Tai Wynyard will need some company in Kentucky’s 2016 recruiting class and there are several options out there for John Calipari and his staff to bring on board. Many of UK’s top targets were in Lexington over the weekend for the Nike EYBL event, while others were only a short trip away for Cal to get a quick look outside of Kentucky. Needless to say, it was a busy weekend for the coaches as they scout the LOADED crop high school juniors.
Of course, there is still some work to be done with the current recruiting class, but here are some names to remember as the summer AAU circuit and 2016 recruiting picks up…
6’10”, 280 lbs.
Jacksonville, Fla. (Potter’s House Christian)
247Sports Composite: No. 14 overall, No. 1 C
247Sports: No. 12 overall, No. 2 C
Rivals: No. 13 overall, No. 1 C
ESPN: No. 10 overall, No. 1 C
Scout: No. 24 overall, No. 6 C
Notable offers: Duke, Florida, Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland and Texas
Udoka Azubuike (no relation to Kelenna) picked up his offer from Kentucky last summer during the AAU circuit and the Cats are high on his list, although it’s still very early in his recruiting process. He has yet to take any visits, but he was in Lexington over the weekend at the EYBL event at the Kentucky Basketball Academy, where the UK coaching staff and some of the returning players were among the many people in attendance to watch him play.
The native of Nigeria has drawn comparisons to a young Shaquille O’Neal. Watch him dunk and you’ll see why.
6’10”, 230 lbs.
Winston-Salem, N.C. (Wesleyan Christian Academy)
247Sports Composite: No. 2 overall, No. 1 PF
247Sports: No. 3 overall, No. 1 PF
Rivals: No. 2 overall, No. 1 PF
ESPN: No. 2 overall, No. 1 PF
Scout: No. 1 overall, No. 1 PF
Considering: Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, Ohio State, Syracuse, UNLV and Wake Forest
It won’t be easy to lure Harry Giles out of his home state of North Carolina, but Kentucky is making an effort for the one-time No. 1 player in the class. Like Azubuike and others, he played in front of Calipari in Lexington over the weekend. In fact, Cal did not miss any of Giles’ games.
The second member of the 2016 class to receive a scholarship offer from UK, Giles was also one of the first to receive an in-home visit with Cal during the April recruiting period.
Shooting Guard/Small Forward
6’6″, 184 lbs.
Napa, Ca. (Prolific Prep)
247Sports Composite: No. 1 overall, No. 1 SG
247Sports: No. 1 overall, No. 1 SG
Rivals: No. 1 overall, No. 1 SG
ESPN: No. 3 overall, No. 2 SF
Scout: No. 2 overall, No. 1 SF
Considering: Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, North Carolina, North Carolina State and UCLA
There is no reported offer for Jackson from Kentucky, but he’s No. 1 in three of the five major player rankings, so he’s certainly one to keep an eye on. The coaching staff watched him play a mediocre game yesterday at the Under Armour Association, one day after he scored 41 points with seven rebounds and six assists.
6’7″, 179 lbs.
Fairfax, Va. (Paul VI High School)
247Sports Composite: No. 15 overall, No. 2 SF
247Sports: No. 23 overall, No. 4 SF
Rivals: No. 11 overall, No. 2 SF
ESPN: No. 18 overall, No. 4 SF
Scout: No. 12 overall, No. 5 SF
Notable offers: Louisville, Kentucky, Ohio State, Kansas, Connecticut, Georgetown, Michigan State and Syracuse, among others
Keep an eye on V.J. King but don’t fall too in love because he has a very close relationship with Louisville, via assistant coach Kenny Johnson, formerly of the staff at King’s Paul VI High School in Virginia. King recently set up an official visit to Louisville for May 19 and he speaks very highly of the UofL program. That trip to see the Cards will be King’s first official visit and it is the only trip he has scheduled as of now.
Kentucky is still fighting, however. King said he hears from the Cats once or twice a week.
6’3″, 170 lbs.
Bentonville, Ark. (Bentonville High School)
247Sports Composite: No. 6 overall, No. 3 SG
247Sports: No. 13 overall, No. 5 SG
Rivals: No. 7 overall, No. 3 SG
ESPN: No. 14 overall, No. 4 SG
Scout: No. 4 overall, No. 1 SG
Considering: Arkansas, Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina
Kentucky’s toughest competition for Malik Monk is Arkansas, Monk’s home state school. Calipari was in Arkansas last week to talk to Monk during an in-home visit, before watching him drop 39 points in a game over the weekend at KBA.
It wasn’t the first time Monk went off in front of Cal, either. He had a similar performance last summer in the Nike Peach Jam, shortly after receiving his offer from UK.
6’5″, 177 lbs.
Alpharetta, Ga. (Saint Francis High School)
247Sports Composite: No. 9 overall, No. 1 CG
247Sports: No. 16 overall, No. 3 CG
Rivals: No. 12 overall, No. 4 PG
ESPN: No. 5 overall, No. 2 PG
Scout: No. 7 overall, No. 2 PG
With Derryck Thornton reclassifying to 2015 to play for Duke next season, Kobi Simmons is the new priority for Kentucky at point guard and the interest is mutual between both parties. Simmons received his offered from UK two weeks ago and he was so excited he had to call Calipari back to make sure it was real.
Though he was ecstatic to receive the offer and UK is believed to be the leader, Simmons still plans to wait until the end of the summer to make a decision.
6’8″, 190 lbs.
St. Louis, Mo. (Chaminade College Prep)
247Sports Composite: No. 3 overall, No. 1 SF
247Sports: No. 4 overall, No. 1 SF
Rivals: No. 3 overall, No. 1 SF
ESPN: No. 1 overall, No. 1 SF
Scout: No. 3 overall, No. 2 SF
Final list: Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and Saint Louis
Kentucky’s track record with sending players to the NBA has the school in Jayson Tatum’s final four, a list he announced earlier this month. Calipari was in St. Louis to meet with Tatum last Tuesday and the NBA was a major topic in their conversation.
Tatum was in Lexington over the weekend and he threw down a nasty dunk on a defender with Calipari sitting courtside, looking on.
He was the first member of the 2016 class to receive the coveted scholarship offer from UK, so his relationship with Cal goes way back.