October 22, 2012

Who's left for Kentucky in 2013 recruiting class?

With last week's commitment from five-star big man Marcus Lee, combined with a previous commitment from fellow 6-foot-9 forward Derek Willis, the Kentucky Wildcats are staying focused on their recruitment of front-court stars for the future.

Since this year's team has not even played a game yet, no one can say for sure what the chances are that Alex Poythress, Willie Cauley-Stein, or Kyle Wiltjer return for the Wildcats in '13-'14; or if they go pro. It seems that the only interior player who is a lock to leave after this season is Nerlens Noel; who is generally considered a guaranteed lottery pick.

Due to all of that uncertainty, Kentucky coach John Calipari is looking to bring in one more post target for this class. In the opinion of Cats Illustrated there are four players who Calipari is considering filling that scholarship with.

No Place Like Texas
It's no secret that Calipari and his army are deep in the trenches of the recruiting war of the nation's number one prospect, 6-foot-9 Texan power forward Julius Randle. After receiving Randle's first official visit, way back in September for the alumni game, Randle has since officially visited Florida and unofficially visited Oklahoma. In addition to those three schools, Randle also lists Texas, Kansas and North Carolina State in his list of six finalists.

The rumors around the internet have linked Florida and Texas most strongly to Randle; although there are plenty of experts who claim that Kentucky is a near overwhelming leader in Randle's recruitment. However, when all reports are factored in, it definitely seems like Florida and Texas at the very least are nipping at the Wildcats heels for Randle's services.

Very little buzz has circulated recently about NC State, Kansas or Oklahoma; even with the five-star forward visiting the Sooners for a football game.

Randle's mother confirmed, first with USA Today, that her son will not make any decision until the spring; which makes the recruiting game much more complicated for Calipari.

Now with Randle waiting to make the call, Calipari has to balance the other three prospects on his recruiting board (all of whom could very well make fall decisions) without losing his grasp on Randle.

If the Wildcats were to land Randle, then they would have four top ten prospects for 2013; including three of the top five.

Next in Line
If the Randle situation looks to be tilting away from the Wildcats grasps, the recruitment of 6-foot-8 New Jersey forward Tyler Roberson is gaining momentum in the Wildcats direction. The energetic and athletic forward has seen Kentucky recruit him harder and harder this fall, while also seeing his stock in the Rivals rankings rise to the no. 30 overall prospect in 2013.

Roberson completed his third official visit of the fall, to Kansas, this past weekend; after previously visiting SMU and Syracuse. The five-star forward will also take an official visit to Villanova in the next two weeks, and then finish off his visit list with a trip to Lexington in November.

Contrary to reports that said that Roberson would scratch Kentucky off his list with the commitment of Marcus Lee, Roberson has told Jayhawk Slant, of the Rivals network, that he will absolutely still visit Kentucky.
After his trip to Kansas this past weekend Roberson told Rivals.com that, "I may cut my list down to three after my last visit and then decide soon after that, or I may just be sure and decide right after the Kentucky visit. I may have a good idea of where I want to go, but I'm not sure yet, though."

Even with Kentucky getting the last visit, the timetable for Roberson could pose as a potential threat; because he is deciding so much earlier than Randle. Should Roberson choose Kentucky, then expect Kentucky to pursue holding another open scholarship for Randle in the spring (which would likely work out fine with expected early-entry NBA departures).

California Love
The hardest recruitment to speculate of the four players listed is that of 6-foot-7 combo forward Aaron Gordon, the no. 5 player in the 2013 Rivals150, out of San Jose. The most electrifying athlete in the class, Gordon is a matchup nightmare who could fit in perfectly in Kentucky's offense like a more skilled version of Poythress.
Despite the seemingly hand-in-glove fit at Kentucky, it is starting to become more and more apparent that Gordon would prefer to stay on the West Coast for his college years.

After taking trips to Washington (his rumored leader), Oregon and California the five-star forward also officially visited Kansas; the furthest from the West Coast he has gone for a visit. One of the other big threats to land Gordon, the Arizona Wildcats, are expecting Gordon for an official visit this coming weekend.

After all of those visits, Gordon is still scheduled to take an official trip out to Lexington sometime in November to take in Rupp Arena. That visit should play out very similarly to the visit that Marcus Lee took before he committed. If the Kentucky staff can convince Gordon that the best thing for his future is to leave his home region for the development opportunities that the Wildcats can offer, then UK will have a good chance to land Gordon. If not, expect Gordon to sign with a Big XII team.

It is unclear at this point if Gordon will sign in the fall or spring, but more than likely the California forward will wait until the late signing period.

The Space Eater
The final option for Kentucky in the 2013 class of interior players is massive 6-foot-9, and 275 pound, center Kennedy Meeks out of Charlotte. The four-star big man still lists Kentucky, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Indiana, and Georgetown on his list; and just visited UNC last weekend for their midnight madness event.

The Wildcats began pursing Meeks harder this fall, after Calipari must've been impressed with what he saw from Meeks in his standout performance at the Nike Peach Jam in July's AAU period. As a wide and skilled back to the basket player, Meeks resembles a poor man's DeMarcus Cousins.

Meeks plans on visiting Lexington in November, and while it has not been confirmed by Cats Illustrated Meeks has told other sources that he has an offer from Kentucky.

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