UK’s top recruiting targets in the class of 2020

Scottie Barnes

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Barnes — a high school and Nike league teammate of former UK target Vernon Carey — was the very first player in the class of 2020 to land a scholarship offer from Kentucky, which extended that offer while he was still a sophomore in high school. “It’s a big thing to me, getting an offer from one of the best coaches that will ever coach. For him to offer me, it’s a blessing,” Barnes told the Herald-Leader at the time. The athletic, high energy, team-first player averaged 14.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game as a junior, leading his team to a second consecutive state title. Kentucky will have plenty of competition for his commitment, and Oregon and Miami could be among the teams to beat.

Position: Small forward
Height: 6-8
Weight: 210
Hometown: West Palm Beach, Fla.
High school: University School
Travel team: Nightrydas (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 4
ESPN ranking: No. 5
247 ranking: No. 5
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Brandon Boston

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A standout player on the Nike circuit, Boston has emerged as one of the best perimeter prospects in the 2020 class, and the early attention has included several top scholarship offers. He is one of the top scorers in high school basketball and has considerable range, shooting better than 40 percent on his three-point attempts during Nike play last summer. Duke had been seen by many analysts as a possible early favorite for Boston, but Kentucky started to pick up some prominent Crystal Ball picks this spring. He visited Rupp Arena for a game last season.

Position: Shooting guard
Height: 6-6
Weight: 175
Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
High school: Norcross
Travel team: AOT Rebels (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 7
ESPN ranking: No. 6
247 ranking: No. 11
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Nimari Burnett

Burnett was a super scorer at Prolific Prep as a junior — also showing off tremendous shooting ability from long range — and has risen to five-star status in the 2020 class, catching the attention of Kentucky’s coaches along the way. John Calipari and Kenny Payne made sure to watch him during the only evaluation weekend of the spring, and he averaged 20 points per game through the first couple of sessions of the Nike circuit. He’s a perimeter prospect to watch moving forward.

Position: Shooting guard
Height: 6-4
Weight: 180
Hometown: Chicago
High school: Prolific Prep (Calif.)
Travel team: Team Why Not (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 25
ESPN ranking: No. 21
247 ranking: No. 25
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Henry Coleman

Coleman could emerge as one of the breakout prospects of the spring and summer, following up his impressive junior season with some eye-catching performances in the early going of the Adidas schedule. A strong, hard-working player, Coleman uses his body well around the basket and has been developing his outside skills in preparation for playing a more versatile role at the next level. Kentucky is among the schools that have been in contact so far this year.

Position: Forward
Height: 6-7
Weight: 205
Hometown: Richmond, Va.
High school: Trinity Episcopal
Travel team: Team Loaded (Adidas)
Rivals ranking: No. 41
ESPN ranking: No. 32
247 ranking: No. 70
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Sharife Cooper

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Cooper became the first non-senior to win MaxPreps.com national player of the year honors following an outstanding junior season in which he averaged 28.6 points, 8.6 assists and 4.1 steals per game and led his team to an undefeated record and Georgia state title. He was one of the first players in the class to earn a UK scholarship offer — landing one before the season began — and John Calipari has been a constant at his games. Auburn, however, was on him very early in the recruiting process and could be the team to beat for his commitment. There has also been significant buzz that he could reclassify to 2019 and play college basketball this season. If that happens, Auburn would likely be the destination.

Position: Point guard
Height: 6-0
Weight: 160
Hometown: Powder Springs, Ga.
High school: McEachern
Travel team: AOT Rebels (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 15
ESPN ranking: No. 19
247 ranking: No. 18
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Cade Cunningham

Cunningham has been hesitant to confirm or deny scholarship offers — or much of anything about his college recruitment — but it’s safe to say there would be a place for him at Kentucky if he wants it. John Calipari has now watched him several times, and there might not have been a better all-around performer through the first couple of Nike EYBL sessions this spring. Cunningham has the basketball IQ and ability to run the point at times, and he projects as a do-everything wing player with an unselfish demeanor and willingness to battle down low. If his outside shot continues to improve, Cunningham could compete for the No. 1 overall ranking in the class.

Position: Guard/forward
Height: 6-7
Weight: 215
Hometown: Arlington, Texas
High school: Montverde Academy (Fla.)
Travel team: Drive Nation (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 5
ESPN ranking: No. 8
247 ranking: No. 8
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N’Faly Dante

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The second player from this class to land a confirmed scholarship offer from UK, Dante has established himself as one of the top big men in high school basketball. The Mali native — now playing high school ball in Kansas — averaged 16 points and nine rebounds per game while playing a national schedule as a junior. He was one of the most talked about prospects on the Nike circuit this past summer, averaging 13.7 points and 9.1 rebounds per game while finishing among the league leaders in blocked shots. There has been talk that Dante could ultimately reclassify to 2019 and play college basketball next season. Kentucky will be among his top contenders, whether he stays in 2020 or makes the jump to 2019.

