2015/16 Kentucky Wildcats Recruiting Big Board: May '13 Edition

USA TODAY Sports

Looking at some of the nation's top high school freshmen and sophomores.

If there's one adage about recruiting that always rings true, it's this: recruiting never stops. It may seem early to start talking about top high school sophomores and freshmen: kids that are ages 14, 15 and 16, by the way. But if you want to play the game, you gotta get in early.

Talent maturation is easier to spot in basketball than in the other major sports. No, top underclassmen don't always develop into collegiate stars--read George Dohrmann's excellent Play Their Hearts Out for a great glimpse into that--but they do more often than not.

U-17 AAU teams nowadays routinely feature players younger than the rising senior class. Consequently, coaches not only know who the top tier players are, but can also see them alongside soon-to-be-collegians. For a blue blood team like the Kentucky Wildcats, this only helps recruiting efforts.

John Calipari has been notoriously stingy about accepting offers prior to kids' senior seasons, but even that hasn't stopped him from recruiting these youngsters. Three underclassmen players (one in the 2015 class, and two in the 2016 class) already possess offers, and a few more might come down the pipe as summer progresses.

While you won't see these hoopsters in college anytime soon, they're already making names for themselves on the court.

2015 Outstanding Offers

Name Pos School (Hometown) Future 150 Ranking Status [Offer Date]
Other (Early) Interest
Skal Labissiere
C/PF Evangelical Christian (TN)
(Port-au-Prince, Haiti)
5*, 5th [O] 11/18/12 Memphis
Kansas
Auburn

2016 Outstanding Offers

Name Pos School (Hometown) Future 150 Ranking Status [Offer Date]
Other (Early) Interest
Harry Giles
PF Wesleyan Christian
(Winston-Salem, NC)
5*, 1st [O] 05/03/13 UNC
NC St
Ohio St
Duke
Jayson Tatum
SF/SG Chaminade Prep
(St. Louis, MO)
5*, 8th [O] 04/29/13 Missouri
Marquette
Illinois
Florida
Kansas

2015/16 Offer Analysis

Big man Skal Labissiere, currently residing in Memphis by way of Haiti, popped up on Kentucky's radar last fall. He became the first player in the class to receive an "official" Kentucky offer (i.e., an offer that is committable should the player so choose). Labissiere is raw but plenty talented. Already, recruitniks believe that Labissiere has narrowed his recruitment down to "hometown" Memphis and Kentucky. The Tigers and Wildcats haven't really gone head-to-head for a prospect since the 2009 class when Coach Cal switched schools. Thus, the Labissiere recruitment may turn out to be historically interesting.

This spring, two 2016 prospects notched Kentucky offers after Calipari and staff watched them play in grassroots tournaments. The first name to arise was Jayson Tatum, a swingman from Missouri. He was soon joined by Harry Giles, widely considered the best underclassman in the nation. His #1 ranking is currently as solidified as early-identified past greats like LeBron James, Greg Oden and Andrew Wiggins. The only question there is whether Giles can hold onto that post until his senior season.

Top 2015 Prospects

Name Pos School (Hometown) Future 150 Ranking Status Other (Early) Interest
Stephen Zimmerman
C Bishop Gorman
(Las Vegas, NV)
5*, 3rd Not Yet Offered
UCLA
Arizona
Michigan
UNLV
Kansas
Memphis
Diamond Stone
C Dominican
(Milwaukee, WI)
5*, 4th Not Yet Offered Marquette
Wisconsin
Michigan
Arizona
UConn
Daniel Giddens
C
Wheeler
(Marietta, GA)
5*, 8th Not Yet Offered Georgia
GA Tech
UNC
Florida
Maryland
Ivan Rabb
PF Bishop O'Dowd
(Oakland, CA)
5*, 2nd Not Yet Offered California
Arizona
Kansas
UNC
UCLA
UNLV
Carlton Bragg
PF Villa Angela-St. Joseph
(Cleveland, OH)
5*, 7th Not Yet Offered Ohio St
Illinois
Indiana
Elijah Thomas
PF Prime Prep
(Rockwall, TX)
4*, 14th Not Yet Offered Georgetown
Arizona
Indiana
NC St
Louisville
Cheick Diallo
PF Our Savior New American (NY)
(Bamako, Mali)
4*, 37th Not Yet Offered UConn
St. John's
Pittsburgh
Syracuse
Rutgers
Raymond Spalding
PF Trinity
(Louisville, KY)
Not Ranked
Not Yet Offered Indiana
Louisville
Memphis
Tennessee
Ben Simmons
SF Montverde (FL) Academy
(Melbourne, AUS)
5*, 6th Not Yet Offered Duke
LSU
Ohio St
WA St
St. Mary's
Kejuan Johnson
SF Wheeler
(Marietta, GA)
5*, 12th Not Yet Offered Florida
GA Tech
Memphis
Mickey Mitchell
SF Prestonwood Christian
(Plano, TX)
5*, 13th Not Yet Offered Ohio St
Texas A&M
Baylor
Texas
Florida
Kansas
Montaque Gill-Caesar
SF Huntington (WV) Prep
(Downsview, ONT)
4*, 38th Not Yet Offered Baylor
Ohio St
Indiana
West VA
Malik Newman
SG Callaway
(Jackson, MS)
5*, 1st Not Yet Offered Duke
Miss St
Mississippi
Alabama
Arizona
Eric Davis
SG Arthur Hill
(Saginaw, MI)
4*, 46th Not Yet Offered Michigan St
Iowa St
Massachusetts
NC St
Oregon
Charles Matthews
PG St. Rita
(Chicago, IL)
5*, 11th Not Yet Offered Illinois
Arizona
DePaul
Wisconsin
Marquette
Isaiah Briscoe
PG St. Benedict's Prep
(Union, NJ)
5*, 16th Not Yet Offered Syracuse
Arizona
Florida
Ohio St
Indiana
James Bolden
PG Holmes
(Covington, KY)
Not Ranked
Not Yet Offered Xavier
Butler
Iowa St
Cincinnati
Purdue

