Kentucky Basketball class of 2023 recruiting Big Board
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Kentucky Basketball class of 2023 recruiting Big Board

Article written by:Zack GeogheganZack Geoghegan


<small>Baye Fall (left) standing next to JJ Taylor after being named co-MVPs at the Pangos All-Star Game.<small>
[caption id="attachment_355793" align="aligncenter" width="1470"] Baye Fall (left) standing next to JJ Taylor after being named co-MVPs at the Pangos All-Star Game.[/caption] Recruiting throughout the first half of the month of June was already a madhouse, and it's only going to get even more ridiculous starting on Tuesday, June 15. Beginning right at midnight, college coaches will be allowed to reach out and make contact with members from the class of 2023, something they had not been able to do up until this point. Don't expect them to wait until Tuesday morning to start reaching out, either. Calls will start going through the second the clock strikes midnight. Schools have still been able to make contact by talking with high school and AAU coaches, but now the communication can be streamlined straight from college coach to recruit, making the ability to develop relationships much, much easier. During this time, coaches will reach out to prospects on their big board, establishing future visits while possibly extending scholarship offers to those they've had their eye on for a while. The class of 2023 has received a bit of the short end of the stick for the last 17 months or so considering all the restrictions that COVID-19 imposed on recruiting, meaning there is ground to be made up on both sides. There are surely dozens of prospects who don't currently have the recognition they deserve and this will be a perfect opportunity for them to showcase the work they've been putting in since last March. Kentucky head coach John Calipari and the rest of his staff have already gotten to work since the live period opened back up at the beginning of June and they'll have their hands even more full starting at midnight. So who should Kentucky fans be keeping an eye on as rising high school juniors can soon make contact with coaches? Let's talk about them. Below is a list of class of 2023 recruits that Kentucky has had some sort of interest in. *All player rankings are courtesy of 247 Sports*


