Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Calipari Free to Recruit in July, Cue the ‘Jaws’ Music
Kentucky fans might want to go ahead and send a fruit basket to the Nigerian basketball team.
You know, because after Nigeria eliminated the Dominican Republic from the Olympic Qualifying Tournament on Sunday night, Kentucky coach John Calipari was freed up to hit the recruiting trail in July.
In the words of one of my followers, @UK_MJ, “Cue the ‘Jaws’ music.”
Sure, Coach Cal still has to coach the Dominicans in an exhibition game Thursday night in Las Vegas against LeBron, Kobe and Team USA, but then he’ll be free and clear to start assembling another Murderer’s Row recruiting class to come to Lexington in 2013.
It will be interesting to see just where Calipari shows up in the coming days and weeks and who he’s watching.
But he will be watching, as opposed to coaching the Dominicans in Olympic preparation had they beaten Ike Diogu and Nigeria on Sunday.
Cal’s sure to be at the Peach Jam sometime after the event begins July 18 one year after landing Nerlens Noel to headline his 2012 class.
Twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison (who won’t be at the Peach Jam) have Kentucky among their Final Four, along with Maryland, Baylor and Villanova.
And honestly, who are you taking in that horse race?
The twins could announce by September, and we hope to have more in this space on their plans in the coming days.
Calipari is also in the mix for Julius Randle, James Young and Chris Walker, to name a few.
The 6-9 Randle, the No. 1 power forward in the Class of 2013, told reporters at the LeBron James Academy that he hoped to visit Kentucky and Ohio State “real soon.”
Although North Carolina, Duke, Kansas, Baylor and Texas figure to be some of the contenders for him as well.
Young, a 6-6 shooting guard from Troy, MI, told Evan Daniels of Scout.com that Kentucky was “the team to beat” in a recruitment that also includes Arizona, Kansas, Ohio State and Michigan State.
And the 6-9 Walker of Bonifay, Fla., who impressed NBA scouts at LeBron, seems to waiting for his official Kentucky offer before deciding what to do.
Florida, Louisville and Kansas are also in the mix.
Yet Walker told CatsIllustrated.com that he has spoken recently with Calipari and is expecting an offer sometime in July.
And then there’s the Andrew Wiggins issue.
One veteran NBA scout told SNY.tv that Wiggins was hands down the best high school player at the LeBron camp — better than Randle, better than Walker, better even than Jabari Parker, who just won a gold medal with the U.S. U17 team at the World Championship in Lithuania.
Wiggins, who is slated to be with Canada at the Nike Global Challenge beginning Friday in Washington, D.C., could reclassify to 2013 from 2014 and has Kentucky on his short list.
As reported here last night (or very early this morning), Wiggins and his inner circle will likely huddle at some point to decide definitively one way or the other whether he’ll stay in 2014 or move to 2013 — and thus be eligible for the 2014 NBA Draft.
Rob Fulford, Wiggins’ high school coach at Huntington (W.V.) Prep, says Calipari was the first major coach to watch Wiggins and Wiggins has visited campus several times already.
You do the math.
So though there’s a lot left to unfold, and you never know how all these moving parts work, but Kentucky is in the mix for the Harrisons, Randle, Walker, Young and, oh by the way, Andrew Wiggins.
It is summertime, after all.
So go ahead and cue the “Jaws” music.
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.