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Cam Boozer intrigued by Kentucky, but stresses it's 'whole new recruiting process' under Mark Pope

Jack PIlgrimby:Jack Pilgrim05/26/24

2025 five-star forward Cameron Boozer made headlines to open the spring by saying Kentucky was a “completely different program” under Mark Pope following John Calipari’s departure. He also added that Coach Cal compared his move to Fayetteville to a high-profile business relocating: “Same coach, just moving headquarters,” he said.

After being seen as a sneaky darkhorse for the son of Duke legend Carlos Boozer, Kentucky was off to a shaky start with the consensus No. 2 overall prospect in the rising senior class, to put it lightly.

Positive movement with Kentucky

As the dust has settled, though, the tone has shifted ever so slightly for the better, Pope reaching out to the five-star prospect’s mother to begin laying the foundation in the Boozers’ recruitment alongside his twin brother and fellow five-star Cayden Boozer.

“We haven’t really spoken yet, but (Coach Pope) talked to my mom earlier,” Cam Boozer said. “We’ll see what happens there. … Like I said before, it’s still a whole new recruiting process. I haven’t really spoken to him and really don’t know what he is about. I don’t know the playing style he runs or anything like that so it’s still a whole new process if he were to reach out (to me).”

The good news? Lexington left a good impression when the Boozers officially visited back in September — their first trip of the recruiting cycle — so Kentucky isn’t totally starting from scratch here.

Pope has some ground to make up, but he’s got something to work with.

“Kentucky has one of the best facilities I‘ve seen,” the No. 2 overall prospect told KSR. “I haven’t really seen much of their playing style, but I’m sure he’s a great coach. We’ll see where that goes.”

Recruiting updates elsewhere

How are things going elsewhere in his recruitment? Not much has changed since we spoke to Boozer in Memphis for EYBL Session I, the five-star still tight-lipped on visits and decision timetables.

He told KSR he had a top-secret visit planned in the near future to open the spring, but still couldn’t reveal where or when that’d be.

“You’ll have to see,” he said.

What about a potential decision?

“Um, you’ve got to see, man. Got to see,” Boozer added, only confirming he has a plan in place for an announcement at some point.

Poker face, calm and collected. No tipping his hand in any direction. He was willing, though, to reveal who is prioritizing him at this stage of his recruitment, finally including the Wildcats in that list after previously leaving them off in Memphis.

“Duke, Florida, Miami, Michigan, Arkansas is in there,” he said. “Kentucky might get in there a little bit, those are the main schools. And UNC also.”

Building relationships

As for what he’ll be looking for when the time does come to narrow things down and inch closer toward a decision, trust will go a long way for the 6-10 forward out of Miami.

“Being able to trust the coach, having a coach that believes in me,” Boozer said. “Being in a system that I like and somewhere where I can see myself developing hopefully for the NBA if that’s where I end up. Those are the main things, and making sure my mom is comfortable too.”

Boozer is currently leading the EYBL in scoring and rebounding, putting up 24.5 points and 12.9 rebounds per contest while adding 3.3 assists on 60.5% shooting and 84.1% at the line in 29.0 minutes per game. There hasn’t been a more dominant player night in and night out on the circuit, constantly producing at the highest level every time out on the floor.

He did it all last weekend with college coaches sitting courtside for the first live period of the spring, Mark Pope and his staff included among onlookers.

“It’s great being able to play in front of all of these scouts,” he told KSR. “It’s a great opportunity for everyone in the gym. You notice all of them, how could you not? During the game (you don’t see them), but after or before — well, maybe if it’s a 30-point blowout you might look. But you don’t notice during the game, though.”

What has he been looking to prove?

“Just that I’m a competitor and I’m always out there to win,” he added. “We have a great team, a winning team. I think that’s the main thing I show.”

Impact on coaching changes

Coach Cal leaving for Arkansas and Mark Pope replacing him at Kentucky dominated the national conversation back in April, but the coaching carousel wasn’t limited to the Razorbacks and Wildcats. How did that impact Boozer’s decision and how he navigates the home stretch of his recruitment in what is certain to be a hectic summer and fall before the early signing period?

“When Cal left for Arkansas we kept the same relationship we had, it’s just at a new school so you kind of have to reevaluate the situation. The same thing with Pope going to Kentucky, it will be a whole new evaluation. It definitely does change things, and makes it a little more difficult, but I would say it’s still the same. … (Schools with familiarity may have an advantage) to an extent, but I don’t know. Not that much, I’d say. I think it’s more the relationship you have with the people, not really where they are.”

One thing you can count on: Boozer’s father won’t be calling the shots, no matter how badly Duke wants him to suit up in Durham or how much the average college basketball fan assumes the twins will be following in his footsteps with the Blue Devils.

“He just wants me to make the right decision for me,” he said. “I’m grateful that I’m not in a situation where I have to take care of my parents, or my parents push me a certain way in off-the-court stuff. I’m grateful for that because it puts me in a better situation for my future and what is best for me.”

How Boozer will make his decision

Instead, he’ll be focusing on the coaching staff that builds the best relationship with him and lays out a plan to push him to become the best version of himself and to the NBA.

“Just someone that seems genuine,” Boozer said. “You can tell when someone is being real and what they’re there for versus when they’re not being genuine. That’s really it, it’s about the trust factor for me. … It’s not really pressure, but the decision is definitely hard to make. I will say that.”

The door is cracked for Pope and his staff. We’ll see just how hard they decide to pursue that opening.

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2024-06-20