Recruiting is the lifeblood of any college basketball program, and at the University of Kentucky that blood runs blue.
Blue bloods, blue chips — call them what you want. But since John Calipari's arrival, the Wildcats have operated in a recruiting stratosphere occupied year in and year out by the nation's finest prospects.
This year will be no different, as Calipari is already believed to have offered scholarships to the best of the best in the class of 2016.
Here is a look at Kentucky's progress with the group Calipari is pursuing most aggressively:
SIGNED FOR 2016
6-foot-10 | Power forward Henderson, New Zealand
Scout.com rank: Not available.
■ UK's only commitment so far for the class of 2016 is Wynyard, a strong, tough post player from New Zealand. He recently led his country to the FIBA 3-on-3 world championship, taking MVP honors at that event. Wynyard is not expected to be a one-and-done-type talent, but he'll be a welcome inside presence for the Wildcats. There's still a chance he could graduate from high school in December and join UK for the second half of the 2015-16 season.
6-foot-5 | Guard Kitchener, Ontario
Scout.com rank: 12th
■ Though currently considered a class of 2016 recruit, Murray is pondering a reclassification to 2015 that would allow him to play college basketball this season. The Canadian combo guard was named MVP of the Nike Hoop Summit in April, an event that attracted many of the top recruits in the class of 2015. UK and Oregon are considered the favorites, though UConn, Michigan and Michigan State remain possibilities. He could make a college decision this month.
6-foot-4 | Shooting guard New York City
Scout.com rank: 20th
■ The next big thing on the NYC basketball scene, Alkins earned a scholarship offer earlier this year from John Calipari, who has watched him play multiple times on the AAU circuit. He's an energetic, physical perimeter player who can score in bunches and has led his team to three city championships. Alkins has not yet cut his school list, but his other offers include Kansas, Louisville, Indiana and hometown St. John's.
6-foot-10 | Forward/Center Austin, Texas
Scout.com rank: 8th
■ One of the stars on this spring's adidas circuit, Allen has emerged as an elite post player in the class and a major national recruiting target. Most of the top programs in the Big 12 have been on him for a while, and UK jumped into the mix with a scholarship offer last month. He's already an accomplished offensive player who can score in a variety of ways. Shaka Smart has made him a top priority at Texas.
6-foot-11 | Center Jacksonville, Fla.
Scout.com rank: 31st
■ A 265-pound dunk machine, Azubuike is originally from Nigeria and now plays for a small school in Florida. He's a load around the basket, and his strength and toughness allow him to be a terrific rebounder. Though Kentucky first reached out to Azubuike last summer, he has not yet gotten serious about his recruitment. He plans to start making campus visits later this year. (He's no relation to former UK player Kelenna Azubuike).
6-foot-10 | CenterDeSoto, Texas
Scout.com rank: 6th
■ Duke, Kansas and Louisville are among the other schools that are seriously pursuing Bolden, who picked up a UK scholarship offer after Calipari watched him play on the final day of the Nike event in Lexington a couple of months ago. The mobile big man has rocketed up the recruiting rankings this spring. He's now listed by Scout.com as the nation's No. 1 center in the class of 2016.
6-foot-6 | Small forward Flint, Mich.
Scout.com rank: 24th
■ The Michigan native has played the past two high school seasons at Huntington Prep (W.Va.), a team that regularly travels to Kentucky and plays in front of Calipari. Bridges' game has progressed greatly during that time, and he's considered one of the best rebounders in the class at his position. The athletic, powerful wing is also looking at Michigan State, North Carolina, Iowa State, Louisville and a few others. He's visited UK multiple times.
6-foot-10 | Power forward Santa Ana, Calif.
Scout.com rank: 66th
■ He's the son of former NBA post player Michael Cage and one of the first players from this class to earn a scholarship offer from the Wildcats. There has not been as much UK-related buzz around Cage's recruitment in recent months, though his father has said that they plan to make a visit to Lexington. Arizona, UCLA and San Diego State — his dad's alma mater — are among the other schools in the picture.
6-foot-10 | Power forward Winston-Salem, N.C.
