UK Recruiting

Scout's take on Kentucky's impressive list of Big Blue Madness visitors

Forward Brandon Ingram shot up the rankings over the spring and summer. Duke and UNC are seen as favorites.
Forward Brandon Ingram shot up the rankings over the spring and summer. Duke and UNC are seen as favorites. AP

Big Blue Madness — the official tip-off of Kentucky basketball season — also serves as Coach John Calipari's biggest recruiting event of the year.

Calipari has another impressive guest list for Friday night's show, and there are almost always a few surprise visitors who come to town at the last minute to check out the festivities.

Here's a look at this year's group, with a "Scout's take" on the class of 2015 prospects courtesy of director of recruiting Evan Daniels:



Power forward

6-9 | 210 pounds

Cleveland, Ohio

Rivals: No. 14

Scout: No. 11

ESPN: No. 18

247Sports: No. 16

Where things stand: Bragg openly lobbied for a UK scholarship offer last year before finally landing one after an impressive performance in front of Calipari at a January showcase in Paducah. He has already narrowed his list to four schools: UK, Kansas, Illinois and UCLA, though he doesn't plan to make a decision any time soon. Bragg visited Kansas last weekend, and this will be at least his third recruiting trip to Lexington. A trip to UCLA is tentatively scheduled for later this month, and he'll make a visit to Illinois, too. The Cats, Jayhawks and Illini have long been seen as the favorites.

Scout's take: "He's a guy that can face the rim, make jump shots. But he's also a guy — when he's motivated — that can get in the paint, score with his back to the rim and has good touch. He's so talented. And because he has the ability to step away from the rim, sometimes he falls in love with that. I think he's at his best when he starts inside and works himself out."


Small forward

6-7 | 215 pounds

Marietta, Ga.

Rivals: No. 2

Scout: No. 1

ESPN: No. 2

247Sports: No. 2

Where things stand: Brown is considered the top uncommitted player in the class of 2015, and he's arguably Calipari's No. 1 recruiting target. UK, Kansas, UCLA, Georgia and Georgia Tech have been the main players in his recruitment, though North Carolina has been more involved in recent days. Brown took an official visit to Kansas last weekend and has scheduled a trip to UCLA for later this month. This weekend's official visit marks his first recruiting trip to Lexington. He has talked about the possibility of waiting until the McDonald's All-American Game in April to announce his college decision.

Scout's take: "What I love about him is just how competitive he is. His mental makeup is tremendous. He wants to be great, and he works very hard. There's no doubt in my mind that he's going to be a dynamic college freshman. Wherever he goes, he's going to be an impact guy from day one. He has a chance to change the outlook of that particular team's season. He's that good."


Small f orward

6-8 | 190 pounds

Kinston, N.C.

Rivals: No. 18

Scout: No. 26

ESPN: No. 12

247Sports: No. 11

Where things stand: Ingram had as impressive a spring and summer as any player in the senior class. He shot up the recruiting rankings and earned scholarship offers from several top programs, including Kentucky. The Cats join Duke, North Carolina, N.C. State, UCLA and Kansas on Ingram's list of finalists. He took an official visit to Kansas last weekend and has already done the same at in-state powers Duke and UNC. He'll take his fifth and final official visit to UCLA next week. Ingram hasn't mapped out a timetable for his college decision. Many recruiting observers see Duke and UNC as the two favorites in his recruitment.

Scout's take: "He has a pretty impressive basketball frame. At 6-8, he's got these long, gangly arms. His scoring package has improved. He's able to make jump shots to 22 feet. He's confident going off the dribble and making mid-range jump shots. Some of that comes with strength, and once he hits the college weight room I think it's going to even take another step. He clearly has impressive size for the perimeter position."


Shooting guard

6-5 | 185 pounds


Rivals: No. 56

Scout: No. 62

ESPN: No. 44

247Sports: No. 61

Where things stand: Matthews remains the only player in the class of 2015 to commit to the Wildcats. He made his college announcement back in February, shortly after a visit from Calipari. "I knew where I wanted to go, and I was really happy about that," Matthews told the Herald-Leader at the time. He's dropped from five-star status in the months since his commitment, but Matthews remains an impressive prospect whose willingness to play defense should fit in well with Calipari's style. He's also a friend and former AAU teammate of Tyler Ulis, who is entering his freshman season at UK.

Scout's take: "He's very fast. I think he'll fit well into an up-and-down style and a style that allows him to attack the basket. He's a talent. He's a high-level athlete, and he has a chance to be a good defender. The guy I'm starting to think he might be somewhat comparable to is DeAndre Liggins. And I don't think any Kentucky fan would complain about having a guy like DeAndre Liggins on their team again."


Shooting guard

6-3 | 175 pounds

Jackson, Miss.

Rivals: No. 3

Scout: No. 10

ESPN: No. 3

247Sports: No. 4

Where things stand: Newman has seemingly been on Calipari's radar for as long as any recruit in the class of 2015, and he's been regarded as the best backcourt player in the group since his sophomore season. Kansas, UConn, Mississippi and Mississippi State are among the other schools at the top of his list. He has visited Mississippi State (where his father played) and Ole Miss (where his high school coach played) for high-profile football games over the past two weekends. This will be his first recruiting visit to Lexington, and no other trips have been scheduled. Newman has maintained that he will not pick a school until the spring.

Scout's take: "He is wired up to get points. That's his mentality, and he's really good at it. He's very good at attacking defenders off the dribble. He's only 6-3, but for that size, he's tremendous adjusting his shots and finishing at the rim. He's very good off the dribble, very confident with one- and two-dribble pull-ups. He can create his shot as well as any guard in this 2015 class."



7-0 | 230 pounds

Las Vegas, Nev.

Rivals: No. 10

Scout: No. 14

ESPN: No. 10

247Sports: No. 23

Where things stand: Zimmerman has been one of Calipari's top targets in this class for more than a year, and he's making his first trip to Lexington this week. The other schools on his list are Arizona, Kansas, UCLA, UNLV, North Carolina and Indiana. Like many of this weekend's visitors, Zimmerman was at Kansas last week for its midnight madness event. He'll go to Arizona and UCLA in the next few weeks and also plans to take an extended unofficial visit to hometown UNLV. A planned trip to Chapel Hill had to be postponed and might be rescheduled for a UNC-Duke game at the end of the season.

Scout's take: "I think Stephen's going be effective at the next level as a shot-blocker, as a rim-runner, as a guy that can score the basketball. I think he can impact both ends of the court. He obviously has good size, he has good mobility, he has good touch. He's a versatile scorer. He can make jump shots, attack you off the dribble and score on the block."



Shooting guard

6-5 | 180 pounds

Edison, N.J.

Rivals: No. 16

Scout: No. 9

ESPN: No. 14

247Sports: No. 11