NCAA College Basketball

These prospects are the top 2021 Kentucky basketball recruiting targets


CLOSE Silver Creek basketball star Trey Kaufman has plenty of skills on the court, but he’s also very passionate about magic. Check out some of tricks. Louisville Courier Journal

LEXINGTON – In a normal year, college basketball coaches would be flocking to Georgia for the annual Peach Jam tournament this week.

Nothing about the 2021 recruiting cycle is normal though.

The NCAA has banned all recruiting travel since the coronavirus pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 NCAA Tournament, and coaches will remain off the road through at least Aug. 31. With no in-person contact allowed between coaches and recruits for months, the 2021 recruiting cycle looks like no other.

Kentucky has reportedly offered scholarships to five uncommitted players in the 2021 class, though one of those is No. 1-ranked prospect Jonathan Kuminga, who is expected to announce a move to the 2020 class soon.

Had the shoe leagues played their spring events as normal, it is likely John Calipari would have extended offers to a handful of other 2021 prospects after watching them play in person. Those events would have culminated with Peach Jam on the Nike circuit this week as well as showcases on the Adidas and Under Armour circuits.

When any additional UK offers in the class will be made is now uncertain, though the staff did make one to a 2022 prospect over the holiday weekend.

With the 2020-21 roster likely finished, here is a closer look at each of the 2021 recruits Kentucky has offered as well as a few other players who have been linked with the Wildcats.

2021 RECRUITS WITH KENTUCKY OFFERS

Patrick Baldwin

High school: Hamilton (Wisconsin)

Position: Small forward

247Sports Composite national ranking: 2

247Sports Composite position ranking: 2

What to know: Assuming Kuminga moves to the 2020 class, Baldwin is in the pole position to take on the mantle of consensus top 2021 prospect. Duke is considered the favorite with all the analyst predictions in the 247Sports Crystal Ball and Rivals FutureCast. Kentucky, Wisconsin, Virginia, UCLA, North Carolina, Michigan, Georgetown, Northwestern and Milwaukee are also in his top 10.

MORE: Rick Pitino calls for college basketball season to be pushed back to January

Paolo Banchero

High school: O Dea (Washington)

Position: Power forward

247Sports Composite national ranking: 4

247Sports Composite position ranking: 1

What to know: Perhaps UK’s top target in the class, Banchero is also considering Duke, Tennessee, Gonzaga, Washington and Arizona. Kentucky has not had much luck with West Coast players in recent years, though California native Devin Askew is expected serve as UK’s top point guard this season. Calipari has made multiple trips to the Seattle area to visit Banchero in the last year, illustrating his importance to Kentucky. In a recent blog for Sports Illustrated, Banchero said he expects to take his time making a college decision since he cannot currently travel to any campuses.

Kennedy Chandler

High school: Briarcrest Christian (Tennessee)

Position: Point guard

247Sports Composite national ranking: 11

247Sports Composite position ranking: 1

What to know: The top-ranked point guard in the 2021 class, Chandler has long been one of the Wildcats’ top 2021 targets and took an unofficial visit to Lexington in February. Tennessee, Memphis, Duke and North Carolina are also listed in his top five. The Volunteers are considered the leader for now. There has been talk of Chandler and Banchero playing together in college. UK is a prime contender for both, but Rivals.com analyst Corey Evans recently predicted Tennessee was the best-positioned program to actually make that happen. Adding a point guard in the 2021 class might be less important for UK if Askew spends multiple seasons on campus as he is currently projected to do.

Jaden Hardy

High school: Coronado (Nevada)

Position: Combo guard

247Sports Composite national ranking: 6

247Sports Composite position ranking: 1

What to know: Kentucky holds 100% of the analyst predictions for Hardy’s college choice in both the 247Sports Crystal Ball and Rivals FutureCast, but his recruitment appears to be far from finished. Arizona, Arizona State, Georgia, UCLA, Texas Tech, Georgetown, Oregon, Michigan, Memphis, Kansas and Illinois were also on the top-12 list Hardy released in April. Evans called Hardy “the likeliest 2021 Kentucky commitment,” but Oregon recently landed his older brother Amauri Hardy as a graduate transfer.

