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Jasper Johnson schedules two official visits following trip to Kentucky

Zack Geogheganby:Zack Geoghegan06/19/24

ZGeogheganKSR

It’s no secret that Lexington native Jasper Johnson is a priority recruiting target for new Kentucky head coach Mark Pope. The five-star point guard even said as much during his Wednesday morning appearance on KSR. Johnson was on campus Tuesday for an unofficial visit where he got to talk with Pope in person and watch the team’s second practice of the offseason.

But, as is the case with elite high school prospects — even when it comes to ones in your own backyard — there will be plenty of suitors after their talents. During his interview with KSR, Johnson acknowledged that his recruitment has opened up a bit more since he announced a Top 10 back in January. Coaching changes across the country have altered the college basketball landscape, and thus his recruitment.

With that in mind, Johnson has scheduled a pair of official visits over the coming days to learn more about his options. He’ll head to Alabama on June 22-23 and then Illinois on June 24-25.

“I take a visit to Alabama this weekend,” Johnson said on KSR. “I go to Illinois I think Monday and Tuesday right after that. I’m not sure in the future after that, but I have those two visits planned right now.”

The Crimson Tide has actually been on him longer than anyone else, UK included. Head coach Nate Oats extended Johnson his first-ever high-major offer nearly two years ago. But Illinois is a new one, although not surprising. Former Kentucky assistant Orlando Antigua — now on staff with the Illini — was the lead recruiter for Johnson with the Wildcats. That relationship has held firm during Antigua’s transition to Champagne.

“We got really close, me and Coach Orlando,” Johnson said before adding that Antigua is one of the main reasons for the Illinois official visit. “Yeah definitely. I like the program as well but him being there gives them a plus for sure. But we were really close.”

So far, Johnson has taken official visits to West Virginia (Sept. 2023), Missouri (Nov. 2023), North Carolina (Feb. 2024), Kentucky (Feb. 2024), and Auburn (Feb. 2024). The Tarheels are a team to watch. His trip to Kentucky a few months ago happened while John Calipari was still head coach. Now at Arkansas, Calipari continues to recruit Johnson.

“He talked to me since my sophomore season, so he’s been really interested in me, always recruiting me then,” Johnson said of Calipari. “We built a good relationship. Seeing him leave was really a surprise to me but we still communicate to each other.

“Coach Cal, Coach Chin (Coleman), they’re making their switch to go to Arkansas. They still contacting me, trying to get me to go on a visit up there. Might have to plan that soon.”

Don’t be surprised if Kentucky receives another official visit this fall from Johnson, either, possibly for a gameday atmosphere. Johnson is also staying in Lexington for most of the summer, so quick trips to campus won’t be difficult if he chooses to do so.

Keep in mind that this recruitment could go on for a bit longer. Johnson said a commitment might not come until next spring. But Kentucky remains in a great spot going into the summer.

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2024-07-19