UK Recruiting

Formidable freshmen on UK's schedule as well as roster

Louisville's Shaqquan Aaron, left, looked for help against defense by teammate Terry Rozier during a scrimmage Sunday.
Louisville's Shaqquan Aaron, left, looked for help against defense by teammate Terry Rozier during a scrimmage Sunday. AP

Kentucky's roster includes four of the most highly touted freshman basketball players in the country this season, but the Wildcats will face plenty of talented newcomers as well.

Eight McDonald's All-Americans from last season are sprinkled throughout UK's non-conference schedule, and several other newcomers are expected to play pivotal roles for some of the Cats' opponents.

Nov. 18: Kansas

Kelly Oubre was recruited by John Calipari before choosing the Jayhawks a few days before his planned visit to Big Blue Madness last year. He has an all-around game that should transfer well to the college level, and his size, skill and range will be tough for the Cats to defend against early in the season.

Both ESPN and DraftExpress.com have Oubre as a top-five pick in next year's NBA Draft.

The Kansas roster also includes fellow freshmen Cliff Alexander (another likely lottery pick) and Ukrainian shooting guard Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, a late addition to Bill Self's recruiting class.

Dec. 5: Texas

Myles Turner emerged as a five-star recruit during the summer before his senior season and attracted interest from Kentucky and several other top programs.

The 7-footer from the Dallas area chose home-state Texas and should be a major contributor for what is expected to be a top-10 team.

Turner still needs to hone his post skills, but he has the talent to make a major impact on the defensive end and is already considered a top-10 draft pick by ESPN.

Dec. 13: North Carolina

Justin Jackson is considered the No. 9 overall recruit in the class of 2014, but he didn't get as much attention in high school as some of the players ranked below him.

He should make an immediate splash in college. The smooth-shooting forward has one of the prettiest strokes in the country and can do damage from all over the court.

ESPN has the 6-8 player at No. 18 in the 2015 mock draft.

Fellow UNC freshmen Theo Pinson and Joel Berry were also McDonald's All-Americans.

Dec. 20: UCLA

Kevon Looney is one of the few elite recruits that Calipari didn't make a run at during the 2014 cycle, but he has the talent to play anywhere in the country.

The versatile, 6-9 forward averaged 27.9 points, 12.7 rebounds, 8.0 blocks and 7.0 assists per game as a senior in Milwaukee last season, earning McDonald's All-American honors in the process.

Looney knows how to use his length on both ends of the court, and ESPN has him at No. 8 in its 2015 mock draft.

UCLA 7-footer Thomas Welsh was also a McDonald's All-American last season.

Dec. 27: Louisville

Shaqquan Aaron is the highest-rated of the six scholarship freshmen that Coach Rick Pitino welcomes to campus this season.

Aaron, a Los Angeles-area native who played his high school ball in Seattle, averaged 19.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 7.5 assists last season, an indication of his versatile style of play on the wing.

He was the first Louisville recruit to play in the Jordan Brand Classic since Samardo Samuels in 2008.

Jan. 13, Jan. 29: Missouri

Montaque Gill-Caesar played at nearby Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, where UK coaches first noticed him while recruiting Andrew Wiggins.

Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford was hired as an assistant at Missouri earlier this year, and Gill-Caesar reclassified to the class of 2014 and followed him there.

The 6-foot-6 native of Canada can do a little bit of everything on the court and was on UK's radar until the end of his recruitment. Missouri is counting on him to make an immediate contribution from the wing position.

Feb. 21: Auburn

Cinmeon Bowers was Bruce Pearl's first commitment as the new coach at Auburn.

Bowers — listed at 6-7 and 278 pounds — was the No. 1 junior-college player in the country last season and is integral to Pearl's hopes of rebuilding the Tigers' program.

Bowers is penciled in as Auburn's starting power forward and is expected to be a physical force down low for the Tigers this season.

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