Kentucky Wildcats Basketball: 2012 Recruiting Big Board

If you enjoyed Kentucky's relatively uneventful 2011 recruiting class, you may want to Rip Van Winkle your way through 2012. John Calipari's upcoming recruiting calendar year will likely mirror 2010, when Kentucky didn't secure its first 5* recruit (Enes Kanter) until mid-March. The three additional All-Americans didn't commit until after the regular signing period had commenced, with the first (Brandon Knight) committing on signing day, the same day as 2011's Michael Gilchrist.

While Calipari might not have to wait quite that long to secure his first five star commitment, he does have an uphill battle with his potential recruits. Many of the Wildcat targets have a leading school not named Kentucky, or at the very least have a variety of choices with no particular favorite. To that end, the coaching staff has cast a rather wide net. Offers have already been extended to the most preferred recruits, but additional targets have recently begun to garner interest from Big Blue.

Who will wear the blue and white in 2012? Stay tuned, sports fans.

Name Pos School Ranking (Rivals/ESPNU)
Offer (Odds)
Commitment (Odds) Favorite School(s) News & Notes
Andre Drummond
C St. Thomas More (Oakdale, CT) Rivals: 5*, 1st
ESPNU: 5*, 1st
Not Yet Offered (25%)
N/A
UConn
Louisville
Georgetown
Kentucky
UNC
Pittsburgh
WVU
1/17/11 - Drummond has put his recruiting "on hold" and is not likely to make a decision anytime soon. Local school UConn is considered the heavy favorite. UK has not offered, but is on his interest list.
DaJuan Coleman
C Jamesville-DeWitt (DeWitt, NY)
Rivals: 5*, 8th
ESPNU: 5*, 2nd
Offered 35%
Syracuse
Kentucky
Ohio State
UNC
Louisville
4/18/11 - Calipari visited Coleman at his HS on Apr 18. Look for Coleman to be UK's primary 5 target going forward. Syracuse is the favorite with UK coming on strong.
Kaleb Tarczewski
C St. Mark's (Southborough, MA) Rivals: 5*, 13th
ESPNU: 5*, 8th
Not Yet Offered (15%)
N/A
Kansas
UNC
WVU
UConn
BC
Kentucky
4/19/11 - Tarczewski just received a visit from UK, right after receiving an offer from UNC. He has also unofficially visited Kansas, considered the favorite. UK has not yet offered.
Willie Cauley
C Olathe Northwest (Olathe, KS) Rivals: 4*, 47th
ESPNU: 4*, 47th
Not Yet Offered (25%) N/A
Kansas St
Oklahoma
Okla St
Kentucky
Kansas
4/17/11 - Kentucky visited Cauley at his HS on Apr 17. Offer list is primarily Big 12, but he is gaining interest from top-tier schools.
Brandon Ashley
PF Bishop O'Dowd (Oakland, CA) Rivals: 5*, 6th
ESPNU: 5*, 7th
Offered 60%
Kentucky
Arizona
UCLA
California
Oregon
Washington
2/8/11 - There haven't been many headlines on Ashley's recruitment. Ashley plays on the same AAU team as Wiltjer and is said to really like Kentucky. Pac-10 schools are also on his list.
Alex Murphy
PF St. Mark's (Southborough, MA) Rivals: 5*, 11th
ESPNU: 5*, 15th
Not Offered 0%
Duke 4/19/11 - Murphy is reclassifying to the c/o 2011 and will join Duke next year, eliminating the chance of a decommitment.
2/7/11 - Murphy committed to Duke on Feb 7. UK was said to be interested but never extended an offer.
Perry Ellis
PF Wichita Heights (Wichita, KS)
Rivals: 5*, 19th
ESPNU: 5*, 16th
Offered 10%
Kansas
Kentucky
Kansas St
Memphis
Oklahoma
Wichita St
2/26/11 - Ellis has made multiple trips to watch KU play, and the home state Jayhawks are considered heavy favorites.
Shabazz Muhammad
SF/SG Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
Rivals: 5*, 3rd
ESPNU: 5*, 5th
Offered 35%
Kentucky
UCLA
Duke
UNC
UNLV
Kansas
Arizona
4/11/11 - A new player is UNLV, which hired Dave Rice as head coach, the older brother of Bishop Gorman HC Grant Rice.
1/13/11 - Muhammad recently noted that UK appealed to him due to the DDMO, but has no favorite amongst many schools. Suspicion is UK, UCLA and Duke lead.
Kyle Anderson
SF/PG St. Anthony (Jersey City)
Rivals: 5*, 5th
ESPNU: 4*, 25th
Reportedly Offered
10%
UCLA
Villanova
Georgetown
Kentucky
Seton Hall
