Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: 2012 Big Board (Version 4)

Hey there, diehard recruitniks. Here's your post-Early Signing Period update, better known as And Then There Were Three. Since our last Big Board update in September, John Calipari snagged two more recruits to go along with Kentucky's first commitment, sharp-shooting Arkansan Archie Goodwin. Those two would be Willie Cauley, a hulking center out of Kansas, and Alex Poythress, a versatile forward from Tennessee.

Of course, you win some, you lose some. The Wildcats also missed out on a few recruits who decided to commit, including two very highly regarded and hotly recruited prospects, center DaJuan Coleman and shooting guard Gary Harris. With a flurry of activity in the Early Signing Period, there are just a handful of top 100 recruits left on the overall big board--and Kentucky has its eyes on most of them.

With a large amount of attrition expected following this season, the Wildcats are still looking for two to three more prospects to fill out the 2012 recruiting class. Which players are Kentucky hotly pursuing? Find out after the jump.

Please be advised that table is best-viewed in "Wide" screen mode, which you can toggle via your dashboard. It's jam-packed with information that just can't be contained!

Name Pos School
(Hometown)
Ranking
(Scout/Rivals/ESPNU
)
Offer (Odds)
Commitment (Odds) Favorite School(s) News & Notes Trending (since 9/23/11)
Willie Cauley
C Olathe Northwest (Spearville, KS) Scout: 4*/28th
Rivals: 4*/39th
ESPNU: 4*/32nd
Offered Committed (10/31/11)
Signed (11/9/11)
11/9/11 - Cauley signed his LOI on Nov 9.
10/31/11 - Cauley committed to UK over KSU on Oct 31.
Anthony Bennett
PF/SF Findlay Prep (Brampton, Ont) Scout: 5*/9th
Rivals: 5*/7th
ESPNU: 5*/7th
Offered 25%
UConn
Florida
Kentucky
Ohio St
Oregon
Pittsburgh
UNLV
Washington
West Va
10/12/11 - Per Jeff Borzello (CBS Sports), Bennett is "not yet focused" on recruiting. He has not taken any official visits and will likely not decide until the Late Signing Period in April.
Jarnell Stokes
PF Southwind (Memphis) Scout: 5*/17th
Rivals: 5*/11th
ESPNU: 5*/18th
Offered 25%
Memphis
Arkansas
Kentucky
Florida
Tennessee
UConn
11/21/11 - Stokes was ruled athletically ineligible at his new school, Southwind. If he stays, he will not play high school basketball in his senior year.
11/16/11 - Stokes was expected to make a decision during the Early Signing Period, but decided against it. Kentucky could be in a good position here, but Memphis is thought to be the longtime favorite.
11/5/11 - After falling off UK's radar, John Calipari renewed interest with the talented big man, paying off in an official visit from Stokes on Nov 5.
Amile Jefferson
PF/SF Friends Central (Philadelphia) Scout: 5*/20th
Rivals: 4*/36th
ESPNU: 4*/24th
Offered 25% NC State
Kentucky
UConn
Stanford
Ohio St
Villanova
11/16/11 - Jefferson was expected to make a decision during the Early Signing Period, but decided against it. He's considered an NC State lean, but word is that Calipari made quite an impression.
10/22/11 - Jefferson took an official visit to UK on Oct 22 along with Gary Harris. His parents did not visit, and the unsubstantiated rumor is that Jefferson would like his parents to visit the campus prior to making a decision.
Christopher Obekpa
PF Our Savior New American (Centereach, NY) Scout: 4*/UR
Rivals: 3*/105th
ESPNU: 4*/91st
Not Yet Offered (5%) N/A
St. John's
UConn
GA Tech
West Va
Cincinnati
Memphis
Providence
11/16/11 - No new UK news on Obekpa, who remains uncommitted. He's an "on the radar" guy at this point.
Shabazz Muhammad
SF/SG Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
Scout: 5*/1st
Rivals: 5*/1st
ESPNU: 5*/1st
Offered 40%
UCLA
Kentucky
Duke
Kansas
UNLV
Texas A&M
Arizona
USC
11/16/11 - As expected, Muhammad did not commit during the Early Signing Period. He has three more official visits to take and will take his time considering his options.
10/14/11 - Muhammad took an official visit to UK for Big Blue Madness.
Alex Poythress
SF/PF Northeast (Clarksville, TN)
Scout: 5*/16th
Rivals: 5*/19th
ESPNU: 5*/17th
Offered Committed (11/10/11)
Signed (11/10/11)
11/10/11 - Poythress committed to over Memphis, Vandy and UF on Nov 10 and signed his LOI on the same day.
Devonta Pollard
SF/PF Kemper County (DeKalb, MS)
Scout: 5*/21st
Rivals: 5*/9th
