St. Louis basketball standout Jayson Tatum is currently the top junior in the country, according to the Scout.com recruiting rankings for the class of 2016.
The race for No. 1 is far from finished.
Scout.com director of recruiting Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader that Tatum will have to fight off at least a couple of his peers to hold on to the top spot in 2016.
“In the 2016 class, it comes down to three players: Josh Jackson, Harry Giles and Jayson Tatum,” he said. “And those are three elite-level recruits that I think are going to get paid to play at the highest level for a long time. Those guys will battle it out for the top spot, and it’s tough.”
Daniels noted that all three players bring something “very different” to the court.
Jackson, who plays his high school ball in California, is an uber-athletic, 6-foot-7 prospect who can play all of the backcourt positions. His mother told the Herald-Leader in late November that Louisville, Arizona, UCLA, Michigan State, California and Auburn have all called to extend scholarship offers.
She said she had not heard from Kentucky, though UK assistant Kenny Payne did visit his school in the fall.
“Josh is one of the truly elite athletes that I’ve ever evaluated,” Daniels said.
Giles — a 6-10 power forward — missed all of his sophomore year with a torn ACL but has been phenomenal this season. UK, Duke and North Carolina are among the top schools on his list.
“Harry is 6-10, a great rebounder, such a versatile scorer at his position and he brings it every night,” Daniels said.
Tatum was the first player from the class of 2016 to receive a UK scholarship offer, and he’s already visited Lexington twice. He has the Cats on a list that includes nine other schools. John Calipari watched him score 39 points Friday night.
“Jayson brings a tremendous skill set at 6-8,” Daniels said.
The competition to be the No. 1 player in the class will likely stretch all the way to the end of their high school careers.
“There’s something different about each guy, but all three are ultra competitive,” Daniels said. “All three are winners. All three are guys that are going to spend a lot of time in the NBA, so it’s a tough call.”
The 2016 class also includes such standouts as Thon Maker, Malik Monk and Derryck Thornton — all three have UK scholarship offers and have already visited Lexington.