Karl Towns got the ball rolling on Kentucky's 2014 basketball recruiting class Tuesday with his verbal commitment to the Wildcats, giving John Calipari a centerpiece to another potential top-ranked haul.
As the Big Blue Nation continues to celebrate its lastest five-star commitment, thoughts have quickly turned to who might be joining Towns in 2014. Calipari's staff has already established relationships with a handful of the other elite prospects in the junior class, and a few of them have already made visits to Lexington.
Here's a look at five players who may be most likely to wind up Towns' teammates at UK:
TYUS JONES: The Minnesota point guard moved up to the No. 1 spot in his class after Canadian forward Andrew Wiggins opted to re-classify to 2013. The 6-foot Jones is a dynamic scorer off the bounce and from 3-point range, as well as one of the best floor generals regardless of class in high school basketball. There's a bit of Brandon Knight to his game and overall makeup, minus the size. Duke, Michigan State and Ohio State are thought to be the Cats' primary competition for his services.
EMMANUEL MUDIAY: There should be some hearty debate, perhaps even among the UK staff, about which point guard should be the priority in the junior class. Is it Jones or is it Mudiay, who is ranked No. 2 overall? The one thing that could shift the argument in Mudiay's direction is his size (6-3) and athleticism. Calipari prefers tall, long guards, and very few backcourt players in the country can match Mudiay's athleticism. Kentucky's last opponent, the Baylor Bears, could wind up as the Cats' toughest competition. Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, TCU and SMU are also in the mix.
JAHLIL OKAFOR: The top center prospect in the junior class is a true low-post player with advanced offensive skills and could be a good complement to Towns' ability to play the face-up game. Okafor (6-10, 270) is also from Chicago, where Calipari has established strong ties due to coaching the immensely-popular Derrick Rose and last year's national player of the year, Anthony Davis. An interesting twist with Okafor is the lure of the often talked-about, seldom-seen "package deal." He and Jones are close friends and have discussed playing for the same college. Duke, Michigan State and Ohio State are UK's biggest challengers.
CLIFF ALEXANDER: The Windy City is home to the top two big men in the junior class. It will be interesting to see if Whitney Young's Okafor can hold off Curie Metropolitan's Alexander for bragging rights at the end of the season. The 6-9, 245-pound Alexander is currently ranked No. 4 overall for 2014. He was one of the brightest stars on the summer AAU circuit, showing an aggressive style of play on both ends of the floor. Offensively, he tormented rims across the country with his desire to finish with authority. Alexander was one of the players who visited "Big Blue Madness" with Towns in October. Tom Izzo's Spartans are thought to be a strong contender, as well as the home state Illini. If UK were to land Alexander, that would likely mean Jones and Okafor are no longer in play.
TREY LYLES: The one-time Indiana commitment saw his recruitment blow up after a tremendous AAU showing this summer, and Kentucky quickly found its way onto his list of favorites. After the 6-9, 210-pound power forward visited Lexington for "Big Blue Madness," many suggested the Wildcats were his new leader, although the Indy prospect has not acknowledged that publicly. Duke, Florida, North Carolina, N.C. State, Butler and Stanford are also in the mix for the nation's No. 5 overall prospect.
Others to watch: Florida shooting guard D'Angelo Russell (No. 10); Indiana point guard Jaquan Lyle (No. 13); Minnesota shooting guard Rashad Vaughn (No. 14); Florida point guard Joel Berry (No. 15); California swingman Stanley Johnson (No. 26); Kentucky combo forward Shane Hall (No. 62).
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