Kentucky Basketball: Underclassmen Recruits Wildcats Have Their Eyes on
The upcoming season and 2013 recruiting class may receive the majority of the Big Blue Nation's interest at this time of year. However, this article is dedicated to the youngsters that are currently in the class of 2014 and beyond.
Nearly every high school basketball player in North America would like to say he received an offer from the University of Kentucky. That's where the program is now, thanks to John Calipari. These underclassmen, teenagers, whatever you want to call them, have the Wildcats on their list.
Most probably have Lexington as one of their top college destinations.
In this article, you will find 10 prodigious high school basketball players that are not in the 2013 class (at least, not yet). These 10 players have shown interest in Kentucky—and the Wildcats have shown interest in return.
Cliff Alexander, C, 2014
We'll start with one of the newest recipients of a scholarship to play in Lexington—Cliff Alexander.
Alexander is the third-ranked center in his class according to ESPN.com—but he's the first center in his class to receive an offer from Kentucky.
John Calipari loves his point guards, but big men like Alexander are finding a way into Coach Cal's heart. He won't block shots like Anthony Davis or (hopefully) Nerlens Noel, but he's a beast on the inside in his own way.
If you have an offer from the Kentucky Wildcats as a junior in high school, you have talent. Alexander is in that prestigious club.
Joel Berry, PG, 2014
Four players on this list won gold for the USA men's basketball U17 team. Joel Berry is the first. He's a scoring point guard that has had a sensational summer on the AAU circuit.
Berry has not yet been offered by Kentucky, but has garnered well-deserved interest. John Calipari knows his point guards, and Berry could be another in a long line of NBA talent at the position.
However, Berry resides in Florida, and Billy Donovan is known to sign top guards in the state. It will be tough to recruit Berry to play for Calipari in Kentucky when Donovan has such a guard-friendly offense.
Dakari Johnson, C, 2014
The second national star on this list, Dakari Johnson, is the second-best center in the 2014 class according to ESPN.com.
Like Joel Berry, Johnson hasn't received an offer from Kentucky yet. But there is mutual interest, something that should not be undervalued.
Johnson didn't impress in the four 2012 USA Basketball U17 National Team games he appeared in this summer. He's got a long way to go in both recruitment and his overall game.
His head coach, Kevin Boyle, told Adam Zagoria (ZagsBlog.com) that "[Johnson] is legitimately one of the best big kids in the country in terms of drawing fouls on the other players."
Playing with Michael Kidd-Gilchrist certainly helps Kentucky's cause as well.
Stanley Johnson, SF, 2014
Either way, Johnson is well deserving of the attention that Kentucky sends his way. He's one of the most versatile players in the 2014 class, both offensively and defensively.
Johnson may choose to stay out west, but he would be a welcome addition to the 2014 Wildcats class.
Tyus Jones, PG, 2014
I really wanted to do another Team USA picture here, but I'll restrain myself.
Tyus Jones is the last of the four U17 national team members on this list, and he was probably the most impressive.
In eight games (and just two starts), Jones led the USA team with a whopping 43 assists. Next closest? Joel Berry, with 20 dimes less (via USABasketball.com).
Jones is a pure point guard through and through, but that doesn't mean he can't score. He was one of the most impressive performers at the 2012 Nike Peach Jam, and was one player that John Calipari watched on a consistent basis.
He currently has an offer from Kentucky, and the speculation of him playing in Lexington with Andrew Wiggins should elate the Big Blue Nation.
Emmanuel Mudiay, PG, 2014
If you've noticed, the 2014 class is loaded with talented point guards. Emmanuel Mudiay is the second-best point guard in the class according to ESPN.com, right behind Tyus Jones. Both are in the top five overall.
What I like about Mudiay is his size—he's 6'4", 190—and he can play point guard or shooting guard. That versatility has proven to be a valuable commodity in John Calipari's recent lineups, and Mudiay would fit right in.
Mudiay doesn't have an offer from Kentucky just yet, but with his skills and intangibles, it's hard to believe he wouldn't be a recipient of an offer in the near future.
Marial Shayok, SG, 2014
The one name on this list that should have you saying "who?!" is Marial Shayok.
Shayok is from Canada (hopefully you've discovered that on your own), and there isn't much known about his recruitment.
We do know that his play has caught the eye of the Kentucky Wildcats, something that should not go unsaid. He told NBEBasketball.com that "Kentucky had contacted me a couple weeks ago and since I’ve been a big fan of that school for a while, I’d say they would be the favorites."
That's always nice to hear.
One interesting note in Shayok's recruitment is the fact that he's played with Andrew Wiggins, the crown jewel of the 2014 class. Both have represented Canada on the world stage.
Karl Towns Jr., C, 2015
The only player from the 2015 class to make this list is Karl Towns Jr.
He made the Dominican Republic national team and was coached by John Calipari during that time. Towns' father told Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo! Sports that Kentucky now has the "leg up" in his son's recruitment.
In Eisenberg's article, you'll find that Towns played U17 ball for the Dominican team last summer and averaged over 15 points and eight rebounds per game. He was 16 years old.
There's still a long way to go before Towns' recruitment really picks up, but Kentucky looks like the favorite.
Noah Vonleh, PF, 2014
Noah Vonleh could be a key piece in the 2014 class for John Calipari.
He's ranked fourth in his class by ESPN.com. He's expressed interest in Kentucky, and Kentucky has expressed interest in him.
There is no scholarship offer on the table just yet, but there is no reason to think Calipari wouldn't extend Vonleh an offer. In a class with guards and big men aplenty, Vonleh's skill as a forward would be much-needed to round out the class.
Regardless of what players Calipari lands in 2014, Vonleh will be one of the best.
Andrew Wiggins, SF, 2014
I'll save you the trouble of reading another post that raves about Andrew Wiggins, but by default, his name needs to be on this list.
By now, you all should know that he is the best prospect, regardless of class, in the world. It's Wiggins. He has an offer from Kentucky, and John Calipari frequently attends of his games.
One excruciatingly large question mark for Wiggins is what class he will end up in. He's currently in the 2014 class, but he could reclassify to the 2013 class and speed up his amateur career.
Regardless of what class he winds up in, Wiggins is a top priority of the Kentucky Wildcats.