Kentucky Wildcats head coach John Calipari is known as a bit of a recruiting wizard. It appears he has found yet another trump card to win over recruits.
The UK Alumni Charity Game, held last night, has become another day for a multitude of recruits to gather in Lexington. The Wildcats had a ton of prospects on campus, including a few 2014 hoopsters taking their official visits. Here's a brief rundown of the talent on hand.
Jahlil Okafor (2014): The headlining prospect on campus was big man Jahlil Okafor, considered by some recruiting services to be the top prospect in the class. Many recruitniks believe that Okafor will end up picking the same school as five-star point guard Tyus Jones, who will take an official visit to Kentucky later this September. Okafor, who will likely make a fall decision, is considered a strong Duke Blue Devils lean. He visited the Baylor Bears last weekend and will check out the Kansas Jayhawks and Arizona Wildcats along with Duke in October.
Devin Booker (2014): Calipari offered the sharp-shooting wing last spring. With offers out to both Booker and James Blackmon, Coach Cal appears to recognize that solid shooting is imperative for strong perimeter play. Booker is a Michigan native, and the Michigan Wolverines look like Kentucky's main competition for Booker's services. Booker also just took an official visit to see the Michigan St. Spartans.
Tyler Ulis (2014): The waterbug point guard looked like a surprise offer just a few weeks ago. But then assumed top target Emmanuel Mudiay committed to the SMU Mustangs, and Calipari's motivations for turning on the heat for Ulis made more sense. Ulis and Jones are likely mutually exclusive recruits, with both on target to make fall decisions. Ulis has already taken official visits to the Iowa Hawkeyes and Michigan St. Spartans. Prior to the Kentucky offer, recruitniks felt like the Spartans led. Now most everyone thinks he is Kentucky's to lose.
Derrick Jones (2015): The Pennsylvania native became the first confirmed Alumni Game visitor in the 2015 class. Like the other 2015'ers on the list, Jones possesses a Kentucky offer from Calipari. Early returns show Jones leaning to the northeast schools, but it's still early in his recruitment. Jones' high school coach compared him ($) to Tayshaun Prince and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, two names sure to hearten Kentucky fans. [UPDATE] As noted in the comments, Jones was unable to attend.
Luke Kennard (2015): This will actually be Kennard's third trip to Lexington since receiving a scholarship offer in July. That should be ample evidence that the Ohio shooting guard really digs Kentucky and Coach Cal. Kennard has received a lot of offers after a strong summer. On track to make a decision by next summer, Kennard will have Kentucky at the top of his list until he commits.
Charles Matthews (2015): Matthews is another Chicago-area native (see: Jahlil Okafor & Tyler Ulis) squarely on Calipari's radar. He showed up for an unofficial visit this past weekend, though it doesn't appear that he stayed for the Alumni Charity Game. The inroads to Chicago have been paying dividends, and right now Kentucky looks like an early favorite for Matthews. The five-star prospect is a prototypical Coach Cal guard, big and talented.
Kobi Simmons (2016): An early frontrunner for best point guard prospect in the 2016 class, Simmons tweeted this weekend that he would make the festivities. He's a five-star point from Alpharetta. Obviously, it's early in his recruitment. But it's nice to see Calipari making waves early and one of his critical positions.