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UK’s top recruits for 2015

Charles
Matthews

Carlton
Bragg

Derrick
Jones

Skal
Labissiere

Malik
Newman

Stephen
Zimmerman


OTHERS TO WATCH FOR 2015

Beetle Bolden

John Calipari first showed interest in Bolden following the diminutive point guard’s phenomenal performance against Dominique Hawkins and Madison Central during the 2013 Sweet Sixteen. Bolden told reporters he grew up as a Kentucky fan and is hoping to visit UK’s campus sometime soon. He already has offers from Xavier and Purdue, in addition to interest from several other major programs. He’ll be one of the top in-state players to keep an eye on from the Class of 2015.

Position: Point guard
Height: 5-11
Weight: 150
Hometown: Covington, Ky.
High school: Holmes
Rivals ranking: Not rated
Scout ranking: Not rated
ESPN ranking: Not rated
24/7 ranking: No. 131
Other leaders: Xavier, Purdue, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Tennessee
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Carlton Bragg

*CONFIRMED UK OFFER*
Bragg is an athletic forward who has been praised by analysts for his work ethic on the court. He picked up a scholarship offer from Kentucky after ain impressive showing against Trey Lyles with John Calipari watching in Paducah, the Ohioan has regularly complimented the UK program.

Position: Power forward
Height: 6-8
Weight: 200
Hometown: Cleveland
High school: St. Joseph
Rivals ranking: No. 10
Scout ranking: No. 8
ESPN ranking: No. 11
24/7 ranking: No. 8
Other leaders: Ohio State, Illinois, Indiana, Duke, Michigan, Michigan State, West Virginia, UCLA
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Thomas Bryant

One of the most dominant post players in high school basketball, Bryant is playing his first season at Huntington Prep after transferring from his native Rochester. The 6-10 power forward has a non-stop motor, which makes him a terrific rebounder and allows him to get second-chance points. “He’s an energy guy,” Coach Rob Fulford told the Herald-Leader. “He’s a big that you don’t have to run anything for because he’s just going to go get it.” Bryant grew up watching Syracuse, but he told the Herald-Leader in November that there are no favorites in his recruitment.

Position: Power forward
Height: 6-10
Weight: 225
Hometown: Rochester, N.Y.
High school: Huntington Prep
Rivals ranking: No. 19
Scout ranking: No. 11
ESPN ranking: No. 14
24/7 ranking: No. 9
Other leaders: Syracuse, Kansas, Miami, Florida, Ohio State, Villanova, West Virginia, Seton Hall
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Eric Davis

The Michigan native received early offers from such big-time programs as Michigan State and Ohio State by showcasing his ability to score from the point guard position. There aren’t many true point guards at the top of the Class of 2015 rankings, but Davis wants to be seen as one. “I want to show everyone that I’m a true point guard, not a scoring combo guard,” he told Cats Illustrated in June. “I think I can control the floor and make everyone else around me better when I’m at my best.”

Position: Point guard
Height: 6-3
Weight: 160
Hometown: Saginaw, Mich.
High school: Arthur Hill
Rivals ranking: No. 30
Scout ranking: No. 32
ESPN ranking: No. 28
24/7 ranking: No. 34
Other leaders: Michigan, Michigan State, Duke, Ohio State, Illinois, Kansas, Syracuse, Florida.
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Cheick Diallo

One of the best low-post defenders in the class, Diallo wowed recruiting observers over the summer with his motor, athleticism and shot-blocking ability. The native of Africa was named the most valuable player of the NBPA Top 100 Camp, which included many of the top players from the Class of 2014. He told reporters at that event that he doesn’t know much about U.S. colleges and his high school coach is handling his recruitment, but he did specifically mention Kentucky, St. John’s and Arizona as three schools he knew were recruiting him. Louisville is among those that have already offered.

Position: Power forward
Height: 6-8
Weight: 210
Home country: Mali
High school: Our Savior New American (N.Y.)
Rivals ranking: No. 8
Scout ranking: No. 6
ESPN ranking: No. 8
24/7 ranking: No. 2
Other leaders: Syracuse, St. John’s, North Carolina, Washington, Arizona, Louisville
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Montaque Gill-Caesar

Gill-Caesar has long been in the shadow of Andrew Wiggins, his fellow Canadian and former teammate at Huntington Prep. Kentucky first expressed interest in Gill-Caesar while recruiting Wiggins, and UK has remained one of the schools that MGC regularly mentions when asked about his recruitment. The 6-foot-5 prospect can play multiple positions — he was a 2, 3 and 4 at times for Huntington Prep last season — and has enough athleticism to make him a versatile player on both ends of the floor. His early offers include Baylor, Ohio State and Illinois.

Position: Small forward
Height: 6-5
Weight: 195
Hometown: Toronto
High school: Huntington Prep (W.Va.)
Rivals ranking: No. 24
Scout ranking: No. 19
ESPN ranking: No. 18
24/7 ranking: No. 21
Other leaders: Baylor, West Virginia, Ohio State, Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Alabama
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Derrick Jones

The high-flying prospect from Philadelphia might be the best dunker in the Class of 2015. Jones has wowed observers with his above-the-rim game, but his five-star rankings should make it clear that he’s more than just a dunk machine. He was one of the first players in the class to earn an offer from Kentucky, and UK and Syracuse seem to be the early favorites in his recruitment.

