UK Recruiting

Top-ranked basketball recruit in the state of Kentucky commits to play for Louisville

A breakout star on the summer basketball recruiting circuit who emerged as the top-ranked prospect in Kentucky has committed to play his college ball for Louisville.

JJ Traynor, who rocketed up the national recruiting rankings earlier this year, publicly announced for the Cardinals on Wednesday, a few days after an in-home visit with U of L Coach Chris Mack, who extended a scholarship offer to the high-upside forward earlier this month.

247Sports moved Traynor into its Top 100 rankings for the 2020 class — placing him at No. 77 overall — following a standout summer with his Louisville Legends travel team. He is the only Kentucky high school player in the Top 100 nationally.

“I’m just impressed with his improvement,” 247Sports’ Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader. “I’m impressed with his versatility and upside. He’s got good size, length, athleticism. He can score the ball inside and out. He’s a kid that’s on a clear path and trajectory upward. He needs to get stronger, and I think once he does — once he adds 20-25 pounds to his frame — you’re going to see him improve even further.”

Traynor — a 6-foot-8, 195-pound prospect — has a slight frame but boasts tremendous length and athleticism. Bardstown High School head coach James “Boo” Brewer told the Herald-Leader that his star player has a 7-2 wingspan and 35-inch vertical. Traynor averaged 11.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game for Bardstown as a junior.

No Kentucky offer

UK assistant coach Kenny Payne, a longtime friend and former U of L teammate of Brewer’s, visited Bardstown High this fall to show the Wildcats’ interest in Traynor, and Kentucky hosted him for an unofficial visit at Big Blue Madness a couple of weeks ago.

John Calipari never saw Traynor play in person, however, and UK was hoping he would hold off on a college decision until Calipari could evaluate him during the upcoming high school season for a possible scholarship offer.

Kentucky has a commitment from just one frontcourt player for its 2020 recruiting class: four-star power forward Lance Ware. The Cats are still in contention for several others, including four-star power forward Isaiah Jackson, who is expected to choose either UK or Alabama sometime soon. Calipari has also extended scholarship offers to five-star power forward Greg Brown and four-star center Cliff Omoruyi, who will both wait until well after next month’s fall signing period to announce a college decision.

Cincinnati and Xavier were among the other schools that did extend offers to Traynor, and Western Kentucky was the first major player in his recruitment. He is expected to officially sign with Louisville during the early signing period, which begins Nov. 13.

Louisville’s top-10 class

Traynor will follow in the footsteps of his father, former Male High School standout Jason Osborne, who earned Kentucky Mr. Basketball and McDonald’s All-American honors in 1993 and went on to play for the Cardinals.

The third member of U of L’s 2020 recruiting class, Traynor joins five-star junior-college shooting guard Jay Scrubb (a former Louisville Trinity star) and Indianapolis small forward D’Andre Davis, the No. 96 overall high school recruit in the 247Sports composite rankings.

Scrubb could still jump straight from junior college to the NBA Draft, a decision that likely won’t be made until next spring. ESPN’s latest mock draft places him as the No. 35 overall pick for next year.

Mack brought in the nation’s No. 12 recruiting class in 2019, and Louisville’s 2020 class will move to No. 8 nationally in the 247Sports rankings as a result of Traynor’s commitment.

“It’s a good three-man group,” Daniels told the Herald-Leader. “Jay Scrubb is a big-time talent. He’s the equivalent of getting a top 10-15 prospect. He’s 6-6 with a 6-9 wingspan. He’s an elite-level athlete, explosive. And he’s a versatile scorer. This is a kid that shot better than 45 percent from three in junior college last year. He, to me, is equivalent to getting one of the best players in the country.

“D’Andre Davis brings skill and shooting ability. And then JJ, as we said, there’s just so much upside there. So, I think it’s a solid three-man class, and I think they’ll look to go out and get a guard and add that to their roster.”

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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