August 28, 2012

UK target atop new Rivals150 rankings for 2013

The newest version of the 2013 Rivals150 hit the web at noon on Tuesday, leading to heated debate in the top five. With a change in the guard at the top, and some minor shakeups in the top five, there are a lot of things to talk about regarding Kentucky prospects. As a whole, UK targets dominated the upper part of the ranking list, although the Wildcats one commit did see himself drop several spots to a three-star prospect.

Straight to the Top

As Eric Bossi alluded to all last week, Texas PF Julius Randle overtook Chicago SF Jabari Parker for the number one spot in the country; pushing Parker down to number two. After a great July AAU run with the Texas Titans, Randle was able to grab a hold of the top spot by showcasing his power, skill-set and high running motor in front of scouts and college coaches.

While Bossi also alluded to the fact that Randle's reign on top of the rankings would be short lived if Andrew Wiggins, the king of the 2014 class, were to reclassify; right now the undecided superstar from Plano (Tex.)Prestonwood Christian Academy can take pride in knowing that Rivals believes he is the top senior prospect in the nation.

Can't Tell Them Apart

For the last two years, Andrew Harrison has been ranked ahead of his twin brother Aaron Harrison. In the latest edition of the rankings that has been switched around as Aaron now holds on the no. 3 spot in the rankings, with Andrew checking in at the no. 4 spot.

The shooting guard overtook the pass-first guard in a close call because of his consistency as a scorer in the July period, where both were sensational but Aaron really took his all-around game to a new level. The rankings of these two players are somewhat arbitrary; however, as the Fort Bend (Tex.) Travis twins will be playing college basketball together.

Top Ten Targets

Two other Kentucky targets filled out the top ten of the Rivals150 as Northern California forward Aaron Gordon remained in the number five spot in the rankings; while Troy (Mich.) wing James Young stayed in place at number eight. Young's stock has been pretty much status quo since ascending into the top ten with a breakout April evaluation period; while some experts expected Gordon to jump even higher than number five when he was excellent in July (after missing the spring with an injury).

Making Coach Cal Look Smart

Three prospects that coach John Calipari has expressed recent interest in are Tennessee wing guard Robert Hubbs, California post Marcus Lee and New Jersey forward Jermaine Lawrence. All three of these prospects climbed in the latest ranking list as Hubbs rose to no. 11, Lee reached no. 15 and Lawrence went up one spot to no. 18 in the country.

While none of these three have Kentucky offers yet, they've all expressed significant interest in the Wildcats and are starting to look more and more like players with the skills to play at Rupp arena.

For the Record

Some other players that have claimed heavy interest from Kentucky, and who have been verbal about their desire to play at Kentucky are Indiana point guard Demetrius Jackson, New Jersey forward Tyler Roberson and Virginia wing forward Troy Williams. While Williams didn't see much movement in his ranking, checking in at no. 35, the other two prospects saw major rises in their stock as Jackson now holds the no. 27 spot and Roberson fills out the no. 35 ranking on the list.

These three players also do not have Kentucky offers, but could see more interest from the Wildcats staff if some of the top ten players mentioned end up at different schools.

Canadian guard Xavier Rathan-Mayes, a West Virginia HS product, also saw a big rise in his ranking as he now enters the top twenty five, holding on to the no. 25 spot in 2013. While "XRM" might have cut Kentucky off of his list in the recent weeks, rumors are still swirling around that he could re-open that interest if Wiggins were to reclassify to 2013 and enroll at UK.

Not to Worry

Finally, Kentucky's one commitment in the 2013 class, in-state forward Derek Willis took a drop (as expected) to no. 126 in the nation, but still checks in as the top ranked prospect out of the Bluegrass state. Much of the reason that Willis fell in the rankings can be attributed to the fact that he did not play AAU in the evaluation period; choosing to spend the time alone in the gym working on his game since his college decision has already been made.

This fall should not change anything regarding Willis' status with UK, and shouldn't give Wildcats fans anything to worry about; as Willis remains one of the more versatile and promising combo forwards with size in the class.

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