*CONFIRMED UK OFFER*
Position: Small forward
Height: 6-6
Weight: 180
Hometown: Philadelphia
High school: Archbishop Carroll
Rivals ranking: No. 13
Scout ranking: No. 13
ESPN ranking: No. 22
24/7 ranking: No. 15
Other leaders: Syracuse, Kansas, Villanova, Maryland, Seton Hall, Temple
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Skal Labissiere

Labissiere was the first player from the class to get a UK scholarship offer, and he remained the only 2015 prospect to have one for several months. He moved to the United States shortly after his homeland of Haiti was devastated by the 2010 earthquake. The near 7-footer is still raw, but his upside is undeniable. Terry Tippett, a Hall of Fame coach in Tennessee, recalled the first time he saw Labissiere. “He shot the ball and I said, ‘Oh, man!’” Tippett recalled in an interview with the Herald-Leader. “It came out of his hands so soft. Jump hooks. He went right and left. He can really do anything with the ball.” UK and Memphis are considered to be the favorites in his recruitment.

*CONFIRMED UK OFFER*
Position: Power forward
Height: 6-10
Weight: 200
Home country: Haiti
High school: Evangelical Christian (Tenn.)
Rivals ranking: No. 7
Scout ranking: No. 7
ESPN ranking: No. 9
24/7 ranking: No. 11
Other leaders: Memphis, Kansas
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Malik Newman

Newman is considered the No. 1 player in the Class of 2015 by Rivals.com and 247Sports. The Mississippi combo guard is the best scorer in the class — maybe in the country — and has enough skill to play the point guard position in college. He’s played for Team USA, but he claims that he doesn’t pay that much attention to recruiting or basketball in general. Newman told the Herald-Leader in July that he will start paying more attention to his recruitment this season, and Kentucky is considered to be at the top of the list.

*CONFIRMED UK OFFER*
Position: Guard
Height: 6-3
Weight: 175
Hometown: Jackson, Miss.
High school: Callaway
Rivals ranking: No. 1
Scout ranking: No. 2
ESPN ranking: No. 2
24/7 ranking: No. 1
Other leaders: North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Baylor, Memphis, LSU, N.C. State
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Danjel Purifoy

Purifoy hasn’t been as highly touted as many of the other prospects on this page, but some analysts are projecting him as a top player in the class. 247Sports’ Jerry Meyer has the Alabama star among his top 20 players for 2015. “He’s an athletic small forward who can play some power forward,” Meyer told the Herald-Leader. “He’s strong, physically mature. Decent skill set – it’s just not very refined right now. I think he’s still in the process of improving, skill-wise.” Purifoy doesn’t have an offer from the Cats yet, but Meyer said he’d likely jump at the chance to play in Lexington. “If they do (offer), he’s going to end up there,” he said.

Position: Small forward
Height: 6-6
Weight: 190
Hometown: Centreville, Ala.
High school: Bibb County
Rivals ranking: No. 57
Scout ranking: No. 59
ESPN ranking: No. 38
24/7 ranking: No. 31
Other leaders: Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Michigan State, Georgetown, UAB
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Ivan Rabb

Rabb has a chance to be the best big man in the class, and John Calipari extended a scholarship offer before his junior season. The West Coast star has an offer list that includes several Pac-12 schools as well as some top-notch programs from around the country. His suitors have been impressed with his rebounding, shot blocking and scoring ability in the post. Adding some weight (and maybe a little more height) would solidify Rabb as one of the best players in the class.

*CONFIRMED UK OFFER*
Position: Power forward
Height: 6-9
Weight: 205
Hometown: Oakland, Calif.
High school: Bishop O’Dowd
Rivals ranking: No. 3
Scout ranking: No. 1
ESPN ranking: No. 1
24/7 ranking: No. 3
Other leaders: Arizona, California, Duke, North Carolina, UCLA, Georgetown, N.C. State
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Diamond Stone

The big man from Milwaukee expressed early interest in Kentucky, and he has received early interest from many of the top programs in the country. Stone is a tremendous scorer and can take his game outside the paint — hitting jumpers and even three-pointers. He was the second-leading scorer — behind Malik Newman — on the gold medal-winning Team USA under-16 squad over the summer. Stone will be one of the most coveted post players in the Class of 2015.

Position: Center
Height: 6-10
Weight: 250
Hometown: Milwaukee
High school: Dominican
Rivals ranking: No. 4
Scout ranking: No. 3
ESPN ranking: No. 5
24/7 ranking: No. 13
Other leaders: Marquette, Wisconsin, Duke, Michigan, North Carolina, Illinois, Maryland, Indiana, Georgetown, UConn
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Stephen Zimmerman

Zimmerman was one of the first players from the class to get an offer from Kentucky, and it’s become clear that he is the Cats’ top target at the center position in the early stages of the 2015 cycle. “It’s an honor,” Zimmerman said when UK first reached out to him. “They’re an amazing team, and they obviously have an amazing coaching staff.” The 7-footer from Las Vegas is still growing into his frame, but he’s already one of the most skilled big men in the country and can score in a variety of ways. Zimmerman and his family speak highly of UK and John Calipari, and the Cats will likely remain in the mix until the end of his recruitment.

*CONFIRMED UK OFFER*
Position: Center
Height: 7-0
Weight: 215
Hometown: Las Vegas
High school: Bishop Gorman
Rivals ranking: No. 2
Scout ranking: No. 5
ESPN ranking: No. 4
24/7 ranking: No. 4
Other leaders: Arizona, Duke, Michigan, UCLA, Louisville, UNLV, Kansas, UConn, Southern Cal, Indiana
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