The 2014 Scout basketball rankings were updated on Tuesday, and it was with little surprise that the top of the board was highlighted by numerous Kentucky targets.
Not surprisingly, Canadian wing Andrew Wiggins holds the No. 1 ranking, but for how long? One thing we do know: it won't be another player who knocks him off that perch. Only reclassification could do that. Wiggins has been weighing the possibility of joining the Class of 2013 in an effort to expedite his road to the next level.
Many recruiting observers believe the battle for Wiggins, arguably the best amateur player in the world after a dominant showing this spring and summer, will boil down to Kentucky and Florida State.
Ascending to the No. 2 ranking is Minnesota point guard Tyus Jones, whose stock reached new levels after a great performance in the Nike EYBL. He averaged 25.8 points and 6.5 assists at the Peach Jam in July, drawing Chris Paul comparisons from Scout's Brian Snow and landing new offers from college hoops royalty UK and North Carolina.
Jones' recruitment appears a little more open at this stage than that of Wiggins. He is also considering programs like Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota and Ohio State with no clear-cut leader to date.
Kentucky fans will be watching closely to see if John Calipari can continue his sensational run of point guard recruiting, which has previously included Derrick Rose, Tyreke Evans, John Wall, Brandon Knight, Marquis Teague and N.C. State transfer Ryan Harrow. The Cats are also in position to land 2013's top point guard, Andrew Harrison of Texas.
Coming in at No. 3 is Texas lead guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who landed a UK offer after a tremendous showing this summer. One of the better athletes at his position, Mudiay is considering programs like Arizona, Baylor, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M.
Chicago has been very good to Calipari in recent years, yielding stars like Rose and recent NCAA Player of the Year Anthony Davis. It is home to the No. 4 prospect in the new rankings, center Jahlil Okafor, who many consider to be the best low-post scorer in the class.
The 6-foot-10, 270-pound Okafor frequently says "Everybody" when asked who he's been hearing from the most in his recruitment, but programs like Ohio State and Michigan State have been consistently mentioned as potential destinations. Kentucky could also be a major player following the success of Davis, who Okafor not only watched cut down the nets in New Orleans, but also became the youngest player to win an Olympic basketball gold medal this month with Team USA in London.
Very few players helped themselves more than Noah Vonleh this spring and summer. The No. 5 player in the new Scout 2014 rankings is a long, active combo forward playing at New Hampton School in New Hampshire. He teamed with Mudiay to help the 2014 USA Red squad win the recent adidas Nations title.
Vonleh, who claims to be "wide open" in the process, has been drawing interest from UK, Louisville, UConn, Indiana, North Carolina, Arizona, Syracuse and UCLA, among others. He fits the mold of a Calipari-type power forward with a high-degree of attention to defensive and rebounding effort.
Coming in at No. 6 is another Chicago big man, Cliff Alexander, who has been surging up the rankings over the last calendar year. The 6-foot-9, 240-pound Alexander had a particularly strong showing at the NBA Players Association Top 100 Camp in June, punishing defenders (and the University of Virginia rims) by dunking anything within his reach.
Alexander has frequently referred to Kentucky as a "dream school," and would appear to be one of the better bets for the Cats in this class. Michigan State, Indiana and Louisville also pop up on his radar, along with a host of other top programs.
Florida center Dakari Johnson, Indiana forward Trey Lyles, Wisconsin forward Kevon Looney and Justise Winslow round out the new Top 10. Johnson has drawn regular contact with the UK staff over the last year, while Lyles, a one-time Indiana commitment who re-opened his recruitment, appears to be a new UK target after a tremendous showing this summer.
D'Angelo Russell, a Louisville native who will be playing at Montverde Academy in Florida this season, comes in at No. 12 on the list. The 6-4 combo guard was excellent at the NBA Top 100 Camp and made an unofficial visit to UK this summer that reportedly went very well. He could be shaping up to be a major recruiting battle between Calipari and Rick Pitino at Louisville.
For a complete look at the new 2014 rankings, CLICK HERE.
UK targets highlight new 2014 rankings
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