OTHER POSSIBLE 2021 KENTUCKY RECRUITING TARGETS

Moussa Diabate

High school: IMG Academy (Florida)

Position: Power forward

247Sports Composite national ranking: 18

247Sports Composite position ranking: 4

What to know: Diabate was first linked to Kentucky when he was publicly considering a move to the 2020 class, as reported by the Herald-Leader in December. The interest from UK was logical considering the need to add to next season’s frontcourt, but Diabate appears to be staying in the 2021 class. UK has not offered a scholarship, but it will be interesting to see if Calipari’s staff watches him in person if allowed to do so during the upcoming high school season (assuming there is a 2020-21 high school season). If Olivier Sarr is able to play for Kentucky this season, perhaps Diabate, who also grew up in France, might be particularly interested in watching the Wildcats.

Trey Kaufman

High school: Silver Creek (Indiana)

Position: Power forward

247Sports Composite national ranking: 59

247Sports Composite position ranking: 12

What to know: The Courier Journal’s 2020 Boys Athlete of the Year is the type of prospect who might have blown up had the spring shoe leagues been played as normal. Kaufman already boasts an impressive offer list with local powers Louisville and Indiana among his top contenders, but with a breakout spring he might have earned offers from blue blood programs like Kentucky and North Carolina. Kaufman visited UK for Big Blue Madness last season and was visited by UK assistant Joel Justus multiple times last fall. Kaufman recently told the Indianapolis Star proximity to home would be a benefit for his suitors. Kentucky would check that box, but it remains uncertain if Calipari is ready to offer a scholarship.

More: Trey Kaufman is magic on and off the court: Watch him do his tricks

Efton Reid

High school: Steward School (Virginia)

Position: Center

247Sports Composite national ranking: 21

247Sports Composite position ranking: 4

What to know: Another player who initially was linked to Kentucky as a possible reclassification candidate for the 2020-21 roster, Reid appears to be remaining in the 2021 class. If Kentucky wants to make Reid a priority, it might need to soon as other top schools have been in contact much longer. Reid took official visits to Louisville, Ohio State and Virginia last season.

Peyton Watson

High school: Long Beach Poly (California)

Position: Small forward

247Sports Composite national ranking: 17

247Sports Composite position ranking: 7

What to know: Kentucky has been linked to Watson for some time but has yet to issue a scholarship offer. Watson recently told Tipton Edits, a graphic service for recruits on social media, that Kentucky was one of his dream schools. With UK freshmen B.J. Boston and Terrence Clarke expected to spend just one season in college and Baldwin likely headed elsewhere, there should be spots on the wing available on UK’s 2021-2022 roster. Watson is one of the prime candidates to watch for an offer in the coming months, but Calipari will also have to contend with most of the West Coast powers if he does formalize Kentucky’s interest.

RECLASSIFICATION CANDIDATES

Brandon Huntley-Hatfield

High school: IMG Academy (Florida)

Position: Power forward

247Sports Composite national ranking (2022): 4

247Sports Composite position ranking (2022): 1

What to know: The only uncommitted prospect in the 2022 class with a UK scholarship offer, Huntley-Hatfield has long been rumored to be planning a jump to 2021. That reclassification is not official — he is the proper age for the 2022 class — but Huntley-Hatfield boasts the resume to suggest he could be an instant impact player even as a young freshman in 2021-22. Evans recently called Kentucky the favorite for his commitment.

More: UK target Brandon Huntley-Hatfield says Calipari ‘kept it real’ in recruitment

Skyy Clark

High school: Brentwood Academy (Tennessee)

Position: Combo guard

247Sports Composite national ranking (2022): 18

247Sports Composite position ranking (2022): 1

What to know: Clark became the first recruit to pick up a UK scholarship offer during the recruiting shutdown on Thursday. While the official offer may have just come, it has long been clear he is one of UK’s top targets in his class. Clark’s father, former Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Kenny Clark, has been open about the possibility of Skyy moving to the 2021 class in multiple interviews. Regardless of his class, Clark should remain one of UK’s top targets. By playing in the greater Nashville area next season, he should have plenty of opportunities to visit Lexington.

Jon Hale: jahale@courier-journal.com; Twitter: @JonHale_CJ. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: www.courier-journal.com/jonh.

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