Monday night’s alumni game held by the University of Kentucky represented some of their many successes under John Calipari. While the former Wildcats were taking the floor and showcasing their skills, possible future ‘Cats were looking on from the crowd. Per NBA rules, the event could not be televised or have any radio. That didn’t stop Calipari from using the event as a recruiting tool. Not only did he present over a million dollars to charity, he flashed his ace to the rest of the recruiting world.
The biggest name at Rupp was 2014 No. 1 center Jahlil Okafor. The Chicago native has forever been linked with former No. 1 point guard Tyus Jones as a packaged deal to a lucky school. Kentucky is still in the running, but Duke has long been the favorite. The Wildcats recently lost out on point guard prospect Emmanuel Mudiay to SMU. With Mudiay staying home, the door has been opened for other top point guards to wear the blue and white. Okafor has been high on Kentucky, and Jones could come around if his partner wants to make Lexington his college destination. Okafor is listed on some recruiting services as the No. 1 player in the class, and has been regarded by NBA scouts as the best center prospect they have ever evaluated. Calipari is rumored to be scheduled for an in-home visit with Tyus Jones on Tuesday.
Devin Booker is regarded as one of the best shooting guards in the 2014 class. The Mississippi native has been high on John Calipari’s radar since last summer. Michigan appears to be the biggest competition for Booker, but Kentucky may have the inside track with a commitment from another top 2014 recruit.
I sense that John Calipari had a hunch he was losing the recruiting battle for Emmanuel Mudiay when he offered diminutive point guard Tyler Ulis. The offer came as a surprise because Ulis does not fit the Calipari mold for point guards. Ulis’ driving ability and toughness is exactly what the Kentucky coach wants in 2014, despite his 5-foot-8 frame. Ulis has taken official visits to Iowa and Michigan State. The Spartans used to be the heavy favorite for Ulis because he had a cousin play there. Since Kentucky offered, most experts believe Ulis will come to Lexington. Ulis has also been in discussions with Devin Booker about becoming a packaged deal. While those deals rarely happen, a commitment from Ulis could bring Booker with him to UK.
Jumping to the 2015 class, Ohio shooting guard Luke Kennard was also in attendance. Since receiving his scholarship offer from Kentucky in July, Kennard has visited the school three times. Out of any recruit that showed up for the event, I believe Kennard digs the Wildcats the most. At this point, I would be surprised if he does not come to Lexington. Kennard is on track to make a decision next summer.
A name to keep on your radar is 2016 prospect Kobi Simmons. In the earliest of early rankings, Simmons is listed as a five-star point guard and could become the best prospect in the class. Obviously, it’s a little early to speculate where he could wind up. Simmons used his Twitter account to tell his followers he would be attending the game in Lexington. It’s nice to see Calipari getting in on this guy early, if he’s the real deal.
Brian Lewis is an SEC Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. You can add him to your network on Google for more of his work.