New predictions for basketball rookies with Kentucky offers

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Brewster Academy (NH) basketball player Matas Buzelis is one of the most versatile and top-ranked recruits in the Class of 2023.

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Nike’s EYBL stop in Louisville this weekend will bring most of Kentucky’s biggest basketball recruiting targets to the Commonwealth, and while college coaches aren’t allowed to attend the event, there are strong I bet UK staff will be watching progress closely. of these star prospects.

How are their recruitments presented off the courts?

Here’s a quick look at every player in the Class of 2023 with Kentucky scholarship offers so far — listed in order of 247Sports’ new rankings — and what the latest predictions from national recruiting websites say about each. British target.

DJ Wagner

The star of the show this weekend, at least locally, will be DJ Wagner, who comes to Louisville just days after the University of L announced the hiring of his grandfather, Cardinals great Milt Wagner, as as a new staff member under coach Kenny Payne.

Wagner, whose father played for John Calipari in Memphis, has long been considered a lean Kentucky major, but the wait for his grandfather to be hired has led to a flurry of national predictions going Louisville’s way these last weeks. In total, the 11 most recent picks on Wagner’s 247Sports Crystal Ball page, Rivals.com FutureCast page and On3.com recruiting page have all been in favor of the Cardinals.

The United Kingdom is by no means excluded from this recruitment, but Louisville will obviously be difficult to beat. Wagner lost his No. 1 spot in the 247Sports rankings to North Carolina’s commitment GG Jackson, but the 6-foot-3 combo guard from New Jersey is still No. 2 nationally.

Justin Edwards

Now ranked No. 3 overall for the Class of 2023, Justin Edwards is a longtime British target who has called Kentucky a “dream school” in the past and landed a scholarship offer from the Wildcats during a trip to Lexington last fall. Tennessee, however, hosted Edwards for an official visit in March, and the Volunteers have collected a few predictions on Rivals.com over the past two weeks. 247Sports analyst Travis Branham also released his early predictions for Tennessee, though he noted that Kentucky has “tightened up this run” and added that the Wildcats are “getting momentum” heading into the game. the summer.

Philadelphia’s 6-7 wing remains a major UK target to watch.

Matas Buzelis

Now ranked No. 7 by 247Sports, the versatile Matas Buzelis – a 6-10 wing from Chicago – has a seemingly wide-open recruit, with zero forecasts from recruiting analysts at 247Sports, Rivals.com and On3.com. Florida State has been mentioned as a possible favorite in recent months, but the lack of public predictions here is telling.

In that same article Thursday where Branham explored the recruitment of Justin Edwards, the 247Sports analyst called Kentucky a “current betting favorite” for Buzelis, who will also be considering the NBA G League route. Currently, North Carolina, FSU, Wake Forest, Arizona, and UCLA are still in the picture, and Duke has also offered a scholarship offer.

Kwame Evans Jr.

A 6-9 forward from Baltimore now ranked by 247Sports as the No. 8 player in the class, Kwame Evans Jr. was one of the first players in that group to visit Kentucky (and land a British offer) the last fall, but there hasn’t been much noise around the Wildcats in recent months.

Instead, Arizona and Oregon seem to be generating the most talk when recruiting him. A 247Sports recruiting expert based in Evans’ home state of Maryland recorded a crystal ball pick from Arizona on Thursday, and Branham wrote the same day that he granted his status as ” prediction too soon” to these Pac-12 Wildcats. There have been no other new predictions in the past two months. Kentucky is always in the mix here.

Ron Holland

Ron Holland — a 6-8 forward from Texas — is an outlier on this list, as he doesn’t yet have a scholarship offer from Kentucky, but that should change when he makes an official visit to Lexington a few weeks from now. Once that offer arrives, things should get interesting.

For months there have been rumors behind the scenes that the UK would jump to the top of the list of Dutch colleges if the Wildcats came up with an offer. The key word here is ‘college’, as Holland is also rumored to be a likely candidate to go straight from high school to the pros. Branham gave a nod to Kentucky in his “too early” predictions post a few days ago, while acknowledging the pro angle. There have been no Crystal Ball, Rivals.com or On3.com predictions in the last six months for Holland, who 247Sports is now ranked 13th nationally.

Robert Dillingham

The No. 14 player overall in the new 247Sports rankings, Robert Dillingham could be the next commitment for Kentucky. Prominent analysts Travis Branham of 247Sports and Jamie Shaw of On3.com have been recording predictions in favor of the Wildcats over the past few days, and it looks like a decision could come from North Carolina’s 6-2 combo guard from here. the end of the next month.

Dillingham is arguably the most dynamic perimeter goalscorer in the Class of 2023, and he would add a ton of punch to United’s offensive attack as a rookie. The Cats are the team to beat here.

Aaron Bradshaw

A 7-footer from Camden, NJ — and a high school and AAU teammate of DJ Wagner — Aaron Bradshaw has moved up to No. There are no national pundit predictions on its recruiting pages, but Kentucky has been mooted as a possible frontrunner, and it won’t be a surprise at all if some picks in favor of the Wildcats start rolling in over the course of the season. summer.

Officially, Bradshaw has seven options on his latest roster: UK, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan, Oklahoma State, UCLA and the G League.

Andrej Stojakovic

Andrej Stojakovic — son of former NBA star Peja Stojakovic — rose from No. 103 to No. 25 nationally after a spring in which he racked up offers from Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA. , Indiana, Tennessee, Texas and many other great programs. There are a total of zero predictions on the Sacramento-area star’s recruiting pages, and that pursuit seems to be pretty wide open as summer approaches.

The 6-6 wing is set to make its first official visit (to Stanford) in the coming days, and several programs, including Kentucky, will host it for such trips over the coming months. Stojakovic is the only uncommitted Nike league prospect with a UK scholarship offer in this cycle so far. He plays on the Adidas circuit, with the early commitment of Kentucky Reed Sheppard.

JJ Taylor

Long ranked among the top 10 prospects in the Class of 2023, Chicago native JJ Taylor has dropped – to 34th in the latest 247Sports rankings – after his freshman stint at Kanye West-backed Donda Academy. Kentucky assistant coach Chin Coleman has recruited Taylor since the 6-8 wing was in college — dating back to Coleman’s days in Illinois — and the Cats at one point looked like a possible favorite to clinch his engagement.

Now things are a bit murkier. There are no predictions from 247Sports, Rivals.com or On3.com heading into the summer, and the pro route should be an option as Taylor looks to his basketball future.

Ben Roberts covers basketball, football, horse racing and other sports in the UK for the Lexington Herald-Leader and has specialized in basketball recruitment in the UK for the past few years. years. He also maintains the Next Cats recruiting blog, which features the latest news on the Wildcats’ recruiting efforts.
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