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Kentucky Basketball Recruiting: 2012 Big Board (Version 5)

No, there hasn't been a new commitment since our last big board update in November. Archie Goodwin, Alex Poythress, and Willie Cauley remain Kentucky's only three signees in the class.

And yes, I realize we're knee-deep in an incredible season of Kentucky basketball. But if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: recruiting never sleeps. And thus, the impetus for this update.

Right now, it looks like Kentucky will target 2 to 3 more high school recruits to complete the class. Three names have jumped to the top of UK's "want list": Shabazz Muhammad and newly reclassified Nerlens Noel, the top two players in the class, and Anthony Bennett, a top 10 recruit in his own right. Power forward and center are the "need-based" positions right now, as Kentucky's depth at the "big" spots will likely be thin going into next year. As a result, Kentucky also has offers out to Tony Parker and Amile Jefferson along with Bennett and Noel.

Muhammad remains more of a nice to have, but he is a take no matter who else is on board. Devonta Pollard, a combo forward similar to signee Poythress, holds Kentucky's last remaining offer.

Don't expect any noise until after the college basketball season is over. Of the remaining targets, only Jefferson looks likely to commit soon (reportedly in early March), and the Wildcats aren't likely to be the winning school in his recruitment. That just means April will be a lot of fun.

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
Offer (Odds)
Commitment (Odds) Favorite School(s) News & Notes Trending (since 11/21/11)
Nerlens Noel
C The Tilton School (Everett, MA) Scout: 5*/1st
Rivals: 5*/NA
ESPNU: 5*/1st
Offered 40% Syracuse
2/18/12 - Noel visited UK on Feb 18, a week after visiting Syracuse. He plans on taking at least three more visits before making a decision.
2/1/12 - Noel reclassified to the class of 2012, vaulting to the top of the rankings. He had previously been a top target for UK in the 2013 class.
Willie Cauley
C Olathe Northwest (Spearville, KS) Scout: 4*/35th
Rivals: 4*/39th
ESPNU: 4*/40th
Offered Committed (10/31/11)
Signed (11/9/11)
2/18/12 - Cauley made a surprise visit to Kentucky the same weekend as Noel. The hope is to see these twin towers pair together next year.
Anthony Bennett
PF/SF Findlay Prep (Brampton, Ont) Scout: 5*/7th
Rivals: 5*/7th
ESPNU: 5*/7th
Offered 40%
1/24/12 - Per Adam Zagoria (5Star Basketball), Bennett is down to five finalists, with UK and UF the presumed co-leaders. He has not yet taken any official visits.
Tony Parker
PF Miller Grove (Lithonia, GA) Scout: 5*/20th
Rivals: 4*/33rd
ESPNU: 4*/21st
Offered 10%
Ohio St
2/24/12 - Parker, in a bit of a surprise, is expected to take an official visit to Kansas on Feb 25.
2/4/12 - Per Tracy Pierson (Scout), Parker and Muhammad are leaning strongly towards UCLA.
1/6/12 - Kentucky offered Parker and is trying to get him to take an official visit. He has two officials left.
Amile Jefferson
PF/SF Friends Central (Philadelphia) Scout: 5*/22nd
Rivals: 4*/36th
ESPNU: 5*/18th
Offered <5% Duke
NC State
Ohio St
2/23/12 - Per Dave Telep (ESPNU), Jefferson will unofficially visit Duke on Mar 3 and announce his decision sometime after the visit.
2/10/12 - Per multiple sources, Duke and NC State are co-leaders for Jefferson, who is trying to decide prior to the Late Signing Period. There's no buzz for UK.
Christopher Obekpa
PF Our Savior New American (Centereach, NY) Scout: 4*/74th
Rivals: 3*/105th
ESPNU: 4*/50th
Not Yet Offered (5%) N/A
St. John's
Seton Hall
West VA
2/18/12 - Obekpa unofficially visited UConn on Feb 18 after officially visiting DePaul on Jan 27. He continues to list UK despite a lack of an offer.
Shabazz Muhammad
SF/SG Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas)
Scout: 5*/2nd
Rivals: 5*/1st
ESPNU: 5*/2nd
Offered 30%
2/24/12 - Muhammad is expected to take an official visit to KU on Feb 25.
2/13/12 - The Cats Pause is growing increasingly pessimistic about UK's chances with Muhammad.
