NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. – When Charles Matthews picked Kentucky back in February, that left Malik Newman as the only uncommitted guard in the class of 2015 with a scholarship offer from the Wildcats.
And that was the case for several months, until Antonio Blakeney took the summer by storm with a series of stellar performances in camps across the country.
Blakeney – a 6-foot-3 shooting guard from Orlando – certainly got John Calipari’s attention. The UK coach offered him a scholarship last week and has seen just about every one of his games so far at the Nike Peach Jam.
“That made me feel good, because they only offer pros,” Blakeney told the Herald-Leader. “So in order for them to offer me, they must think I’m a pro. That’s my ultimate goal, so that makes me feel like they think I can do that.”
His improving game has also led to a rise in his recruiting rankings. All of the major recruiting services now consider him a five-star player and top-20 prospect.
Scout.com national analyst Evan Daniels says Blakeney is good enough to play for any team in the country.
“I love his ability to score,” he said. “Honestly, he’s one of the top scorers in this class. He knows how to create space with his dribble. He’s turned in to a tremendous athlete. He’s very good in transition. He can get to the mid range and make shots.
“And he’s getting better. He’s clearly a hard worker, because he’s made tremendous strides in his game over the past year.”
Blakeney says he’s in the gym “every day, three times a day” improving his game.
He’s been working on his ball handling and defense, but every college coach who’s recruiting him points to the same attribute as his strength.
“They like that I can really score the ball,” he said.
Calipari has told him that he can come in right away and compete for playing time at one of the wing positions. The UK coach loves his ability to score from all over the court and has personally invited Blakeney to visit Lexington for Big Blue Madness in October.
Blakeney called that trip “a possibility,” but there are plenty of other top schools pursuing his commitment, including Louisville, which has made him a top priority and has already hosted him for a visit.
Other schools that have offered include Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, Missouri and Florida State.
Blakeney hasn’t narrowed his list and says he’s still considering all options.
“Everybody who has offered me is recruiting me hard, and everybody who is recruiting me hard — they have a chance,” he said.