Position: Center
Height: 6-10
Weight: 225
Home country: Mali
High school: Sunrise Christian (Kan.)
Travel team: Mokan Elite (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 8
ESPN ranking: No. 17
247 ranking: No. 16
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Hunter Dickinson

Dickinson plays for D.C.-area hoops power DeMatha Catholic and has already built a reputation as one of the best post players in the 2020 class. He was one of only two players from his class to earn an invitation to the USA Basketball U18 training camp last June, and — though he ultimately didn’t make the final squad — he did hold his own against some of the best players from the 2018 and 2019 classes. Dickinson is more of a throwback center — listed at 7-2 and with the ability to throw his body around in the paint — but UK has been keeping tabs on him. The Cats hosted Dickinson for an unofficial visit this past season.

Position: Center
Height: 7-2
Weight: 255
Hometown: Hyattsville, Md.
High school: DeMatha Catholic
Travel team: Team Takeover (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 26
ESPN ranking: No. 27
247 ranking: No. 28
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Cam’Ron Fletcher

Fletcher is an elite athlete whose game is just starting to fill out, and he caught the eye of John Calipari while playing against UK signee Tyrese Maxey at a marquee recruiting event in November. Michigan State, Ohio State and UCLA were among the major programs to extend scholarship offers relatively early in the recruiting process, and Kentucky and others will continue to keep tabs on the St. Louis native as his game continues to grow. Fletcher told the Herald-Leader that UK assistant coach Kenny Payne wanted to get him on campus for a visit this summer, and he noted that a scholarship offer from the Wildcats could come on that trip.

Position: Small forward
Height: 6-6
Weight: 180
Hometown: St. Louis, Mo.
High school: Vashon
Travel team: Brad Beal Elite (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 28
ESPN ranking: No. 30
247 ranking: No. 39
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Dawson Garcia

In a recruiting class that’s a bit light on impact post players, Garcia is establishing himself as one of the best in the 2020 group. He was already a highly touted prospect coming into his junior season, and he’s continued to build his reputation with a stellar showing for his Minnesota high school team. The former Adidas league teammate of five-star 2019 recruit Matthew Hurt is a major Minnesota target, but lots of other top programs will be clamoring for his commitment over the next several months. UK assistant coach Joel Justus made a special trip to see Garcia in January, and he will be a legitimate Wildcats recruiting target moving forward.

Position: Power forward
Height: 6-10
Weight: 200
Hometown: Prior Lake, Minn.
High school: Prior Lake
Travel team: D1 Minnesota (Adidas)
Rivals ranking: No. 34
ESPN ranking: No. 34
247 ranking: No. 21
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Jalen Green

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With the unanimpus choice for No. 1 recruit in the 2020 class — California post player Evan Mobley — almost certainly headed to Southern Cal, where his father is an assistant coach and his brother will be a freshman this season, Green is the de facto top-ranked available prospect in the 2020 class. The dynamic backcourt player is a terrific shooting guard prospect who has been working on his point guard skills. He averaged 30.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game this past season, earning MaxPreps.com first-team junior All-American honors. Green moved to the Nike circuit for his final season of summer ball, and John Calipari will be on him hard until he makes a college decision. Memphis has been viewed as a possible early favorite, but Green said in the spring that his recruitment remains wide open.

Position: Shooting guard
Height: 6-5
Weight: 170
Hometown: Fresno, Calif.
High school: Prolific Prep
Travel team: Team Why Not (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 2
ESPN ranking: No. 2
247 ranking: No. 2
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Jalen Johnson

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One of the first 2020 prospects to pop up on UK’s radar, Johnson actually visited Lexington for Big Blue Madness early in his sophomore year and returned for the same event this past fall. He averaged 19.7 points, 11.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game as a junior, leading his team to its first Wisconsin state title. A smart, versatile player, Johnson has already cut his recruiting list to Kentucky, Duke, Arizona and Wisconsin — with the Blue Devils emerging as the favorite in the eyes of many recruiting analysts. He’s expected to make a college decision this summer.

Position: Small forward
Height: 6-8
Weight: 220
Hometown: Sun Prairie, Wis.
High school: Nicolet
Travel team: Phenom U (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 3
ESPN ranking: No. 3
247 ranking: No. 4
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Makur Maker

The cousin of former five-star recruit and current NBA player Thon Maker has emerged as one of the best and most intriguing prospects in the 2020 class. The 7-footer with perimeter skills has said he intends to play college basketball — unlike Thon, who went straight to the NBA from prep school — and, despite rumors that he could reclassify to 2019, it appears that he will stick with the 2020 class. UK has reached out to Maker, who shot all the way to No. 3 in the 247Sports rankings for 2020. The sky is the limit for the latest member of the Maker family, and Kentucky’s coaches were again impressed by his play in the first few games of Adidas league play in April.