2/4/12 - In an interview with Garrett Tucker (Nation of Blue), Muhammad's father refuted the report that Muhammad is UCLA-bound.
Alex Poythress
SF/PF Northeast (Clarksville, TN)
Scout: 5*/15th
Rivals: 5*/19th
ESPNU: 5*/16th
Offered Committed (11/10/11)
Signed (11/10/11)
2/9/12 - Poythress was named to the McDonald's All-American and Jordan Brand Classic games.
Devonta Pollard
SF/PF Kemper County (DeKalb, MS)
Scout: 5*/25st
Rivals: 5*/9th
ESPNU: 4*/32nd
Offered 10%
Miss St
2/4/12 - Pollard officially visited Missouri on Feb 4 after visiting Texas on Jan 21. He has expressed interest in visiting UK and still keeps in contact with the coaching staff.
Savon Goodman
SF/PF Constitution (Philadelphia)
Scout: 4*/89th
Rivals: 4*/53rd
ESPNU: 4*/98th
Not Yet Offered (5%)
1/4/12 - In an interview with 5Star Basketball, Goodman mentioned UK in his list of interested schools. He may be a backup option for UK.
Archie Goodwin
SG Sylvan Hills (Little Rock, AR)
Scout: 5*/17th
Rivals: 5*/12th
ESPNU: 5*/15th
Offered Committed (9/20/11)
Signed (11/15/11)
2/9/12 - Goodwin was named to the McDonald's All-American and Jordan Brand Classic games.
Torian Graham
SG Word of God (Durham, NC)
Scout: 4*/65st
Rivals: 4*/51st
ESPNU: 4*/81st
Not Yet Offered (5%)
NC State
2/2/12 - Per Adam Zagoria (ZagsBlog), Graham has 4 schools pursuing him the hardest. He theoretically remains a backup option for UK.
DaJuan Coleman
C Jamesville-DeWitt (DeWitt, NY)
Scout: 5*/10th
Rivals: 4*/27th
ESPNU: 5*/13th
Offered 0%
10/25/11 - Coleman committed to SU over UK and OSU on Oct 25.
Mitch McGary
PF/C Brewster Academy (Chesterton, IN) Scout: 5*/21st
Rivals: 5*/3rd
ESPNU: 5*/22nd
Offered 0%
11/3/11 - McGary committed to Michigan over Duke and UF on Nov 3.
Brandon Ashley
PF Findlay Prep (Oakland, CA) Scout: 5*/5th
Rivals: 5*/13th
ESPNU: 5*/10th
Offered 0%
Arizona 8/29/11 - Ashley committed to Arizona over UCLA, Oregon, and UK on Aug 29.
Jarnell Stokes
PF Southwind (Memphis) Scout: 5*/NA
Rivals: 5*/11th
Offered 0%
12/23/11 - Stokes committed to Tennessee at mid-term over Memphis and UK on Dec 23.
Perry Ellis
PF Wichita Heights (Wichita, KS)
Scout: 4*/36th
Rivals: 5*/24th
ESPNU: 4*/31st
Offered 0%
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*/26th
Rivals: 5*/23rd
ESPNU: 4*/29th
NC State
11/2/11 - Warren committed to NC State over Georgetown on Nov 2.
Winston Shepard
SF Findlay Prep (Fresno, TX)
Scout: 4*/39th
Rivals: 4*/40th
ESPNU: 4*/53rd
Not Offered
2/16/12 - Shepard committed to SDSU on Feb 16 without ever receiving a UK offer. He'll drop off the next big board.
Gary Harris
SG Hamilton Southeastern (Indianapolis)
Scout: 5*/11th
Rivals: 5*/25th
ESPNU: 5*/11th
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*/14th
Rivals: 5*/8th
ESPNU: 4*/19th
Offered 0%
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*/90th
Rivals: 4*/68th
ESPNU: 4*/66th
Offered 0%
UNC 3/4/11 - Tokoto committed to UNC over Wisconsin on Mar 4.
LJ Rose
PG Westbury Christian (Houston)
Scout: 4*/67th
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's a strong chance Kentucky goes into the 2012-13 season with just three returning scholarship players: Harrow, Hood, and Wiltjer. On the list above, Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, and Jones are all projected to be lottery picks and should be considered gone. Teague is a fringe first-round pick, and Lamb grades out as a second-round pick. While there's the possibility that one or both could stay, right now I'm projecting them to both leave as well.

Based on the above, Kentucky would have 10 scholarships open, though Calipari would not fill all 10 spots. I'm projecting the Wildcats to target 3 more 2012 recruits. Along with the 3 commits already signed, that would be 6 recruits in the class, and 9 scholarship players total. Calipari would hold onto the remaining scholarships for 2013, giving one-year scholarships to the walk-ons. He may also try to find a late transfer, similar to Vargas in 2010 or Harrow in 2011, that he could either play immediately (as a graduate transfer) or be stashed for 2013.

