John Calipari and Kenny Payne were at Barclays Center Sunday night to watch top-five recruit Jaden McDaniels.
McDaniels is a 6-11, 185-pound SF/PF, who has been widely compared to NBA superstar Kevin Durant. McDaniels averaged 18.6 points and 9.1 rebounds, knocking down 25 three-pointers on the Nike EYBL circuit this past summer. He’s the real deal.
And he’s cut his list to Kentucky, Texas, UCLA, San Diego State and Washington. When Adam Zagoria asked him about his decision timeline, he said, “No, I’m just playing, trying to have fun.” He wants to enjoy his senior season and deal with everything else after the season is over.
With James Wiseman and Vernon Carey no longer in the picture for Kentucky, Calipari has turned up the heat with McDaniels. He’s visited him twice at his home in Washington and again Sunday night.
And for good reason. McDaniels has the potential to be an absolute stud. Toronto Raptors shooting guard Danny Green, who’s sponsoring the event which McDaniels’ team is playing in, explained why to Zagoria.
“I’ve seen some of his highlights, he’s very talented,” Green said of McDaniels. “He’s very smooth, athletic with the ball. He’s lanky. I hear he’s the next KD. Obviously, when KD was that age he didn’t have all his coordination down either, but if you can handle the ball and shoot at that size and be as smooth in the game, he definitely has a lot of room to grow. He’s way ahead of the game to be able to do that.”
McDaniels’ coach said he isn’t big on the spotlight, he just wants to play basketball.
His trainer also chimed in stating that Coach Cal and Kenny Payne have made Jaden a priority, and the Big Blue Nation has really impressed him thus far.
“He loved the fans. People kept coming up to him and telling him he should come to Kentucky. That definitely made an impression. The other visits were more relaxed, and he wasn’t as intertwined with the fans like that.”
This recruitment, along with Matthew Hurt’s, will go deep into the spring. We shouldn’t expect any news any time soon, but McDaniels is a huge target for the Cats and it seems Cal has put on the full-court press.
Kentucky’s biggest competition seems to be San Diego State, where Jaden’s brother, Jalen, plays basketball, as well as his home school Washington. Everyone seems to love SDSU’s chances, but I think Kentucky is a real threat. Jaden’s brother will enter the NBA Draft after this season, so it’s not like he’ll even be able to play with his brother.
Hopefully, the Cats are able to bring McDaniels from the west coast to the east side of the Mississippi.