Can Kentucky recruit basketball star Chris Livingston?


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Minutes before the start of the second day of games on the Adidas circuit, mingled Friday morning at one of the basketball courts, a few people wearing University of Kentucky clothing.

It is not unusual to see British jerseys at a basketball event wherever you are. But – with few fans still in the building – “BBN” shirts seemed a bit out of place in the middle of Alabama.

It turns out that those who wore blue and white were relatives of Chris Livingston, originally from Ohio, a major Kentucky recruiting target and one of the top 2022 class basketball prospects. One of the women wearing British clothing was Chris’s aunt Lisa Livingston, who ran for the Wildcats in the 90s and still lives in Lexington.

It’s a pretty good tie for Kentucky as they are chasing one of the best rookies in the country.

“It could play a role,” admitted the star player. “But not too important a role. I’m just trying to go where I know I’m going to be the best of my ability.

Livingston – a strong, athletic 6-foot-6 perimeter player from Akron – is the No. 5 overall player in the senior class, according to the 247Sports Composite Rankings. He was one of Kentucky’s first major goals for 2022, and he’s clearly still a priority for the Wildcats.

When that review period began Thursday morning, John Calipari made sure the first game he watched was the one with Livingston. Britain’s head coach and new assistant Chin Coleman secured front row seats for that one. With Calipari and Coleman recruiting elsewhere in the country on Friday, it was Britain’s top assistant Orlando Antigua who made Livingston’s game his first stop of the morning.

“They are really involved in my process,” Livingston said of the Wildcats. “I really enjoyed participating in the tour and the way they treated me. The things I saw on the visit – the campus – Coach Cal, all the coaching staff, they’re really involved in my recruiting right now.

Livingston paid an official visit to Lexington last month, accompanied by several family members who were at the gym on Friday morning. Players and families are limited by NCAA rules to prolonged interaction with college coaches at these shoe company events, but Livingston’s grandfather and aunt made a point of attracting the attention from Antigua and say hello.

On the pitch – and after a rough start on Thursday morning – Livingston was among one of the top five national rookies on Friday, using his blend of power and skill to secure buckets from all three levels. As a junior last season, he averaged 31.1 points, 15.8 rebounds, 6.1 assists, 4.7 steals and 4.0 blocks per game and won First Team All-American Junior Honors from MaxPreps.com. He has long been ranked among the top five players in his class.

“He’s just an absolutely explosive athlete,” 247Sports analyst Travis Branham recently told the Herald-Leader. “He’s strong. He’s physical. And when he attacks downhill, given his athleticism and strength, he’s a force to try to stop.

Livingston has described himself as a strong downhill player who can reach the rim at will, a prospect with good ball handling skills, good dribbling or receiving, and a two-way player who can lock defense. He showed flashes of everything that Friday morning, including the ability to fire – reversing a three-fold recoil a few yards from where Antigua was standing.

“Once he has a little bit of rhythm and he turns it on, he can really take control of a game. On both sides of the pitch, ”Branham said.

Chris Livingston Recruitment

The buzz surrounding Livingston’s hiring has changed in recent months.

Earlier in his high school career, many in recruiting circles assumed Livingston would never play college basketball. At one point, it looked like players in his 2022 class could jump straight from high school to the NBA Draft. This is no longer the case, but several intriguing professional options have emerged over the past couple of years.

Livingston said on Friday he was still considering the professional route. He specifically said the G League and Australia-based NBL contacted him. He would probably order something close to seven digits – perhaps over that amount – if he jumped pro.

But the university is also on the table.

Livingston made official visits to Kentucky and Kansas last month, and he said he had additional official visits scheduled for Memphis, Georgetown and the state of Tennessee after the July assessment periods end. Coaches from all of those schools observed it this week.

One of the main reasons college basketball is now in the cards is the emerging possibilities that accompany reforms to the NCAA’s name, image and likeness rules, changes that will allow players to win more. money while maintaining their eligibility for college.

College coaches are limited in what they can say and promise to rookies regarding NIL opportunities. They cannot make specific deals for athletes, but they can sell their program in such a way that these possibilities become clear to rookies and their families.

Livingston said part of his official visit to the UK included a meeting that did just that, highlighting Kentucky’s vast and enraged fan base, NBA-level media coverage surrounding the program and the placement of the Wildcats on national television throughout their season.

The star rookie was clearly impressed with the pitch.

“I think that sort of evens out for the colleges,” he said. “I think that plays a big role.”

Even if Livingston goes to college, Kentucky will have stiff competition.

Memphis is the school that could have the most momentum in its recruitment. There has been a lot of talk in the recruiting world – both as summer approaches and during this week’s event – that the Tigers will be the team to beat if Livingston chooses the university route.

However, he didn’t mention any specific favorites on Friday and – despite all that Memphis buzz – there is no prediction on Livingston’s Crystal Ball page.

The attention Kentucky has shown to start this evaluation period should make it clear that the Wildcats believe they are still at the heart of this recruiting.

“I know he’s a high level Blue Blood. I know the whole story, ”Livingston said. “I know Coach Cal and his story. With their name, image and likeness, they have some of the best fans in the country. I know a lot about Kentucky. I have been Kentucky since I was younger. Since my aunt is from Kentucky, I always took care of them.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader

Ben Roberts covers basketball, football, horse racing and other sports in the UK for the Lexington Herald-Leader and has specialized in recruiting basketball in the UK for several years. He also maintains the Next Cats recruiting blog, which features the latest news on the Wildcats recruiting efforts.
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