UK basketball begins recruiting period with eye on DJ Wagner

Starting Friday, the NCAA Division I men’s basketball recruiting calendar shifts from a quiet period to a recruiting period.

A quiet period is defined as a “period of time when it is permissible to make in-person recruiting contacts only on the member institution’s campus. No in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts or evaluations may be made.”

A recruiting period is defined as when “authorized athletics department staff may make in-person, off-campus recruiting contacts and evaluations.”

The calendar will remain mostly in a recruiting period from Friday until late March, with dead periods in early November and around Christmas in December.

This means the likes of John Calipari, his assistant coaches and other men’s college basketball coaches from around the country will begin making visits Friday to their priority recruits for upcoming recruiting classes.

You can expect Calipari and others on the UK men’s basketball coaching staff to be spotted all over the country in the next few days conducting in-person, off-campus visits with important recruits they hope to convince to come to Lexington.

Here’s who and what you need to know as another men’s college basketball recruiting period is set to begin.

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Robert Dillingham is one of the top guards in the recruiting class of 2023 and a UK commit. Michael Clubb mclubb@herald-leader.com

Kentucky’s current commits

Let’s start with a reminder of who the Wildcats already plan on having for future seasons.

Currently, UK has three high school players committed, all of whom are in the class of 2023.

They are Robert Dillingham, Justin Edwards and Reed Sheppard.

Robert Dillingham (6-2, 165 lbs.) is a five-star guard ranked as the No. 9 player overall in the class of 2023 and the No. 2 point guard in the class by the 247Sports Composite. A former North Carolina State commit, Dillingham de-committed from the Wolfpack and chose UK in June.

Justin Edwards (6-7, 180 lbs.) is a five-star small forward ranked as the No. 2 player overall in the class of 2023 and the No. 1 small forward in the class by the 247Sports Composite. Edwards is the current centerpiece of UK’s 2023 recruiting class. After an all hands on deck effort from UK’s coaching staff, Edwards committed to Kentucky in July.

Reed Sheppard (6-3, 170 lbs.) is a four-star combo guard ranked as the No. 29 player overall in the class of 2023 and the No. 9 combo guard in the class by the 247Sports Composite. A legacy recruit whose mother and father both played at UK, Sheppard — who plays at North Laurel High School in London — committed to the Cats last November.

Kentucky will want to consolidate these commitments and ensure that all three players stay in the incoming 2023 recruiting class, so don’t be shocked to see Calipari and others take time to visit these players in the coming weeks, despite their commitments.

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Aaron Bradshaw posed for photos in a Kentucky jersey during his official visit to Lexington. Twitter

Kentucky recruits in class of 2023

There are five players in the class of 2023 who have not yet committed to a college or professional basketball pathway that hold a Kentucky scholarship offer.

Of this group, the most likely players to receive attention from UK during the start of this recruiting period are Aaron Bradshaw, Ron Holland and DJ Wagner.

Aaron Bradshaw (7-0, 210 lbs.) is a five-star center ranked as the No. 6 player overall in the class of 2023 and the No. 2 center in the class by the 247Sports Composite. Bradshaw plays on the same high school and Nike EYBL teams as Wagner, leading many to link their college recruitment as well. Bradshaw was thought to be planning to commit to Kentucky over the summer, but that didn’t happen.

Ron Holland (6-8, 195 lbs.) is a five-star power forward ranked as the No. 10 player overall in the class of 2023 and the No. 3 power forward in the class by the 247Sports Composite. Holland has spent recent months taking official visits to some of the top schools involved in his recruitment, including Arkansas and Kentucky in June, and Texas last weekend. Arkansas is currently viewed as the slight leader in Holland’s recruitment.

DJ Wagner (6-3, 165 lbs.) is a five-star combo guard ranked as the No. 1 player overall in the class of 2023 by the 247Sports Composite. Wagner is a big-money name, the long sought-after scorer that Kentucky and Louisville are both battling for, with plenty of family dynamics in play. Wagner — who is high school and Nike EYBL teammates with Bradshaw — visited UK last October and has not yet visited Louisville, where his grandfather Milt was a star player and where Milt currently serves as the director of player development and alumni relations.

