John Calipari has been on a recruiting roll in recent months bringing a number of top recruits for future classes.
Hardy is the No. 4 overall player in the 2021 class, according to 247 Sports Composite ranking, and Kentucky was viewed as a heavy favorite for a while.
Unfortunately, the popular view started shifting to him going pro and taking the G-league route instead of college. But if he took the college path, UCLA seemed to be in the lead.
However, Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader spoke with 247 Sports national basketball director Eric Bossi about where Kentucky stands with Hardy.
Bossi noted the possibility of Hardy going straight to the pros but said a decision wouldn’t be coming anytime soon.
“Ever since Jaden Hardy came onto the scene, there’s been talk that there’s a good chance that he might not ever play college basketball,” Bossi said. “This is going back two years. Normally talk like that doesn’t fire up that early without there being some reason behind it. You know, someone has said something to someone along the way about his plans for the future. And, obviously, we have seen other guys take a professional route, so it’s not unreasonable to think.”
The NCAA has been contemplating changing their name, likeness, and image rules which would allow college athletes to make money and retain their amateur status.
If that rules gets changed in time for the 2021-22 season, that could change things for what Hardy decides to do.
“Or maybe the kid just wants to go to college for a year,” he said. “I had been of the thought for a bit that maybe UCLA had kind of taken the lead, in terms of (college) recruiting. But, if he is going to go the college route, it sounds — at least recently here; the last week or two — that maybe Kentucky is starting to make a bit of a push again (as the favorite).”
Another 247Sports analyst, Travis Branham, also wrote this week that he sees Kentucky as the slight favorite to land Hardy if he decides to go to college instead of the pros.
Hardy is arguably the best offensive player in the class of 2021 and could be the face of college basketball if he goes that route. So, the importance of Kentucky landing him is obvious and hopefully they can land Hardy who was once viewed as a Kentucky favorite.