With UK looking to add one more post player to its recruiting class of 2016, the recent focus has centered on Texas power forward Jarrett Allen.
Allen — a 6-foot-9 prospect from Austin, Texas — was in Lexington for an official visit last weekend, and that trip was preceded by a few analysts predicting that he would ultimately end up committing to the Wildcats.
As of Thursday morning, UK still had a majority of the picks on Allen’s 247Sports Crystal Ball page, but that recruiting service’s top analyst switched his prediction from UK to Houston earlier this week, and then from Houston to Kansas on Thursday.
Jerry Meyer explained his reasoning to the Herald-Leader on Wednesday night, adding that Allen has been one of the more difficult prospects to get a feel for during this recruiting cycle.
“He’s a tough read,” Meyer said. “The quote ‘word on the street’ is that Houston and Kansas are in the best position for him. His AAU program has strong ties to Houston. Most people view Jarrett as a guy who wouldn’t mind staying close to home.
“A lot of the things that attract guys to Kentucky — the publicity and all the hype surrounding Kentucky basketball; I’d say a majority of your elite players sort of crave that — but Jarrett might be a little different in those terms. He’s more of a low-key guy. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t go to Kentucky, but it wouldn’t be for those types of reasons. I think he’s looking at player development and being comfortable. And I think being closer to home sort of plays a role in that, as far as comfort.”
Allen has taken official visits to UK, Houston, Kansas and Notre Dame, as well as multiple unofficial visits to hometown Texas. He still has not decided if he will announce a college choice during the early signing period, which ends Nov. 18.
UK missed on No. 1 recruit Harry Giles, who announced his commitment to Duke last week, but the Cats are still in the mix for Allen and fellow five-star post players Edrice “Bam” Adebayo and Marques Bolden.
Adebayo and Bolden also have not yet said if they plan to make a college announcement during the early signing period.
“I don’t think it looks really good for Kentucky on any of those three fronts,” Meyer said. “If I had to guess, I’d think that they don’t get any of those three. N.C. State is perceived as such a leader for Adebayo. I think Kansas and Duke have the edge with Marques, although some people think Alabama is a legit darkhorse.”
Meyer pointed out that UK is still in good shape with its future frontcourt even if Adebayo, Allen and Bolden all choose to go elsewhere.
The Cats already have commitments from 6-10 power forwards Sacha Killeya-Jones and Tai Wynyard, as well as 6-10 small forward Wenyen Gabriel, who is fully capable of playing in the post. Freshman center Isaac Humphries will be back for the 2016-17 season, and there’s no guarantee that junior Marcus Lee will go pro after this year.
“There’s talk that Kentucky might be satisfied with just adding Malik Monk and De’Aaron Fox,” Meyer said. “I don’t know on that, but there’s talk of that.”