Notes and tidbits surrounding the Kentucky Wildcats on the basketball recruiting trail this week:
• Rankings Recap: Kentucky came in at No. 2 in Scout's final team basketball recruiting rankings for 2014, just slightly behind Duke in the top spot. It marks the first time since John Calipari arrived in Lexington prior to the 2009-10 season that the Cats have not held the top spot, but UK still has a banner class coming to Lexington. Center/forward Karl Towns got a huge bump to the No. 4 position in the class, followed by forward Trey Lyles at No. 11, point guard Tyler Ulis at No. 20 and shooting guard Devin Booker at No. 29. With so many UK players returning from last year's Final Four squad, it appears the Cats are done with recruiting for 2014, although one scholarship still remains open.
• Meet Your Maker: Prior to having hip replacement surgery on Friday, Calipari made an important recruiting trip last weekend to see the No. 3 prospect in the Class of 2016, Thon Maker. UK had good company during the Adidas event in Duncanville, Texas, as Duke, Kansas and Louisville were also in the house to get a fresh look at the extremely athletic and skilled 7-footer from Virginia. Some have compared him to a young Kevin Garnett due to his ability to step out away from the basket and knock down the jumper with range. He is expected to be a top priority for the Cats in the sophomore class.
• Get In The Cage: Another elite sophomore big man told Scout's Arizona site, Wildcat Authority, that Kentucky is one of the top programs showing the most interest at this time. "Kentucky, Gonzaga, Washington, UCLA, USC, Arizona and San Diego State all have offered," said California forward/center M.J. Cage, the son of former NBA standout Michael Cage. "I am not sure who else is close to offering." The list could get long. The 6-10 Cage, who is rated No. 24 in the Class of 2016, helped lead his Mater Dei team to an undefeated state championship in California this season. He got off to a good start on the Nike EYBL circuit, averaging 6.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in the opening session. In one matchup against elite 2015 big man and fellow UK target Stephen Zimmerman, Cage pulled down six offensive rebounds.
• New UK Target: Dedric Lawson, a 6-8 power forward currently ranked No. 5 in the Class of 2016, has emerged as a major UK target out of talent-rich Memphis. The hometown Tigers have long been viewed as the leader, and Josh Pastner's program has already received a verbal commitment from his brother, four-star 2015 small forward K.J. Lawson, but it sounds like Coach Cal has made a strong early impression on him. Lawson helped Team Penny go 3-1 during the first weekend of the EYBL, averaging 17.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He had a monster 18-point, 16-rebound showing against the Albany City Rocks. The versatile forward has a story similar to former Cat Anthony Davis in that he retained excellent ball-handling skills after going through a growth spurt early in his high school career.
• Diallo Dialed In: Cheick Diallo, the No. 6 prospect in the Class of 2015, is receiving heavy attention from both Kentucky and Duke among a number of other top programs. The 6-9 center (whose first name is pronounced "Sheck") was impressive during the first leg of the EYBL, averaging 17.2 points for Team Scan. He turned in a pair of 20-point performances, including a 22-point, 11-rebound effort against Texas Elite. It's been tough to get a good read on Diallo's recruitment. The Mali native is not a fluent English speaker and rarely comments on his schools of interest. But some believe UK's recent hiring of Barry "Slice" Rohrssen, a Brooklyn native who has a strong recruiting reputiation in the northeast, could help with the New York prospect.
• Moore, Moore, Moore: UK assistant coach John Robic watched 2015 center Doral Moore at the Pitt Jam Fest. The 7-footer from Georgia is currently rated the No. 22 player in the junior class by Scout. Illinois, Ohio State, Indiana, Kansas, Louisville, Texas and Georgia Tech have all been expressing early interest. "I have been in contact with the assistant coaches, but Coach Calipari is supposed to call my dad and talk about everything," Moore told Scout's Brian Snow. "I like Kentucky and they have a good program."
• Matthews Watch: Kentucky 2015 verbal commitment Charles Matthews began the EYBL circuit with Meanstreets, the same program that produced Ulis and Davis, by averaging 12 points and 7.3 rebounds.