ESPNU: 5*/20th
Offered 10%
Miss St
Alabama
Texas
Missouri
Georgetown
Kentucky
NC State
11/16/11 - Per Gene Swindoll (Scout), Pollard has five finalists. However, he is also still considering UK and NC St and has not officially dropped UK. Because of football season, Pollard has yet to take any official visits and will decide in the spring.
Winston Shepard
SF Findlay Prep (Fresno, TX)
Scout: 4*/43rd
Rivals: 4*/40th
ESPNU: 4*/68th
Not Yet Offered (5%)
N/A
New Mexico
UNLV
SDSU
UTEP
Georgia
OK St
11/16/11 - No new UK news on Shepard, who remains uncommitted. He's an "on the radar" guy at this point, but looks like an eventual mid-major commit.
Archie Goodwin
SG Sylvan Hills (Little Rock, AR)
Scout: 5*/13th
Rivals: 5*/12th
ESPNU: 5*/13th
Offered Committed (9/20/11)
Signed (11/15/11)
11/15/11 - Goodwin signed his LOI on Nov 15.
9/20/11 - Goodwin committed to UK over Memphis and Arkansas on Sep 20.
Torian Graham
SG Word of God (Durham, NC)
Scout: 4*/51st
Rivals: 4*/51st
ESPNU: 4*/38th
Not Yet Offered (5%)
0%
NC State
Xavier
Miami
Memphis
Kentucky
11/16/11 - Aside from surprisingly dropping Maryland from his list, Graham's Early Signing Period was relatively quiet. He's a former NC State commit, but has always liked UK. So far, UK hasn't exactly reciprocated interest.
DaJuan Coleman
C Jamesville-DeWitt (DeWitt, NY)
Scout: 5*/11th
Rivals: 4*/27th
ESPNU: 5*/14th
Offered 0%
Syracuse
10/25/11 - Coleman committed to SU over UK and OSU on Oct 25.
Mitch McGary
PF/C Brewster Academy (Chesterton, IN) Scout: 5*/2nd
Rivals: 5*/3rd
ESPNU: 5*/2nd
Offered 0%
Michigan
11/3/11 - McGary committed to Michigan over Duke and UF on Nov 3.
Brandon Ashley
PF Findlay Prep (Oakland, CA) Scout: 5*/3rd
Rivals: 5*/13th
ESPNU: 5*/4th
Offered 0%
Arizona 8/29/11 - Ashley committed to Arizona over UCLA, Oregon, and UK on Aug 29.
Perry Ellis
PF Wichita Heights (Wichita, KS)
Scout: 4*/33rd
Rivals: 5*/24th
ESPNU: 4*/37th
Offered 0%
Kansas
9/21/11 - Ellis committed to KU over UK, KSU, and Wich St on Sep 21.
TJ Warren
SF Brewster Academy (Durham, NC)
Scout: 5*/22nd
Rivals: 5*/23rd
ESPNU: 4*/23rd
Offered
0%
NC State
11/2/11 - Warren committed to NC State over Georgetown on Nov 2.
Gary Harris
SG Hamilton Southeastern (Indianapolis)
Scout: 5*/12th
Rivals: 5*/25th
ESPNU: 5*/10th
Offered
0%
Michigan St
11/9/11 - Harris committed to Michigan St over IU, UK and Purdue on Nov 9.
Ricardo Ledo
SG Notre Dame (Providence)
Scout: 4*/25th
Rivals: 5*/8th
ESPNU: 4*/22nd
Offered 0%
Providence
9/5/11 - Ledo committed to Providence over UK, Syracuse and UConn on Sep 5.
JP Tokoto
SG/SF Menomonee Falls (Menomonee Falls, WI)
Scout: 4*/86th
Rivals: 4*/68th
ESPNU: 4*/65th
Offered 0%
UNC 3/4/11 - Tokoto committed to UNC over Wisconsin on Mar 4.
LJ Rose
PG Westbury Christian (Houston)
Scout: 4*/66th
Rivals: 4*/95th
ESPNU: 4*/74th
Offered 0%
Baylor 9/3/11 - Rose committed to Baylor over Georgetown and Virginia on Sep 3.

Note: Likelihood of offer and likelihood of commitment are estimates based on available information. Percentage statuses change as new information becomes available.

Scholarship Situation

As of today, Kentucky has two graduating seniors in Eloy Vargas and Darius Miller. Returnees in 2012 would include Ryan Harrow (RS sophomore), Jon Hood (RS junior), Doron Lamb (junior), Terrence Jones (junior) and the 2011 class of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Anthony Davis and Kyle Wiltjer. Jones, Lamb, Kidd-Gilchrist, Teague and Davis are strong early entrant candidates. The Wildcats also return two preferred walk-ons, Jarrod Polson (junior) and Twany Beckham (senior).

There are two new noteworthy items. The first is that Stacey Poole, who would have been a junior next year, has decided to transfer, freeing up a scholarship. The second is that the NBA Lockout continues its downward spiral into an unlimited abyss. The owners are said to be heavily pushing for a two-year and/or 20 year-old age minimum, which could possibly prevent a player like Anthony Davis from entering the draft. However, even if such a clause is agreed upon in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, it could be grandfathered to excuse this year's freshmen class. On the off-chance that the lockout continues into the next NBA season, obviously there would be no draft to speak of, and all four of Kentucky's freshmen would return.

