With the spring AAU circuit in the books and the results set in stone, here is a look at the 13 players that the Kentucky coaching staff will most definitely be targeting at the Nike EYBL Peach Jam:
CLASS of 2014
Howard Pulley Panthers #5
6-foot-0, 175-pound PG
Apple Valley, Minn.
Jones is the No. 2 overall prospect, but he may have been the best player throughout the regular season. The dynamic point guard led the EYBL regular season in points (22.8), assists (6.9), and steals (2.7) per game. Jones has his recruitment narrowed down to Kentucky, Kansas, Baylor, Duke, Michigan State, Ohio State, and his home state school Minnesota. UK head coach John Calipari seems to have backed off on his pursuit of the top rated point guard. That will be one thing to pay attention to when this July live period begins as UK's primary targets become more evident.
Oakland Soldiers #32
6-foot-6, 200-pound SF
Santa Ana, Calif.
Johnson is the No. 8 overall prospect and he is one of Kentucky's top targets in the class of 2014. Earning comparisons of former UK forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Johnson is an athletic wing who will be a natural glue guy in the college game, which is necessary at every level. Johnson is in the top ten in the EYBL regular season in three statistical categories: points (18.5), rebounds (9.8) and steals (1.8) per game. The west coast star is considering Kentucky, Arizona, UCLA, USC, Oregon, Florida, and Duke. Johnson is currently the only small forward to receive an offer from UK from the 2014 class and he announced last week that he plans to visit Lexington for Big Blue Madness on October 18.
Mac Irvin Fire #34
6-foot-9, 230-pound C
Alexander is the No. 6 overall prospect and one of the most dominate big men on the AAU circuit. He averaged a double-double in 18 games with 16 points and 11 rebounds per game. Alexander has expressed an interest in expanding his game to become a four, as apposed to the traditional center he is known as. John Calipari and his Kentucky coaching stuff is pitching the big man on the idea of developing into a Terrence Jones-type forward. UK, along with Michigan State and Illinois are battling it out for Alexander, although he is still considering a host of other schools.
Five-star center Jahlil Okafor. (FOX Sports Photo by Jeff Drummond.)
Mac Irvin Fire #15
6-foot-10, 260 pound C
Okafor is the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2014 class. The prized big man managed to play in just five games throughout the regular season of the EYBL as he has been battling an ankle injury all spring. In limited action, Okafor scored 15 points and grabbed 10.6 rebounds per game. The Chicago native recently trimmed his list of prospective schools to eight: Kentucky, Arizona, Baylor, Duke, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan State, and Ohio State. After playing up for the U19 USA team and being a key contributor to the team's gold medal performance at the FIBA World Championships, Okafor looks primed and ready to lead his Mac Irvin Fire squad to a run at a Peach Jam title.
Speice Indy Heat #41
6-foot-9, 210- pound PF
Lyles is the No. 4 prospect and the highest rated power forward in the class of 2014. He was only available for the second half of the regular season as he returned from a knee injury on May 3 that he suffered during his high school season at Arsenal Tech (IN). Lyles has made several visits to Kentucky, and the wildcats appear to be right there at the top of his list at this point. But Lyles has narrowed his list to Butler, Duke, Florida, Louisville, and UCLA, as well as UK. With Louisville receiving a commitment from Lyles' Speice Indy Heat teammate JaQuan Lyle last week, it may make Rick Pitino's program an appealing destination for the star forward. His recruitment may very well come down to a battle of bluegrass teams, and it will likely lead to some unwanted interaction between the two coaches during the Peach Jam this weekend as they get watch their prized target. Abdul-Malik Abu
Expressions Elite #0
6-foot-7, 235-pound PF
Abu is the No. 51 player in the 2014 class and has made quite an impact throughout the spring circuit and early summer months. The four-star prospect is a bit undersized for the four spot, but he makes up for it with his uncanny athletic ability and relentless motor. Averaging 14.6 points and 7.2 rebounds during the EYBL regular season, Abu is a new age prep star in the mold of a throw back basketball player. The Kentucky coaching staff has been in contact with Abu throughout the summer and will pay close attention to his game during this July live period. Abu has expressed major interest in John Calipari's program and would like to visit Lexington this fall, but that will not be an option if the wildcats do not extend that coveted offer.
