University of Kentucky basketball commitment Sacha Killeya-Jones has been among the biggest risers in the class of 2016 recruiting rankings over the past few weeks.
No recruiting service has the 6-foot-10 power forward ranked higher than 247Sports, which now pegs him as the No. 16 overall prospect in the senior class.
That’s a high honor in a class that has been billed as one of the best in years, and Killeya-Jones is ranked higher than such highly touted players as Wenyen Gabriel, Jarrett Allen, Marques Bolden and Udoka Azubuike.
247Sports national analyst Jerry Meyer says the future Wildcat still has plenty of room to grow.
“There’s a lot of talent there, and he’s on a steep improvement curve,” Meyer told the Herald-Leader this week. “It’s amazing how much better this guy has gotten in one calendar year. And I think he still has a lot of upside left.
“He reminded me of Skal Labissiere when I watched him play. He’s not as long as Skal, but he has the fluidity — just that fluid athleticism that Skal has — and he’s extremely skilled.”
Labissiere, who will be a freshman at UK this season, rocketed up the recruiting charts at the end of his senior year, finishing with the No. 1 ranking from Rivals.com and Scout.com. He was ranked No. 2 by ESPN and 247Sports.
DraftExpress.com already projects Labissiere as the No. 1 in next year’s NBA Draft.
Killeya-Jones was viewed as more of a complementary player to UK’s recruiting class of 2016 when he committed last month. The Wildcats are still in the mix for several five-star recruits and are expected to land a few of those prospects over the course of the 2016 cycle.
Fredrick Cannon — Killeya-Jones’ AAU coach for the past three summers — told the Herald-Leader when Killeya-Jones committed that the player isn’t going to be fixated on his NBA Draft status when he gets to Lexington.
“He’s not going to skip steps,” Cannon said. “His whole thing is being able to produce and being able to help his team out.”
Meyer expects Killeya-Jones to make an immediate impact as a freshman. He noted the strength and physicality that Killeya-Jones has added to his game over the past year and said continued development that’s “in the ballpark” of that progress would bring heightened expectations at the college level.
Though he might not be thinking one-and-done now, it wouldn’t be a shocker if Killeya-Jones finds himself in that position.
“Give him two years in college, and he’s going to be outstanding,” Meyer said. “He doesn’t come across as a one-and-done — which I guess is why the general consensus among Kentucky fans is, ‘He’s a complementary player,’ which he might be if they get the players they’re going after — but it wouldn’t surprise me if he were one-and-done.
“Again, a year ago today, I think everybody would’ve had this guy as a three-star. And now he’s in that five-star range.”