4/13/11 - Anderson is a unique talent with PG skills but a SF body. He reportedly has a UK offer although it is not listed on Rivals. He has a diverse offer list with UCLA, Nova, and Georgetown at the top.
Winston Shepard
SF Findlay Prep (Henderson, NV)
Rivals: 4*, 36th
ESPNU: 4*, 39th
Not Yet Offered (5%)
N/A
Texas
Memphis
Kansas
Oklahoma
Utah
10/5/10 - There's not a lot of information about Shepard, despite his powerhouse school ties. The 5 schools listed are per an interview with Northstar Basketball. Shepard is the son of ex-Longhorn Winn Shepard. He is also on the same AAU team as Shabazz Muhammad. UK is interested but has not offered.
Ricardo Ledo
SG Notre Dame (Fitchberg, MA)
Rivals: 5*, 7th
ESPNU: 5*, 11th
Offered 12.5%
Texas
Florida
Kansas
Kentucky
Providence
UConn
UCLA
WVU
4/9/11 - Per Jeff Borzello (CBS Sports), Ledo's favorites are listed in no particular order.
2/1/11 - Ledo decommitted from Providence, but remains interested in the Friars.
Archie Goodwin
SG Sylvan Hills (Little Rock, AR)
Rivals: 5*, 18th
ESPNU: 5*, 17th
Offered 45%
Arkansas
Kentucky
Memphis
Baylor
4/12/11 - In a recent interview, Goodwin talked about UK and noted he thought highly of Brandon Knight.
3/26/11 - The Mike Anderson hire may have made Arkansas Goodwin's current leader. Arkansas and UK are considered the two front-runners.
Gary Harris
SG Hamilton Southeastern (Fishers, IN)
Rivals: 4*, 24th
ESPNU: 5*, 12th
Not Yet Offered (10%)
N/A
Indiana
Louisville
Michigan St
Xavier
4/9/11 - Alex Bozich (Inside the Hall) noted that UK is beginning to show interest in Harris. Indiana and Louisville have been in pursuit longest.
D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera
SG/PG North Central (Indianapolis)
Rivals: 4*, 25th
ESPNU: 4*, 29th
Not Yet Offered (5%)
N/A
Xavier
Indiana
Louisville
Ohio St
4/9/11 - Per Jeff Drummond (Cats Pause), UK's interest in Smith-Rivera has waned, but Smith-Rivera remains interested.
12/28/10 - Smith-Rivera decommitted from Xavier, but remains interested in the Musketeers.
Torian Graham
SG Word of God (Durham, NC)
Rivals: 4*, 26th
ESPNU: 4*, 46th
Not Yet Offered (50%)
N/A
Kentucky
UNC
Louisville
Duke
Georgetown
Syracuse
Florida St
4/20/11 - John Calipari visited Word of God to check out 2011 PF Daniel Ochefu, and presumably Graham as well.
3/26/11 - Per Paul Biancardi (ESPN), UK is the leader for Graham despite not having offered. Graham took an unofficial visit to Lexington on Mar 1.
JP Tokoto
SG/SF Menomonee Falls (Menomonee Falls, WI)
Rivals: 4*, 40th
ESPNU: 4*, 32nd
Offered 0%
UNC 3/4/11 - Tokoto committed to UNC over Wisconsin on Mar 4.
Omar Calhoun
SG/PG Christ the King (Brooklyn)
Rivals: 4*, 67th
ESPNU: 4*, 57th
Not Yet Offered (10%)
N/A
Pittsburgh
Villanova
WVU
UConn
UNC
3/4/11 - In a recent interview, Calhoun's father lists Pitt as the favorite, but notes he would like to hear from UNC and UK.
LJ Rose
PG Westbury Christian (Houston)
Rivals: 4*, 28th
ESPNU: 4*, 21st
Offered 20%
Texas
Kansas
Kentucky
Baylor
Georgetown
Florida
Miami
Florida St
Michigan St
UCLA
2/16/11 - In a recent blog post, Rose dropped UNC from his list in favor of UCLA.
2/5/11 - Per Kevin Berger (March to March), Texas is the favorite to land Rose.

 

Note: Offer status is per Rivals. Likelihood of offer and likelihood of commitment are estimates based on available information. Percentage status will change as new information becomes available.

Scholarship Situation

As of today, Kentucky would have three graduating seniors in Eloy Vargas, Darius Miller, and DeAndre Liggins (assuming he returns to school instead of opting for the draft). Returnees in 2012 would include Jon Hood (senior), Stacey Poole (junior), Doron Lamb (junior), and the 2011 class of Michael Gilchrist, Marquis Teague, Anthony Davis and Kyle Wiltjer. This assumes Terrence Jones and Brandon Knight stay in the 2011 NBA Draft. Otherwise, both would be juniors and still likely to declare for the 2012 NBA Draft. The 2011 class (other than Wiltjer) and Lamb also would be early entrant candidates.

