UK Recruiting

Next Cats notes: Huntington Prep prospect Bryant watching Kentucky closely

Post player Thomas Bryant took an unofficial visit to UK for last week's game against Boston University.
Post player Thomas Bryant took an unofficial visit to UK for last week's game against Boston University.

Things are heating up between the University of Kentucky and Huntington (W.Va.) Prep basketball star Thomas Bryant.

Bryant told the Herald-Leader on Friday night that he has received a UK scholarship offer for the class of 2015. It was later confirmed that Bryant got the offer during his unofficial visit to UK for the Cats' victory over Boston University this month.

The 6-foot-10 native of Rochester, N.Y., is considered one of the top post players in the class of 2015 and one of the hardest-working prospects in all of high school basketball.

"What I like most about Thomas is the effort he gives every time he touches the floor," said Scout.com's Evan Daniels. "He plays with terrific energy. He's active. He looks to block shots and he rebounds.

"He's just a big kid that likes to play physical and mix it up inside."

Bryant was in Lexington this weekend for two games at the Joe B. and Denny Bluegrass Showcase, both Huntington Prep victories.

UK Coach John Calipari and assistant coach Kenny Payne stayed until the final buzzer of Friday's game, which didn't end until 10:30 p.m.

Bryant was scheduled to attend UK's practice Saturday and said he's in the process of setting up an official visit to Lexington and has been in regular contact with Calipari and UK assistant Barry Rohrssen in recent weeks.

"I've been watching them," he said. "By far, they're the most talented team that I've seen in a long time. Their way of playing is just great. Everybody that comes there just wants to win. When you have that much talent, you're a force to be reckoned with."

Bryant's mother was interviewed by the Syracuse Post-Standard earlier in the week and said that she didn't think UK was the "right place" for her son. She also said that Syracuse is the leader in his recruitment.

Bryant made it clear Friday night that he has no favorite and Kentucky is very much in the mix. His face lit up when he was asked about the UK program.

"I love it," he said. "When you look at the history of those guys — the numbers don't lie, and the stats don't lie, as far as the guys who have been there."

Maker making moves?

Five-star prospect Thon Maker might not be long for the class of 2016.

His guardian, Edward Smith, told the Herald-Leader that Maker is doing the academic work necessary to reclassify to 2015 and play college basketball next season.

Smith said Maker will likely come to a reclassification decision by mid-January, and he's hoping the 7-footer makes the jump.

"If it were up to me, I want to see him get going," Smith said. "The quicker he does that, the better he gets. He has to progress and go do what he has to do.

"He needs to get up there. And we're preparing him now to be ready to go into a college situation."

Maker has scholarship offers from just about every major program in the country, including Kentucky, though he has not cut his list to a certain group of schools. Smith specifically mentioned UK, Kansas, Indiana and Stanford as programs that have been "very strong in recruiting us" in recent weeks.

He said Maker — the No. 1 player in the junior class — will be looking for a program that needs him to play right away, but also one that would have plenty of other talent around him. As Smith put it, they'll be looking for a team that is "a Thon Maker away from being a really good team."

"Kentucky, this year, doesn't need Thon," he said with a laugh. "Maybe next year, they all go. You know? So you have to look at the situation at that time."

One time only?

UK recruiting target Caleb Swanigan says John Calipari is hoping his "platoon" system is nothing more than a memory by next season.

"Coach Cal says this is the last year he wanted to do it," Swanigan said. "He said that's the only way he could make guys happy this year. He's never done this in the past, and he said he doesn't plan on doing it again.

"Unless he has to."

Championship row

Three of the four living coaches who won NCAA titles at Kentucky sat within a few feet of each other Friday night at Dunbar High School.

Coach John Calipari and former coach Joe B. Hall were on one side of press row, while Louisville Coach Rick Pitino sat with his three assistants on the other side.

Others spotted in the gym this weekend: Rex Chapman, Oklahoma State Coach Travis Ford, Auburn Coach Bruce Pearl, UK freshmen Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker, and former Louisville star Pervis Ellison, who coached one of the teams at the event.

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