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4-Point Play: The wait continues for Chaz Lanier and Jaxson Robinson

Jack PIlgrimby:Jack Pilgrim05/23/24

The waiting game continues for Kentucky and Mark Pope in the program’s pursuit of a top-tier scoring option to round out the roster in 2024-25, one missing one final rotation piece before we can start dreaming big about making a run to the Final Four in San Antonio next April. Fans want to believe (and will probably talk themselves into it no matter how things close out this offseason), but North Florida’s Chaz Lanier or BYU’s Jaxson Robinson would be quite the cherry on top to make that buy-in a little bit easier.

The former will make a decision in the coming days between BYU, Kentucky and Tennessee while the latter is expected to choose between keeping his name in the 2024 NBA Draft and returning to college with Lexington a possible destination, if not likely.

After things appeared to be trending toward the Volunteers for Lanier following his visit to Knoxville on Tuesday and into early Wednesday morning, it’s been nothing but silence since. Sources tell KSR that Kentucky remains in the hunt for the dynamic scorer originally from Nashville with all three schools awaiting word regarding a final decision, Lanier keeping things tight-lipped as he enters commitment mode. On the other end, Robinson is truly a 50/50 coin flip regarding his draft decision with those involved understanding he’d likely prefer to keep his name in rather than attend a fourth school in five years, though could see his stock rise with a bigger platform at a school like Kentucky and continuity under Pope.

Clarity is expected with the latter in the next week with the withdrawal deadline set for May 29 while the former could pop at any moment. Either way, we won’t be waiting much longer for the roster to wrap up.

Chaz Lanier ranked No. 3 available portal player

Speaking of those two, how about some quick updates on both? Lanier, who averaged 19.7 points on 51.0% from the field and 44.0% from three this past season at North Florida, has been rated as the third-best player in the transfer portal by On3’s Jamie Shaw.

He sits behind Florida State’s Jamir Watkins and Minnesota’s Cam Christie to round out the top three. From there, Illinois’ Coleman Hawkins comes in at No. 4, followed by New Mexico’s JT Toppin at No. 5, Washington State’s Jaylen Wells at No. 6, Kansas State’s Arthur Kaluma at No. 7, Miami’s Wooga Poplar at No. 8, Eastern Washington’s Cedric Coward at No. 9 and Kentucky’s Ugonna Onyenso at No. 10.

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It shows how massive Lanier’s addition would be for the Wildcats, but also just how much talent is left on the board — Kentucky has also expressed interest in Poplar, among others — should things fall through with the North Florida and BYU standouts.

CBS Sports says Jaxson Robinson should return to school

A bigger fan of Jaxson Robinson and selfishly want him to pull out of the draft to suit up in blue and white? It’s OK, we don’t blame you. And if you’re in that camp, you’ll love ESPN‘s update this week where the scoring standout was left off the mock draft completely in its list of top 58 picks and comes in at No. 87 overall in the list of best available players — nearly a full 29 spots outside the draft range.

That aligns with CBS Sports’ Kyle Boone‘s take, who says Robinson needs to withdraw and return to school.

“Robinson had a career year at BYU last season averaging a career-high 14.2 points per game while shooting 35.4% from 3-point range in Mark Pope’s run-and-gun offense. He’s since been linked to Kentucky with Pope now coaching the Wildcats. That might be a viable path for him after he showed off his smooth shooting stroke but by and large blended into the crowd elsewhere during the week in Chicago,” he wrote this week. “Legitimately tough decision to return to school and challenge to be an All-Conference player or hope to scoot into the second round and secure some guaranteed deal.”

A solid spot to be in for the Wildcats who would be in a phenomenal position with either scoring threat.

Reed Sheppard shines at CAA Pro Day

While we’re focused on Kentucky’s next potential crop of talent, how about the outgoing stars set to hear their names called on draft night in June? Reed Sheppard is expected to come off the board first, potentially inside the top three — he ranked third in ESPN’s latest mock draft to the Houston Rockets.

“Continuing to add shooting, either through trades or the draft, will likely be a priority after finishing toward the bottom of the league in that category last season,” they said of Sheppard potentially heading to the Rockets. “With that in mind, adding a sharpshooter such as Sheppard, who converted over half of his 3-point attempts and proved capable of playing on or off the ball, could be attractive. Sheppard’s unselfishness, feel for the game and sharp defensive instincts could make him a strong fit alongside the Rockets’ core moving forward.”

He certainly didn’t hurt himself after standing out at CAA’s Pro Day on Wednesday at the Los Angeles Lakers practice facility.

Antonio Reeves works out in Golden State

Where could the No. 1 per-game average scorer in John Calipari’s time at Kentucky land? Antonio Reeves worked out for the Golden State Warriors on Thursday, sources tell KSR.

With just one pick in 2024 — none in the first round — Golden State would be taking the sharpshooter from Chicago with the No. 52 overall selection.

This comes after Sam Vecenie of The Athletic called Reeves a potential top-40 pick in the draft after a strong showing at last week’s NBA Draft Combine.

“I’m also inching closer to an Antonio Reeves first round grade,” he wrote. “Not quite there, but he’s a top-40 guy for me. Awesome shooter that has real counters to what defenses present to him as a scorer. There’s just a real role for guys who can shoot like that. … He just kind of keeps rising up the board as I go through more and more draft guide profiles.”

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2024-06-12