Unlike the Nike Hoop Summit, which unwisely left a couple UK recruits off their list, all four Kentucky recruits got a chance to show their stuff in the high-octane, poor-defense shootout known as the Jordan Brand Classic. The third major high school All-Star game, and the second of which to feature all four of our guys, was a fun exhibition of a diverse array of skills we can look forward to next year, regardless of who comes back.
First, Karl Anthony Towns. The big man showed that he’s not limited to staying right around the rim, knocking down outside shots and throwing a few assists, including a sweet no-look, behind-the-back dime from half court that had the commentators ooh-ing and aah-ing for the next few possessions. Not to mention, Towns apparently conveyed the opinion of his doctors that he might still grow another 2-4 inches. Karl’s already pushing 7′, so any height on top of that would make an already daunting presence flat out ridiculous.
Tyler Ulis and Devin Booker got their fair share of attention as UK’s future backcourt, with some praise thrown Ulis’ way for being a guy to “facilitate,” and play “94 feet” on defense. What he lacks in size, he makes up for in tenacity and vision, and the Jordan game was a great chance for him to show his stuff among much taller players. We can no longer be surprised when Ulis shows up and either takes control of the team from the start, or challenges Andrew Harrison for playing time, whichever the case may be. He also tossed in a three in the face of Louisville recruit Shaqquan Aaron, so we appreciate him getting a head start on that. Booker displayed his nice outside touch on several occasions.
Ulis also got this shoutout from friend of LeBron, Cuffs the Legend (does anybody know his real name?):
saw Tyler Ulis play @CP3 1-on-1 last Summer. The boy held his own. He’s the REAL DEAL. Kentucky getting another good one
– Cuffs The Legend (@CuffsTheLegend) April 19, 2014
Trey Lyles was fairly quiet on the offensive end, minus a nice and-1 in the second half to give the East an 11-point lead. He did however pull down 8 boards, which is considerable when you’re surrounded by guys 6’10” and up. He and Towns anchored the inside for the winning East.
There was an interesting note in the second half as ESPN high school recruiting expert Paul Biancardi mentioned that Tyler Ulis would have plenty of frontcourt help, with “Willie Cauley-Stein and Dakari Johnson” coming back to UK. Does Biancardi know something we don’t, or is he just making stuff up? Of course, smart money is on the latter, but still. Any news helps.
Also check out a fun highlight in the 3-D projection shown on the court pre-game. As far as low-lights go, there was Joel Embiid’s fedora.