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'26 No. 1 recruit Brandon McCoy had Kentucky written on his wall as a kid, wants to hear from Mark Pope

Jack PIlgrimby:Jack Pilgrim05/21/24

2026 five-star guard Brandon McCoy had been lurking as the top prospect in the rising junior class before finally earning the No. 1 spot back in March. Standing 6-5, the Bellflower (CA) St. John Bosco standout is a two-way threat with scoring and playmaking gifts, currently averaging 15.1 points on 45.8% shooting to go with 5.6 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.4 steals in 27.0 minutes per contest playing up a grade on the EYBL circuit for Arizona Unity 17U.

This time around, he got to show off what he’s capable of in front of high-major coaches in the first live period of the spring, thousands flooding to Indianapolis for EYBL Session III to see the best of the best compete — McCoy being one.

“It means a lot. Being able to show what I can do is definitely a blessing, just knowing that the hard work I put in is paying off,” the nation’s No. 1 prospect told KSR. “I want to show I’m a leader, I’ve grown from where I was last year. I’ve wanted to show how much better I’ve gotten and prove that I’m ready for the next level.”

How does he feel he got to this point, earning the target on his back as the top dog in 2026?

“Just playing hard, man. Playing hard gets you paid, gets you to that next level, gets you to your dreams. That’s with everything, just working hard,” he added. “(What separates me is I’m) energetic, a leader, playmaker. I just play hard.”

The 6-5 guard noticed a couple of schools in particular sitting courtside for his games, namely Michigan and Duke, among others. Stanford offered him a scholarship at the conclusion of the event, joining the likes of USC, UCLA, Georgia Tech, San Diego State and Rutgers to do so. He says the Trojans and Yellow Jackets are among the schools pushing for him the hardest at this point — “Those are the only ones I can think of right now,” McCoy said.

Another he’d like to hear from? Kentucky under new head coach Mark Pope, who was sitting courtside for his games in Indianapolis with assistant Jason Hart — a Southern California native himself and the West Coast recruiting guru on staff in Lexington.

“I haven’t talked to him yet, never met him. But I hope to!” he told KSR. “Hope to build a relationship and meet him, definitely look forward to that in the future. … I don’t know too much about (Kentucky) since it’s a new staff, but I know, of course, in previous years it was a really good team. I’m looking forward to meeting him and really seeing how he is.”

He’ll be the first to admit he had his eyes on the Cats growing up, a scholarship at the top of his priority list as an up-and-coming high school standout. As conversations ramp up with Pope and he gets his footing in his first season in Lexington, the No. 1 recruit is hopeful the staff likes what it sees.

“I had that offer written on my wall, hoping to get that. Hopefully I get the re-offer from Mark Pope, as well,” McCoy said. “I don’t know too much about the coach, but they hired him for a reason. You don’t go from that high of a level and drop down. I’m expecting him to be pretty good.”

That’s not to say Kentucky or any program was his ‘dream school,’ but rather a personal goal of his to hit as a player. There’s something special about achieving blue-blood status as a recruit, so that’s always been on his mind and will continue to be moving forward.

Until those offers inevitably come through for the 6-5 guard, of course.

“I don’t have a dream school at all, just a couple of offers I really want to get that are written on my wall. They are Kentucky and Duke,” he said. “No dream school though. … They’re good schools, they produce good players. They are good programs.”

Until then, he’s going to keep proving he’s the No. 1 player in his class, no matter how big the target on his back grows. Everything else will fall into place from there.

“This is something I embrace. It doesn’t happen by accident, it happens because I put in the work,” he said. “I just trust myself and try not to think too much about it. It’s basketball and I just do it, so the more I think about it, the harder it’s going to be for me. I just play the game I love playing.”

Pope proved he’ll continue recruiting the best of the best at Kentucky by re-offering the No. 1 prospect in 2025, AJ Dybantsa. Is McCoy next?

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