NCB On The Trail: Kentucky Wildcats

Kentucky's No. 1 class officially signs

November, 14, 2014
Nov 14
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Kentucky head coach John Calipari announced the signing of three ESPN 100 recruits on Friday, giving the Wildcats coach the No. 1 class on ESPN.com.

Heading to Lexington next season will be the top-ranked point guard Isaiah Briscoe (No. 13 overall), the No. 5 center Skal Labissiere (No. 11) and the No. 12 shooting guard Charles Matthews (No. 44).

"All three of these players had dreams to play at Kentucky," Calipari said on the school's website. "Those dreams are now a reality. We didn't have to beg any of them. They wanted to be here. They are all different, yet collectively they will complement each other nicely. It's a great start to what could be a super class again."

Calipari's recruiting classes have finished No. 1 (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013) or No. 2 (2012, 2014) every year since he took over in Lexington.
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Isaiah Briscoe, the 13th ranked overall prospect and top rated point guard in the ESPN 100, committed to Kentucky live on ESPNU's Recruiting Nation signing day special on Thursday night. Briscoe, who stars at Roselle Catholic High School, is coming off a huge summer after leading the New Jersey Playaz to the EYBL championship at the Peach Jam.

Isaiah Briscoe, the No. 13 prospect in the 2015 ESPN 100, told ESPN he has cut his list of schools down to three: St. John's, UConn and Kentucky. Seton Hall, Rutgers and Missouri were cut from his list.

Very few players showed as well as Briscoe in the offseason. The Union, New Jersey, native changed his body and converted to a legitimate point guard, making plays for others as he demonstrated the ability to lead the New Jersey Playaz to a Nike Elite Youth Basketball League (EYBL) championship at the Peach Jam.

As we approach the early signing period (Nov. 12-19), Briscoe discussed each school.


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With the recent commitment of Daniel Giddens to Ohio State, 33 of the top 100 players in the Class of 2015 already have verbally committed, even though the July evaluation period is just beginning. These prospects sometimes get less media attention because they have already made their decisions, but they are still being constantly evaluated by our staff.

Let’s take a look at five committed prospects from the 2015 class who are performing well and could see jumps in their rankings:


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As ESPN.com's countdown of the top college basketball coaches continues, here’s a look at the recruiting philosophy of Kentucky’s John Calipari:


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Malik Newman’s name has been at the top of the charts since his freshman year in high school. Let’s take a look at what makes him special on the court and who is recruiting him the hardest.

What position is Newman?


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After a long and detailed conversation about the nation’s best prospects, Ivan Rabb holds on to his No. 1 spot as we launch the new ESPN 100 for the Class of 2015.

Why he is No. 1: Many factors go into being tabbed the nation’s top prospect such as strong performance, consistent production and potential. At 6-foot-11 and 210 pounds, Rabb has all the physical markers to impact a game. Rabb has mobility and an enormous wing span (7-4). He utilizes those features along with speed and lateral quickness to protect the basket, outrun opponents and score the ball. It’s his efficiency that is impressive, as the majority of shots come inside the paint. After 16 games in the Elite Youth Basketball League, he had made more than 60 percent of his field-goal attempts, per GameChanger stats service.


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Minneapolis Nike EYBL recap 

May, 25, 2014
May 25
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MINNEAPOLIS -- The fourth session of the Nike EYBL gave teams one more opportunity to add league wins and earn the right to participate in the Peach Jam that will crown a champion in July.

Check out some of the many terrific prospect performances we witnessed this weekend at the EYBL:


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Class of 2014's best passers 

May, 5, 2014
May 5
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Members of the Class of 2014 have (mostly) made their decisions. Which incoming freshmen should you get to know? Here is a look at the best passers -- and one name to know in 2015:

1. Tyus Jones, Duke
He is the consummate point guard. His passes are always away from the defense and he has that snap on the ball that you just can’t coach. On the fast break, he will come to complete stop and let the trailer fill the lanes and make a precise pass for a layup or 3-point shot. In tight quarters he can penetrate and pitch effectively by making a soft pass or a bounce pass and he demonstrates the outstanding vision, poise and patience to be a great set-up man. Some players pass to get rid of the ball, but when Jones passes, it usually leads to an assist.


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With Myles Turner's commitment to Texas serving as an unofficial close to the 2014 recruiting class, it’s time to focus on the 2015 crop.

Here are 10 questions that the recruiting world will seek to answer in the next year:

1. Will it be one and done?


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It’s been a busy month for the top high school seniors in America.

First, it was the McDonald’s All American Game, then the Nike Hoop Summit and finally last week’s Jordan Brand Classic.

While these all-star-style games are mostly about show and only rarely about competition, they also serve as the first real opportunity that NBA scouts have to evaluate these prospects.

With the vast majority of the NBA’s 30 franchises having a consistent presence at all three events (both games and practices), we spoke to front-office personnel from five different teams to see their first impressions of the top players in the ESPN 100.

Here’s what they had to say:


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If you want an indication of how valued big men are in college basketball today, consider this:

Eighteen months ago, Columbia was the only Division I school heavily recruiting 6-foot-9 forward Sean Obi. On Monday night, after one season at Rice, Obi announced he would transfer to Duke, where he will have three seasons of eligibility beginning in 2015-16.

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The Jordan Brand Classic featured much of the nation’s top talent.

Obviously, a number of players operate at the same position. That said, each brings a different aspect at the spot. Let’s take a look at some of the best and break down how they are different and impactful.


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Jordan Brand Classic standouts 

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
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The Jordan Brand Classic was played at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Friday.

This game is always filled with future NBA talent and usually has the No. 1 pick in a future NBA draft.

Twenty-two of the country's elite players went head to head for likely the last time before they meet again in college. There were so many impressive plays and highlights, so let's take a look at what we learned from the event.


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Roundtable: Jordan Brand Classic 

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
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It has been a busy few weeks for the top prospects in the ESPN 100.

It began at the beginning of the month when they arrived in Chicago for the McDonald's All American Game. Immediately after that game concluded, some players jumped on a red-eye to New York for the Dick's Sporting Goods High School National Tournament. Last week it was a trip to the West Coast for the Nike Hoop Summit in Oregon. This week, that string of all-star events gets a fitting culmination as the top players in the Class of 2015 return to New York for the Jordan Brand Classic.

Given what we've seen, not just in the past few weeks but in the past few years, is there anything left to learn? Here are a few players whom our Recruiting Nation staff will be watching during Friday's Jordan Brand Classic (ESPN2, 7 p.m. ET):


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