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Mark Pope watched Jasper Johnson, Team USA win gold in Argentina

On3 imageby:Tyler Thompson06/10/24


Lexington’s own Jasper Johnson is a gold medalist. On Sunday, Johnson and the USA Basketball U18 team beat Argentina 110-70 to win the FIBA U18 AmeriCup for the seventh straight year.

The former Woodford County star (who now plays at Link Academy in Missouri) had 19 points in the championship game on 7-11 (63.6%) from the field and 4-8 (50%) from three-point range, along with 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 turnovers, and a steal in 21 minutes. It was his best performance in the event, in which he averaged 10 points per game on 51.5% shooting.

Kentucky head coach Mark Pope had a front-row seat for the action in Buenos Aires, arriving on Friday in time for the quarterfinals. In addition to Johnson, one of Kentucky’s top targets in the 2025 class, Pope got to see three more prospects: five-star shooting guard Trey McKenney (No. 12 overall), four-star small forward Nate Ament (No. 15), and four-star small forward Shelton Henderson (No. 43). Here are all of their averages over six games:

7Trey McKenney618.826/65 40.0%5/24 20.8%8/10
12Shelton Henderson618.121/40
8Jasper Johnson615.923/45 51.1%11/26
10Nate Ament68.77/17 41.2%2/8

Here are Johnson’s highlights from the event:

Before leaving Argentina, Pope got a run in this morning and spotted a familiar sight: “Kentucky,” lit up in blue atop a pizza shop.

NBPA Top 100 Camp is underway

That might be the most of Kentucky Pope sees for a little bit. The NBPA Top 100 Camp tipped off on Sunday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. The top 100 high school basketball players in the country are showing off their skills in the event, which coincides with an NCAA evaluation period. On Tuesday and Wednesday, college coaches will be allowed in the building to scout, meaning Pope and his staff will be hard at work recruiting the next class of Cats.

Among the Kentucky targets in attendance at the NBPA Top 100 camp: four-star small forward Tounde Yessoufou, four-star guard Davion Hannah, and four-star center Malachi Moreno. Moreno, of course, is the top player in the state of Kentucky. The 7-footer is heading into his senior year at Great Crossing in Georgetown and is No. 17 overall in On3’s latest 2025 rankings. That’s higher than all of the other services, which On3 National Basketball Recruiting Analyst Jamie Shaw explained this morning.

Moreno can play with his back to the basket, he has a go-to move he is comfortable with over his left shoulder and he has patience and touch. Where he will need to continue developing is with the strength. He will need to continue establishing his base and core which will help keep him from getting knocked off his spots. He will also need to continue working on his hand and grip strength. While he has big hands, at times in the paint, smaller guys simply can knock the ball loose.

Moreno has touch on his jump shot, but the release and the shot load can be erratic. This leads to flat shot arcs and shots missing left and right. While he can make a jump shot at this point, he will need to clean up the mechanics and consistency. I think long-term, there is something there and shooting could become a part of his game.

Jamie Shaw on Malachi Moreno

That’s just a small part of Shaw’s writeup on Moreno, so for more, click here. We’ll have coverage of who Pope and his staff are focusing on starting tomorrow.

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