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Report: NCAA waiving standardized test scores for incoming freshman

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There is a lot of new stuff happening in the basketball world. Earlier today, Mark Schlabach of ESPN reported that the NCAA Eligibility Center will be waiving the standardized test score requirement for incoming freshman in both DI and DII for the 2020-21 academic year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

This is because due to COVID-19, schools nationwide are closed, therefore student-athletes are not able to take the standardized tests (ACT and SAT) that they would normally be required to take.

From ESPN:

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Students who expect to graduate from high school in time to enroll in a Division I school this coming academic year will be academically eligible by earning a combined 2.3 grade-point average in the 10 NCAA-approved core courses, with a combined seven in English, math and science prior to the start of their senior year. There is a 2.2 GPA requirement in 10 NCAA-approved core courses for Division II schools.

The same GPA requirements will apply to international students and they must complete at least 10 core courses prior to the start of their senior year.

The Eligibility Center is navigating the complexity of COVID-19 and its negative impact on our membership, high schools and student-athletes,” Felicia Martin, vice president of the NCAA Eligibility Center, said in a statement. We understand this is an unprecedented situation and a difficult time for students and their parents, and the Eligibility Center is working diligently to ensure the best possible outcome for college-bound student-athletes and our member schools.

The NCAA said the new requirements will be considered automatic waivers for both Divisions I and II, meaning those students meeting these criteria will be academically eligible to receive an athletics scholarship and practice and compete in their first year at member schools.

The Eligibility Center said in the news release that it would also modify its approach to high schools that issue pass/fail grades because of closures and would not require separate reviews of distance or e-learning programs used for NCAA-approved core courses during spring and summer 2020. Students will also be able to complete additional required core courses this summer.

This now means that all 2021 athletes are eligible to reclassify, whereas before some found themselves not eligible to.

What does this mean for Kentucky?

Well, right now it looks like the Cats will be adding Matt Haarms sometime this weekend. With this new rule opening up reclassifications for just about everyone, the two guys that could end up reclassifying are Paolo Banchero and Jonathan Kuminga, the No. 4 and No. 1 ranked recruits in the class of 2021.

Banchero has stated several times that he will not be reclassifying, but with this new exception, he could always change his mind. Banchero completed a virtual visit with Kentucky on Wednesday.

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Kuminga on the other hand is likely to reclassify. He tweeted this just two days ago:

While it isn’t likely at all, it would be huge if Kentucky got both Kuminga and Banchero to reclassify and pick the Cats.

Other prospects that could decide to reclassify are Jaden Hardy, who released his top 12 schools last night that included Kentucky. Kennedy Chandler, who also completed a virtual visit with Kentucky on Wednesday. And Moussa Cisse, who released his top 10 schools on Sunday that included Kentucky.

All of the players are in the middle of their recruitment process and slowly narrowing down their lists, coming closer to a decision. With this new exception, no one knows what will happen and I expect a lot of news to come out in the coming days/weeks.

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The recruiting world is wild, but John Calipari and Kentucky could be getting ready for a big finish to the 2020 class.

BB Recruiting

Top Remaining 2022 Prospect Ugonna Kingsley Commits to Kentucky

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UK Athletics

The Kentucky Wildcats have recruiting momentum in both the football and basketball programs, but today John Calipari and Co were the ones to receive the latest commitment, five-star center Ugonna Kingsley.

Kingsley’s commitment comes off the heels of a visit to Kentucky back in July, where all of his boxes were checked and he felt at home in Lexington. Kingsley chose Kentucky over the Kansas Jayhawks, Memphis Tigers, Oklahoma Sooners, and others.

Kingsley is one of the fastest-rising prospects in the country, first appearing in recruiting rankings back in late May. Two months later, Kingsley was ranked as a top-25 prospect and one of the best centers in the 2023 class.

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With that said, Kingsley is no longer with the 2023 class, he would reclassify in late July. With his reclassification, Kingsley now stands No. 39 in the 2022 247 Sports prospect rankings and pushes Kentucky nine spots to No. 2 in the team rankings behind only Duke.

