Kentucky Now Have Best Ground For No.1 Prospect Jalen Duren
Kentucky officially threw its hat in the ring regarding NIL laws, as Gov. Andy Beshear announced Thursday that he has issued an executive order that will require all colleges in the state to allow athletes to capitalize their name, their image and their likeness from July 1.
It’s a move that no doubt helps the University of Kentucky in terms of future recruiting efforts across all sports, but more specifically, it is an immediate game-changer for the basketball program this summer. Honestly, you really couldn’t ask for better timing.
Kentucky is set to host 2022 five-star center Jalen Duren, arguably the most wanted player in all of high school basketball, on an official visit next week. Standing 6-10, 235 pounds, the nation’s No.1 global prospect is poised to step onto a college basketball court and make an immediate impact, leading to strong speculation that a reclassification is not. only on the table, but the wait. The big star recently told KSR he has three official visits planned to Miami (FL), Memphis and Kentucky and plans to announce his decision at the end of the summer, further indication that a move to 2021 is In progress.
His trip to Miami took place on June 14 and 15 and he is currently wrapping up his official visit to Memphis. His trip to Kentucky is slated for next week, the last college visit Duren has scheduled yet.
Conveniently enough, the trip from the five-star center to Lexington comes right in the middle of the implementation of the NIL rules, which means Duren could legally make money on a college campus next season. The professional option is no longer his only way to make a profit while playing basketball. And now that they don’t, Kentucky now has the strongest pitch of all the remaining options on Duren’s roster.
The 6-10 center is officially reduced to 11 options, with Alabama, Auburn, Kentucky, Miami (FL), Memphis, Michigan, Penn State, UCLA and Villanova among college programs, with G League and National Basketball League (NBL) as part of the professional options. Sources told KSR throughout June, however, that Kentucky, Miami and Memphis have firmly established themselves as the best college options in their recruiting, as the G League and NBL continue to push with bids over a million dollars for the selection projected at the top of the draft.
When it comes to his final decision, however, Duren doesn’t prioritize money like other high-profile rookies have in the past. Instead, it values player development.
“I don’t really look too much at money, I’m not really a flashy guy who really needs the money,” Duren told KSR. “People automatically think, ‘oh, they’re going to offer the money, so he’s going to go.’ I don’t think like that. It’s really a development issue for me, I try a lot to preach that. … When I look at the money aspect, that’s not really that for me. I don’t care too much. I mean, it’s good to have, but it’s not going to make the decision for me.
With the NIL rules now in effect from July 1, Kentucky is now able to offer both money and player development opportunities, immediately pushing John Calipari’s field to the top of the list among the competition. . And the British head coach knows it.
“No one should be able to do better for men’s basketball than our program,” Calipari said in May. “Two years ago on television our pre-pandemic scores would have been fourth in the NBA – Golden State, Lakers, Cleveland with LeBron (James) – would have been above our scores. So all the social media stuff and whatever we do, and we can do it, in my mind it should be the best in the country. “
Calipari’s top assistants understand how important new NIL opportunities are to the program. It will allow student-athletes to gain exposure on the biggest varsity basketball scene.
“For us in Kentucky, we understand the size of a platform and the size of a brand that we have, especially in college basketball,” assistant coach Jai Lucas told KSR. “So for someone who really wants the opportunity to improve their brand in the bigger market, we think that’s who we are and what we have to offer. … We feel like with what we have and how often we are on TV and stuff like that, it’s something that we really should be able to use.
“We talk about it every day as a staff and I can tell you right away that there is no one more than Coach Cal. No one, I promise you, ”added assistant coach Chin Coleman. “He spends 27 hours a day trying to figure out all things NIL, whatever it is; crypto, NFT and all that.
Although he did not name specific programs, Duren told KSR that schools are already exhibiting the master plan in their respective locations taking into account NIL, with branding and marketing being a key topic of conversation. . Again, though, it’s not just about how much money he can make in a year in any school or career path, it’s a 10-15 year decision.
“As people learn more and more about it, the coaches are starting to show me their plan on how they could market me and get people to know me,” Duren said. “Like I said, money is cool, but it’s not really a big thing for me. If someone offered me that much and someone else offered me a different amount, it’s not like I’m just going to go here because it was more money.
“… Anyone I talk to, whether pro or college, it’s about how they’re going to develop me.”
If player development is the top priority, how do you see Calipari’s record with the great men and pass this opportunity? Between DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel, Willie Cauley-Stein, Julius Randle, Karl-Anthony Towns, Bam Adebayo, PJ Washington and Nick Richards, there isn’t another college basketball program that approaches that of Kentucky’s charts. No offense to Memphis, Miami (FL) and the other college programs on Duren’s list, but the proof is in the pudding. Davis, Cousins, Towns, Randle and Adebayo alone have combined for 16 All-Star appearances and eight All-NBA selections, and that doesn’t even take into account the combined $ 842 million in career (and future) earnings between the. five of them.
Is the current list the most attractive to Duren? On paper, certainly not. Kentucky has Oscar Tshiebwe, Keion Brooks Jr., Jacob Toppin, Daimion Collins, Lance Ware and Bryce Hopkins filling the frontcourt as it stands. Adding the five-star center would give the UK seven stock players to fill two positions, making minutes and shots incredibly difficult to distribute evenly. On the surface, it would be much easier for Duren to go to Memphis or Miami and display monster counts in over 35 minutes per game en route to a top-five selection in the 2022 draft.
This, however, assuming Duren is scared of the competition or worries about pumping up his numbers in a single season before making the quick jump to the NBA. The point is, that’s not how it works, and that’s why there is growing optimism within the Kentucky basketball program that they can pull off the late surprise.
Quickly establishing itself as the most physically imposing prospect in the nation – it looks like it has been built in a factory since entering the high school ranks – Duren made it his mission to expand his game as a shooter, passer, runner and defender. He’s no longer just a lob catcher and shot blocker, the 6-10 center is working to have full play that will allow him to dominate anywhere on the floor, not just inside the paint. This is why development is so important in his recruiting pitch and why short-term money is not a major concern for him when it comes to taking his next step.
“I just talk to everyone and see what’s best for me, I see where my game is going to grow and where I can grow as a person too,” Duren told KSR. “It’s not just about basketball, it’s about who I am as a person and getting better all around.”
Interestingly, the personal growth of student-athletes was at the center of Calipari’s statement following Beshear’s decree announcement on Thursday. It won’t just be about making money with NIL opportunities, training and developing against elite competition or playing on the biggest stage in college basketball, it will be about also to grow as a person.
“We are entering an exciting era in varsity athletics. At the University of Kentucky, we’ve always put student-athletes first, and today’s Executive Order from Governor Andy Beshear – whom I want to thank for making this a priority – will enable universities across the country. State to support their young men and women better than ever, ”Calipari said. “Whether we were talking about name, image and likeness, lifetime scholarships, financial literacy, health and wellness, or player well-being, student-athletes have been at the center of every decision at the Kentucky.
“With today’s announcement, we continue to take positive steps to further support our student-athletes statewide. They deserve our time, effort and resources to ensure they have the opportunity to benefit from the hard work they put into their athletic and educational careers. While waiting for federal legislation, our program will continue to support, raise and educate our children. “
Duren is aiming for an announcement before the end of the summer, but does not have a specific timeline or target date at the moment. He will know where he wants to play at the next level when the time comes, and when that feeling does occur, he will make his decision public.
“For me, I’m not one of those guys who’ll just wait to wait,” he told KSR. “If I know where I want to go, I’ll announce it. I just weigh all of my options and find what’s best for me.
Kentucky will have his chance to convince him when he travels to Lexington next week.