Based on the above, Kentucky could have as many as 10 scholarships open, or as few as 4. Expect it to be closer to the former rather than the latter. This is admittedly a projection far into the future, and Kentucky's needs can and will change accordingly.

Remaining Targets - Bigs (Needs: 2-4)

Calipari will likely be looking for one stud each for the 4 and 5 spots.

At the 5, the only outstanding offer is DaJuan Coleman. Coleman, along with Andre Drummond, Cameron Ridley (committed to Texas), and Isaiah Austin (committed to Baylor), make the top 10 of the 2012 class ridiculously big. Kentucky appears to be making inroads with Coleman, who has been most closely linked to Syracuse. If not Coleman, there's two other names on the board that Kentucky hasn't offered, for good reason. Andre Drummond is said to be a huge Connecticut lean, and Kaleb Tarczewski the same to Kansas.

At the 4, Kentucky is looking heavily at Brandon Ashley and Perry Ellis, both offered. There's little information currently out on Ashley, but he will be difficult to pry out of Pac-12 territory. If anyone can do it, it's Calipari, who plucked Jones and Wiltjer out of Oregon in subsequent years. Ellis would be a similar hurdle, as he's a heavy lean to hometown Kansas.

It will also be imperative for Kentucky to add depth for one or two four-year contributors. A name to add to that list is newcomer Willie Cauley, but look for more names to arise as the year moves on.

Remaining Targets - Wings (Needs: 2-3)

Calipari hasn't put much emphasis on recruiting high-quality wing players while at Kentucky, preferring instead to rely on holdovers Darius Miller, DeAndre Liggins, and since-graduated Ramon Harris to man the position. With Miller and Liggins set to graduate after the 2011 season, the need factor is now greater.

The hottest name in recruiting circles is Shabazz Muhammad, most likely because he's one of the few in the top tier not already committed or with a heavy favorite. Rather, Muhammad is "wide-open" in his recruitment. He'll likely take this one all the way to the regular signing period, although Kentucky should be in the hunt until the very end. Muhammad's AAU teammate Winston Shepard is another name on the radar, but has not been offered by UK.

There's a trio of tall hybrid guard/forwards that may end up falling into the "wing" category. The first name to know is Archie Goodwin, an Arkansas product who has long had Kentucky as a favorite. However, the recent hire of Mike Anderson as the new Razorbacks coach has thrown his recruitment for a loop. Three other offers remain outstanding for Kentucky, and all are interesting case studies. Kyle Anderson has a point guard mentality in a small forward's body. He has expressed interest in running the DDMO, but might just be too big to handle Calipari's PG position. Ricardo Ledo is a Providence decommit and an enrollee of multiple high schools. He also plays for the Rick Pitino-coached Puerto Rican National Team, yet Pitino has publicly stated that he will not be recruiting Ledo. The last, JP Tokoto, has already committed to North Carolina.

Remaining Targets - Guards (Needs: 2-3)

On the smaller side of the shooting guard spectrum are four names to keep an eye on: Gary Harris, D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Torian Graham, and Omar Calhoun. None of them have offers outstanding at this time, but could garner one should some of the above names lose interest. Of those four, Graham is the most intriguing. He has publicly stated that Kentucky is his leader (despite the lack of an offer), and plays for Word of God in North Carolina, the alma mater of John Wall.

Lastly, we all know that Calipari's favorite recruiting target is the 1. Unfortunately, there's slim pickings in the 2012 class. There's no 5 star point to be found. Further, a handful of the top PGs have already committed, including Marcus Paige (UNC), Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell (Indiana), and Braxton Ogbueze (Florida). There's only one name on the radar for Kentucky right now, and even that is a stretch. LJ Rose, a Houston product, is likely to stay close to home and play for the Longhorns.

Outlook

Right now, Kentucky should feel most comfortable with Ashley and Goodwin. Both players are candidates to commit by the early signing period, and both have UK near the top of their lists. That said, neither is just a given for Big Blue. Another domino that could fall by then is Graham, but that is contingent on a Wildcats offer.

While a full third of the ESPN Super 60 have already committed, two names you shouldn't expect to do so anytime soon are Coleman and Muhammad, Kentucky's two highest priority recruits. It appears both will take their time in the recruiting process with no heavy favorites. Given Calipari's recent recruiting wins, it wouldn't be surprising to see both eventually sign with Kentucky. As of now, Cats fans should feel comfortable with where Kentucky stands for both.

The last of the possible commits is LJ Rose. As mentioned, it will be quite difficult to get him out of Texas, but the string of successes shown by Calipari 1s has to be weighing heavily on his mind.

Other than that, consider Kentucky recruiting as still early int ehr process. Names will rise and fall, and an unexpected commit or two could pledge. When that happens, my Twitter feed (@JC_at_M2M) will have the latest updates and the 2012 Big Board will be revised accordingly. Until then, happy tracking!

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