One of the most talented wings in the 2022 recruiting class is off the board after Chris Livingston committed to Kentucky:
Livingston is the No. 6 overall player and No. 2 small forward, per 247Sports' composite rankings.
Jerry Meyer of that outlet compared the Akron, Ohio, native to Toronto Raptors forward OG Anunoby:
"Tremendous physical build for a wing. Has explosive athleticism and can make plays in traffic. Loves to attack the rim. Has a powerful spin move to finish off drives. Shoots it well enough from deep but an area for improvement. Handles well in space but needs to tighten and refine his handle. Can deliver a pass on the move. Active player who comes up with balls off the glass and the floor. Has great potential as a multi positional defender."
Livingston has represented the United States at the international level, helping Team USA win a gold medal in the 2019 FIBA Americas U16 Championship. He was named MVP after averaging 14.8 points and eight rebounds.
A few months before that, Livingston guided Buchtel to the Ohio Division II semifinals as a freshman, notably dropping 26 points in the quarterfinals.
Because of where he's from, the comparisons—even in passing—to LeBron James will be inescapable.
"I feel like expectations come with it, but it's not pressure," Livingston said to Dan Greene for Bleacher Report in October. "I don't really take expectations as a bad thing. That comes with success, so that's a good thing."
Greene wrote how James approached Livingston at an AAU tournament in 2018 and shook his hand, a moment that was covered by some prominent media outlets. James shared a highlight reel of Livingston on Instagram and dubbed him a "Young King" as well.
Labeling anybody the "next LeBron" is not only a fool's errand but also inevitably burdens somebody with the weight of impossible expectations.
There's no question Livingston has the talent to thrive at the next level and beyond. It isn't a matter of whether the 6'6", 200-pound forward will put somebody on a poster; the question is how many opponents he will have to posterize before they get the hint.
And simply knowing that Livingston plans to attack the basket with force won't be enough to stop him. He's so big and fast that if he doesn't blow by his defender altogether, he will at least get into a position to draw a foul inside.
As Meyer alluded to, Livingston's offensive ceiling will hinge on his shooting. He's a good-enough shooter to get by. Becoming an efficient long-range shooter will make him almost unstoppable. Add in his defense, and he can play a starring role at both ends of the floor.
Livingston probably won't be long for Kentucky, yet it should be a fun ride for the Wildcats.
Calipari has become a victim of his own success to some extent because going six years without a Final Four appearance qualifies as a minor drought when you made four Final Fours in five seasons.
Kentucky nonetheless remains an attractive landing spot for blue-chip recruits. The team signed a pair of 5-star players for 2021 in TyTy Washington and Daimion Collins and got a commitment from Skyy Clark for 2022.
Calipari undoubtedly has the pieces in place for the Wildcats to once again be a national title contender.