A fifth-consecutive No. 1 national recruiting class is all but a certainty for John Calipari, who on Thursday discussed the first five players to ink with Kentucky during the fall signing period.
The UK boss commented on the new Wildcats via a press release from the school, but declined to offer additional insight about the class during a media opportunity on Thursday at the Craft Center. But don't let that unusual decision mask his enthusiasm.
"We're excited about it. Don't get me wrong. I'm jacked up. It's a good class and a good bunch of guys," Calipari said with a smile.
Kentucky signed Texas twin guards Andrew and Aaron Harrison, California center Marcus Lee, Kentucky forward Derek Willis and Michigan swingman James Young since the fall signing period officially began on Wednesday.
Andrew and Aaron Harrison are rated the No. 3 and No. 4 prospects in the Class of 2013, respectively, by Scout.
Aaron Harrison, the nation's top-ranked shooting guard, averaged 18.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.6 steals as a junior, leading his Fort Bend Travis team to a 36-4 record and the 5A State Championship game in 2011-12. The older of the Harrison twins by a minute, "Aaron is more of a scoring guard who can make shots and make plays at the rim,” Calipari said. “He can also play some point in a pinch. Like his brother, Andrew, he has the ability to physically dominate the opponent.”
Andrew Harrison, the nation's top-ranked point guard, averaged 12.5 points, 6.0 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 2.1 steals as a junior.
“Andrew comes in ready to play physically at the point guard position,” Calipari said. “He’s a driver, slasher and play-maker with great size. He and his brother Aaron have the ability to be great on-ball defenders.”
The Harrison twins are the first UK signees from the Lone Star State since Jeff Brassow in 1989.
James Young, a 6-6 shooting guard from Rochester Hills, Mich., is in his senior season at Rochester High School. As a junior at Troy High School, Young averaged 25.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.5 steals, earning first-team All-State honors from the Associated Press, Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. Young is ranked as the No. 10 prospect in the Class of 2013 by Scout.
“James is a long, athletic and skilled wing,” Calipari said. “He’s a lefty who can shoot it and get in transition. You can throw it ahead to him and he can make basketball plays. He rebounds the ball for his position as well anyone in the class.”
Lee is a 6-9 forward from Antioch, Calif., who averaged 13.9 points, 13.1 rebounds, 9.1 blocks and 1.3 steals as a junior for Deer Valley High School. In his first AAU competition he registered a triple-double that was highlighted by 11 blocked shots. He is rated the No. 40 prospect in the Class of 2013 by Scout.
“Marcus Lee is a long, agile, quick-bounce, quick-twitch, 6-9 forward,” Calipari said. “He gets to the basket, he’s a terrific shot-blocker and he can rebound above the rim. Marcus has unlimited upside because he’s going to get stronger and he’s going to improve his skill around the basket. His speed, quickness, jumping ability and length set him apart.”
Willis is a 6-9 power forward from Mt. Washington, Ky., who is in his senior season at Bullitt East High School. Willis averaged 18.0 points and 9.3 rebounds while leading his team to the Sweet 16 in Rupp Arena last season. He is ranked the nation's No. 27 power forward by Scout.
“Derek is a very skilled, 6-9 big man who is learning to play through bumps, which is going to elevate his game,” Calipari said. “He’s a long-armed basketball player who can get his hands on balls and really pass. Like Marcus, he has a tremendous upside because he’s going to get stronger and be able to play more physical and really use his size and his shot-making ability to spread the court for us.”
The early signing period runs through Nov. 21.
Calipari indicated that he would likely add "one or two" more players in the spring signing period.