D.J. Wagner, No. 1 overall in class: 6-foot-3, 165 pounds - Camden (NJ) The prize of the entire classic, D.J. Wagner (or Dajuan Wagner Jr.) might be the top overall player in high school right now--regardless of age. The son of Dajuan Wagner, a former Memphis product who was coached by John Calipari during the 2001-02 season, the younger Wagner has some serious ties to Kentucky. His father was the No. 6 overall pick in the 2002 NBA Draft and played about four seasons in the league before injuries forced him out. D.J.'s grandfather, Wilt Wagner, was the basketball operations coordinator under Calipari at Memphis from 2000-06. D.J. has long been considered a Kentucky lean considering his connections to Calipari. He already holds three Crystal Ball picks in favor of Kentucky, per 247Sports. Outside of taking the professional route, Wagner feels like a good bet to land with the 'Cats at some point, especially with the incoming NIL rules that should be set in place sometime this summer. Elijah Fisher, No. 4 overall in class: 6-foot-6, 195 pounds - Crestwood Prep (Canada) The top-ranked shooting guard in the entire class, Elijah Fisher is going to be a big-time recruit moving forward. Travis Branham of 247 Sports reported back in March that Kentucky had made contact with Fisher's coaches, as had Syracuse. Fisher hails from Ontario, Canada, the same region that produced future Kentucky players and eventual NBA hoopers in Jamal Murray and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. He already holds nearly 20 offers including ones from Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Ole Miss, Oregon, Texas A&M, USC, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, West Virginia, and Western Kentucky along with a few others. JJ Taylor, No. 8 overall in class: 6-foot-8, 185 pounds - Kenwood Academy (IL) There is no offer from Kentucky at the moment, but J.J. Taylor told KSR at the Pangos All-American Camp down in Las Vegas last week that he's "looking forward" to picking one up. After watching him play in person, I would say it won't be much longer before it comes in. Taylor is one of a few recruits who are still hearing from the likes of Ron "Chin" Coleman or Orlando Antigua after those two made the move from coaching at Illinois to Kentucky. Taylor has stayed in communication with Coach Coleman through the transition--in fact, Coleman was the very first college coach to reach out to Taylor. A trip to visit Kentucky will likely happen at some point this summer. Even though he's 6-foot-8, Taylor wants to play like a guard and has the scoring ability to do as such. His five-star status has been well-earned thus far. Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn, No. 10 overall in class: 6-foot-0, 165 pounds - Real Salt Lake Academy (UT) A kid who has described Kentucky as his "dream school", Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn told Dushawn London of 247Sports back in December that he's been in contact with Wildcat assistant coach Bruiser Flint. He also told London that he would "start crying" if he ever hauled in an offer from Kentucky. While he currently plays his high school ball down in Utah, he's originally from the Indiana area and has already picked up offers from the home-state Hoosiers along with Purdue. Kanaan Carlyle, No. 18 overall in class: 6-foot-0, 170 pounds - Milton (GA) It would appear that the recruitment of Kanaan Carlyle by Kentucky has slowed down ever since former assistant coach Joel Justus made the move to Arizona State. KSR spoke with Carlyle's head coach at Milton High School, Allen Whitehart, on Monday to get an update on Carlyle's recruitment, who said that outside of Justus, there has been no Kentucky contact. Justus has been gone from the Kentucky staff since late April. That doesn't mean the two sides can't rekindle that relationship once Tuesday hits, but as of now, there hasn't been much communication. KJ Lewis, No. 21 overall in class: 6-foot-4, 185 pounds - Chapin (TX) A still-rising prospect, K.J. Lewis has been in contact with Kentucky and Coach Coleman "almost every day", he told KSR down in Vegas last week. He also added that he's hoping to take an unofficial visit to Lexington this summer. He's already been down to see UTEP earlier this month. Arizona, Houston, Texas, TCU, Kansas, and New Mexico State are the other schools after him the hardest right now. Lewis is a two-way guard with an improving skillset. He's an absolute stud on the defensive end and is insanely athletic on both sides of the court. If he can add a pure shooting touch to his game, there's no reason to believe he won't be a top 10 recruit by the time his senior season of high school rolls around. Bronny James, No. 30 overall in class: 6-foot-2, 165 pounds - Sierra Canyon (CA) The recruitment of LeBron James' son, Bronny James, got a little bit more interesting with the expected retirement of Duke's Mike Krzyzewski coming at the end of the upcoming season. It's tough to get a read on just how good Bronny is at this point, but he does hold a four-star rating by 247 Sports and plays at the popular Sierra Canyon out in California. He recently recovered from a knee injury that had kept him out for the last several months so we should have a better idea of his potential moving into the summer. Calipari even said years ago that Bronny does hold an offer from Kentucky after it was reported by multiple ESPN writers. And of course, we all know that LeBron and Calipari are buddies. It's a situation to monitor going forward. Marvel Allen, No. 38 overall in class: 6-foot-4, 190 pounds - Calvary Christian Academy (FL) It's been over two years since Marvel Allen said he was a big fan of John Calipari and the Kentucky program. That being said, Allen is a top 40 player in his class and holds an offer from Illinois. Offers from LSU, Stanford, USF, and Virginia Tech have already come through, as well. Reed Sheppard, No. 65 overall in class: 6-foot-2, 170 pounds - North Laurel (KY) The in-state product that everyone wants to talk about, Reed Sheppard is going to be a hot commodity this summer. The son of former Kentucky great Jeff Sheppard, Reed has already been making a name for himself during summer events and tournaments against top competition. He told KSR back in April that he had been in contact with Kentucky although no offer appears to have come through at this time. Sheppard already holds scholarships from Iowa and Texas A&M along with a few mid-major programs. Don't let the three-star ranking fool you though, the North Laurel prospect is going to make waves this summer and the 'Cats will surely get involved.


