Despite what your KSR Summer Tour t-shirts say, the KSR crew will NOT be at the Peach Jam, which starts on Thursday. A scheduling snafu will keep Matt, Drew, and Tomlin away from scenic North Augusta for the first time in…well…as long as I can remember, and the Hooters waitresses are reportedly already in mourning; however, just because KSR won’t be there in person won’t stop us from covering it extensively. (Has it ever before?)
Six 2016 players with offers from Kentucky will play in the tournament, the finals of the Nike EYBL circuit. The 2016 class is loaded and Kentucky still has a lot of ground to make up with the best of the best, so this weekend will be crucial for John Calipari and staff to make a good impression after a spring of combating negative recruiting.
Who wants to be next? Here are six candidates and when they’ll be in the spotlight…
UK Targets to Watch
6’10”, 230 lbs.
AAU: Team CP3
247Sports Composite: No. 1 overall
247Sports: No. 2 overall, No. 1 PF
Rivals: No. 2 overall
ESPN: No. 1 overall
Leaders: Duke, North Carolina, Wake Forest, Kentucky, Kansas
Buzz: After an impressive showing at the U19 World Championships, Giles remains atop Calipari’s 2016 wish list, but most believe the North Carolina native will choose to stay at home to play for Duke, UNC, or Wake Forest.
6’8″, 190 lbs.
AAU team: St. Louis Eagles
247Sports Composite: No. 4 overall, No. 1 SF
247Sports: No. 11 overall, No. 2 SF
Rivals: No. 3 overall
ESPN: No. 2 overall, No. 1 SF
Final list: Duke, Kentucky, and Saint Louis
Buzz: Like Giles, Tatum impressed at the U19 World Championships. Duke is considered his leader, but his father is pushing him to stay home and play for St. Louis. Could Giles and Tatum team up again for Blue Devils? (Please no.)
6’3″, 170 lbs.
AAU team: Arkansas Wings Elite
247Sports Composite: No. 5 overall, No. 2 SG
247Sports: No. 3 overall, No. 2 SG
Rivals: No. 6 overall
ESPN: No. 5 overall, No. 1 SG
Leaders: Arkansas, Kentucky, Oregon, FSU, Kansas, SMU, St. John’s, UNC
Buzz: In a true testament to the crazy world of recruiting, Monk announced today that he will announce his top five on his brother’s new radio show in August. His brother was a two-sport star at Arkansas, and the home state Razorbacks are considered his favorite.
6’7″, 225 lbs.
AAU team: The Family
247Sports Composite: No. 19 overall, No. 3 SF
247Sports: No. 23 overall, No. 3 SF
Rivals: No. 24 overall
ESPN: No. 7 overall, No. 3 SF
Leaders: Kentucky, Michigan State, North Carolina, Iowa State, Michigan
Buzz: Bridges was considered a Michigan State lean until Kentucky offered in late April. The Cats now have a 62% lead in his Crystal Ball.
6’10”, 280 lbs.
AAU team: Georgia Stars
247Sports Composite: No. 24 overall, No. 3 C
247Sports: No. 12 overall, No. 1 C
Rivals: No. 26 overall
ESPN: No. 19 overall, No. 3 C
Leaders: Florida State, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky
Buzz: Florida State is honing in on the Nigerian native, and with Jonathan Isaac committing to the Seminoles earlier this week, that could be a pretty appealing option since Azubuike has spent the past three years in nearby Jacksonville; however, Kentucky, Kansas, and Duke are all still in the hunt for “Baby Shaq.”
6’10”, 236 lbs.
AAU team: Pro Skills
247Sports Composite: No. 17 overall, No. 1 C
247Sports: No. 33 overall, No. 4 C
Rivals: No. 14 overall
ESPN: No. 15 overall, No. 1 C
Leaders: Kansas, Baylor, UConn, North Carolina, Kentucky, Duke
Buzz: Bolden got an offer from Kentucky in May, although Kansas is considered his early leader after offering him back in July 2014. Bolden’s got good touch and athleticism for a player his size. Of note: Bolden attends DeSoto High School in Texas, the alma mater of Duke player Matt Jones. Also of note: Bolden’s AAU coach is Jeff Webster, who also coached Julius Randle.
