The Kentucky basketball program has been on a cold streak in terms of raking in top-five talent recently, but as of now, the hope is that 2020 five-star guard Jalen Green can be the one to end it.
After being involved for quite some time, Kentucky’s recruiting efforts have picked up tremendously over the last month or two. Now, there are whispers in the recruiting circles that not only are the Wildcats a strong contender to land ESPN’s No. 3 player in the class, they’re likely the favorite.
At the 2019 Nike Peach Jam this week, Green addressed that speculation, saying the pro-UK buzz is absolutely there.
“Yeah… I mean, Coach Cal and [Kentucky assistant] Joel Justus, they’re always contacting me,” Green told KSR. “I talk to Cal, I talk to Joel, they’re really cool people, great coaches. It’s definitely been a buzz, I don’t know what it’s about, but it’s there. I had an interview at Team USA saying that they’re for sure going to be my top [school] so yeah…”
Speaking of Green’s time with Team USA for the U19 FIBA World Cup, Justus traveled across the globe to Greece to see the prized Kentucky target in action two weeks ago.
The top-five prospect noticed.
“It definitely means a lot, that’s love right there,” Green said.
When asked of UK’s pitch and what their communication has been like, the five-star guard said he loves how genuine everyone on the staff is.
“They just keep it real, they came out and did a visit to my school, Prolific Prep. It was [Joel Justus] and Cal,” he said. “They just keep it real with me. … They say they love me at the program, they want me there. Things like that.”
Outside of Kentucky, Memphis has been seen as the other program in serious consideration for Green. On Wednesday evening, the 6-foot-6 guard said that he’s a fan of the Tigers and was “starstruck” when Penny Hardaway first reached out.
“I was shook though (when Hardaway first called), and I was starstruck at the moment,” he said. “I was like ‘okay Penny’s calling me that’s big.’ On my visit though, we built a better relationship, and he texts me a lot more now.”
When asked about Memphis’ elite recruiting class this year, Green said he’ll be watching the Tigers closely to see what they can do with the talent lining their roster. For better or for worse, that could impact his decision.
“Yeah, it’s important to watch and see what they do [this year], their coaching style,” he said. “I watched them a little bit last year, so I already know what it would take [if I went there]. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with a great team like this.”
While he likes Hardaway and the Memphis program, Green said that he’ll be doing what’s best for him from a business standpoint.
“Penny Hardaway is the GOAT and everything, but at the end of the day, it’s my college career,” he said. “It’s a business decision, so I have to just sit down and figure out what’s best for me.”
During the interview with Green, an assistant coach for AOT featuring Kentucky targets BJ Boston and Sharife Cooper interjected, saying, “Sharife, BJ, and Jalen Green are all a package deal to Kentucky. You heard it here first.”
After originally laughing it off, Green was asked if that scenario was a possibility, specifically in terms of joining Boston – a fellow elite shooting guard prospect – in a college backcourt.
Instead of brushing it off, the Kentucky target said he could “definitely” see that situation playing out.
“Yeah, definitely,” he said with a smile. “You already know we would be gunning.”
Immediately afterward, Green and Boston walked out of the interview area together and proceeded to talk for several minutes…
Jalen Green was asked if he could see himself sharing a backcourt with B.J. Boston, quickly responded “definitely.” ??? pic.twitter.com/gA8y9o52LL
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) July 11, 2019
In terms of what’s next for him and his recruitment, the dynamic scoring guard said he’ll now look toward scheduling visits with four different programs.
“I don’t know the exact dates, but I’m trying to go back to Memphis, Oregon, UCLA, and Kentucky,” Green said
As far as his decision is concerned, the Prolific Prep standout admitted that he is nowhere near making a decision and that it could be “mad late” when makes it official.
Once his high school basketball season comes to a close, Green says his recruitment will really start ramping up.
“I’m probably really going to start thinking about it [top schools] when my high school season is over,” he said. “Whenever I feel like I want to go to a certain school for sure, that’s when I’m going to announce it.”