Kentucky Wildcats' Top Targets for 2013 and Beyond

Paul AblesContributor IIIJune 15, 2012

Kentucky Wildcats' Top Targets for 2013 and Beyond

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    Kentucky has landed either the first or second overall recruiting class in each of the previous four seasons, and that trend is likely to remain heading into the 2013 and 2014 recruiting seasons. Head coach John Calipari has extended offers to some of the top players in the country, and a number of top overall prospects are strongly considering Kentucky as one of their favorite schools.

    The list of players considering the Wildcats is extremely long, so the following list of players focuses solely on the elite prospects that are at the head of their class. If Calipari manages to land even one or two of these high school superstars, then the future will shine even brighter for the Wildcats.

James Young, No. 9 Overall in 2013 Class

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    James Young has become a high-riser in the 2013 recruiting class, steadily improving his reputation and now ranking as one of the top 10 prospects in the group. Young is a 6'6" 200 pound forward out of Troy, MI, and has emerged as a top priority for Kentucky head coach John Calipari.

    Young excels from the perimeter and projects as an above-average shooter from the three-point line. He also finishes through traffic in transition. His offensive game is raw in some areas as he continues to fill out his frame, but he is a multi-talented forward who can fill up the stat sheets on the basketball court.

    On the recruiting trail, Young is actively campaigning for Kentucky to extend him a scholarship offer. In fact, the Michigan native appears to favor the Wildcats even over in-state powerhouse Michigan State.

    Young would be an excellent fit in Calipari's system, as he offers tremendous versatility and length, two of the coach's favorite traits.

    If Young continues his success into next season, expect the forward to eventually receive a scholarship offer from Kentucky. If this occurs, than James Young could be the first five-star commitment in the 2013 class.

Chris Walker, No. 6 Overall in 2013 Class

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    Chris Walker is the highest-rated big man in the 2013 class, with Rivals naming him their sixth overall prospect in the group.

    Standing 6'9" and weighing 220 pounds, Walker has a long, lanky frame that is similar to current Miami Heat star Chris Bosh.

    Walker plays with power and finesse in the paint, using his long arms to deflect shots and weave his way through traffic. Once he arrives at the rim, he usually finishes the play with a powerful one-handed slam or an acrobatic layup to avoid defenders.

    In terms of his recruitment, Walker has six schools that he is strongly considering at the moment. According to an interview with Syracuse blog "Nation of Orange," Walker is considering Florida, Kentucky, Syracuse, Kansas, Baylor and Ohio State. He has received scholarship offers from all of those schools except for Kentucky, who is likely going to wait until later in the recruiting season to extend an offer to the talented forward.

    In the same interview, Walker mentions that John Calipari wants to utilize him in a similar manner to Anthony Davis and eventually Nerlens Noel, namely running the floor, blocking shots and finishing in transition.

    Walker wants to receive an offer from Kentucky, so they will become a likely favorite if Calipari extends a scholarship to the stud forward.

Andrew and Aaron Harrison, No. 2 and No. 5 Overall in 2013 Class

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    Two of the best players in the 2013 recruiting class are twins—Aaron and Andrew Harrison. Both players are 6'5" guards, and they hail from Travis, Texas. 

    The duo differ slightly from each other at the guard position, with Aaron running the team as a point guard and Andrew hitting shots as the primary shooting guard. Both players are incredible athletes and have smooth handles and pure shooting strokes from long range.

    Aaron and Andrew intend to enroll in the same school, so one lucky program will land possibly the sweetest duo package in basketball recruiting history. According to a recent interview with the NBE Basketball Report, there are four schools who stand out as favorites for their commitment:

    Aaron, a 6-foot-5, 210-pound shooting guard, told NBE Sports that KentuckyMarylandBaylor, and Villanova are the main schools being considered by him and his brother. He claims no favorites, but did concede that one program generates the most buzz when he and Andrew talk college.

    Fans of the blue and white are going to love the answer that the twins gave to this question:

    “Yeah, like Kentucky probably,” Harrison said.

    Asked why it is UK that is in that spot, Harrison replied, “They put people in the NBA and their style of play is great.”

    The twins have long been rumored to land at Kentucky, and one of the main reasons why is head coach John Calipari. When asked about Coach Cal, Aaron had this to say:

    “It’s a great feeling. [He is] such a wonderful coach—great career, put so many people in the NBA. Feels amazing.”

    Signs are certainly pointing the Cats way, but everyone knows that there is never a guarantee in college recruiting. However, the Harrison twins appear to be incredible prospects in the 2013 class and will hopefully form the backbone of another top-ranked recruiting class next season.

Jabari Parker, No. 1 Overall in 2013 Class

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    John Calipari has a knack for landing the top overall player in a recruiting class, with stars John Wall and Anthony Davis each serving as the nation's best high school prospect in the 2009 and 2011 classes, respectively. Each player had a phenomenal freshman season at Kentucky and eventually became the top overall draft pick in their NBA draft class.

    With such a successful precedent set in front of him, Jabari Parker will certainly have to give Kentucky a serious, hard look as one of the favorites to land his commitment.

    Parker is currently rated the best basketball player in the 2013 class and is an absolute stud on the basketball court.

    Rivals lists him as a 6'7" 215 pound small forward and the best player in a potentially loaded class for Calipari and the Wildcats. Many of the country's top players are considering Kentucky, but Parker would be the gem of the class regardless of who else commits.

    He possesses an elite all-around skill set and has all of the tools that you look for in a small forward. Parker can shoot with range, finish strong at the rim and drive to the hoop at will with a vast array of moves. 

    At the moment, many schools are on his radar, but he is certainly considering the Wildcats as one of his favorites. However, it will be a fight for his commitment. He is the nation's hottest prospect, as evidenced by his recent appearance on the cover of Sports Illustrated

    Whoever lands him is receiving a heck of a kid and player. Kentucky has Parker in their sights and hopes to see him emerge as one of their leaders heading into the fall signing period. 

Andrew Wiggins, No. 1 Overall in 2014 Class

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    The previous five players were all members of the 2013 recruiting class, and it features some extremely important recruits for Calipari. However, no prospect is more desired or more important to the sustained success of Kentucky basketball than Andrew Wiggins.

    Wiggins is a member of the 2014 recruiting class, currently serving as the nation's top sophomore prospect and soon-to-be top junior. Many analysts believe that he could be the best prospect regardless of class, meaning that he is at least on the same level or higher as 2013 top player Jabari Parker.

    Andrew is a 6'7" small forward and hails from Canada, but currently plays basketball at Huntington Prep in West Virginia. He also plays for the CIA Bounce AAU team, who are often ranked as the best AAU squad in the country.

    Wiggins has nearly every skill that one would desire in a small forward, including incredible shooting range, elite athleticism, explosive leaping ability and a knack for attacking and finishing at the rim. 

    His most impressive outing to date was his appearance in the 2012 Nike Hoops Summit. Wiggins starred for the international squad as a sophomore, and he scored 20 points and grabbed seven rebounds while leading the team to a victory over the Team USA squad, which is comprised of the nation's top high school seniors. It is impressive enough for a sophomore to play in the event, let alone star alongside players two years older than him.

    Kentucky head coach John Calipari is hot on the heels of Wiggins and is clearly making him the number one priority of the 2014 recruiting class.