Since arriving at Kentucky, John Calipari has thrived at recruiting the best players in the country. At times, that has come at the expense of not recruiting in-state prospects, which has frustrated many fans.
Let’s be honest, Kentucky doesn’t produce many top-25 prospects.
In fact, dating back to 2011 - which is the latest that Kentucky state rankings go back on 247 Sports — there have only been four top-50 prospects from the state. Neither Derek Willis nor Dominique Hawkins - two of the most prominent in-state players of the Cal Era — are part of that list.
With that said, there are some high-level prospects from Kentucky in the 2023 class and beyond.
Calipari has already secured a 2023 commitment from Reed Sheppard, Kentucky’s highest-rated in-state commitment in the modern recruiting era, and has offered Lyon County’s Travis Perry in 2024.
There is another Bluegrass prospect to keep an eye on.
Meet Jasper Johnson, a 6-foot-2 combo guard from Versailles (KY) who is ranked as the No. 33 overall prospect and the top in-state prospect in the 2025 class (247 Sports).
Like his father, Dennis Johnson, who was an All-SEC defensive end for Kentucky, Jasper is a multi-sport star athlete for Woodford County, playing football as a quarterback and defensive back in addition to basketball.
After catching the eye of John Calipari and the rest of the staff, it appears that his future lies with basketball.
After an impressive summer Eric Bossi, national basketball director for 247 Sports, had some high praise for the Kentucky native.
“A thin guard from Kentucky, Johnson showed flashes of turning into a pretty high-level player long term. He can set himself up off the dribble, take and make deep jumpers, and he’s sneaky explosive when getting to the rim,” Bossi wrote.
“His body is thin right now, but he’s got all kinds of length and surely some growing left to do. He’s already 6-foot-2 or so but with a few more inches of height and added strength he could emerge as a player to reckon with in his class.”
Johnson admittedly grew up a Kentucky fan but has told 247 Sports, “It wouldn’t bother me if I didn’t go there. I will have to make the best decision for me, no matter where it’s at.”
Just a sophomore, Johnson has not yet entered the heaving recruiting period, but he has received offers from Alabama and Ohio State in addition to receiving interest from the likes of Louisville, Memphis, and Texas Tech.
Part of why Kentucky is visiting Johnson a day before Big Blue Madness is because he won’t be able to attend the event since he’s got a football game that night, per Larry Vaught of My Sports Edge.
For now, take a look at some brief YouTube highlights of the Bluegrass star in action!