2015 Prospect Analysis

2015 may go down as the "Year of the Big Man." Plenty of burly, low-post bigs comprise the five-star ranks of the class. That group is currently led by a trio of well-known commodities: Stephen Zimmerman, Diamond Stone, and Ivan Rabb. More talent like Daniel Giddens and Carlton Bragg closely follow.

Giddens plays for an absolutely loaded Marietta (GA) Wheeler team, which includes another early Kentucky target, wing Kejuan Johnson. Look across the board, and local schools still make up the early favorites. That's something Calipari has worked hard to overcome, including landing three Texans in the 2013 class. He's up to his tricks again in the Lone Star State, as guys like post forward Elijah Thomas and wing Mickey Mitchell have heard from the Wildcats.

Calipari also went local in the 2013 class, and two Bluegrass prospects of note are teammates on the Kentucky Travelers AAU squad. Don't forget the names of James "Beetle" Bolden and Raymond Spalding. Need some international flavor? Ben Simmons is an Australian who stole the show in AAU play last summer and now suits up for powerhouse Montverde in Florida. He could make a move for the top spot in the class before all is said and done. Montaque Gill-Caesar has already visited Kentucky, tagging along with fellow Canadian Andrew Wiggins on one of his trips. And All-Name Team candidate Cheick Diallo is a Centerreach New Yorker originally from Mali.

I haven't even mentioned 2-guard Malik Newman yet. He sits atop Future 150 rankings (I listed those since they do more frequent updates of underclassmen) and will also be a strong contender for best player in the class. At point guard, always a position of importance for Coach Cal, the early clubhouse leader for a Kentucky offer is Chicagoan 5* Charles Matthews. Rounding out the very early big board are guards Eric Davis and Isaiah Briscoe, both coming in last but not least.

2016 Top Prospects

Name Pos School (Hometown) Future 150 Ranking Status
Other (Early) Interest
Thon Maker
C/PF Carlisle School
(Earlwood, AUS)
5*, 4th Not Yet Offered Arizona
Duke
UNC
Georgetown
Raekwon Long
C Garinger
(Charlotte, NC)
4*, 34th Not Yet Offered UNC
Duke
Clemson
Louisville
V.J. King
SF/SG St. Vincent-St. Mary
(Akron, OH)
4*,12th Not Yet Offered Ohio St
Illinois
Wisconsin
Iowa
Tyus Battle
SG Gill St. Bernard
(Newark, NJ)
4*, 15th
Not Yet Offered UConn
Indiana
Miami
Rhode Island
Rutgers
Maverick Rowan
SG Lincoln Park
(Midland, PA)
Not Ranked
Not Yet Offered UCLA
Pittsburgh
West VA
Virginia
VA Tech
Seventh Woods
PG Hammond School
(Columbia, SC)
5*, 3rd Not Yet Offered UNC
Duke
S Carolina
Quintin Goodin
PG Taylor County
(Campbellsville, KY)
4*, 52nd Not Yet Offered Indiana
W Kentucky
OK St

2016 Prospect Analysis

Yeah, it's way too early to be talking about favorite schools or future plans for these guys. But we can go All-Name Team with them! In the post, Thon Maker and Raekwon Long! Waiting in the wings, Tyus Battle and Maverick Rowan! And manning the point, Seventh Woods! (An aside: in the annals of sick mixtapes, Woods' is unreal.) Makes guys like Quintin Goodin and V.J. King seem perfectly ordinary, don't it?

Wait and see on these guys is the motto.

Older Recruiting Big Boards

2013: 5/16/13 | 3/27/13 | 10/11/12 | 7/5/12 | 12/6/11 | 5/25/11
2014: 5/20/13 | 10/24/12 | 7/11/12 | 5/25/11

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