There's a strong chance Kentucky goes into the 2012-13 season with just three returning scholarship players: Harrow, Hood, and Wiltjer. Based on the above, Kentucky could have as many as 10 scholarships open, or as few as 5. At this point, if all things shake out as expected, it looks like Kentucky will target a 5 to 6 man class.

Remaining Targets - Bigs (Needs: 2-4)

Make no mistake about it: Willie Cauley was a huge get for the Wildcats. Although he fancies himself as a power forward, Cauley has a true center's build that should only get bulkier in a college weightroom. As evidenced so far this season (Anthony Davis is an NBA forward masquerading as a college center), not having a true center on the floor is a limitation. The Cauley commitment was huge because Kentucky lost out on its two other center prospects, DaJuan Coleman (to Syracuse) and Mitch McGary (to Michigan). The only other college-ready center prospect still uncommitted is Tony Parker, who hasn't been linked to Kentucky at all.

Now that John Calipari can breathe a little easier about his 5 spot, his attention turns to who he wants to recruit at the 4. Luckily for Kentucky, there's quite a few targets remaining there. In late September, Calipari started paying attention to Amile Jefferson, and followed that up by renewing interest in Jarnell Stokes in October. It was previously thought that both players would decide early; now both are waiting until the spring and are heavily considering Kentucky. The third name to be aware of is Anthony Bennett, who had no fall recruiting activity and will wait until the spring to decide. Of the three, Stokes appears to be the truest 4, which Jefferson and Bennett are more perimeter-oriented players who grew into a college 4 body. Any one of the three is a take.

Beyond those three names, it's possible that Calipari starts recruiting someone new entirely, such as St. John's decommits Ricardo Gathers or Jakarr Sampson. However, the only name we have listed on the board right now is Christopher Obekpa, who has been tangentially linked to Kentucky. Even if the Wildcats are able to land one of the three five-star studs above, they could still look to mine an under-the-radar prospect or D1-ready junior college player for frontcourt depth.

Remaining Targets - Wings (Needs: 1-2)

Alex Poythress turned a very good recruiting class into a great one. On the second day of the Early Signing Period, Poythress shocked many when he donned a blue and white cap. He had previously kept a tight-lipped recruitment, and speculation on who Poythress would pick varied wildly between Kentucky, Memphis, and Vanderbilt. He's an excellent combo forward who could flex to a power forward role if needed, similar to Terrence Jones.

Because of his versatility, Calipari can still go full bore after Shabazz Muhammad as well as the power forward prospects above without alienating any of his recruits. But make no mistake: Muhammad is still priority number one and will be until he signs elsewhere. It's very likely that Muhammad doesn't make a decision until after the Late Signing Period has commenced, so strap in for the long haul.

Devonta Pollard also holds a Kentucky offer, but because his skill set is so similar to Poythress', he may not be a priority for Calipari going into high school basketball season. Winston Shepard, much like Obekpa, has been linked to Kentucky but is a long shot to get an offer at this point. One name that won't be a Wildcat is TJ Warren, who decided to sign with hometown NC State.

Remaining Targets - Guards (Needs: 1-3)

Kentucky came close to getting Gary Harris to join Archie Goodwin in the backcourt, but Harris ultimately decided to sign with Michigan State.

Beyond that, there's not much news on the guard recruiting front. Torian Graham remains uncommitted, but he hasn't heard from Kentucky in a while. With Harris out of the picture, it appears that Calipari will focus all efforts on Muhammad and convince him that he and Goodwin can co-exist as flex options at the 2 and 3.

Kentucky is still not pursuing a point guard in this year's class, as transfer Ryan Harrow is slated to assume those duties in 2012.

Outlook

With Kentucky now sporting a very talented three man class, it's time for Wildcats fans to get greedy and shoot for an unprecedented fourth straight #1 recruiting class.

But first, the priority should be finding a second power forward to go along with Kyle Wiltjer next year. At this point, Stokes, Jefferson and Bennett are all neck and neck (hence I have them all listed at 25% chance of committing). The next few months should unveil how much Calipari likes each prospect, and conversely, how much each prospect really likes Kentucky.

If Calipari can lock down his 4, then the last piece of the puzzle would be a commitment from uber-prospect Muhammad. Hopefully by the time Muhammad is ready to commit, the Cats have one of those pretty National Championship trophies to dangle as the ultimate persuasive recruiting tool.

Follow my Twitter feed (@JC_Hoops) for the latest updates and keep an eye out for the next big board update.

Other Recruiting Big Boards

2012 | Version 3 (9/23/11) | Version 2 (7/25/11) | Version 1 (4/21/11)
2013/14 | Version 1 (5/25/11)
2011 | Version 2 (4/25/11) | Version 1 (4/15/11)

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