High School Basketball

Several Kentucky basketball recruits playing in Paducah this weekend

Skal Labissiere, playing for Evangelical Christian, blocked a shot in the Tennessee Division II Class A high school state championship game in Nashville in 2013.
Skal Labissiere, playing for Evangelical Christian, blocked a shot in the Tennessee Division II Class A high school state championship game in Nashville in 2013. ASSOCIATED PRESS

The Mustang Madness is back for its second year, and the showcase event will once again bring several top University of Kentucky basketball recruits to western Kentucky.

UK signees Skal Labissiere and Charles Matthews join several five-star recruits, including Malik Newman, Cheick Diallo, Thomas Bryant, Thon Maker and Josh Jackson, this weekend. Most of the games will be played at McCracken County High School.

Here’s a rundown of some of the top UK recruits who will participate, followed by a full schedule for the event (tickets can be purchased in advance at MustangMadnessTournament.com):

Skal Labissiere (Reach Your Dream Prep): The 6-foot-11 native of Haiti is one of three UK commitments so far for the class of 2015. Scout.com ranks him as the No. 3 overall prospect in the senior class, and his spectacular play of late has him in the discussion for the No. 1 spot.

Charles Matthews (St. Rita): UK’s first commitment for the class of 2015 actually pledged to the Wildcats last February. He has slipped in the recruiting rankings since, but Matthews is off to a great start to his senior season. The 6-5 combo guard was described as “unstoppable” after scoring 29 points and leading his team to victory Tuesday night. (Note: Matthews’ game Friday night will be played at Massac High School in Illinois, a 15-minute drive from McCracken County High).

Malik Newman (Callaway): John Calipari likely already has several talented guards for next season, but the UK coach would love to add Newman to the mix. The 6-4 combo guard from Mississippi is arguably the best scorer in high school basketball. He put on a show at nearby Marshall County High last month, scoring a total of 77 points in two games at the Hoop Fest there. Newman is still considering UK along with Kansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, UConn and a few others. Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 3 player in the senior class.

Cheick Diallo (Our Savior): One of UK’s top remaining targets in the class of 2015, Diallo might be the best post defender in high school basketball and is certainly one of the top overall post players in the class. He’s the No. 4 overall prospect in the 247Sports composite rankings. Diallo has narrowed his list to UK, Kansas, Iowa State, Pittsburgh and St. John’s, and the first three schools on that list are considered the leaders at this time.

Thomas Bryant (Huntington Prep): Another class of 2015 star with a UK scholarship offer, Bryant is a hard-working big man who has been a double-double machine this season. The Rochester, N.Y., native has a final four of UK, Indiana, Missouri and Syracuse. He’s ranked No. 16 in the senior class by ESPN.

Thon Maker (Orangeville Prep): The Sudan native has become a YouTube sensation since coming to the United States a few years ago due to his unique blend of size and skill. Maker — a 7-footer now playing in Canada — has just about every school in the country recruiting him, but UK is one of the top programs on his list and he visited Lexington for a game earlier this season. Rivals.com ranks him as the No. 1 overall player in the class of 2016, though he is still considering a move to 2015.

Josh Jackson (Prolific Prep): There aren’t many players in the country playing better than Jackson, who is in his first season with California-based Prolific Prep after starting his high school career in Detroit. The flashy, 6-7 guard/forward is as athletic as anyone in high school basketball and already has offers from several top programs. Scout.com director of recruiting Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader last week that Jackson is one of three players — along with Jayson Tatum and Harry Giles — in the mix for the No. 1 ranking in the class of 2016. UK assistant Kenny Payne visited him in the fall.

Miles Bridges (Huntington Prep): The 6-6 forward from Michigan has improved his game tremendously in his second season with Huntington Prep. Bridges is an athletic dunk machine and has also earned the reputation as a phenomenal rebounder for his size. Kentucky has expressed interest in recruitment, and Bridges says the Cats will be one of his top choices if they come through with a scholarship offer. ESPN ranks him as the No. 7 player in the class of 2016.

Louisville is firmly in the mix for top-10 junior Terrance Ferguson (Prime Prep) and top-100 senior Traci Carter (Life Center). Josh Jackson is also one of the Cardinals’ priority recruiting targets.

Other elite players at Mustang Madness include five-star 2016 guard and possible UK target Jamal Murray (Orangeville Prep), five-star 2016 forward Mario Kegler (Arlington Country Day), highly touted South Florida signee Tulio da Silva (Arlington Country Day), top-50 2016 forward Mark Vital (Prime Prep) and top-50 2015 forward Ted Kapita (Huntington Prep).

Here’s the updated schedule:

Mustang Madness

McCracken County High School

(All times Central)

Thursday, Jan. 8

Session 14:30 p.m. — Paducah Tilghman vs. Caldwell Co. girls

6 p.m. — McCracken Co. vs. Hopkins Central girls

7:30 p.m. — McCracken Co. vs. Eldorado (Ill.)

9 p.m. — Faith Baptist (Ga.) vs. Quality Education (N.C.)

Friday, Jan. 9

Session 2

4 p.m. — Our Savior (N.Y.) vs. Faith Baptist (Ga.)

5:30 p.m. — Callaway (Miss.) vs. Curie (Ill.)

7 p.m. — Huntington Prep (W.Va.) vs. Quality Education (N.C.)

8:30 p.m. — Prime Prep (Texas) vs. Prolific Prep (Calif.)

8:30 p.m. — St. Rita (Ill.) vs. Arsenal Tech (Ind.) at Massac County, Ill.

Saturday, Jan. 10

Session 3

9:30 a.m. — McCracken Co. vs. Massac (Ill.) girls

11 a.m. — St. Mary vs. Carbondale (Ill.)

12:30 p.m. — Life Center (N.J.) vs. vs. Union City (Tenn.)

2 p.m. — McCracken Co. vs. Muhlenberg Co.

3:30 p.m. — Reach Your Dream (Tenn.) vs. Faith Baptist (Ga.)

Session 4

5 p.m. — Prime Prep (Texas) vs. Our Savior (N.Y.)

6:30 p.m. — Huntington Prep (W.Va.) vs. Callaway (Miss.)

8 p.m. — Prolific Prep (Calif.) vs. Orangeville Prep (Canada)

9:30 p.m. — Sunrise Christian (Kan.) vs. Arlington Country Day (Fla.)

Sunday, Jan. 11

Session 5

1 p.m. — Prolific Prep (Calif.) vs. Life Center (N.J.)

2:30 p.m. — Sunrise Christian (Kan.) vs. Orangeville Prep (Canada)

4 p.m. — Arlington Country Day (Fla.) vs. Prime Prep (Texas)

There will also be four side-session doubleheaders Saturday afternoon:

At Calloway County High School

Noon — Calloway Co. vs. Christian Co. girls

1:30 p.m. — Calloway Co. vs. University Heights

At Graves County High School

Noon — Graves Co. vs. Fulton City girls

1:30 p.m. — Graves Co. vs. Fulton City

At Marshall County High School

Noon — Marshall Co. vs. Evansville Bosse (Ind.)

1:30 p.m. — Marshall Co. vs. Carterville (Ill.)

At Murray High SchoolNoon — Murray vs. Owensboro Catholic girls

1:30 p.m. — Murray High vs. Velma (Miss.)

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader