Last year at Big Blue Madness, Kentucky brought in just four recruits from the recruiting class of 2011. Those names should dang well be familiar to you-- , Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, and Kyle Wiltjer. By BBM 2010, all four had already committed to play for Kentucky, and the visit was more a formality than anything else.
It's not quite the same this year. John Calipari has just one verbal commitment to date, Archie Goodwin, who will be attending the Madness. Consequently, Calipari is using BBM 2011 as a recruiting spectacle, bringing in a litany of huge names from the class of 2012 and beyond.
Archie Goodwin (2012 SG)
Why He's Kind of a Big Deal: As Kentucky's only committed recruit, many recruitniks expect Goodwin to be the ringleader and unofficial spokesman for all things Kentucky. Goodwin has expressed interest in playing with Shabazz Muhammad and Gary Harris (not attending), two swingmen that would compete with Goodwin for playing time. But if anyone can handle a backcourt split, it's John Calipari (see: John Wall & Eric Bledsoe or Doron Lamb & DeAndre Liggins). If Goodwin can get his fellow recruits hyped about Kentucky, more commitments could soon follow.
The Competition: N/A
Want Factor (out of 5): N/A
Shabazz Muhammad (2012 SF/SG)
Why He's Kind of a Big Deal: Well, he's only the consensus number one recruit in the nation, and possibly the next great NBA superstar. It's not hyperbole when I say he could be an amazing NBA 2 guard in the mold of a Kobe Bryant. But let's hold our horses. There's still some ways to go before he gets there, and while he may play shooting guard in the pros, he will likely slide up to the 3 in college. UCLA is considered the favorite, but Kentucky is trailing right behind and has a chance to make a huge impression this weekend.
The Competition: UCLA, Duke, Kansas, Memphis, Texas A&M, UNLV
Want Factor (out of 5): 5 Ashley Judd's. After turning away TJ Warren, Kentucky has made it clear that Muhammad is their top priority on the wing (and frankly, overall). It's a decision that will drag on into the spring, but Calipari will wait it out. Can the Bluegrass rainmaker strike with a fourth consecutive number one class? To do so, a commitment from Muhammad would be the keystone.
Alex Poythress (2012 SF/PF)
Why He's Kind of a Big Deal: If you like Terrence Jones, you'll be a fan of Alex Poythress and should be rooting for him to don a Kentucky uni. Poythress was once considered a Duke lean, but the Blue Devils inexplicably stopped recruiting him. Now Poythress is attending BBM, and many speculate that he favors Kentucky. With Darius Miller graduating and Terrence Jones likely to take his talents to the NBA, Kentucky sorely needs a combo forward to slide into the starting rotation. Poythress could be that guy.
The Competition: Vanderbilt, Florida, Memphis
Want Factor (out of 5): 4 Ashley Judd's. It appears that John Calipari favors Poythress over fellow small forward recruit Devonta Pollard. Poythress is exactly the type of combo forward that can thrive in Kentucky's DDMO offense. He can play on the perimeter but also muscle up inside and cause all kinds of match-up problems for the opponent. Also of note: he could provide a bit Muhammad insurance, in that if Shabazz chooses a different school, Poythress is still capable of playing the 3 spot. Finally, fellow SEC schools Vanderbilt and Florida are two of Poythress' other finalists. Thus, a pledge to the blue and white would be a blow.to Kentucky's rival schools.
Willie Cauley (2012 C)
Why He's Kind of a Big Deal: At one point this summer, it appeared Kentucky had written off Willie Cauley. Now, he's the Wildcats' top center prospect. It's easy to see why. Cauley is a true center that oozes loads of potential. He's currently starring on the gridiron as his high school's tight end, which is feat in and of itself. With Eloy Vargas in his last year and NBA scouts drooling over Anthony Davis, Kentucky is perilously thin in the frontcourt next year. Cauley could come in and be an immediate difference maker.
The Competition: Kansas State, Florida, Alabama
Want Factor (out of 5): 3.5 Ashley Judd's. His stout performance on the gridiron is just adding to the Cauley myth. And while he's highly rated, Cauley is still raw enough that he could end up staying two or more years in Lexington, a huge boon for a position that will be depth-thin starting in 2012. He also plans to sign in November, making him a more immediate win.
DaJuan Coleman (2012 C)
Why He's Kind of a Big Deal: DaJuan Coleman has long been considered one of the top centers in the 2012 class, alongside names like Andre Drummond (UConn, since classified to 2011), Isaiah Austin (Baylor) and Cameron Ridley (Texas). While his stock has slipped a bit as new names like Mitch McGary have cropped up, Coleman is still a beast on the interior and a true offensive paint presence. In a Kentucky uniform, he could remind fans of DeMarcus Cousins, dominating the paint against lesser opponents.
The Competition: Syracuse, Ohio State
Want Factor (out of 5): 2.5 Ashley Judd's. Like Cauley, Coleman plans to make a decision soon and sign in November. Unlike Cauley, I don't get the warm and fuzzies about Coleman's recruitment. Hometown school Syracuse looks insanely difficult to beat out, and Cauley's inclusion at Big Blue Madness leads me to believe Calipari feels the same way. If Calipari can somehow best Jim Boeheim for the big man, I'll be shocked and ecstatic. It's worth noting that there's definitely room for two centers in this year's class, and the potential for both to get playing time as soon as next year.
Andrew Harrison (2013 PG/SG)
Why He's Kind of a Big Deal: Well, he's a point guard, and you know how John Calipari loves him some point guards. In fact, Calipari loves Andrew Harrison so much that the Kentucky coach made it clear the Harrisons were Kentucky's top priority in the 2013 class. Wait, did I just say the Harrisons? Why, yes I did. Andrew has a twin brother, Aaron, who's pretty gosh darn good himself. Wall...Knight...Teague...Harrow...Harrison? Has a nice ring to it, yeah?
The Competition: Villanova, Maryland, Texas, Baylor, Kansas, Arizona
Want Factor (out of 5): 5 Ashley Judd's. As a Houstonian, I'm quite familiar with the exploits of the Harrisons (who play at Travis H.S. in the suburbs). There has been quite a buzz about these phenoms for quite some time, and the best part about getting one is getting the other. They play impeccably well off of each other and can both facilitate an offense. Aside from Julius Randle (also a Texan, by the way), I'm not sure there's another prospect I'm more impressed with in this class than Harrison.
Aaron Harrison (2013 SG/PG)
Why He's Kind of a Big Deal: It seems unfair to always talk about Aaron Harrison as an afterthought to Andrew, because Aaron is quite good in his own right. That said, the twins have been adamant about wanting to play together in college. If Andrew is more of a point guard/distributor, Aaron is more of a slasher/scorer that will light up the scoreboard. The Eric Bledsoe to Andrew's John Wall, if you will.
The Competition: Villanova, Maryland, Texas, Baylor, Kansas, Arizona
Want Factor (out of 5): 5 Ashley Judd's. If Andrew gets 5, then Aaron gets 5. Cal wants them. I do too.
Xavier Rathan-Mayes (2013 SG)
Why He's Kind of a Big Deal: The Canadian pipeline is strong, and one that schools have really started tapping into. While John Calipari has yet to pick up a Canadian for the Wildcats, Xavier Rathan-Mayes is on the shortlist to be the first. The talented scorer recently reclassified to the class of 2013 and started attending Huntington Prep (Patrick Patterson's alma mater). Along with high school and AAU teammate Andrew Wiggins, Rathan-Mayes just unofficially visited Lexington, and both are expected to return for BBM.
[UPDATE]: According to Rathan-Mayes, he'll be in Connecticut this weekend instead, to visit family and take in Midnight Madness at UConn. Guess we better add them to the competition list. No definitive word on whether Wiggins will still attend BBM or not.
The Competition: Florida State, North Carolina, Texas, Kansas, Kansas State, Connecticut
Want Factor (out of 5): 2 Ashley Judd's. Rathan-Mayes doesn't quite have the publicity of his fellow Canadian Wiggins, but he should be considered a rising prospect that could end up in the top 25 by the time his senior year starts. For now, he's more of a wait and see prospect. It'll be interesting to note how well Rathan-Mayes interacts with the Harrisons.
Andrew Wiggins (2014 SF)
Why He's Kind of a Big Deal: Wiggins is far and away the best player in the class of 2014. The talented Canadian has been on the radar since he was in the 8th grade, and he's done nothing but impress. Think of him like the Michael Kidd-Gilchrist of the class of 2014. Or, you know, Kevin Durant? LeBron!? Sidney Crosby?!? No pressure, kid.
The Competition: Florida State, Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse
Want Factor (out of 5): 5 Ashley Judd's. It's early, but dude should be Calipari's top priority for 2014. You think you want Shabazz Muhammad now? Just wait until you're pining for Wiggins.
2012: SG Gary Harris is visiting Indiana for Hoosier Hysteria but will take a trip to Lexington the weekend of October 21...Likewise, PF Amile Jefferson will visit UK that weekend after taking in UConn for Midnight Madness...It doesn't appear that PF/C Mitch McGary will visit any schools for Midnight Madness, but the latest news is that Kentucky isn't out of it...PF Anthony Bennett is not focused on recruiting right now, per Jeff Borzello...SF Devonta Pollard doesn't have any Midnight Madness visits lined up either, but plans to visit Texas and Kentucky soon...PF Robert Carter will be at Georgia this weekend...SF Winston Shepard will be at New Mexico for Lobo Howl...SF TJ Warren was reportedly not invited to Big Blue Madness and is now no longer considering Kentucky; he'll be at North Carolina this weekend.
2013: PF Chris Walker opted to visit Kansas instead of Kentucky, two of the finalists for when he announces a decision on November 15 ...Meanwhile, SF Troy Williams will be at Georgetown...PF Derek Willis will take in Louisville, Purdue and Indiana this weekend, but the local product did just visit UK and the Cats are under strong consideration...Dallas native PF Julius Randle canceled a visit to Duke's Midnight Madness due to homecoming but will visit nearby Texas on Saturday...Fellow top prospect PF/SF Jabari Parker will also visit a local school, taking in Midnight Madness at Illinois...C Nerlens Noel is expected to attend Syracuse's Midnight Madness after stating he has no plans to reclass to 2012.
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