Late this summer, it looked as though Kentucky would be landing the top-ranked recruiting class in 2020, but the makeup of said group seemed completely different on the surface level at the time.
Five-star guard BJ Boston was already committed – he did so on July 27 at the conclusion of his official visit to Lexington – but Kentucky had its eyes on a few other guards to potentially join him. Those prospects? Five-star guards Jalen Green, Josh Christopher, and Daishen Nix.
Behind the scenes, UK was uncertain of the idea of bringing in four high-level, starter-quality guards. Sources told KSR at the time, though, that they were openly discussing the possibility of that coming to fruition in Lexington. If they were dying to do it, Kentucky wouldn’t say no.
Fast forward just a few months, and the three serious guard options Kentucky had were no longer considering the Wildcats, and vice versa. Instead, 2021 top-five prospect Terrence Clarke became a major reclassification possibility, as did 2021 five-star point guard Devin Askew.
Both reclassified and signed with Kentucky, while the three previous options signed elsewhere or are set to do so in the spring.
So what happened in UK’s breakup with Green, Christopher, and Nix?
For Christopher, it was more of a fit issue. Sources told KSR after the breakup this fall that Kentucky was intrigued with the idea of Green and Christopher playing together in the same backcourt, but didn’t know how he’d fit in if the former went elsewhere. When they parted ways with one, they essentially parted ways with both.
To this point, Christopher hasn’t gone public about how it unfolded other than the fact that he is no longer being recruited by the Wildcats.
The other two, however, opened up a bit more about the process this weekend.
After talks with Kentucky broke down during the fall recruiting period, Jalen Green’s step father, Marcus Greene, told KSR that the five-star guard would have ended up at UK “if they had it their way.” Instead, the parties decided to “mutually part ways.”
In an interview with Larry Vaught of VaughtsViews.com at the Marshall County HoopFest this weekend, Green said his commitment to Kentucky was “supposed to happen” but fell through.
Now, UK is “no longer recruiting” the five-star guard.
“It was supposed to happen but me and Kentucky parted ways,” Green said. “They are no longer in the running. My college offers are still open. I still don’t know what I want to do. It’s very stressful. Big decision for me. Biggest decision I have ever made but Kentucky no longer is recruiting me.”
As for Nix, sources told KSR in the late summer that Kentucky was interested, but concerns of the five-star guard’s shooting ability held them back from offering a scholarship quite yet. Instead, they wanted to see how he progressed on that front going into his senior season before pulling the trigger.
Instead, Nix jumped on an abrupt college decision, choosing the UCLA Bruins in late August.
Nix, who also participated in the Marshall County HoopFest this weekend, told Vaught that Kentucky was his “second pick.”
“Kentucky was my second pick. It was Kentucky or UCLA pretty much the whole time,” Nix said. “My family is mostly on the west coast. Just easier for them to drive to UCLA or it is an hour flight.”
Nix’s coach and mentor, Greg Lockridge, told Vaught that if Kentucky had prioritized the five-star guard more, he likely would’ve signed with the Wildcats.
Instead, John Calipari and the UK coaching staff looked elsewhere, so Nix did the same.
At the end of the day, the “connection was just not there.”
“I think Cal had his sights more maybe in a different direction and maybe didn’t recruit this one (Nix) as hard as he did some of the other ones (that UK signed),” Lockridge said. “We thought had he recruited hard that there was a very good chance he would have been at the University of Kentucky.”