Omaha Biliew, No. 5 overall: 6-foot-8, 200 pounds - Montverde Academy (FL) The interest between Omaha Biliew and Kentucky has sparked up over the last several weeks, with a report coming from Eric Bossi of 247 Sports that the top-five recruit plans to visit Lexington sometime in June. He's another prospect who holds an offer from Illinois, which came during the time when Coach Coleman and Coach Antigua were on the Fighting Illini staff, although one from Kentucky has not yet come through. Biliew already has scholarships from the likes of Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, and Western Kentucky, as well. Most notably, Biliew will team up with current Kentucky commit Skyy Clark for the upcoming season at Monteverde Academy in Florida. Kwame Evans Jr., No. 6 overall in class: 6-foot-8, 190 pounds - Baltimore Polytechnic Institute (MD) One of the top 10 ranked prospects from this class, Kwame Evans Jr. already has over a dozen offers with plenty more expected to come this summer. A native of Maryland, the in-state Terrapins are considered the leader as of right now, but bigger-name schools are slowly getting involved, such as Memphis and Oklahoma State. Brandon Gardner, No. 39 overall in class: 6-foot-7, 185 pounds - Gray Academy (SC) Kentucky has been in contact with Brandon Garner as recently as May, according to Travis Branham of 247 Sports, and he is another prospect who holds an offer from Illinois. Gardner actually holds over a dozen offers already, including ones from programs such as Georgetown, Clemson, LSU, Murray State, South Carolina, Oklahoma State, and Wake Forest, among others. He performed quite well at the Pangos Camp, too. A native of South Carolina, Garnder recently went on an unofficial visit earlier this month to see the Gamecocks. Kaleb Glenn, No. 44 overall in class: 6-foot-6, 200 pounds - Louisville Male (KY) Similar to Reed Sheppard, get ready to hear the name Kaleb Glenn more and more often. While it's tough to know right now if Kentucky is as interested in Glenn as they are Sheppard, there is no denying that Glenn is going to attract some high-profile offers as he continues to develop. He's arguably the most college-ready player in the state, regardless of class, in terms of his frame and body. He is a Louisville kid, however, and the hometown Cardinals has already jumped on his recruitment with an unofficial visit recently taking place. Cincinnati, Western Kentucky, Iowa State, and West Virginia are also involved. Jalen Hooks, No. 55 overall in class: 6-foot-6, 180 pounds - Crispus Attucks (IN) One of the under-the-radar prospects mentioned in this article, Jalen Hooks had a decent showing at the Pangos Camp last week, making the top 60 cut as one of the best players in attendance across the star-studded event. He's already been on several visits to open the month of June, including Butler and Xavier with trips to Cincinnati, Missouri, and Marquette scheduled for last week. He will be at Illinois on Monday, as well, which is important to note because Coach Coleman was the one who recruited Hooks when he was coaching at Illinois. Hooks told KSR at the Pangos Camp that the communication between his camp and Coleman has been consistent and that a visit to Kentucky is expected for some time this summer. Justin Edwards, No. 59 overall in class: 6-foot-6, 160 pounds - Imhotep Institute (PA) Back in November, Justin Edwards told Travis Branham of 247 Sports that Kentucky is a "dream school" of his and that he held offers from Seton Hall, Virginia Tech, and DePaul. He has since hauled in offers from Penn State, Tennessee, Miami (FL), and Oklahoma State. He plays his AAU ball for Team Final alongside the top class of 2022 targets in Emoni Bates, Jalen Duren, and Dereck Lively II with the potential that he could shoot up in the rankings as the summer goes along. John McCrear, UNRANKED: 6-foot-9, 195 pounds - Lexington Catholic (KY) The nephew of Kentucky Football associate head coach Vince Marrow, John McCrear took an unofficial visit to Kentucky last week. While he might be one of just two unranked prospects in this post, the Lexington Catholic forward is on the brink of making a name for himself throughout the remainder of his high school career. He plays on the Griffin Elite AAU program, possesses a 7-foot-2 wingspan, and recently played his high school ball with Emoni Bates up at Ypsi Prep Academy in Michigan. Xavier and Morehead State are rumored to be in the mix for McCrear as of right now.


Baye Fall, No. 11 overall in class: 6-foot-10, 205 pounds - Lutheran-parker (CO) Another top-ranked prospect with an Illinois offer, Baye Fall told KSR down at the Pangos Camp that he is still hearing from the coach who contacted him at the Fighting Illini, Coach Coleman, and that the communication has continued throughout Coleman's transition to Kentucky. There have been some rumblings that Fall might skip college altogether and opt for the professional route, but he told KSR last week that going to college was very much on the table. By the time it's all said and done, Fall could very well be a top-five recruit in his class. Jalen Lewis, No. 24 overall in class: 6-foot-8, 215 pounds - Bishop O'Dowd (CA) It was just seven days ago that Jalen Lewis told Jason Jordan of Sports Illustrated that he's been hearing the most from Michigan, Kentucky, North Carolina, Arkansas, Cal, USC, and Stanford. Expect that communication to pick up starting at midnight. He is a tad undersized as a modern-day center, which has resulted in Lewis's ranking by recruiting services to go all over the place. 247 Sports has him at No. 24 nationally while Rivals has him at No. 10 with ESPN slotting him all the way up to No. 2 in the country. Kentucky might be a bit wary of recruiting California kids considering the program's track record of them transferring away, but Lewis will be a top target, nonetheless. Cyr Malonga, UNRANKED: 6-foot-11, 205 pounds - Evangel Christian School (KY) Keeping the Illinois connection flowing, Cyr Malonga plays his high school ball at Evangel Christian School up in Louisville and has received interest from the Fighting Illini, Georgetown, Georgia, Mississippi State, Western Illinois, Eastern Michigan, Florida State, LSU, Michigan, Nevada, and Arizona State. The actual amount of interest from Kentucky's side is unknown right now, but popular highlight video creator, Frankie Vision, tweeted out on June 10 that Malonga would take a visit to Kentucky sometime this month. He is originally from the Republic of Congo but enrolled at school in Louisville in January of 2020.

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