.

Though no plans to attend Big Blue Madness have been announced, other players missing from the USA Basketball list that have UK scholarship offers include Jonathan Kuminga — the No. 1 player in the 2021 class — and four-star center Cliff Omoruyi from the 2020 class. Both players were born in Africa. UK coaches have visited Kuminga twice in the past couple of weeks.

Five-star guard Karim Mane and five-star center Makur Maker were also born in Africa and will be free on Madness weekend. Mane and Maker, who have both been linked to UK at various times, are also both candidates to go pro after this season, however, and there have been no confirmed visits from UK coaches during the fall recruiting period.

There are several players on the USA Basketball roster that are major UK recruits, however, and those prospects obviously won’t be able to attend Big Blue Madness.

Five-star point guard Cade Cunningham — the top uncommitted player in the country — was supposed to be UK’s top target at Madness, but he rescheduled that trip so he could attend the USA camp. He will now come to Lexington on an official visit in early November.

Other USA Basketball invitees from the 2020 class include five-star forwards Scottie Barnes, Greg Brown and Isaiah Todd. Brown has already scheduled an official visit to UK for January, Barnes has not been mention in connection with the Cats recently, and Todd has not yet announced plans to come to Lexington.

The list of 2021 invitees is loaded with UK targets, including five-star point guard Devin Askew, who will take his official visit to Kentucky this weekend and could reclassify to 2020.

The coach of five-star shooting guard Jaden Hardy told the Herald-Leader last week that he had been hoping to attend Big Blue Madness but would go to the USA camp instead. Five-star forward Patrick Baldwin will also be at USA camp. He has an early UK offer and was recently visited by Calipari.

Several other UK targets in the 2021 class who do not yet have offers will also attend USA camp.

Kentucky is also expected to host a few players from the 2022 class, though 29 of the highest-profile recruits from that group were invited to the USA Basketball training camp. The Madness guest list will be finalized next week.

The Herald-Leader first reported last month that the USA Basketball camp, which runs Oct. 11-13, would directly conflict with Big Blue Madness, which was already scheduled for Oct. 11.

The USA training camp is an important event for selection to future USA Basketball teams, including the 2020 Nike Hoop Summit and the summer select squads that travel to FIBA tournaments around the world.

In the past, this hasn’t been a problem for Kentucky.

The October minicamp — now in its 11th year — is typically held earlier in the month and has not conflicted with Madness, allowing recruits to attend both events.

This year’s USA camp also won’t conflict with any marquee recruiting events for the other blue-blood schools. North Carolina’s Late Night With Roy was last weekend, Kansas’ Late Night in the Phog and Memphis’ midnight madness event are both this weekend, and Duke’s Countdown to Craziness is Oct. 18.

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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