UK is expecting a dozen recruits in Rupp Arena for Friday night’s Big Blue Madness, and many are among the best players in the country. Two of the prospects — Karl Towns Jr. and Tyler Ulis — are already committed to the Wildcats.
Scout.com national analyst Evan Daniels talked to the Herald-Leader about the other players on UK’s guest list. Here are his thoughts …
Stanley Johnson | No. 6 overall in 2014
Daniels on Johnson: “He’s improved a great deal. And that’s a testament to how hard Stanley works. His ball handling and all-around ball skills have improved a great deal. His jump shot has improved a great deal. He’s always had elite intangibles. And Stanley’s always been a winner. He’s a very good rebounder. He takes pride in his defense. He does a lot of the little things, but then he went out and improved his ball skills, he improved his jump shot, he’s turned into a much better scorer. He made drastic improvements to his game and that’s a testament to how hard he works and how much time he spends in the gym.
Trey Lyles | No. 7 overall in 2014
Daniels on Lyles: “What makes Trey so special is his offensive skill. He can really score the basketball. He can do it on the block, he can do it from shooting mid-range jump shots, he can even step out for threes. He has a great set of hands, great touch. He has counter moves, he has hook shots. He’s a guy that can really put the ball in the basket. He has a knack for putting up points — both with his back to the basket and facing the rim.”
James Blackmon Jr. | No. 56 overall in 2014
Daniels on Blackmon: “He’s a guy that can really make shots from three-point range. I think it’s safe to say he’s the best shooter in that 2014 class. He has deep range, he has a quick trigger, he’s able to go off the bounce and hit mid-range jump shots. He’s a little more skilled than he gets credit for. He was a major standout to me at the USA developmental training camp a week and a half ago. I think he’s really ramped up his game. His shooting is really what’s going to catch your eye, but I think he’s really much more than that.”
Eric Davis | No. 22 overall in 2015
Daniels on Davis: “He’s a scorer, man. He can really score. He’s a true combination guard. He’s 6-3, he can play on the ball and he handles it well. He can create opportunities for others. But he is a high-level scorer. He shoots it well from three. … He’s capable of getting all the way to the rim and scoring. He’s wired up to put points on the board.”
Harry Giles | No. 1 overall in 2016
Daniels on Giles: “He’s an elite level player. In fact, you could make a case for him as the best prospect in high school basketball. He’s a special talent. At 6-10, he’s a very good athlete with a unique skill set that allows him to face the rim and score.”
Jayson Tatum | No. 4 overall in 2016
Daniels on Tatum: “He’s an elite-level wing. He’s grown to 6-7, he shoots the ball pretty well off the catch from three. He’s really developed a mid-range game. He has all the intangibles you look for in a wing prospect. He can defend the position well, he rebounds well out of that spot. He was arguably the top underclassman performer at USA basketball a week and a half ago. I’m a big, big fan.”
Joshua Langford | No. 14 overall in 2016
Daniels on Langford: “I think Josh is one of the better wings in that 2016 class. He can score. He’s tough. He rebounds. Most of the points I saw him score were from mid-range and in. But obviously he’s a talented scorer.”
Kobi Simmons | No. 16 overall in 2016
Daniels on Simmons: “I love Kobi Simmons as a long-term prospect. He’s 6-4. He has this long, lanky basketball frame. He’s a good athlete, very good speed. He’s skilled enough to play on the ball, but he’s also a capable scorer so he’s a threat off of it. He has a really impressive mid-range game and a nice floater. I’m not quite sure which position he’ll end up playing, whether it be point or ‘2’. But I think he can be effective playing either spot.”
Note: 2016 point guard Quentin Goodin was a late addition to the Madness guest list. 2017 forward Brian Bowen will also visit this weekend.