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UK Recruiting updates on N’Faly Dante and Nico Mannion

UK has some momentum with one of the best bigs in high school hoops. What about one of the best point guards?

The Kentucky Wildcats still has some work to do in the Class of 2019, but that doesn’t mean John Calipari isn’t hard at work in 2020.

One of the top players in that class is five-star center N’Faly Dante. The big man scored an offer from Kentucky this summer while competing at the Nike EYBL.

Initially, LSU looked like the favorite in this recruitment with a host of crystal ball picks that included Evan Daniels.

However, Kentucky has since received two straight picks, so perhaps the Cats are in better shape than given credit for.

Dante, who hails from Wichita (KS), currently plays for Sunrise Christian Academy. He is one of a few select players in 2020 who hold a Kentucky offer, including five-star wing Scottie Barnes.

Like Barnes, Dante is one of the top players in 2020. He’s ranked as high as No. 5 overall by Rivals. ESPN has him ranked 10th, while 247 Spots ranks him 13th.

Two of the three services have the 6-11, 235-pound Dante ranked as the best center in 2020 (247 has Evan Mobley No. 1). He currently holds scholarship offers from the Kansas Jayhawks, LSU Tigers and Oklahoma State Cowboys among many others.

The junior big man has a ridiculous 7-5 wingspan. He has the look of a potential NBA first-round pick, but he’s still a little raw at this stage, as most of his damage is done on putbacks and lobs right at the rim.

Still, the fact UK has offered him already shows that John Calipari believes he’ll be an elite big man by the time he arrives on a college campus.

There have been some rumblings Dante could be a reclassification candidate, though there’s nothing concrete on that end right now. It would make sense for Kentucky, though, if they miss on James Wiseman and Vernon Carey to have a guy like Dante waiting in the wings.

Elsewhere, Nico Mannion sounds very open to Kentucky, who recently began recruiting the five-star guard.

In an interview with 247 Sports, West Coast Elite coach Justin Downer talked about Mannion’s recruitment. While Kentucky is interested, the ball is in their court if they want to really become a major player.

“The ball’s in their court,” Downer said. “He’ll see what happens before he cuts list and go from there.”

Downer did make it appear Kentucky is very interested and loves what Mannion brings to the table.

“Nico has talked to him (John Calipari),” said Downer. “They love him. Calipari said he’s as competitive and as good of a leader as he’s seen.”

The 6-3, 180-pound Mannion is now ranked No. 11 overall in 2019 by 247, which actually puts him ahead of Kentucky guard commit Tyrese Maxey (13).

For now, the Arizona Wildcats are viewed as the heavy favorite in this recruitment. Among those predicting Arizona for Mannion are recruiting experts Evan Daniels and Andrew Slater.

The Phoenix native previously said that Arizona, Duke and Villanova are near-locks to make his final list. He also holds offers from the Kansas Jayhawks, UCLA Bruins, Oregon Ducks, Villanova Wildcats, USC Trojans and Florida State Seminoles.

Mannion named his top 10 in June: Duke, UCLA, Kansas, Arizona, Oregon, Vanderbilt, Utah, UCLA, USC and Marquette. He has 18 offers. Kentucky has not offered yet. The good news is Mannion is planning to make a decision in late 2018 or early 2019, so John Calipari has plenty of time to make this an intriguing recruiting battle.

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