One more to keep an eye on
Michael Porter, Jr. (2017)
6’9″, 190 lbs.
AAU team: Mokan Elite
247Sports Composite: No. 2 overall, No. 1 SF
247Sports: No. 2 overall, No. 1 SF
Rivals: No. 2 overall
ESPN: No. 2 overall, No. 1 SF
Offers: Baylor, Colorado, Duke, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Syracuse, Virginia, Washington
Buzz: No, no no, not THAT Michael Porter. Phew. This Michael Porter doesn’t have an offer from Kentucky yet, but it may very well come after Calipari sees him this weekend. This Michael Porter plays for Mokan Elite, the same AAU team Willie Cauely-Stein played for in high school. That worked out well, right? Again, this Michael Porter is not that Michael Porter.
Games to Watch
Mac Irvin Fire vs. Team CP3 (Harry Giles), 9 a.m. ET
Harry Giles is all anyone can talk about on the recruiting circuit right now and even though Thursday morning’s schedule is packed, you better believe coaches will keep an eye on his court.
The Family Detroit (Miles Bridges) vs. Georgia Stars (Udoka Azubuike), 9 a.m. ET
Kentucky has had some difficulty recruiting at the small forward position lately, and with Jonathan Isaac committing to Florida State and Jayson Tatum leaning towards Duke, UK’s best option at the three may be Bridges, who will play against Azubuike’s Georgia Stars.
Playaz Basketball Club vs. St. Louis Eagles (Jayson Tatum), 9 a.m. ET
The first chance to see Jayson Tatum play after a big week in Greece. Something tells me Cal will be straddling a few courts Thursday morning.
Team Penny vs. Arkansas Wings (Malik Monk), 10:30 a.m.
Monk is one of the best scorers in the class, and therefore always entertaining to watch. He burst onto the recruiting scene after an impressive showing at the Peach Jam last summer. What will happen this go around?
Georgia Stars (Udoka Azubuike) vs. Pro Skills TX (Marques Bolden), 6 p.m. ET
A showdown of two of the top centers in the class, this will definitely be a marquee matchup Thursday evening. Azubuike has slipped a little in the rankings lately, so it will be interesting to see him go up against Bolden, another big man the Cats are targeting.
Team Takeover (VJ King) vs. Arkansas Wings (Malik Monk), 9 a.m. ET
In case a Louisville fan hasn’t told you fifty times since then, King committed to the Cards last month. There was some question on whether or not King held an offer from Kentucky and it will be interesting to see how looks when compared to Monk, one of the elite players in the class.
Pro Skills TX (Marques Bolden) vs. The Family Detroit (Miles Bridges), 10:30 a.m. ET
Another chance to see two UK targets battle it out.
Team Final (Tyus Battle) vs. Team CP3 (Harry Giles), 12 p.m. ET
Battle decommitted from Michigan last month and took an official visit to Syracuse, likely his next destination. Plus, more Harry Giles.
Team CP3 (Harry Giles) vs. Team Takeover (VJ King), 9 p.m. ET
More Harry Giles and a chance to root against a future Louisville player. Sign me up.
Las Vegas Prospects vs. Pro Skills TX (Marques Bolden), 9 a.m. ET
The first of back-to-back chances to see Bolden, whose team will play Albany City Rocks (a very underrated team name, if I may say so) at 10:30 a.m.
Arkansas Wings (Malik Monk) vs. Team CP3 (Harry Giles), 12 p.m. ET
The best game on the docket, in my opinion. Giles is considered by most the best player in the class and Monk the best scorer. Who will elevate their game at the summer’s biggest tournament?
King James vs. St. Louis Eagles (Jayson Tatum), 12 p.m. ET
Tatum broke a Greek player’s nose with a dunk over the weekend in Greece. What will he do next?
Semifinals, Teams TBA, 9 a.m. ET, ESPNU
Finals, Teams TBS, 12 p.m. ET, ESPNU
Which player are you most excited to see?