UK Recruiting

Next Cats: No leaders in recruitment of top 2015 prospect Swanigan

Caleb Swanigan, at 6-foot-8, is one of nine prospects in the class of 2015 with a scholarship offer from Kentucky.
Caleb Swanigan, at 6-foot-8, is one of nine prospects in the class of 2015 with a scholarship offer from Kentucky.

The first impression Caleb Swanigan made on Lexington basketball fans wasn't his best, but the University of Kentucky's coaches were already sold on his capabilities.

And Swanigan's follow-up performance Saturday showed everybody why.

John Calipari and Kenny Payne sat courtside Friday at the Bluegrass Showcase and watched Swanigan — a 6-foot-8 post player from Fort Wayne, Ind. — stumble his way to a frustrating loss that included a scoreless fourth quarter and eight turnovers.

Swanigan called his own play "selfish" after the game and said that style "wouldn't work at Kentucky."

"They play as a team and they play together and they play hard," Swanigan continued. "I felt like I played hard, definitely. I just didn't play through the team."

Calipari wasn't there Saturday, but Swanigan sure showed up.

A day after his disappointing performance, Swanigan went for 39 points, 21 rebounds and six assists as Homestead (Ind.) rolled to an 83-67 victory over White Station (Tenn.).

That's the type of performance that has high-level college coaches and recruiting analysts so enamored with Swanigan, who recently reclassified from the class of 2016 and won't turn 18 years old until after his senior season.

"I think the biggest thing that stands out about Caleb Swanigan's game is his ability to rebound and really own his area," said Scout.com's Evan Daniels. "He pursues the ball well with two hands. He's strong, and he always seems to get good positioning."

Daniels noted that Swanigan led the Nike EYBL — the top summer league in the country — in rebounding last season and said he might be the No. 1 rebounder in all of high school basketball.

Swanigan has a simple approach to getting boards: "It's just going after every single one. If you go after every single one, you're going to get 'em," he said.

And he's not just a rebounder, as he showed Saturday.

Scout.com ranks Swanigan as the No. 8 overall prospect in the senior class. "He has a lot of ability on the offensive end," Daniels said. "He can face up to the rim and make jump shots. He can score with his back to the rim. He has very good hands and really good touch around the basket.

"And he's a very good passer."

Kentucky, Duke, Michigan State, Arizona, Kansas and Louisville are just a few of the major programs that have already extended scholarship offers.

Swanigan took an unofficial visit to UK on the same weekend as Calipari's "combine" for NBA scouts. The high school player wasn't allowed to attend the combine itself, but he did go to a UK practice later in the day and said most of the NBA contingent stuck around for that.

"It was legit. Scouts from every team were there," he said. "It went well. It was very interesting, seeing all of the guys there and seeing Kentucky compete in practice."

If Kentucky ends up landing him, much of the credit will go to new UK assistant coach Barry "Slice" Rohrssen, who recruited Swanigan while on staff at Pittsburgh and stayed in contact after he took the UK job, even though the Wildcats' staff wasn't showing much interest at the time.

Rohrssen attended every one of Swanigan's games at the Nike Peach Jam in July, and UK offered a scholarship a few days later.

"He's recruited me hard, ever since he was at Pitt," Swanigan said. "I like him. He's a real easy-going guy and he's very down to earth."

Though Swanigan clearly likes Kentucky's program, there are still several schools at the top of his list. He has taken recent unofficial visits to Arizona, Duke and Michigan State and is planning another to California.

He has no leaders, despite some who think the Spartans have the inside track.

"No, they're just one of the biggest schools that were recruiting me the earliest," he said. "So that's why a lot of people think that."

Swanigan also has no concrete plans for his five official visits and said he probably won't even cut his list of schools at any point in his recruitment. "I'm just going to go into a decision."

Those unknowns make his recruitment one of the more difficult to predict in the class of 2015.

"He's pretty wide open," Daniels said. "You know, a lot of times when kids say they're pretty wide open, that's not really the case. In Caleb's case, it is. I don't think he has any clue about where he wants to go to school, and I don't think he'll be deciding any time soon."

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