UK Recruiting

Next Cats: The three prospects who will attract the most attention at Big Blue Madness

Malik Monk dribbled against his defender during the Nike EYBL event at KBA on Saturday, April 25, 2015.
Malik Monk dribbled against his defender during the Nike EYBL event at KBA on Saturday, April 25, 2015. Herald-Leader

Another Big Blue Madness in the John Calipari era means another star-studded group of high school recruits will be in Rupp Arena on Friday night.

Several talented prospects are expected to be in town for what has become UK's biggest recruiting event of the year, but three players in particular will get the most attention.

De'Aaron Fox, Harry Giles and Malik Monk are arguably UK's three top remaining targets in the class of 2016, and all three are scheduled to be in Lexington this weekend for their official visits to UK.

Fox has emerged as the No. 1 point guard in the country, Giles has been one of Calipari's top recruiting priorities for more than two years, and Monk is one of the most explosive players in high school basketball.

Here's what you need to know about the recruitment of Fox, Giles and Monk, with "Scout's take" comments from Scout.com director of recruiting Evan Daniels:

De'Aaron Fox

Katy, Texas

Point guard

6-4 | 170 pounds

Scout.com ranking: 4th

Other finalists: Kansas, Louisville, Louisiana State

Past visits: This will mark Fox's fourth official visit, after trips to Kansas, Louisville and LSU. He canceled an official visit to Arizona and is not expected to take any more trips after this weekend.

Background: Fox emerged over the summer as the No. 1 point guard in a recruiting class loaded with playmakers. He has the elite size, speed and basketball IQ that have come to define Calipari point guards, and he's shown in past interviews that he's long been a fan of the UK coach. Fox picked up a scholarship offer from the Wildcats in July, and he's expected to announce a college decision in time for the early signing period, which begins Nov. 13.

Scout's take on Fox: "I think UK is in a great position to eventually land a commitment from De'Aaron Fox. They've done a great job recruiting him. They've really prioritized him at the point guard position, and he's a guy who fits exactly what John Calipari looks for in a point guard. And I do think that he's going to announce in the early signing period."

Harry Giles

Winston-Salem, N.C.

Power forward

6-10 | 225 pounds

Scout.com ranking: 1st

Other finalists: Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Kansas

Other visits: Giles has been on official visits to Wake Forest and Kansas, and he's scheduled to see Duke on an official visit later this month. He canceled a previously planned visit to UNC and might not make that trip before announcing a decision.

Background: Giles was one of the first players in the class of 2016 to earn a scholarship offer from Calipari, who hosted him for an unofficial visit to Big Blue Madness in 2013. A torn ACL forced him to miss his entire sophomore season of high school, but he's worked his way back to being the top post player in the country. Giles will play his senior season for perennial powerhouse Oak Hill Academy in Virginia, and Calipari has continued to treat him as his No. 1 target despite the constant buzz that Giles will end up at Duke.

Scout's take on Giles: "Harry hasn't ever said there's a favorite, but the school of thought has always been that Duke is the favorite. And I don't see any reason for me to change my mind on that yet. With that said, it's not completely done. He hasn't made a verbal commitment, and any time you get a kid on campus, it's a big deal and stuff can change. So while I think Duke is likely in the pole position, it's not finalized."

Malik Monk

Lapento, Ark.

Combo guard

6-3 | 180 pounds

Scout.com ranking: 6th

Other finalists: Arkansas, Kansas, Florida State, North Carolina, Oregon

Other visits: Monk has taken official visits to Oregon and Kansas, and he'll be at home-state Arkansas for an official visit next weekend. That will leave him with one remaining official visit, which he is likely to use later in his recruitment.

Background: Monk is one of the most electric players in the country, a highly athletic guard who is always dangerous from three-point range and can get to the basket and score as well as anyone in the class. He had several high-scoring games in front of Calipari last summer, and he's been one of the players at the top of UK's wish list ever since. Most think his recruitment will come down to Arkansas — where his brother was a two-sport star — and Kentucky, a program he's been following for years. Monk is the least likely of UK's trio of 2016 visitors to make a college decision this fall.

Scout's take on Monk: "He's always kind of been tracking to be a spring decision, and I don't think that's changed. I think Kentucky has positioned themselves very nicely in his recruitment. The next step is — if Kentucky is able to secure De'Aaron Fox, who will announce before Malik Monk — (Calipari) is going to have to sell them on playing together, and I know Malik wants to play some on the ball. I think the pitch then becomes the John Wall-Eric Bledsoe, two-guard stuff, which Kentucky is going to do this year with multiple guards. So, I think they're in good shape with Malik Monk. I think Arkansas is in good shape, and it's obviously going to be a draw for him to stay home. And you can't count out Oregon and Kansas. I just don't think Malik knows what he wants to do yet."

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