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DJ Wagner is the focus of an ongoing recruiting battle between Kentucky and Louisville. Michael Clubb mclubb@herald-leader.com

Bradshaw and Wagner will be visited by Kentucky, there’s absolutely no doubting that.

The addition to the Kentucky coaching staff this offseason of KT Turner gave the Cats an assistant coach with strong recruiting ties to the state of Texas, where Holland is a star player at Duncanville High School near Dallas.

Kentucky recruits in class of 2024

There are eight players in the class of 2024 who have not yet committed to a college or professional basketball pathway that hold Kentucky offers. Kentucky has no commits in the class of 2024.

Some players likely to receive attention from UK during the start of this recruiting period are Boogie Fland, Ian Jackson, Tre Johnson and Travis Perry.

Boogie Fland (6-3, 165 lbs.) is a five-star point guard ranked as the No. 13 player overall in the class of 2024 and the No. 2 point guard in the class by the 247Sports Composite. Fland picked up a UK offer in July, after helping the United States Under-17 national team win a FIBA ​​gold medal in Spain, an event Calipari traveled to see in person.

Ian Jackson (6-4, 170 lbs.) is a five-star shooting guard ranked as the No. 2 player overall in the class of 2024 and the No. 1 shooting guard in the class by the 247Sports Composite. Jackson is a reclassification candidate to move into the class of 2023, but Jackson told the Herald-Leader last month he would make the reclassification decision after his upcoming high school season.

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Kentucky head coach John Calipari is working on a possible No. 1 recruiting class for the 2023 cycle, and he’s also looking ahead to 2024 and beyond. Silas Walker swalker@herald-leader.com

“I don’t want to rush into a situation and then mess up everything, so I feel like if it’s a good move for me I’ll do it. But if it’s not, then I’ll stay (in the class of 2024),” Jackson said. “That’s something I’ve thought about. I’m not sure yet.”

Tre Johnson (6-5, 180 lbs.) is a five-star shooting guard ranked as the No. 3 player overall in the class of 2024 and the No. 2 shooting guard in the class by the 247Sports Composite. Johnson is another Dallas-Area product who has ties to form UK guard Tyrese Maxey. Johnson’s recruitment will be a test for Turner, UK’s newest assistant coach, against local colleges and blue-blood schools alike.

Travis Perry (6-2, 170 lbs.) is a four-star point guard ranked as the No. 86 player overall in the class of 2024 and the No. 14 point guard in the class by the 247Sports Composite. Perry is an in-state recruit who plays at Lyon County High School in Eddyville. Perry — whose father and mother both graduated from UK — is on pace to become the all-time leading scorer in Kentucky high school boys’ basketball history.

Perry is expected to visit Purdue this weekend.

Calipari has cast a wide net in the scholarship offers issued to class of 2024 players, with point guard Tahaad Pettiford, shooting guard Isaiah Elohim and small forwards Karter Knox (the younger brother of former UK player Kevin Knox) ​​and Amier Ali also holding UK offers .

Another player linked to Kentucky, but currently without a scholarship offer, is Elliot Cadeau, the No. 1 point guard in the class of 2024.

Calipari has shown a tendency with class of 2024 players to offer scholarships sooner than normal, bucking a longtime trend.

Seeing which class of 2024 recruits UK coaches visit in the next few days may crystallize who the Cats are serious about in this class.

UK also currently has one scholarship offer out in the Class of 2025 to shooting guard Darryn Peterson, who is expected to take an unofficial visit to UK this fall.

This story was originally published September 8, 2022 12:15 PM.

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Cameron Drummond works as a sports reporter for the Lexington Herald-Leader with a focus on Kentucky men’s basketball recruiting and the UK men’s basketball team, horse racing, soccer and other sports in Central Kentucky. Drummond is a first-generation American who was born and raised in Texas, before graduating from Indiana University. He is a fluent Spanish speaker who previously worked as a community news reporter in Austin, Texas.

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