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In-state targets Jasper Johnson, Malachi Moreno visiting Kentucky today

Zack Geogheganby:Zack Geoghegan06/20/24


When Mark Pope was first introduced as the head coach of Kentucky men’s basketball, he harped on recruiting players who would be proud to wear the name on the front of the jersey. And who better to prioritize than the top two 2025 prospects from the Bluegrass?

According to KSR’s Jack Pilgrim and Brandon Ramsey, five-star point guard Jasper Johnson and four-star center Malachi Moreno will be on campus today for an unofficial visit where they’ll sit in on Kentucky’s practice. Pope and the new staff are heavily recruiting both of the in-state talents.

Johnson, who hails from Lexington and played his first two high school seasons at Woodford County in Versailles, KY before transferring to Link Academy (MO) last season, is ranked No. 10 overall by the On3 Industry Ranking. Moreno currently suits up for Great Crossing in Georgetown, KY, and is ranked No. 33 overall.

This will be the second visit in three days for Johnson, who was also on campus on Tuesday. The dangerous 6-foot-4 scorer even came on KSR during Wednesday’s edition of the show to talk about his experience, Coach Pope, and his overall recruitment. Every assistant on the UK staff is actively recruiting the legacy prospect.

“I liked it a lot. Pope gave me a message that he really is prioritizing me and he wants to coach me,” Johnson said on KSR. “I really liked seeing their offense in practice, seeing a lot of new faces. They’ve got a whole new team. I’ll be very interested to see how they do this season, but I really enjoyed my visit.”

Johnson is going to let his recruitment ride throughout the summer. He has upcoming official visits starting this weekend to Alabama (June 22) and Illinois (June 24). North Carolina, Auburn, Baylor, Arkansas, and Louisville remain in the mix, as well. But Kentucky is well-positioned going into the summer.

As for Moreno, the 7-footer was a constant figure at Rupp Arena this past season where he attended games with John Calipari running the show. But Pope and multiple assistants have already watched him play in person multiple times over the last couple of months. Pope even reached out to him directly to establish a connection. Today will be Moreno’s first in-person interaction with the new Kentucky staff.

Moreno does not currently have any additional visits scheduled at this time, but that will likely change as the summer rolls along. This spring, he’s been offered by Louisville, Illinois, and North Carolina while the likes of Indiana and Iowa are also in contention.

The state of Kentucky continues to churn out quality high school basketball players. Pope is looking to capitalize on that quickly.

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