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Nike EYBL Louisville Session Recap

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Photo By Tristan Pharis

Over the weekend, Nike EYBL made its first-ever stop in Louisville, hosting some of the country’s best high school basketball recruits. The event also marked the first time in over a decade that all of the U15, U16, and U17 EYBL teams were held in the same venue, due to court space.

With that said, I got the opportunity to watch many of Kentucky’s top targets for 2023 and 2024, so let’s check it out.

DJ Wagner (Guard, No. 1 Recruit, 2023 Class)

It’s been known for a while, but after seeing him for the first time in person, DJ Wagner is the real deal. Despite having one of the most talented teams in the Nike EYBL, having two other top-25 teammates, Wagner was the best player on the floor.

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As a guard, Wagner showed why he is one of the best and most efficient scorers in the class, showing the ability to get to the rim at will and create his own shot off the dribble. Not to mention, consistently getting his teammates involved. On the weekend, Wagner averaged 19 points, 5.2 assists, and 3.2 rebounds on 49.3 percent from the field and 37% from three.

As the recruitment of Wagner looks to be a two-horse race between Kentucky and Louisville, there was a lot of red in the stands.

The Louisville presence did not only consist of fans, as there was a large presence of former and current Cardinals, notably, Darrell Griffith. Following his first game on Saturday, Wagner told his team director and former Louisville player, Pervis Ellison, that he wanted to meet “Mr. Dunkenstein” (Griffith), and when he did, “it was a surreal moment for him.”

Despite the recruiting quiet period, DJ’s grandfather and former Louisville great, Milt Wagner, who was just hired to the Louisville staff, was also present. This is allowed as Wagner’s position is considered to be a “university” job. Interestingly enough, he sat on opposite ends of his son and DJ’s father, Dajuan, but this is most likely nothing. DJ’s half-brother and UK walk-on, Kareem Watkins, was also in attendance.

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Kwame Evans Jr (Forward, No. 4 Recruit, 2023 Class)

Kwame Evans Jr. is one of the rawest prospects in the 2023 class, and upon first glance, you can physically see why. Listed at 6-foot-10 200-pounds, Evans also has a 7-foot wingspan, making him one of the most physically gifted players in the class.

Along with his height, Evans has great versatility. At his size, he runs the floor well and is able to cover a lot of ground in a short period of time whether it be north-south, east-west, or diagonally. Combine this with his underrated court vision and respectable yet improving perimeter shot and ball-handling skills, and it is easily understandable why his ceiling is so high.

However, the biggest criticisms of Evans are his lack of consistency and struggle against physicality, which could both be seen over the weekend. In his worst performance of the weekend, Evans scored all 4 of his points from the free-throw line and added only 1 rebound in 21 minutes. Whereas he shined against Lebron James sponsored Strive For Greatness, recording 16 points (8-9 FG) and 7 rebounds.

As for his recruiting, Oregon and Arizona are the perceived favorites, but Kentucky is still in the mix. Evans took his first official visit to Kentucky back in November and since has only taken one more, Oregon in early May. However, Evans does have official visits scheduled to Arizona and Indiana over the next two weeks.

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Justin Edwards (Forward, No. 6 Recruit, 2023 Class)

I was most impressed with Justin Edwards this weekend, not that he was THE best player, but how well he played within the team and his intelligence for the game, showing that may be the best all-around recruit in the class.

While this weekend, outside of a 26-point performance on Saturday afternoon, Edward’s averages did not jump off the page, 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 1.8 assists on 44 percent shooting from the field and 29.4 percent from three.

With that said, his impact could be felt. Edwards’ Team Final has one of the best records in the EYBL and was undefeated this weekend. Edwards displayed his intelligence and feel for the game by consistently making the right play on offense and making good reads on defense.

Edwards can shoot, pass, defend, and find his teammates. Combine that with his improved athleticism and basketball IQ and could contend to be a top 3 prospect in the final recruiting rankings.

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Following his last game on Monday, Edwards confirmed that Tennessee and Kentucky have separated themselves and that Calipari is in contact with him every day. It looks like it will be a battle of the checkerboards.

Matas Buzelis (Forward, No. 7 Recruit, 2023 Class)

John Calipari has never quite had a player like Matas Buzelis, but is looking to change that as he recruits the top-10, 6-foot-10 wing. A tall-lengthy wing with the perimeter skills of a guard, Buzelis is another versatile player in the 2023 class.

This weekend, Buzelis displayed a good feel for the game and excelled as he had a team with multiple shooters, which created space and gave Buzelis the freedom to create for himself and his teammates.

Helping his team to a 4-1 record this weekend, Buzelis averaged 13.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.4 assists. Excluding a bad shooting performance on Monday morning, Buzelis shot 55.5 percent from the field and 36 percent from three, displaying his offensive efficiency.

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Buzelis iterated after his final game that he is focusing on basketball and improving his game, all the while keeping his recruitment close to the chest. While it has been a quiet recruitment and it still too early to provide anything of confidence, Buzelis did call Kentucky a “perfect” fit.

Buzelis is from Chicago, with ties to UK assistant and former Chicago native, Chin Coleman, who has been recruiting him since his time at Illinois.

Robert Dillingham (Guard, No. 8 Recruit, 2023 Class)

Touted as one of the most electric players in the 2023 class, Robert Dillingham, proved why this weekend. While team CP3 struggled with a 1-4 record without top-ranked recruit, GG Jackson, Dillingham put his offensive repertoire on full display and impressed in every game.

Despite a small 6-foot-1 165-pound frame, Dillingham showed his ability to score at all three levels and why he is one of the best offensive playmakers in this class. Dillingham showcased his speed, finishing ability, ball-handling skills, and perimeter shooting which collectively make him the offensive weapon that he is.

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Averaging 22.4 points and 2.6 assists per game, Dillingham was one of the leading scorers over the weekend, doing so at a very efficient clip, shooting 56 percent from the field and 45 percent from three.

Another thing fans will like in addition to his electric style of play is his dog mentality and toughness. Dillingham did not back down against anyone or any challenge, reminding me somewhat of Tyler Ulis.

Dillingham just set a June 24th decision date, with all the momentum trending towards Kentucky. However, he declined my request to put the L’s down in Louisville but did so with a cheerful laugh.

Ron Holland (Forward, No. 9 Recruit, 2023 Class)

When describing his own game this weekend, Ron Holland said, “I feel like I’m a position-less player. I can get the job done. I’m a basketball player. I can run the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. I can guard the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. I bring energy to the table. I do the little things that nobody else likes to do.”

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After hearing that, it should come as no surprise to know that Holland is one of the most sought after and one of the best high-energy, high motor players in the country, putting that on full display this weekend.

Offensively, Holland is still working to improve on his respectable jump shot, but still holds the ability to handle the ball well and find his teammates, while still being able to play above the rim and be a force in the paint.

On the defensive end, Holland showed the ability to guard multiple positions, as well as being an active disruptor. His high motor helps him rebound at a high level as well. Something that would be very much welcomed following Tshiebwe’s anticipated departure after this season.

On the weekend, Holland averaged 10.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.4 assists on 50 percent from the field and 28 percent from three, but most impressively shot 70% from two-point range.

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Despite showing late interest in Holland, Kentucky has made his final eight, which also features schools such as Arkansas, Auburn, UCLA, and even the G League. Holland is set to visit Kentucky June 13th-15th.

Aaron Bradshaw (Center, No. 21 Recruit, 2023 Class)

Aaron Bradshaw, a teammate of DJ Wagner, is one of the few remaining big men targets that have expressed high-interest level in Kentucky. Fortunately, he is ranked as the second-best center in the class.

Similar to Kwame Evans, Bradshaw is more of a prospect than a player right now. After only playing in a handful of games as a freshman and sophomore, this past season was his first full schedule in organized basketball but certainly shows the potential to be special.

Team director, Pervis Ellison even talked about Bradshaw’s potential, saying, “If you saw him three years ago and seen the progression that he has gone through, I think the sky is the limit for him… ‘that kid is going to be a future lottery pick.’ He has the mindset, the attitude, and the dedication, so he’s going to be a good one.”

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With that said, Bradshaw looked the part this weekend, averaging 15 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks on 55 percent shooting from the field. At times, shined the brightest on the court. This was Bradshaw’s best weekend of Nike EYBL 2022, showing the ability to consistently play well against high-level competition.

While a date has not been made official, it is presumed that Bradshaw will be visiting Kentucky in June. His other finalists include the G League, Louisville, Maryland, Michigan, Oklahoma State, and UCLA. While Louisville is an option, and he has mentioned the possibility of him and Wagner playing together, he is willing to go elsewhere.

Milan Momcilovic (Forward, No. 35 Recruit, 2023 Class)

Size and versatility seem to be a theme in Kentucky’s targets, and Milan Momcilovic is no different. Standing 6-foot-8, Momcilovic is not the greatest athlete but is one of the most skilled offensive players in the 2023 class.

As a top-50 four-star recruit, Momcilovic is slightly outside of Kentucky’s normal recruiting radius but caught the staff’s attention back in April after torching scoring performances against the likes of Justin Edwards.

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This weekend Momcilovic displayed the ability to play inside and out. Putting his three-point shot on display, as he averaged nearly 3 made per contest, while also showing his great footwork and ability to play out of the post. As the go-to guy for Team Herro, Momcilovic averaged 23.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.4 assists on 46 percent shooting from the field and 32 percent from three.

Kentucky has shown interest but has not offered Momcilovic and his recruitment has been pretty quiet. If Kentucky does wish to pursue Momcilovic further, he plays for Nike EYBL’s Team Herro, which is sponsored by former Wildcat Tyler Herro and coached by Herro’s father.

Tre Johnson (Guard, No. 3 Recuit, 2024 Class)

John Calipari does not like to show much interest until the summer of a recruit going from their junior to senior year, however, Tre Johnson is a top-five recruit in 2024 that Kentucky has expressed a lot of interest in.

Johnson has created a reputation for being an elite shooter and a pure shooting guard, something that Kentucky will always welcome. With such a pretty and fluid shooting form, it is easy to see why.

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On the weekend, Johnson was one of the leading scorers, averaging 21.5 points on 48 percent shooting from the field and 47 percent shooting from three, while also averaging nearly 4 made threes per game. With that said, Johnson is also comfortable utilizing his mid-range game. As for areas of improvement, Johnson does need to become a more confident ball handler and assist-maker, which will round out his all-around game.

Johnson has called Kentucky his “dream school”, which has seemingly become a curse, and looks up to former UK guard, Tyrese Maxey, who is from the same area as Johnson. Both of these things should help Kentucky as they get more involved.


That covers the bases for Nike EYBL’s stop in Louisville and UK’s targets. Be on the lookout for my interviews which will be released throughout the rest of this week, where I go a little more in-depth on each player!

Note: Also posted on A Sea of Blue

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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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