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Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: Wildcats Looking to Add In-State Talent

These two have been busy on the recruiting trail.
These two have been busy on the recruiting trail.J. Meric/Getty Images
Matt OveringContributor IIISeptember 30, 2016

Recent events indicate that Kentucky is looking for in-state talent to fill its 2013 recruiting class. Assistant coach Orlando Antigua has been on the trail looking at high school seniors Dominique Hawkins and Emmanuel Owootoah.

When you think of Kentucky basketball recruiting, you think of 5-star players. You think of John Wall, Anthony Davis and Nerlens Noel. For 2013, the amount of 5-star prospects is absurd. Andrew and Aaron Harrison, James Young, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee are all 5-star recruits, according to ESPN.

But Hawkins is a 3-star according to Rivals, and hasn't been rated by ESPN. Owootoah is in the same boat. He isn't rated by Rivals and is not in the ESPN recruiting database.

Not much has been said about these two Kentuckians. The Lexington Herald-Leader reported that Hawkins, a senior at Madison Central, has drawn interest from the Wildcats, particularly from Coach Antigua.

Owootoah (Cordia High School) told Adam Zagoria that he would be reclassifying to the 2013 class. His coach told Zagoria that Antigua has shown interest in the young guard.

This shows that John Calipari is looking for stable backcourt options for the future—not just next season. The fact that Kentucky is even showing interest in these guards is a sign that Calipari isn't satisfied with his current class. 

As of this writing, Kentucky has six players in its 2013 recruiting class. The aforementioned five 5-stars are joined by in-state prospect Derek Willis, a 3-star according to ESPN.

Kentucky may or may not have roster space for these six next year (if everyone who is eligible to stay does actually stay, Kentucky will have 14 scholarship players). The maximum amount of scholarship players on a roster is 13.

With the way the 2013 recruiting class has gone for Kentucky, another player wouldn't be out of the question. Calipari is still looking to add another 5-star (or two) in Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle or Aaron Gordon.

Some of the freshmen may leave. Noel seems likely to leave (he's still a projected top five pick, even after a season-ending injury), and his three freshmen teammates may follow suit. 

Who stays and who leaves will dictate how many open roster spots Calipari has to play with.

This means that Hawkins and Owootoah's scholarship possibilities are tied to the departure/return of the current Wildcats.

Even if a scholarship becomes available, playing time would be tough to come by for these two. Jarrod Polson and Ryan Harrow would be next in line behind Andrew Harrison at point guard, and shooting guard is just as deep if Archie Goodwin stays.

For the Kentucky staff, the recruiting pitch to Hawkins and Owootoah would be an interesting one. They are in-state and would have a great chance to win an NCAA championship at Kentucky. 

And, even if they don't land a scholarship offer, they could take the "preferred walk-on" route, similar to what Polson received three years ago. He was rated as a 1-star by ESPN.

Polson earned a scholarship his second year, and this year (his third) has been another step in a positive direction.

Hawkins and Owootoah, two promising young guards, could take the same route. They would stabilize a Kentucky backcourt known for having one-year guards.

 

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