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Kentucky’s Incoming Freshmen Show Promise In McDonald’s All-American Game

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Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

This week, Kentucky was well represented in this year’s McDonald’s All-American Game, with three incoming players participating, the most of any school. Those three were Boogie Fland, Jayden Quaintance, and Karter Knox, who all played well.

With most all-star/exhibition games you don’t know what to expect. However, this game has been competitive in recent history and this year was no different, with Fland and Quaintance on the East team escaping with an 88-86 win over Knox and the West.

Quaintance and Fland were both very active on the defensive end, while Knox showed his improvements on offense, shooting more consistently. Fland took control at the end of the first half, heating up offensively, with a good second half also. He showed off his creativity too, creating his shots and making some beautiful passes. He was certainly the biggest talk out of Kentucky’s commits.

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Fland finished with 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 assists for the East team, with Quaintance pouring in 7 points, 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 4 steals for the East. Knox had 9 points and a rebound for the West team in the loss.

A lot of the true evaluation comes from the practices rather than the game itself, so let’s take a look at how the Kentucky guys did throughout the week.

Boogie Fland

A guard who is a really skilled shooter. Fland showed that in his practice evaluations this week, getting to his spots and creating his own. He gets his teammates involved and is really good on the offensive end. His ability to create for himself and others will allow him to be dangerous in the pick-and-roll game. His length and competitiveness help carry him through on the defensive end.

Take a look at some of what he showcased this week.

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Jayden Quaintance

Despite being just 16 years old, the top-10 prospect is known for being one of the more physical players in the class, as he was very active on the defensive end. He was named standout from Day 2 practice.

“He is an explosive player around the basket, showing a lot of explosive burst,” On3 said. “The upside with Quaintance is big. He has some physical traits that simply cannot be taught.” Currently improving on his footwork, the big man has a very high ceiling. Not eligible for the NBA Draft until 2026, Quaintance is a player whom Kentucky hopes to stay for two years.

Karter Knox

A top-20 forward in the class, and brother of former Wildcat Kevin Knox, Karter is a very efficient shot-maker and excels at mid-range. He is a three-level scorer who can make plays when you need him to. There are questions about his ceiling, but he’s getting more efficient and confident by the day. His game has improved a lot in recent months.

Along with Quaintance, Knox was named a standout from Day 2 practice.

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“Knox got into the mid-range for a couple of pull-up jumpers, but he also knocked down some catch-and-shoot threes,” On3 said. “He looked like a plug-and-play type at the next level who can finish plays on the offensive end with low volume and get out in transition to for some easy buckets. There is wonder about the high-end upside for him, but his floor continues to rise.”


There is a lot to like about what Kentucky has with its recruiting class. Now it’s about adding the right pieces around them.

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2025 Five Star, Potential Reclass Candidate Will Riley Begins Kentucky Visit

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2025 five star prospect and reclass candidate, Will Riley, takes his official visit to Kentucky June 4th-6th.
IMAGN/USA Today

Will Riley, one of the top rising seniors in the class of 2025, is set to begin a two-day official visit to Kentucky on Tuesday. This was first reported by Kentucky Insider last week.

The 6-foot-8 small forward out of Malvern, PA, is currently down to five schools: Kentucky, Arkansas, Arizona, Illinois, and Alabama, and is leaving the possibility of playing professionally in the NBL in Australia. Riley is coming off a visit to Illinois and will visit Alabama later this week.

Already considered a consensus Top 25 prospect in the country according to 247 Sports, ESPN, and Rival, Riley’s stock is only continuing to rise. His calling card is his scoring ability and he has put that on display this Spring.

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Through the first four sessions of the Nike EYBL circuit, he is averaging 21.9 points per game, on fairly efficient numbers, shooting 49.6 % from the field,  31.7 % from three-point range, and 79 % from free throws. Riley also adds 4.7 rebounds per game and 2.5 assists per game in just under 30 minutes.

A possible reclass candidate, Riley is considering making the jump from the 2025 class to the 2024 class. That decision is yet to be determined, adding an element of suspense to his potential future in college basketball.

With one current scholarship remaining for the upcoming roster, Kentucky is open to Riley reclassing and joining this year’s roster, underlining the significance of his potential addition to the team.

However, Jaxson Robinson’s commitment makes it less likely that Kentucky would be the choice if he does reclass. If he decides to remain in the 2025 class, Kentucky would remain toward the top of his list.

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Does Riley become the first top 25 recruit in the Mark Pope era?

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Mark Pope Talks About His Recruiting Approach, “Those Who Belong at Kentucky Are the Very Best Players in All of College Basketball”

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The hiring of Mark Pope was met with mixed reactions from Kentucky fans, but he is well respected in the coaching community.
Clare Grant/Courier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

When Mark Pope was first hired at Kentucky, multiple coaches who have competed against Pope talked to Kentucky Insider about what to expect. By his peers, Mark Pope is seen as one of the best offensive minds in all of college basketball, but the question was, can he recruit?

