UK Recruiting

Next Cats: Greenwood committed to Kentucky for football but shows he can hoop it up too

Jabari Greenwood is considered a top-50 wide receiver in the class of 2015.
Jabari Greenwood is considered a top-50 wide receiver in the class of 2015.

As soon as he heard a player on the team he was about to play had scored 48 points in a basketball game the night before, Jabari Greenwood knew that would be his defensive assignment.

Greenwood had never heard of senior guard Jalen Brunson — a Villanova signee and one of the best high school scorers in the country — but he was ready for the challenge.

"I already knew," he said. "Every game I have the toughest matchup. I accept it. I accept my role and I know I have to do whatever I can do to help win games."

Greenwood's Gonzaga (D.C.) squad came out on the wrong end of a 76-70 loss to Brunson's Stevenson (Ill.) team at Saturday's showcase in West Virginia, but Greenwood did his part.

Brunson finished with 24 points — half of what he scored the night before — and only seven of those came when Greenwood was guarding him.

After the game, Greenwood emerged from the locker room wearing a bright, blue University of Kentucky hat.

He's committed to play next season for the Wildcats, but it won't be for Coach John Calipari.

The defensive stopper on the basketball court is also one of the best wide receivers in the country.

Greenwood — currently UK's only wide receiver commitment for the class of 2015 — led his conference in receptions and yards after missing the end of his junior season with a torn ACL.

He said the knee is now 100 percent, and there were no signs of any problems as he stuck with the speedy Brunson on the basketball court over the weekend.

After Greenwood finishes this season at Gonzaga, he'll turn his full attention to his football future in Lexington. He was in town for last month's game in Rupp Arena between UK and North Carolina, and he beamed every time the word "Lexington" came up during Saturday's conversation.

"I can't wait to get down there, man. I love Lexington," he said. "I took my official visit to the UNC game and that atmosphere was ridiculous.

"I leave two weeks after graduation to get ready for camp. It's going to be a great season next year."

Rivals.com ranks Greenwood as the No. 47 wide receiver in the class of 2015, and he'll be expected to contribute early for a Kentucky offense that can never have enough pass-catchers.

The nearly 6-foot-5, 196-pound receiver said he was sad to see offensive coordinator Neal Brown leave, but his commitment to the Cats was never in question.

Greenwood's primary recruiter — wide receivers coach Tommy Mainord — will also be his position coach at UK. Mainord has told him good things about new offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson and the direction of the Wildcats' offense.

"I talked to Coach Mainord and he pretty much told me that it's still going to be a prime opportunity for me," Greenwood said. "I'm still going to get a lot of catches if I go down there freshman year and do what I have to do.

"So I'm just going into it with an open mind and ready to grind."

Greenwood is hoping he'll bring one of his high school teammates with him.

Gonzaga senior defensive back Marcus Lewis — one of the top 100 recruits in the class, according to Rivals.com — has UK in his top three and accompanied Greenwood to town last month.

Greenwood said Lewis is "pretty much my best friend" and has been in his ear every day about committing to the Wildcats.

"I know there's been a lot of pressure on him these past couple of weeks as it gets closer and closer to signing day," he said. "But he definitely loves all of the coaches down there.

"Every day I have to remind him how fun it is. Marcus loves it down there. He loves it. But he has a lot going on right now, so we'll see what he's going to do."

With Lewis or without him, Greenwood can't wait to get started with his own UK career. The coaches told him they want to use his size and put him at the same receiver position as Blake Bone, who had 14 catches and two touchdowns as a true freshman.

The immediate production of players like Bone, Garrett Johnson and Dorian Baker has Greenwood excited for 2015.

"I met all of the wide receivers and they told me, 'This is the place to be,'" he said. "They need a lot of wide receivers. They tried to run a fast-paced offense and in the years before they couldn't do it because they didn't have the depth at wide receiver.

"That's what I like to hear. I just can't wait to get down there, work with those guys, put some weight on and get ready to play."

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