The state of Texas high school hoops is flourishing, and national powers are taking notice. The Kentucky Wildcats have already reaped the benefits, landing three McDonald's All-Americans from the state of Texas in the 2013 class. Kentucky signed Houston-area twin guards Aaron and Andrew Harrison last fall, and followed that up with a commitment from Dallas phenom Julius Randle earlier this spring.
Now Kentucky head coach John Calipari appears headed back to the Lone Star State to take another crack at mining more prospects. Kentucky recruitniks have long known about Dallas Prime Prep's Emmanuel Mudiay, a 6' 4" lead guard with a body and style of play prototypical of Coach Cal's point guards. For the past year, Kentucky has been considered a favorite to eventually receive Mudiay's commitment.
The two prime competitors are local schools. Mudiay has built great relationships with the Baylor Bears and SMU Mustangs (now helmed by coaching legend Larry Brown, in case you forgot). He has rounded out his list of finalists with two other Big 12 schools, the Kansas Jayhawks and Oklahoma St. Cowboys. The #3 prospect in the 247 Composite rankings will take an official visit to Lexington for Big Blue Madness on October 18. 247's Crystal Ball almost unanimously shows Kentucky as his eventual destination, so Wildcats fan should feel good about this recruitment.
Two new wing prospects have flown onto Kentucky's radar this summer. Justise Winslow of Houston St. John's and Kelly Oubre of Henderson (NV) Findlay Prep are AAU teammates on Houston Hoops. Winslow is the more known commodity, having been ranked as a 5* since his freshman year of high school. The son of Houston Cougars Phi Slama Jama star Rickie Winslow picked up a Kentucky offer in July after receiving little interest from Coach Cal earlier in his career.
That offer was enough to add Kentucky to Winslow's list of semi-finalists. That list contains, along with Kentucky, the Duke Blue Devils, Arizona Wildcats, Florida Gators, Kansas Jayhawks, UCLA Bruins, Texas A&M Aggies, and Stanford Cardinal. Duke and Arizona are considered the clubhouse leaders.
Likewise, a Coach Cal offer put Kentucky on the map for Kelly Oubre. Originally a New Orleans native, Oubre played his first three years of high school ball for Fort Bend Bush in Southwest Houston. He plans to suit up for powerhouse Findlay Prep his senior year. Oubre gave ESPN's Paul Biancardi his list of 8 semi-finalists after Peach Jam, noting that newcomer Kentucky had recently offered. The Wildcats are listed along with presumed favorite Kansas, with the Florida Gators, Georgetown Hoyas, Louisville Cardinals, Oregon Ducks, Connecticut Huskies and UNLV Rebels in the mix. Oubre's list is notable in that in contains no Texas schools, and just one Big 12 program.
Simply getting interest from Kentucky may even be enough. Enter Euless Trinity's Myles Turner, a big man that has risen from unranked status to consensus 5* in the same way past big men like Kentucky's Anthony Davis and Michigan's Mitch McGary flew up recruiting boards. Turner struggled with injuries and conditioning issues early in his career, but has remade his game into a prototypical stretch big, perfectly suited for today's modern game. Turner and Oubre have been the talk of the town in Texas this summer, with both prospects making hot lists left and right.
Turner recently cut his list from 20+ schools down to 8. Both Turner and Oubre will likely attend Kansas' Late Night in the Phog. Along with Kansas and Kentucky, Turner lists the Duke Blue Devils, Texas Longhorns, Louisville Cardinals, Arizona Wildcats, Ohio St. Buckeyes, and Oklahoma St. Cowboys. Kentucky has held off on offering Turner in favor of continuing to pursue other bigs like Jahlil Okafor and Cliff Alexander. However, if the Wildcats want to secure an official visit, an offer might need to come sooner rather than later.
As it stands, Kentucky is well-positioned only with Mudiay when it comes to elite Texas prospects. Calipari and company might be late to the game when it comes to Winslow, Oubre, and Turner, but the "Kentucky Effect" alone has been enough to keep the 'Cats in contention with these phenoms. Whether things will proceed further remains to be seen.
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