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Multiple UK targets among top 10 NBA prospects in high school hoops

Can Calipari land one of these elite prospects?

HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: AUGUST 10 Nike Academy Showcase Game Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Brian Snow, Evan Daniels and Josh Gershon of 247 Sports released their top-10 best high school prospects for the NBA, regardless of their class. While Kentucky is usually in the running for what seems all of the top recruits, they were only relatively tied to three on this list.

The top-overall prospect, who is in Class of 2022, is Emoni Bates. Bates is widely considered to be the best prospect in high school, regardless of class. A Michigan native, of course the early favorite looks like Michigan State if he winds up in college, but Kentucky has also been considerably linked to Bates. Head coach John Calipari has been known to swoop in and win over highly-coveted recruits in the past, and doing so with Bates would be an all-time win for UK.

From 247 Sports:

“Not only is Emoni Bates the No. 1 prospect in the 2022 recruiting class, but just about everybody has him pinpointed as the top overall prospect in high school hoops. Bates has drawn comparisons to Kevin Durant because of his physical make up and scoring ability. While for many that type of comparison would be a lot to shoulder, Bates is legitimately that good. At 6-foot-8 with a slender build, Bates is an impressive athlete with an advanced scoring package that allows him to be effective and efficient from all three levels. File this name away, you’ll be hearing about him for a long time.”

The second-highest prospect in their rankings is the No. 1 prospect in the 2021 class, Jon Kuminga. Being a year older, Kuminga of course has a more specific list of suitors. In competition with Kentucky are Auburn, Duke, Florida State and Georgia. All four, as well as Kentucky, have made offers to Kuminga. Wing players are becoming more dominant in the college game and Kuminga appears to the best of the bunch.

From 247 Sports:

“The No. 1 prospect in his class, Jonathan Kuminga was sure to land on this list. A dynamic combo forward, Kuminga is effective on the perimeter with his ability to attack and drive, but he’s equally equipped to take small defenders to the paint and score over them or through them. At 6-foot-8, Kuminga has plus positional size, to go with functional and impressive athleticism. There’s an array of tools here, including his ability to guard both forward spots. Far from a finished product, Kuminga is loaded with upside and potential.”

Finally, 2021 top-five recruit Patrick Baldwin is the only other uncommitted player on this list who holds an offer from Kentucky. Duke has been viewed as the early favorite for the Wisconsin native, but he has a connection to former Wildcat Tyler Herro, another Wisconsin product.

Not long after Baldwin received his scholarship offer from Kentucky in August of 2019, his AAU program, Phenom University, announced a partnership with Herro. The team is now be “Phenom University-Team Herro.” Something to keep in mind going forward in this recruitment.

From 247 Sports:

“Big wings with tremendous shooting range and physical frames are in demand these days. Pat Baldwin is also a good athlete, though not elite. Some compare him to a young Klay Thompson, but Baldwin prefers a comp to Khris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks. Baldwin can really shoot the ball from deep, and has a very repeatable and fast release. The son of a coach, Baldwin is intelligent on the court and well-schooled. Also, he is a willing rebounder, and someone who isn’t afraid to attack off the dribble. Defensively he should be extremely versatile, and as he gets more experience, he will only get better as well.”