It can be difficult to keep up with John Calipari’s whirlwind recruiting efforts, but this should help: With all of them under one roof at the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League tour stop in Indianapolis last weekend, we caught up with a dozen top targets from the Class of 2017 with Kentucky offers.
Get to know each of them and where the Wildcats stand in their recruitment with these story links and videos for all 12. They’re listed in order of their position in Scout.com’s national ranking.
No. 1 DeAndre Ayton, C, 7-1, 235
EYBL Stats – 19.7 points, 12.3 rebounds, 1.4 blocks (7 games)
The Story: He’s clearly the best player in the Class of 2017 and once counted Kentucky and Duke among his suitors, but now Ayton says every major program except Kansas has backed off recruiting him. What gives?
No. 2 Mohamed Bamba, C, 7-0, 210
EYBL Stats – 12.7 points, 13.9 rebounds, 3.1 blocks (7 games)
The Story: Bamba a freakish athlete (he has a 7-foot-8 wingspan) and is open about his desire to overtake Ayton as the top prospect in this class. He says a conversation with Kentucky coach John Calipari helped give him that kind of confidence.
No. 3 Wendell Carter, C, 6-10, 260
EYBL Stats – 18.8 points, 13.5 rebounds, 2.0 blocks (4 games)
The Story: Carter is a brainy big man. His top three schools are Harvard, Duke and … Kentucky. So how do the Cats compete with those other two schools’ academic reputations?
No. 5 Michael Porter Jr., SF, 6-9, 215
EYBL Stats – 19.3 points, 10.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 1.7 steals (7 games)
The Story: Porter and five-star AAU teammate Trae Young are planning to be a package deal, saying they’re 85 percent sure they’ll pick the same college. The good news for Kentucky is both players like the Cats.
No. 6 Kevin Knox II, SF, 6-8, 200
EYBL Stats – 21.3 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 1.1 blocks (7 games)
The Story: Dad played wide receiver for Bobby Bowden on the 1993 Florida State national championship team. The son was a promising young quarterback. But then he grew too tall and his feet too big to ignore reality. The younger Knox’s future is in basketball.
No. 9 Hamidou Diallo, SG, 6-5, 175
EYBL Stats – 20.3 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.0 steals (7 games)
The Story: This fast-rising guard says Kentucky’s recruiting pitch is all about the NBA, while Duke says if he comes to Durham, “you’re going to be set for life.” He’s intrigued by both approaches, and “the word is that he coveted a Kentucky offer,” which came recently.
No. 11 Jarred Vanderbilt, PF, 6-8, 195
EYBL Stats – 13.7 points, 10.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 2.0 steals (7 games)
The Story: Vanderbilt was an AAU teammate of incoming UK freshman De’Aaron Fox, who he calls a “vicious defender.” Arguably the top power forward in the 2017 class has plenty of interest in the Cats himself.
No. 16 Gary Trent Jr., SG, 6-6, 205
EYBL Stats – 22.7 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.6 assists (7 games)
The Story: Duke could be tough to beat here, but Trent is planning to visit Lexington for the recruiting extravaganza that is Big Blue Madness – and he calls Kentucky “NBA University.”
No. 19 John Petty, SG, 6-5, 180
EYBL Stats – 11.0 points, 5.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists (3 games)
The Story: Might this be UK’s first commitment in the class? Home-state Alabama and new coach Avery Johnson will have something to say about that, but it can’t hurt that Petty’s high school coach loves the Cats and the versatile guard says UK “was my favorite school ever since I was like nine.”
No. 20 Nick Richards, C, 7-0, 230
EYBL Stats – 11.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.9 blocks (7 games)
The Story: Richards is an aggressive defensive big man who knows that choosing UK would put him “on the biggest stage in college basketball.” And what does he think of that? “I like challenges.”
No. 26 Trae Young, PG, 6-1, 170
EYBL Stats – 18.0 points, 6.3 assists, 2.0 steals (7 games)
The Story: Young is a smooth operator, with both the quickness and handles to blow by defenders and create for himself or teammates with equal ease. He has a great connection with Porter, and the plan is to take that to college – perhaps Kentucky.
No. 70 Tremont Waters, PG, 6-0, 165
EYBL Stats – 14.0 points, 4.9 assists, 4.3 rebounds, 2.9 steals (7 games)
The Story: He’s called Duke his “dream school,” but the glitz of Kentucky and Calipari’s reputation for developing point guards have his attention. The question, though, is what Waters did to get the Wildcats’ and Blue Devils’ attention.