California Supreme #24
6-foot-7, 200-pound PF
Cheatham is a four-star prospect ranked No. 62 overall. Kentucky has recently started contacting the forward, and for good reason. He has been a hot name throughout the spring circuit as he has rebounded the ball at the highest level. He was third overall in rebounds during the EYBL regular season, and he averaged 10.9 boards per game. His strong play against stiff competition has allowed for schools, like UK, to begin recruiting him. Thus far, Cheatham's recruitment has been limited, for the majority, to regional programs out west.
CLASS of 2015
Team Penny #14
6-foot-11, 200-pound PF/C
Labissiere saw his ranking skyrocket this summer when he jumped from a three-star prospect to the No. 4 player in his class. He is a versatile big man with a comfortable mid-range jumper. Labissiere, originally from Haiti, runs the floor well and possesses great athleticism to go along with his developed skill-set on the offensive end. He averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds during the regular season of the Nike EYBL. As his frame fills out he will continue to prove why he is one the elite players that the 2015 class has to offer. Calipari seems to agree, as Labissiere was the first player to receive a Kentucky offer from the class of 2015.
Jackson Tigers #33
6-foot-3, 175-pound G
As it stands, Malik Newman is the No. 2 overall prospect in the 2015 class. He is an elite combo guard with the ability to score the basketball as well as anyone in the country. Newman led the EYBL in points per game (24.7) during regular season play. He has a knack for scoring in a variety of ways, especially off the dribble. He is currently one of the hottest names in all of high school basketball after earning MVP honors at the FIBA World Championships for his U16 USA squad that took home a gold medal. After returning from Uruguay, John Calipari extended an offer to Newman and will definitely be watching closely throughout the July Live period, beginning at the Peach Jam. Being from Jackson, Miss., every SEC program is vying for the young guards services at the next level.
Mean Streets #1
6-foot-4, 185-pound PG
When it comes to elite guards in the 2015 class, Charles Matthews has to be in the conversation. Mathews is the No. 13 prospect and he has ideal size for his position at 6-4. His strong play in the regular season has earned him early offers from programs like Arizona, Illinois, DePaul, SMU, Wisconsin and more. Mathews averaged 12 points per game, and is drew heavy interest from the Kentucky coaching staff during the spring. The Chicago native earned a scholarship offer from UK in the days following the NBPA Top 100 Camp in June.
Cheick Diallo has been one of top players this spring and summer, regardless of class. (FOX Sports Photo by Jeff Drummond.)
Team Scan #13
6-foot-9, 210-pound C
Diallo is the No. 5 overall player in his class and he has made necessary strides in improving his development throughout the spring AAU circuit and early summer. The big man has been an imposing force down low, averaging 12.9 points and worked his way into the top ten in rebounding with 9.6 boards per contest. UK has yet to offer Diallo, but he holds more than 15 high major offers including Florida, UCONN, Arizona, Syracuse, and Louisville to name a few. It is expected that John Calipari and his coaching staff will be evaluating Diallo closey during this July live period and an offer could surface within the next couple of weeks.
Team Texas Elite
6-foot-9, 230-pound PF
Thomas is the No. 10 overall player and is among the upper echelon of big men in the 2015 class. As far as low post scorers, Elijah Thomas is near the top of high school basketball. He can score with both hands and has shown the ability to step out and knock down a variety of jumpers. The Texas big man averaged 15.5 points and 6.8 rebounds for his team during regular season play. Thomas holds offers from programs such as Louisville, Florida, Kansas, Ohio State and more. Kentucky has been targeting him for quite some time and an offer may be in the works as Coach Cal and his staff focus in on the 2015 class.
CLASS of 2016
Boo Williams #44
7-foot, 200-pound PF
Maker is among the upper echelon of the 2016 class and a case could be made that he is the best young prospect in the nation. Having just turned 16, Thon Maker proved that he belongs against competition of all ages during the spring AAU circuit averaging 8.4 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots per game during the EYBL regular season. With steady improvement during the summer, Maker should make even more of an impact for Boo Williams at the Peach Jam. The Sudan native is not concerned with the recruiting process just yet, but he should have a host of representatives from the nations top programs eyeing him at the Peach Jam and that will likely include members of the Kentucky coaching staff.