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John Calipari watches Reed Sheppard; will see Jalen Duren, who gets a Memphis prediction

Cal remains a man on a mission.

Getty Images and Evan Flood

With summer recruiting events in full swing, John Calipari and his staff are traveling around the country to see some of the nation’s top high school talent.

On Thursday, UK’s entire coaching staff was front and center to see arguably the best recruit in Kentucky regardless of class: Reed Sheppard.

Seeing Calipari and the rest of his staff make it a point to watch Sheppard as soon as summer recruiting circuits start is a great sign for their interest in the Bluegrass star, who holds offers from Arizona State, Iowa, Texas A&M and Louisville among others.

The 6-foot-3, 175-pound small forward is currently ranked as the 39th-best player in the 2023 class via Rivals, which also has him ranked No. 1 in the state. 247 Sports has Sheppard ranked 65th overall and second in the state behind Louisville Male’s Kaleb Glenn. No recruiting predictions have been logged yet as to where he’ll land.

Louisville has been turning up the heat in its pursuit of Sheppard, and UK now appears to be doing the same.

Sheppard won’t be the only recruit Calipari and his staff see this week.

According to Adam Zagoria, UK’s staff will visit No. 1 overall 2022 recruit Jalen Duren, who is still widely expected to reclassify into 2021.

The 6-foot-10, 230-pound center is currently down to a final five of UK, Memphis, Miami, the G-League, and the NBL. He has completed official visits to the three college options and plans on making his commitment sometime after the Nike Peach Jam later this month.

While it’s been hard to pinpoint a favorite, we now have our first prediction logged since the spring. Rivals reporters Travis Graf and Bryan Moss just projected Memphis to land Duren. There still hasn’t been a new 247 prediction logged since February. (Brandon Jenkins picked the pros for Duren).

Calipari and his staff still clearly aren’t throwing in the towel by any stretch. And even if Duren does not pick UK, coveted transfer Kofi Cockburn is another frontcourt player Calipari is pursuing. It’s hard to imagine UK having a shot to land both, so hopefully Calipari finds a way to get one of them.

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