The Kentucky Wildcats will likely open the 2016-7 college basketball season as a preseason top-three team thanks in large part to the dynamic backcourt that have coming in.
On Friday night, 201 five-star guard and UK signee Malik Monk scored 53 points, 40 in the second half, to break his school's scoring record for the third time to give No. 7 Bentonville (AR) an 84-76 win over Arlington (TN) at the Natural State Shootout in Jonesboro.
Monk didn't get much time to rest before his monster showdown with Duke commit Jayson Tatum and his Chaminade (MO) squad. Though Tatum got the win, Monk put on another big performance with 36 points and connected on seven three-pointers.
Elsewhere, fellow UK signee De’Aaron Fox scored 32 points and 10 rebounds in Cypress Lakes' (TX) 70-56 win over Houston Summer Creek in its first game of the Cy Hoops Invitational in Houston.
But in the nightcap, Fox exploded for 46 points and 14 rebounds in a 92-82 loss to Dekaney (TX).
The real news last week was surrounding a highly-touted 2016 prospect who isn't currently committed to a school. That's DeSoto (TX) five-star center Marques Bolden. Scout.com's Evan Daniels told cn2 that he thought UK was not only in the mix for Bolden, but may even be the leader. Daniels did say that while Bolden has talked about making a college decision in late December, don't be surprised if it gets pushed back.
247 Sports' Jerry Meyer also offered up this on Bolden:
247Sports is hearing that there are people within Nike, which is the sponsor of Bolden's travel team Pro Skills, who believe that Kentucky is in fact the leader for Bolden. Kentucky point guard recruit De'Aaron Fox, who is out of Katy, Texas, is also trying to lure Bolden to Kentucky to play with him.
At the same time, however, there are other Bolden recruiting narratives in conflict with the Kentucky is leading narrative.
One is that the family is not as high on Kentucky as some others in his circle. In addition, Duke is a very attractive option because of the strong academic component to go along with the successful basketball program.
Another narrative is that Kentucky has momentum and is strong, but Duke and Kansas are strong as well. And in fact, Kansas is still the leader for Bolden.
It sounds like Bolden is certainly an option for Kentucky, but don't get your hopes up with the Cats not only having five five-star players signed for 2016, but also should return Isaac Humphries, Tai Wynyard and maybe one other big from this year's team to next year. That would be a super-deep frontcourt as it stands, so Bolden may think UK isn't his best option for early playing time and even stardom.
As for 2017 targets, Michael Porter Jr. went off for 31 to power Father Tolton (MO) to a 68-49 win over Duchesne on Saturday.
Porter is one of the top players in the 2017 class, and UK has been recruiting him heavily this year, even though Washington and Kansas are the only teams getting picks in his 247 Sports Crystal Ball.
Elsewhere in the 2017 class, prior to his team's game in the Bluegrass Showcase at Paul Dunbar High School Saturday night in Lexington, Jarred Vanderbilt took an unofficial visit to Kentucky. The Bellaire Victory Prep (TX) five-star junior forward is also one of the top players in 2017, and the Cats are actually getting a significant amount of picks in his 247 CB. Vanderbilt played with Fox with Houston Hoops in the Nike EYBL AAU circuit last season.
Three weeks ago, Vanderbilt dropped 41 points and 16 boards in his high school season opener:
And finally, 2016 five-star forward and UK signee Sacha Killeya-Jones just dropped 26 points, 16 boards and four blocks in Virginia Episcopal School's 56-53 OT win over Saint James at the National High School Hoops Festival.
SKJ also has a new highlight-reel out that showcases his wide range of skills: