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Kentucky Targets Play In Made Hoops Derek Smith Invitational

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Kentucky basketball recruiting prospect AJ Dybantsa going up for a dunk,
NBC Boston

The city of Louisville had some of the nation’s top high school prospects in town this weekend at Saint Xavier High School for the Made Hoops Derek Smith Invitational. A few of the nation’s top high school teams were there as well, and they featured some very notable names.

Headlined by 2024 Kentucky signee Jayden Quaintance, who did not play in the event, there were a few major Kentucky targets in Louisville this weekend. The top player of 2025, AJ Dybantsa, who is a generational talent, put up a great game against Link Academy on Saturday, which features 2026 Texas signee Tre Johnson and 2025 Top-15 prospect Jasper Johnson.

Dybantsa finished with 25 points, and his teammate, 2026 Top prospect Tyran Stokes, is another major Kentucky target. He had 12 points. Jasper Johnson ended with 10 points for Link Academy, coming up short in the loss to Prolific Prep.

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Sunday featured Prolific Prep vs. St. Xavier, where Dybantsa struggled, but Tyran Stokes made up for it. Dybantsa is known as an athletic finisher, who is long and can really score. That wasn’t clicking on Sunday. Instead, it was Stokes who was playing very aggressively attacking the basket. He even threw down a few monster dunks. Stokes had a full head of steam attacking the rim all day. Kentucky’s staff was in attendance.

Dybantsa spoke after the game on Sunday to talk about Kentucky and what it means to him to be offered by Kentucky.

“It’s a blessing,” he said. “High-major school, you know, multiple NBA players, a lot of college championships.” He spoke about playing with other elite talent right now, and eventually at the next level, “I know how to blend well. I know how to get my teammates involved.”

Dybantsa also went on to about what he is looking for his role to be at the next level: “Like a point forward or just play shooting guard at my height.” He then talked about things he has to do to be his best at the next level: “Get all my ball-handling right, limit turnovers, and just making the right passes.”

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Dybantsa is a generational talent, and there was a lot of talent this weekend in Louisville. A notable win from the weekend was Fredrick Douglass’ close win against St. Frances, who is a nationally known team. A lot to like about this weekend in Louisville.

BB Recruiting

Kentucky Expressing Interest In 2025 Kiyan Anthony, Son of Former NBA Star Carmelo Anthony

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Kentucky is showing interest in Kiyan Anthony, the son of former NBA star Carmelo Anthony.
Nike EYBL/Team Melo

Kentucky has been expressing interest in the son of former NBA star Carmelo Anthony, Kiyan Anthony. While he has the nation’s attention partly due to his father’s name, he is a top-40 player in the class of 2025.

Anthony played in the Marshall County Hoopfest in December, where the Kentucky staff was in attendance to check out 2024 Top-5 prospect VJ Edgecombe, who has since committed to Baylor. While there, they were impressed enough to reach out to Kiyan, who recently spoke with On3 to discuss his new Kentucky interests among other topics.

“I recently started to talk to Kentucky because they’ve been at our games and practices because of my teammate, VJ (Edgecombe). So I guess they were really impressed in practice and stuff,” Anthony said. He spoke with the Kentucky staff after his game in Marshall County, he said.

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He had some pretty good praise for Kentucky when he talked about his thoughts on the program. “I feel like Kentucky is top-tier when it comes to getting people to the league and just winning,” Anthony said. “Coach Cal, he’s not going to show any mercy. He really pushes his players to the max. Some people aren’t built for it, but I feel like the ones that are, they really take that next step and get to the league or get where they need to go.”

It needs to be noted that Kentucky has yet to extend an offer, but Anthony says, “The coaches over there are texting me, telling me to keep working. When they come to practice they say how I’m getting a lot better and they have their eyes on me.”

John Calipari has never been keen on the extra stuff that comes with having the son of a former NBA star (i.e. Bronny James) on his team, but could Kiyan be an exception? Time will tell, but at this moment it doesn’t seem likely.

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2025 Jasper Johnson Talks About Where Kentucky Stands in Recruitment, Schedules Visit

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Nike EYBL Team Thad Jasper Johnson shoots a free throw during the Team Thad and Florida Rebels basketball game.
© Katie Goodale / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jasper Johnson, a Top-10 guard in the class of 2025, has released his Top 10 schools, according to On3’s Joe Tipton, and Kentucky was included. He also scheduled some upcoming visits, and Kentucky is one of those.

Johnson cut his list to Kentucky, Alabama, Auburn, Kansas, Baylor, Missouri, North Carolina, Louisville, Southern California, and West Virginia. He will take official visits to North Carolina on February 3rd, Kentucky on February 10th, and Auburn on February 17th. He told Tipton that a visit to Baylor is a “strong possibility.”

Amidst reclassification rumors, Johnson says that he will be staying in the 2025 class “as of right now.” “All my schools are open to me reclassing to 2024, but as of right now, I think I’ll be staying in the 2025 class. Reclassing up is an option, but I think I will probably stay in 2025.”

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Johnson’s only official visits so far have been to Missouri and West Virginia, along with unofficial visits to Kentucky, Louisville, and Alabama. His contact with Kentucky is almost daily, as he says Orlando Antigua contacts him every day.

“Coach Orlando (Antigua) reaches out to me probably every day,” Johnson said. “He wants me to come back home for my college season. They’re planning for me to be there for 9 months and then off to the NBA and that’s what I really want to do in college. I feel like if that’s the best option then it could be there, but if it’s somewhere else, then it could be somewhere else.”

Being a Woodford County native with a father (Dennis Johnson) who was an All-SEC defensive end at Kentucky, and already having signed an NIL deal with Kentucky-based law firm, Morgan & Morgan, Kentucky is seen as the top option now.

Kentucky will take on Gonzaga at Rupp Arena when Jasper Johnson takes his official visit on February 10th.

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2025 Top Prospect Darryn Peterson Speaks on Kentucky, “They’re One-and-Done-U”

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2025 Top high school prospect Darryn Peterson updates his recruitment, speaks on Kentucky.
Phenom United

Darryn Peterson, the third-ranked prospect in the 2025 class, has released his Final eight schools. In addition to Kentucky, Peterson is still considering Kansas, Arkansas, Baylor, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio State, and North Carolina, while still keeping pro route open too, he told On3’s Joe Tipton.

He also told Tipton that he is planning five official visits, to Kentucky, North Carolina, Kansas, Ohio State, and Arkansas as well. This will be Peterson’s second visit to Kentucky, after previously taking an unofficial visit to Lexington this past October.

What does Peterson think of Kentucky specifically? “They’re ‘One-and-done U.’ Coach Cal (John Calipari) is a legend, and he gets his guys ready for the league. And now, most of his guys in the league are max-contract guys. The NBA is the end goal of mine.”

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It’s worth noting that Peterson has an NIL deal with Adidas, which could factor in his college decision, although that remains to be seen. However, it would not prevent him from playing for Kentucky, a Nike school, as Justin Edwards (New Balance) and Antonio Reeves (Reebok) both have NIL deals with other shoe brands. That said, Kansas has recently gained momentum with Peterson, which is also an Adidas school.

John Calipari has had his eye on Peterson for a few years now, and Kentucky is right there with Kansas in the battle for the prized guard, who is also a potential 2024 reclass candidate. It’s easy to see why as he is the type of guard he often searches for, very good at getting to the rim, and can create shots with ease. An elite talent with major skills.

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