It’s no secret Kentucky has been in solid position with five-star recruiting targets Paolo Banchero, Jaden Hardy, and Brandon Huntley-Hatfield for months now, both publicly and behind the scenes.
Today, though, Corey Evans of Rivals.com took it a step further by projecting all three to Kentucky in the class of 2021.
Hardy has long been seen as a heavy UK lean, and in today’s update, Evans said the 6-foot-4 guard out of Las Vegas is “the likeliest 2021 Kentucky commitment.”
“Jaden Hardy committing to anyone but Kentucky would be one of the bigger surprises I could see happening in the coming months,” Evans said. “However, that doesn’t mean the competition for his services has dwindled in recent weeks. In fact, the very best along the West Coast remain involved, including Oregon, where his brother will be a graduate transfer this winter. Michigan also remains very involved. However, Hardy is my selection for the likeliest 2021 Kentucky commitment.”
While he feels Hardy is Kentucky’s likeliest option, Huntley-Hatfield – a current 2022 prospect, but the expectation is he reclassifies to 2021 – isn’t far behind.
“Brandon Huntley-Hatfield is not too far off, but he does need to move into the 2021 class for it to happen,” Evans said. “Huntley-Hatfield is still just 16 years old, so he is the proper age for the 2022 class. But the talent, size and need for someone of his pedigree is evident at each program nationally, and that could push him into the 2021 class. I am not counting out any of the other bluebloods – or the in-state Tennessee Vols – but Kentucky is my pick for him, too.”
As for the third high-profile prospect – and the highest-ranked at No. 3 in Rivals’ latest recruiting rankings – Paolo Banchero will be a tough get, but he’d still put Kentucky ahead of the pack in his recruitiment.
“Lastly, Paolo Banchero has often discussed playing in college with Kennedy Chandler. Believe it or not, Tennessee has the best chance of making such a package deal happen. UK is definitely a suitor for both, but if the two go their separate ways chances are Banchero picks Kentucky. So, I actually think Hardy, Huntley-Hatfield and Banchero will all end up picking Kentucky, but Hardy is the likeliest.”
As of today, Banchero sits at No. 3 in the Rivals rankings, followed by Hardy at No. 6 overall in the 2021 rankings and Huntley-Hatfield at No. 6 in the 2022 rankings.
Could Kentucky actually land three top-ten prospects in the class of 2021? It’s certainly not out of question.