Due to the Shaedon Sharpe saga, the Big Blue Nation is likely to be a little wary – understandably so – of Kingsley’s reclassification, but this is a different situation.

While Kingsley is very talented, he does not yet possess the talent level of a projected top-10 pick coming out of high school. With that assurance, Kingsley’s reclassification is a benefit for himself and the Kentucky basketball program.

In his first year in Lexington, Kingsley will be allowed sit and develop behind reigning National Player of the Year Oscar Tshiebwe, then take over in 2023-24 when Tshiebwe is expected to be in the NBA Draft. Kingsley’s early arrival will also give Kentucky some insurance if a frontcourt player were to go down with an injury.

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Despite both of his parents being under six feet in height, the Nigerian native possesses a 6-foot-11, 195-pound frame, and an impressive 7-foot-5 wingspan. Given his physical gifts, Kingsley is a natural on the defensive end and is a high-level rim protector. Overall, he is one of the best defenders in high school basketball, but his lack of strength can hurt him at times in the post.

On the offensive end, Kingsley has impressive footwork and shows the ability to score consistently around the basket. Outside of that, shooting, passing, and dribbling are all areas in need of improvement.

In early June, Kingsley admitted to On3’s Jamie Shaw, “I have been wanting to go to Kentucky all my life, even before coming to the states.”

Now, Kingsley has made his dream a reality and Kentucky is bringing in one of the best rim protectors they have had in recent memory.

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*Also posted on A Sea of Blue

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Reed Sheppard Shines in High-Profile ESPN Televised Game

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UK Athletics

In the last two months, Kentucky has secured commitments from top-10 recruits Justin Edwards (No. 3) and Robert Dillingham (No. 6) in the 2023 class. However, on Tuesday night Kentucky’s first commitment in the class, Reed Sheppard, was the one to make a statement.

In a high-profile game televised on ESPN, Sheppard faced off against Strive for Greatness, a grassroots team who featured top-five prospects Mookie Cook and Mackenzie Mgbako, Bronny James (LeBron James’ son), and his future teammate Dillingham.

Out of all the stars on the floor, Sheppard shined the brightest, going for 16 points, nine rebounds, and four assists to help lead Midwest Basketball Club to a 78-67 victory over the star-filled Strive for Greatness.

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Sheppard is a five-star in his own right but ranks between 20th to 40th depending on which service you look at, but showed that he may be better than his ranking indicates.

Sheppard is the highest-ranked recruit from the State of Kentucky since former Louisville player Chane Behanan (Bowling Green, KY). Furthermore, he will be the highest-ranked recruit from the state of Kentucky to play for the University of Kentucky since Rex Chapman.

Check out this short highlight video of Sheppard’s performance!

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Top-Three Prospect Justin Edwards Commits to Kentucky

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UK Athletics

John Calipari has the opportunity to make the class of 2023 one of the best in Kentucky basketball history, and he is on pace to make that happen.

Thus far, Calipari and Co have secured the commitments of top-ranked point guard Robert Dillingham, and five-star legacy recruits Reed Sheppard. Today, the Wildcats added another uber-talented piece to the roster, Justin Edwards.

Edwards currently stands as the No. 3 ranked recruit in the 2023 247 Sports Composite player rankings, and many believe he could end up No. 1 when it is all said in done.

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Edwards commitment is important, as he is the first top-three prospect to commit to Kentucky since Shaedon Sharpe, and the first one to play since Skal Labissiere in the class of 2015. The addition of Edwards, also jumps Kentucky’s class ranking to the No. 2 spot, only sitting behind Duke who has 4 commits.

Standing 6-foot-7, 180 pounds Edwards has great athleticism and size. He is proficient in most areas, with room for improvement. On top of all that, he is aggressive, but rarely plays out of control and has good basketball IQ.

In summary, he is a good all-around basketball player. Which you can see in these highlights.

At the Louisville EYBL session, Edwards talked to KY Insider about Kentucky’s pitch and how the staff thinks he could be the next great Kentucky player. Now, he has the opportunity to make that happen.

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