Remaining Targets - Bigs (Needs: 2-4)

Committed/Signed: Willie Cauley

Kentucky would have loved to add the bulky Jarnell Stokes to next year's roster. Unfortunately, the academically-proficient Stokes graduated early and, looking for an immediate scholarship and playing time, chose rival school Tennessee. When a door closes, a window opens. Just a few weeks ago, 2013 target Nerlens Noel reclassified to his original class, 2012. He's a true center and has been glowingly called the best defensive amateur in the states--yes, purportedly even better than "Browdown." Kentucky should rightfully be considered a favorite for Noel. However, it may be hard to pry him from the Northeast, particularly Syracuse, a school that has been recruiting him for a long time.

With only Wiltjer and Cauley penciled in to next year's big man rotation, Kentucky won't stop at just one more forward/center recruit if someone else wants to say yes. Amile Jefferson isn't likely to be that guy, as most recruitniks have him committing soon to either Duke or NC State. Thus, the two other names to watch are Anthony Bennett and Tony Parker.

Kentucky (and a host of other schools) have been recruiting Bennett for quite a while, but Bennett hasn't been doing any recruiting at all. Expect that to change once Findlay Prep ends its basketball season. Bennett will start taking official visits fast and furious, with Kentucky and Florida the reported leaders right now. Parker is a new entry to the big board, and his recruitment is a bit of a mystery. Kentucky, UConn, and Kansas have all come on late for Parker, and he's been quiet about his thoughts. He does have two official visits left, with one reportedly going to Kansas this weekend.

Two recruits that don't possess Kentucky offers but are "on the radar" are Christopher Obekpa and Savon Goodman. Both prospects have continued to list interest in Kentucky. Whether the interest has been reciprocated is debatable.

Remaining Targets - Wings (Needs: 1-2)

Committed/Signed: Alex Poythress

Shabazz Muhammad may have taken a backseat to a reclassified Noel on the Top 100 boards, but he's still target 1A for Kentucky. The versatile swingman is an elite slashing scorer, and pairing him with the best big man defender in the nation would be criminally unfair. If there's any coach that can recruit them both, though, it's one John Calipari. After visiting Kentucky in the fall, Muhammad is taking his remaining official visits this spring before deciding. His recruitment is likely down to UCLA, Kentucky, and Duke.

Devonta Pollard also holds a Kentucky offer, but appears to have been slow played by Kentucky as the Cats look at bigger targets. If Calipari knew for sure that Muhammad wasn't coming, he may go after Pollard and shift Poythress to a 3/4 hybrid role that Terrence Jones currently plays. As it stands, Pollard is also in the midst of taking official visits and likely won't decide anytime soon.

Bennett's Findlay Prep teammate Winston Shepard was in the same boat as Obekpa, liking Kentucky but getting little interest. Unlike Obekpa, he's chosen to end his commitment, picking San Diego State.

Remaining Targets - Guards (Needs: 1-3)

Committed/Signed: Archie Goodwin, Ryan Harrow (transfer)

The bizarre recruitment of Torian Graham continues. He's committed twice now to NC State, only to subsequently decommit. He lists Kentucky but I sincerely doubt there's any fire there. As I have repeatedly mentioned, Kentucky is not recruiting a point guard in this class with Harrow slated to take over the starting role in 2012.

If Muhammad were to pick the Wildcats, he and Goodwin would probably be interchangeable at the 2/3 spots.


It's closing time for John Calipari. You know, I'm just sayin': this year's National Championship game is on April 2. The Late Signing Period for basketball starts April 11. That's not a lot of post-season recruiting time for coaches with powerhouse programs expecting to cut down the nets. As a result, Kentucky's coaching staff has been making the recruiting rounds while knee-deep in conference play.

In his spare time, Calipari has already made recruiting treks. For example, he's gone to Las Vegas to watch Muhammad and Bennett, flown to Texas to see 2013 targets Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison, and Aaron Harrison, and been to Tennessee to check on 2013 targets Austin Nichols and Jonathan Williams III. On campus visits, Kentucky just hosted Noel and Cauley, and still hope to bring in Bennett, as well as possibly Parker and/or Pollard.

Ideally, Kentucky closes with its "Big 3": Noel, Muhammad, Bennett. Kentucky isn't a majority favorite for any of those prospects, which is why I have all their commitment odds under 50%. However, I do think that, at worst, Kentucky is in second place for all three and have plenty of bandwidth to make up the difference going into April.

Get the big cheese some coffee.

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 4 (11/21/11) | Version 3 (9/23/11) | Version 2 (7/25/11) | Version 1 (4/21/11)
2013 | Version 2 (12/6/11) | Version 1 (5/25/11)
2014 | Version 1 (5/25/11)