Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: Biggest Competition for 2014 Targets

Bobby ReaganSenior Analyst IIApril 5, 2017

Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: Biggest Competition for 2014 Targets

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    John Calipari and Kentucky already have a top-10 2014 recruit committed to them in Karl Towns. However, as with any Calipari recruiting class, one top-10 player isn't nearly enough.

    Three of the players Calipari is targeting are Dante Exum, Cliff Alexander and Jahlil Okafor.

    There's a chance those players don't decide until the spring, but we'll take a look at the other schools in the race for each of those players.

Dante Exum

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    You'll see Dante Exum's name on many NBA mock drafts for 2014. Exum is widely considered one of the best players of his age and is projected to go as high as third in next year's draft. 

    With Emmanuel Mudiay somewhat shockingly picking SMU over Kentucky, Exum is high on Calipari's list because of his 6'6" size and skill set at the point guard position. 

    Besides the spotlight of going to the NBA, there is plenty of stiff competition in the Exum sweepstakes. He is also considering North Carolina, Indiana, Michigan and Oregon.

    Outside of the NBA, North Carolina could pose the largest threat to Kentucky for the Australian native. On top of the name recognition of the program, the player's father, Cecil Exum, was on the 1982 national title team in Chapel Hill. 

    However, it is highly likely he will skip college altogether. Exum even told the Herald Sun that his chance of going to college has dropped from 90-10 to 50-50 since his stock has risen.

    Don't ever rule out Calipari when it comes to point guards, though.  

Cliff Alexander

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    Cliff Alexander has held his cards close to his chest when it comes to his recruiting process.

    He has only trimmed his list to 10 schools, which include Kentucky, Michigan State, Louisville, DePaul, Arizona, Kansas, Baylor, Memphis, Illinois and Indiana. 

    Of that group, the biggest threat to Alexander putting on Kentucky's blue and white is probably Michigan State or instate rival Louisville. 

    Alexander, who hails from Chicago, could stay close to home at a big-name school and go to Michigan State. He has been recruited heavily by Rick Pitino, as well as everyone else in the country. 

    The big man has even said the rivalry between Kentucky and Louisville for his recruitment has turned into a war on social media between fans, according to Mike DeCourcy of Sporting News.

    Alexander has also mentioned how great his relationships are with pretty much every coach on his current list of schools, especially Calipari, Pitino, John Groce and Izzo.  

Jahlil Okafor

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    Jahlil Okafor is much like Cliff Alexander. He is an incredibly skilled big man from the Chicago area, who hasn't made up his mind where he will play his college ball.

    However, Okafor has at least trimmed his list down a little bit more. His list includes Baylor, Kentucky, Arizona, Ohio State, Kansas, Duke, Illinois and Michigan State. 

    The biggest competition in this recruitment could have nothing to do with the other schools, though, as much as it has to do with one other player. 

    That player is point guard Tyus Jones. 

    There are rumors that Jones and Okafor want to play together in college, and while Jones isn't commonly regarded as having Kentucky high on his list, it could deter Okafor from coming to play for Calipari. 

    According to Raphielle Johnson of College Basketball Talk, the word is that both players are leaning toward playing at Duke. However, Okafor has come out to say that isn't true, per Johnson.

    You have to think there is something there, though, and these two players will do their best to play together at the next level. 

    If Jones commits before Okafor does, keep an eye out for reports on how Okafor's recruitment changes.