So Halloween 2013 was something of a mixed bag for John Calipari as he started out the day getting full-sized Butterfingers in his bag and finished with the creepy guy that lives alone with the red sweater giving him pennies and a toothbrush. But it’s not a day to worry about the creepy guy in red. Calipari still has a pretty decent haul with Tyler Ulis, Karl Towns Jr, and Devin Booker. And it is only going to get better.
Scout’s Evan Daniels looked at the top remaining targets and who may be wearing blue this year.
The four uncommitted seniors who UK has been targeting are Stanley Johnson, Trey Lyles, Jahlil Okafor and Myles Turner.
Scout.com national analyst Evan Daniels offered some insight on what UK fans should expect next.
“I think Trey Lyles makes a decision soon and I think Kentucky is the leader in the clubhouse,” Daniels told the Herald-Leader. “Stanley Johnson, Jahlil Okafor — at this stage, I don’t see Kentucky getting those guys.”
Daniels noted that Turner — the No. 2 overall recruit in the class — is not expected to sign with a school until the spring. The 7-footer from Texas has only taken one official visit so far, to Ohio State. He is also considering Kentucky, Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Oklahoma State and Texas.
Okafor’s official list consists of UK, Duke, Kansas and Baylor. But Duke and Kansas are the clear favorites in that recruitment, and it’s unclear whether the Chicago big man is even still considering UK.
Johnson’s final five schools are UK, Arizona, Southern Cal, Oregon and Florida. The 6-foot-7 small forward from California visited Lexington for Big Blue Madness, but most analysts are predicting he will ultimately choose Arizona.
Lyles is down to UK and Louisville and could announce a decision soon.
To be honest, I still am not worried. Jones and Okafor are gone, yes, but if Stanley Johnson waits until the late period, I like Calipari’s chances over the long run. So Arizona needs to lock that up in November or it is still game on for Cal.
In Devin Booker, Kentucky is going to get one of the best shooters in the 2014 class. Evan Daniels tells us a bit more.
“He’s a really hard worker,” Daniels said. “He likes to compete, and he’s a guy who spends a lot of time in the gym. And he’s a guy who’s going to get better. The guys who love the game and love spending time in the gym are the guys who get better.”
Let’s also recall that Calipari did not show interest in Booker until April and all of this happened in six months. That is why I say I feel pretty good about Johnson if he is still uncommitted after the November signing period. Kentucky fans can greet the newest commitment on December 7 when he plays in the Bluegrass.
UK fans can get a closer look at their newest commitment Dec. 7 at the Marshall County Hoop Fest in Benton, Ky. Booker’s high school squad is scheduled to play Ballard, which is likely to be the pre-season No. 1 team in Kentucky.
In landing Booker, Kentucky got another player from the grasps of Tom Izzo. Izzo was asked about the recruiting rivalry with Calipari and as now, Izzo says you can not call it a recruiting rivalry because Izzo is not winning any.
“You can’t have a rivalry unless you win 40 percent, all right? Hey, John (Calipari’s) done a hell of job with recruiting. There is no rivalry there because we’re not winning enough battles, but then again, those are the battles that matter to the fans. The games are the battles that matter to the teams, so we’ve got a chance to win that battle. The other one, I’m not doing very good.”
Last month, Chicago Heights point guard Tyler Ulis committed to Kentucky even with his cousin, Travis Walton having played for Izzo and after previously calling Michigan State his “dream school.”
Last year, Michigan native and McDonald’s All-American guard James Young committed to Kentucky over Michigan State, Arizona and Kansas and is part of a signing class that is considered one of the best in college basketball history.
“It’s only one (recruit lost to Kentucky) this year, so we’re 0-1, so that’s not bad,” Izzo mused.
Izzo downplayed the recruiting battles Michigan State won against Kentucky when landing Adreian Payne and Gary Harris, indicating that they weren’t necessarily top priorities for the Wildcats.
In case you missed it, here is the video of Booker committing and some of his comments.