Duke landed another highly touted basketball commitment Sunday, this time pulling in five-star small forward Jayson Tatum.
"I didn't want to waste anybody's time when I know in my heart where I want to go," Tatum said during his nationally televised announcement. "I'm just so happy to be a part of this program, with great coaches like this."
The 6-foot-8 prospect from St. Louis was the first player from the class of 2016 to earn a scholarship offer from Kentucky, and Coach John Calipari had made him a major priority over the past couple of years.
The Wildcats were among Tatum's final four schools — along with Duke, North Carolina and hometown Saint Louis — but it became clear in recent weeks that UK was not the favorite in his recruitment.
Calipari attended three days at Nike's Peach Jam championships and barely watched Tatum play, instead spending his time on more realistic recruiting targets.
ESPN ranks Tatum as the No. 2 overall prospect in the class of 2016, and he's the latest high-profile recruit to pick the Blue Devils, who are also considered the favorites for No. 1 recruit Harry Giles and are in good position for a third straight No. 1 recruiting class, according to the ESPN rankings.
"I've gotta do a little recruiting myself," Tatum said of Giles.
UK had the No. 1 class — according to ESPN — in four of the five years before Duke's current run.
The Cats are still in good shape for 2016, too, and their top target at small forward is now Huntington (W.Va.) Prep standout Miles Bridges, who had a sensational showing at the Peach Jam.
Calipari arrived at the event Friday morning and watched Bridges play twice that day and again Saturday. The 6-6 native of Flint, Mich., will take an official visit to Kentucky in October.
Marcus Monk stressed the point this past week that several schools are still in the running for the commitment of his younger brother Malik, one of the top basketball players in the class of 2016.
Still, most believe his recruitment will come down to home-state Arkansas and Southeastern Conference rival Kentucky.
Much like with Archie Goodwin a few years ago, Arkansas is putting all of its resources into keeping Monk home. And Razorbacks fans see him as the type of player that could return the program to its past Final Four glories.
"It's just like any other kid that's from that home state — you'll get a lot of pressure, and you'll get a lot of people wanting you to go there," Marcus Monk said. "And you would want it that way.
"If you're from a state such as Arkansas where the pro team is Arkansas, then you understand it. ... They are prideful about Arkansas. I went there. I understand it fully. The fans in Arkansas really love their Razorback sports."
Marcus was a football and basketball player at the school, and he once served as a graduate assistant for Razorbacks Coach Mike Anderson.
He said none of that will impact his younger brother's recruitment and noted that Malik knows he has to be "selfish" with his own decision.
Of course, Goodwin ended up committing to UK over Arkansas back in 2011. He caught a lot of flak from the home-state fans because of that decision and was booed every time he touched the ball when the Cats' played the Razorbacks in Fayetteville toward the end of the 2012-13 season.
Marcus hopes that — if Malik does choose Kentucky — the local fans will be more understanding this time around.
"They may not have to agree with it," he said, "but they need to respect his decision."
Everyone who's seen UK signee Skal Labissiere play basketball knows he has plenty of talent.
Former NBA superstar Penny Hardaway — Labissiere's former AAU coach — says Coach John Calipari and the Wildcats are getting an all-around good kid, too.
"He's a great teammate," Hardaway told the Herald-Leader. "You want good kids. You don't want kids who will be on the bench bickering. Whatever Cal says, he's going to do. And he's going to do it with a smile on his face. And he's going to work harder than anybody there."
Hardaway coached Labissiere two summers ago with his Team Penny program on the Nike circuit. The former NBA star knew the young player had unbelievable potential from the moment he first saw him.
One of the few flaws in Labissiere's game back then was his lack of strength. Hardaway said the future Wildcat worked "extremely hard" with a personal trainer in his hometown of Memphis to get stronger, and that improvement has been on display with his performances on the all-star circuit in recent months.
Labissiere has been so impressive since the end of the high school season that some — including DraftExpress.com — are already projecting him as the No. 1 overall pick in next year's NBA Draft.
"I knew he had the potential," Hardaway said. "That's great that they're saying that about him, because he definitely deserves it."
Class of 2017 standout Michael Porter Jr. said late Saturday night that he has received a scholarship offer from Kentucky.
Porter — a 6-foot-8 small forward from Columbia, Mo. — is ranked as the No. 2 player in the rising junior class by Rivals.com, ESPN and 247Sports.
He is not related to the former UK basketball player of the same name.
Wendell Carter had 25 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocks to help lead the Georgia Stars over Jayson Tatum and the St. Louis Eagles in the championship game of the Peach Jam on Sunday.
Carter — ranked by Scout.com as the No. 2 player in the class of 2017 — already has a scholarship offer from Kentucky.