Scout.com rank: 1st
■ Giles suffered a devastating knee injury that forced him to miss his entire sophomore season, but he's returned better than ever and is now ranked as the No. 1 player in the class by Scout and ESPN. He's one of UK's top targets — perhaps Calipari's No. 1 target — and is also considering Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Kansas, Ohio State, Syracuse and UNLV. Many recruiting analysts believe he'll stay in his home state of North Carolina for college.
6-foot-8 | Small forward Hollywood, Fla.
Scout.com rank: 14th
■ One of the fastest-rising prospects in the country — up to No. 7 overall in 247Sports' rankings — Isaac is a terrifically gifted offensive player who is being recruited as a tall wing. The IMG Academy standout recently narrowed his list to 12 schools: UK, Auburn, California, Florida State, Louisiana State, Miami, Michigan, Stanford, Texas, Wake Forest, Wisconsin and Virginia. He doesn't seem to be in any rush to end his recruitment.
6-foot-8 | Guard/Forward Napa, Calif.
Scout.com rank: 2nd
■ Jackson hasn't said as much about his recruitment as many of the other players on this list, but he told the Herald-Leader this week that UK remains a legitimate option, along with seven or eight others. The explosive perimeter player can do a little bit of everything offensively and prides himself on his pesky defense. Rivals.com and 247Sports rank him as the No. 1 overall player in the class. He's planning to take all five of his official visits.
6-foot-10 | Forward/Center Chapel Hill, N.C.
Scout.com rank: 64th
■ Killeya-Jones was committed to Virginia for five months before backing off of that pledge June 2. A few days after that, he made a trip to UK and received a scholarship offer from Calipari. The fast-improving prospect is known for his exceptional skill as a big post player and is now ranked as high as No. 30 in the class (by 247Sports). He plays his high school ball in Virginia, but his hometown is Chapel Hill, which makes North Carolina a school to watch.
6-foot-5 | Shooting guard Madison, Ala.
Scout.com rank: 10th
■ One of the best perimeter scorers in the country, Langford has been a national recruit for years and just recently picked up his UK scholarship offer. He actually visited Lexington for Big Blue Madness in 2013 and has long shown interest in the Wildcats, who have emerged as the possible favorite. Duke, Kansas, Arizona, Michigan and Michigan State are among the many other programs recruiting Langford.
7-foot | Forward/Center Mono, Ontario
Scout.com rank: Not available.
■ Maker announced Thursday that he has abandoned his plan to reclassify to 2015 and will instead stay in the class of 2016 and play one more season of high school ball. The versatile 7-footer has had a great week at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, playing with aggression and showing off his considerable potential on defense. Arizona State has emerged as the possible favorite after the recent hire of Brian Merritt — a family friend of the Makers — as an assistant coach.
6-foot-3 | Shooting guard Lapento, Ark.
Scout.com rank: 7th
■ Monk is one of the most exciting players in the country and arguably the best pure scorer in this class. He's turned in some dazzling performances in front of Calipari, including a 45-point game last November. Clearly one of UK's top four or five recruiting priorities in the class of 2016, Monk has not yet trimmed his list of schools. It could come down to UK and Arkansas, the home-state program that has made him priority No. 1.
6-foot-5 | Point guard Alpharetta, Ga.
Scout.com rank: 5th
■ UK's No. 1 target at point guard, Simmons earned a scholarship offer from the Cats in April after a couple of years of steady mutual interest. He's visited Lexington several times — including a trip for Big Blue Madness in 2013 — and UK has emerged as one of the frontrunners, if not the outright favorite. A versatile playmaker with a long, 6-5 frame, he's a skilled scorer and passer. Simmons is also an AAU teammate of fellow UK target Josh Langford.
6-foot-8 | Small forward St. Louis
Scout.com rank: 3rd
■ Tatum was the first player from the class of 2016 to earn an offer from Calipari, and he recently included Kentucky on his list of four finalists. The other schools in the mix are Duke, North Carolina and hometown Saint Louis, though the Blue Devils are generally regarded as the favorite. Tatum is a gifted scorer who can get points from all over the floor, and he'll continue to battle for the No. 1 overall ranking. He plans to announce a college decision sometime next month.