In just over a month as Kentucky’s head coach, Pope has filled 11 of his 13 scholarship spots. Eight of those players have come via the transfer portal, which has become the quickest way to fill a roster with talent in such a short span. It also shows Pope’s understanding of the importance of the transfer portal.

That said, going forward it’s clear that Pope wants to maintain the Kentucky brand in recruiting and what it means to some of the best young talent in the country. This past weekend he and his staff were in Texas and Indianapolis watching more than a dozen five-star recruits from the 2025 and 2026 classes, including several top-five prospects. While doing so, he talked to Kyle Tucker of The Athletic about his recruiting approach.

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“We’re just out here recruiting the best players we can get, and the best players you can get at Kentucky are the best players,” Pope said. “I’m used to working with a relatively limited pool, and Kentucky has a relatively limited pool also. It’s just a little different kind of pool. The guys who belong at Kentucky are the very best players in all of college basketball, so those are the guys you’re chasing. And then from that group, we’re chasing guys that really fit us, the way we’re attacking the game and the way we’re playing.”

Of the players that Pope is pursuing and will pursue, they are tiered. “It’s a balance. We’re actually tiering kids,” he said. “The kids we think are one-and-done that we really want to try and grab; another tier of guys we think can come be in the rotation as freshmen; and then a tier of guys you say, ‘Man, I’m telling you, that kid is going to come add something to our program as a freshman, even if he’s not in the rotation, and then he’s going to win us the biggest games in college basketball as a junior or senior.’”

In summary, “We do our best to tier guys and then go hunting and be super deliberate about the guys in each of those pools that we recruit really hard.”

Pope has three assistants who will be helping him on the recruiting trail, two of which are seen as two of the best recruiters in all of college basketball, Alvin Brooks and Jason Hart.

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Brooks comes from Baylor, and his father was the Director of Basketball Operations at Kentucky under Billy Gillespie. Pope calls him: “One of the elite recruiters in all of college basketball, because he builds these super, super deep, meaningful relationships with guys.”

Brooks was responsible for recruiting the likes of Keyonte George, Ja’Kobe Walter, and VJ Edgecombe to Baylor, and is already eyeing two five-star Nike EYBL standouts from Texas to come to Kentucky, Hudson Greer and Shelton Anderson.

As for Hart, he is a former ten-year NBA veteran (player) who was most recently the head coach for the G League Ignite. Before that, he was the associate head coach at USC (2013-21) where he helped recruit some of the best talent in the country and put a half dozen players in the NBA.

“You’re not going to meet a better person in the world than Jason Hart,” Pope said. “He’s got an energy that’s contagious, and he’s really smart and he could spend all day every day in the gym because of how much he loves the game.”

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The third and last recruiting assistant is Cody Fueger, who has been with Pope at Utah Valley and BYU. He is someone that Pope trusts and has worked

“Cody has just been grinding, getting great talent to some of the hardest places in the world to recruit,” Pope said. “So now he’s coming at this from a much different angle: ‘This is easy compared to what I’ve been doing.’ Because it’s Kentucky. And we say that every day: It’s Kentucky.”

Kentucky Insider has talked to one of Pope’s teammates and a fellow coach, Scott Padgett, who is confident that Pope will prove himself as a capable recruiter given his positive attitude, charisma, and worth ethic.

All three have been apparent to Kentucky fans early, and with a talented staff around him, Pope is going to purse the best of the best. As recruiting begins to ramp up with the 2025 class, we will see who that first player is.

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Top Transfer Portal Prospect Chaz Lanier to Visit Kentucky on Monday

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One of the best scorers in the transfer portal, North Florida transfer Chaz Lanier will visit Kentucky.
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Pope has filled 11 of 13 scholarship spots on his first Kentucky roster. With just two spots remaining, he is targeting two of the top scorers in the portal, Jaxson Robinson, who played for him last season at BYU, and North Florida transfer Chaz Lanier.

The latter will arrive in Lexington on Sunday night for a visit, first reported by 247Sports, and will visit through Monday. Lanier will be coming off a weekend visit to BYU and is expected to schedule a visit to his home state school of Tennessee soon.

Just a few weeks ago, Lanier, a Nashville native and former Mr. Tennessee basketball finalist, was believed to be a Tennessee lock. After multiple conversations with the Kentucky staff, they are believed to be the leader. This visit is a big opportunity to lock up that recruitment.

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Lanier is a 6-4 four-guard from North Florida University, averaged 19.7 points per game with 4.8 assists, shooting an efficient 51% field goal percentage and 44% from 3-point range last season. This play earned him first-team all-conference honors in the A-SUN.

This would be a massive addition for Mark Pope and Kentucky, as Linear was viewed as one of the best scorers and shooters in all of college basketball last season. According to 247Sports, Lanier is the 11th-ranked transfer in the portal, while ESPN has him 42nd.

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