Justin Edwards is currently ranked as the No. 3 overall player in the 2023 class in 247 Sports’ rankings and is No. 4 overall in Rivals’ rankings.
Despite the differences from outlet to outlet, Edwards is viewed as a top-five player in the 2023 class, and it’s a battle of SEC rivals to land the 6-foot-7 wing.
At first, it looked like Edwards was Tennessee bound with the Vols holding majority of the Crystal Ball and FutureCast predictions. However, with Edwards setting an announcement date for Monday, July 25th, the momentum has swung in Kentucky’s favor.
Will Edwards ultimately decide to head to Tennessee or take his talents to Kentucky and be part of what could be one of Calipari’s best recruiting classes?
Take a look at A Sea of Blue’s staff predictions below, then sound off in the comments section!
This has been an interesting recruitment to say the least since Tennessee was viewed as the heavy favorite for so long.
However, now that we are just a few days away from Edwards’ announcement, it looks like the momentum has swung in Kentucky’s direction.
Landing Edwards would be massive for Kentucky and teaming him up with Kentucky commit Robert Dillingham, and potentially DJ Wagner, would give the Cats an outstanding trio for next season.
Despite the Tennessee momentum for the majority of this recruitment, I believe that Kentucky has swung this recruitment in their favor and will ultimately land Edwards as part of their 2023 class.
Tennessee has continuously been a thorn in John Calipari’s side since Rick Barnes arrived in Knoxville, and that was starting to include the recruiting trail after the Vols won out in the recruitment of Kennedy Chandler.
However, Kentucky bounced back in a big way by prying Cason Wallace away from Tennessee in the 2022 recruiting class. It’s easy to forget there was a time Tennessee was the heavy favorite for Wallace before Kentucky turned up the heat and won out in the end.
That appears the same scenario playing out with Justin Edwards, who Tennessee was trending heavily for until Calipari took the recruitment over. Now, it appears Kentucky will be the choice Monday night.
This would be an absolutely colossal win for Kentucky, as Edwards has the potential to finish as the top-ranked recruit in the 2023 cycle. He’s absolutely a foundation piece you can build the 2023-24 Kentucky basketball team around, regardless of what DJ Wagner does or any other 2023 recruit does.
And give Cal credit. He may lose a bit too often on the court to his good buddy Barnes, but for the most part, it’s the former who’s still winning the biggest battles on the recruiting trail.
Between how good Edwards is and beating out a heated rival for a guy they nearly had, this would be a win to really celebrate, and I think that’s what the Big Blue Nation does Monday.
Also, it’s pretty uncanny how similar Edwards looks compared to former Wildcats star Malik Monk.
Are Malik Monk and Justin Edwards long lost brothers? pic.twitter.com/sZsOXY4mRN— Mid Sak (@MattSakBBN) July 22, 2022
Looking ahead, my early guess is the 2023-24 roster includes Edwards, DJ Wagner, Robert Dillingham, Reed Sheppard, Antonio Reeves, CJ Fredrick, Lance Ware, Adou Thiero and Ugonna Kingsley. While not quite complete, that’s a roster capable of a Final Four run.
Can Kentucky have a great class without DJ Wagner?
Yes. But we all know what the impact of him choosing Kentucky would be. It would put to rest all the rest of the near misses with Cade Cunningham, James Wiseman, Shaedon Sharpe to a degree, etc., and ease some of the panic in fans’ minds.
Are things as complicated for DJ as they appear from the outside looking in? Maybe things are crystal clear for him as far as his decision is concerned. Who knows.
I think when the dust finally settles, he ultimately chooses Kentucky.
This recruitment has been an interesting one to follow over the course of the last several months.
It seemed to almost be a lock that Edwards would end up in Tennessee’s class, but then in swooped John Calipari to restore the relationship with the talented forward. Ever since that moment, the Cats have been gaining more and more momentum. That hasn’t stopped with his announcement now only days away.
Edwards would be another excellent addition to the class of 2023 and continues to push UK back to the top of the recruiting rankings. With Edwards in the fold alongside Robert Dillingham, Reed Sheppard, and potentially DJ Wagner, it would be hard to find a better 1-3 position group.
Coach Calipari took over this recruitment with the intention of securing a commitment from one of the top players in the class. And he will do just that when Edwards announces on Monday.
Selfishly, Justin Edwards may be the remaining 2023 Kentucky target that I want the most. Of course, I say this with Kentucky already securing the commitments of Robert Dillingham and Reed Sheppard — two 5-star guards — but Edwards may be the most complete player the 2023 class has to offer.
Standing 6-foot-7, 180 pounds Edwards has great athleticism and size. He is proficient in most areas, with room for improvement. On top of all that, he is aggressive, but rarely plays out of control and has good basketball IQ.
Talking to him at EYBL, Edwards talked about Kentucky’s pitch and how the staff thinks he could be the next great Kentucky player. I think that becomes a reality.