Position: Center
Height: 7-0
Weight: 230
Hometown: Orange, Calif.
High school: Orange Lutheran
Travel team: Dream Vision (Adidas)
Rivals ranking: No. 10
ESPN ranking: No. 36
247 ranking: No. 3
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Matthew Murrell

One of several possible UK targets to emerge out of the spring evaluation period was Murrell, a terrific perimeter scorer who could be due for a rankings bump after the summer. John Calipari was in attendance for one of his games during the spring evaluation period, and the Cats are likely to keep tabs on the emerging prospect from Coach Cal’s old stomping grounds of Memphis. Murrell’s high school coach has said that — despite Penny Hardaway’s total dominance of the Memphis recruiting scene over the past year and a half — Murrell is “no lock” to end up with the Tigers and is still looking at all of his options around the country.

Position: Shooting guard
Height: 6-4
Weight: 200
Hometown: Memphis
High school: Whitehaven
Travel team: Team Thad (Under Armour)
Rivals ranking: No. 110
ESPN ranking: No. 83
247 ranking: No. 79
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Daishen Nix

Nix might just go into the 2019-20 high school season as the top point guard on UK’s recruiting board. He’ll certainly be in contention for that distinction after continuing to show off his stellar playmaking ability and judgement, rising in the national rankings as a result of that play. UK assistant coach Joel Justus has been keeping in touch with Nix, who plays for a private school in Las Vegas and stars on a summer travel team that is not affiliated with any of the major shoe companies. He has the point guard skills, unselfishness, size, and passing ability that John Calipari looks for in his floor leaders.

Position: Point guard
Height: 6-4
Weight: 190
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
High school: Trinity International (Nev.)
Travel team: Simply Fun (unaffiliated)
Rivals ranking: No. 16
ESPN ranking: No. 24
247 ranking: No. 13
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Cliff Omoruyi

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Omoruyi popped up on UK’s recruiting radar from a familiar place: Roselle Catholic, the New Jersey high school that has featured former Wildcats point guard Isaiah Briscoe and incoming five-star prospect Kahlil Whitney. Omoruyi is a Nigeria native who teamed up with Whitney at Roselle last season and earned a UK scholarship offer after meeting with John Calipari during the spring. He’s the type of high-upside frontcourt player that Calipari is looking for in the 2020 class, and the Herald-Leader has been told that the relatively early Kentucky scholarship offer made a big impact on Omoruyi.

Position: Center
Height: 6-10
Weight: 230
Home country: Nigeria
High school: Roselle Catholic (N.J.)
Travel team: New York Lightning (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 55
ESPN ranking: No. 52
247 ranking: No. 73
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Justin Powell

The only Kentucky native on UK’s radar heading into the summer, Powell was a standout guard at in-state powerhouse Louisville Trinity before transferring to national powerhouse Montverde Academy before his junior season. He was back in Kentucky after one semester at Montverde — Powell told the Herald-Leader that homesickness was the main reason for his move — and will be a senior at North Oldham High School this season. Powell lit up the first weekend of the Nike EYBL circuit with a three-point barrage, and UK assistant coach Joel Justus has remained in constant contact. Auburn could be a team to beat if Kentucky doesn’t come through with a scholarship offer.

Position: Shooting guard
Height: 6-5
Weight: 180
Hometown: Louisville
High school: North Oldham
Travel team: Indy Heat (Nike)
Rivals ranking: None
ESPN ranking: No. 88
247 ranking: No. 153
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Bryce Thompson

Yet another prospect to emerge as a possible UK target in the spring, Thompson was the leading scorer on the Under Armour circuit — by a wide margin — through the first several games of that league’s early season. The Oklahoma native is likely due for a rankings bump soon, and blue-bloods Kansas and North Carolina are among the scholarship offers he’s already collected. He has some size and versatility in the backcourt, and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him emerge as a top Kentucky perimeter prospect by the end of the summer.

Position: Shooting guard
Height: 6-4
Weight: 180
Hometown: Tulsa, Okla.
High school: Booker T. Washington
Travel team: Oklahoma Run (Under Armour)
Rivals ranking: No. 58
ESPN ranking: No. 57
247 ranking: No. 89
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Isaiah Todd

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Very early in the 2020 cycle, Todd was considered to be the No. 1 player in the class. His ranking has dropped a tad since then, but he’s still regarded as one of the very best players in the country and will continue to be among the most coveted recruits in this group. UK started scouting him before his sophomore season — not many get that much early attention from the Cats — and he went on to average 18.6 points and 6.5 rebounds per game as a sophomore, leading his team to a Virginia state title before moving to a school in North Carolina and averaging 28 points, 15 rebounds, 5.4 blocks and 4.3 assists per game as a junior. There’s been 2019 reclassification talk, but he seems set on remaining in the 2020 class. If he stays put, he’ll be among the most likely UK commitments to come out of that class.

Position: Power forward
Height: 6-9
Weight: 195
Hometown: Richmond, Va.
High school: Trinity (N.C.)
Travel team: Nightrydas (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 13
ESPN ranking: No. 7
247 ranking: No. 19
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