A top-ten prospect in the class of 2021 is off the board for John Calipari and the Kentucky basketball program.
This evening, Peyton Watson – the No. 1 high school player in California – announced his commitment to UCLA, choosing the Bruins over offers from Arizona, Gonzaga, Michigan, Oregon, USC and Washington, among others.
Watson has called Kentucky his “dream school” on numerous occasions in the past and recently told Chris Fisher of CatsPause.com that he “grew up on” UK basketball.
“Growing up, I watched them the most out of all the schools recruiting me,” Watson told Fisher. “They were always on TV. That’s what I grew up on. I started paying attention when they had De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk. I loved that team.”
Despite his interest in the Kentucky program, UK never extended a scholarship offer, as speculation has grown in recent months that it would have been difficult for any school to get the Long Beach, CA native away from the West Coast. While Kentucky could have made some noise had Watson prolonged his recruitment, an early announcement was a strong signal that the five-star forward was going to stay home.
Watson, who is considered the No. 8 overall prospect and No. 3 small forward in the 247Sports player rankings, had seven predictions in favor of the Bruins in his Crystal Ball at the time of his announcement. The 6-foot-7 forward also had six FutureCast predictions in favor of UCLA over at Rivals.com.
While Kentucky is not the landing spot for Watson, the Wildcats remain in solid position for five-star forwards Paolo Banchero (2021) and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield (2022), with the latter expected to reclassify to 2021 in the coming months.
UK is also the favorite to land top-ten prospect Jaden Hardy, along with five-star guard and Kentucky lean Skyy Clark also strongly considering a reclassification to 2021. Factor those four targets, along with potential returnees from the current roster, and Kentucky remains in solid shape for the 2021-22 basketball season.