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 will be among the teams to beat.

Position: Small forward
Height: 6-8
Weight: 210
Hometown: West Palm Beach, Fla.
High school: Montverde Academy
Travel team: Nightrydas (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 6
ESPN ranking: No. 9
247 ranking: No. 5
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Brandon Boston

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Brandon Boston is UK’s first commitment for the class of 2020.

Position: Shooting guard
Height: 6-6
Weight: 175
Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
High school: Sierra Canyon (Calif.)
Travel team: AOT Rebels (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 10
ESPN ranking: No. 7
247 ranking: No. 15
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Greg Brown

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Kentucky’s coaches saw plenty of Brown over the spring and summer while keeping tabs on his Nike league teammate, Cade Cunningham, and the Cats finally came through with a scholarship offer shortly after the Peach Jam finals. The late interest was enough to get UK in Brown’s final five — along with Texas, North Carolina, Memphis and Auburn — and the Cats will continue to pursue the highly athletic forward as this recruiting cycle continues. Hometown Texas — where his father was a standout football player — might be tough to beat. Brown averaged 18.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game playing alongside Cunningham on the Nike circuit.

Position: Power forward
Height: 6-8
Weight: 200
Hometown: Austin, Texas
High school: Vandegrift
Travel team: Drive Nation (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 7
ESPN ranking: No. 5
247 ranking: No. 9
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Josh Christopher

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Christopher grew up in California, but he’s always been a Kentucky basketball fan and referred to UK as his “dream school” heading into his final summer of travel basketball. A Wildcats scholarship offer came shortly after that, and Kentucky is one of Christopher’s five finalists, along with Arizona State (where his brother is a freshman this season), Michigan, Missouri and UCLA, the hometown option. Christopher had a stellar spring a summer, averaging 21.7 points, 4.8 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game on the Nike circuit while delivering some of the biggest highlight-reel moments of the year with his high-flying style of play.

Position: Shooting guard
Height: 6-4
Weight: 200
Hometown: Bellflower, Calif.
High school: Mayfair
Travel team: Vegas Elite (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 11
ESPN ranking: No. 10
247 ranking: No. 8
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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 will be the team to beat for his commitment.

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. 21
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Cade Cunningham

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John Calipari has now watched Cunningham 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 end up with the No. 1 overall ranking in the class. The bad news for Kentucky: his brother was hired as an assistant coach at Oklahoma State, making the Cowboys major favorites in his recruitment. UK, Oklahoma State, Florida, North Carolina and Washington are his five finalists.

Position: Guard/forward
Height: 6-7
Weight: 215
Hometown: Arlington, Texas
High school: Montverde Academy (Fla.)
Travel team: Drive Nation (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 2
ESPN ranking: No. 2
247 ranking: No. 3
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Cam’Ron Fletcher

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Cam’Ron Fletcher is UK’s second commitment for the class of 2020.

Position: Small forward
Height: 6-6
Weight: 180
Hometown: St. Louis, Mo.
High school: Vashon
Travel team: Brad Beal Elite (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 37
ESPN ranking: No. 45
247 ranking: No. 37
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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 going into his junior season, and he 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. Kansas and North Carolina have already extended scholarship offers, and Kentucky has been staying in touch. Garcia missed the July evaluation period with an illness and has decided to hold off on making any cuts to his recruiting list.

Position: Power forward
Height: 6-10
Weight: 200
Hometown: Prior Lake, Minn.
High school: Prior Lake
Travel team: D1 Minnesota (Adidas)
Rivals ranking: No. 38
ESPN ranking: No. 46
247 ranking: No. 23
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Jalen Green

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With the unanimous choice for No. 1 recruit in the 2020 class — California post player Evan Mobley — headed to Southern Cal and Cade Cunningham likely going to Oklahoma State for college, Green might be the top-ranked truly 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 has been recruiting him as hard as any other prospect in the 2019 class. Memphis looks to be the Cats’ top competition for Green, who has said he plans to announce a college decision on Dec. 25.

Position: Shooting guard
Height: 6-5
Weight: 170
Hometown: Fresno, Calif.
High school: Prolific Prep
Travel team: Team Why Not (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 3
ESPN ranking: No. 3
247 ranking: No. 4
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Isaiah Jackson

Kentucky’s interest in Jackson — a highly athletic forward from Michigan — ramped up over the summer, when the five-star prospect averaged 11.0 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots during the Nike regular season. Michigan State has been seen as the early favorite for Jackson, but his recruitment is far from settled and a college decision doesn’t seem likely until the spring. Kentucky will continue to watch his progress.

Position: Power forward
Height: 6-9
Weight: 200
Hometown: Detroit, Mich.
High school: Waterford Mott
Travel team: The Family (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 20
ESPN ranking: No. 14
247 ranking: No. 16
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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, he will stick with the 2020 class. UK has reached out to Maker, who shot all the way to No. 2 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 during the spring and summer. The talk of a jump straight to the pros has persisted, however, and it’s still unclear whether Maker will ever play college ball.

Position: Center
Height: 7-0
Weight: 230
Hometown: Orange, Calif.
High school: Pacific Academy
Travel team: Dream Vision (Adidas)
Rivals ranking: No. 5
ESPN ranking: No. 11
247 ranking: No. 2
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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. His recruitment, however, is wide open, with more than 10 campus visits planned over the next few months.

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. 51
247 ranking: No. 46
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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. He’ll play his senior season for a third high school in three years following a transfer to Word of God Academy (N.C.), the alma mater of former UK point guard John Wall.

Position: Power forward
Height: 6-9
Weight: 195
Hometown: Richmond, Va.
High school: Word of God Academy (N.C.)
Travel team: Nightrydas (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 13
ESPN ranking: No. 8
247 ranking: No. 20
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Lance Ware

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Ware attends the same New Jersey high school that once featured Dajuan Wagner, one of John Calipari’s signature recruits from his days at Memphis, and Calipari was back at Camden High last fall to pay Ware a visit. A couple of weeks later, the junior recruit was in Lexington for a trip to Big Blue Madness. This summer, he landed a coveted scholarship offer from Kentucky, which is now seen by many as the team to beat in his recruitment. Ware brings good size, athleticism and a high motor to the court, and he plays for the same Nike-affiliated team that Hamidou Diallo stared on during his final season of travel ball. He’s expected to make a college decision in time to sign during the November period.

Position: Power forward
Height: 6-9
Weight: 205
Hometown: Burlington, N.J.
High school: Camden
Travel team: New York Rens (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 52
ESPN ranking: No. 48
247 ranking: No. 41
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