Big Blue Madness started a day early for Kentucky.
James Young, a versatile 6-6 wing player from Michigan, verbally committed to coach John Calipari’s Wildcats during a show on ESPNU’s “ESPN Recruiting Nation” Thursday. The Michigan product is a consensus top-10 player in the 2013 recruiting class and his commitment came one week after twins Aaron and Andrew Harrison of Texas, both top five players, announced they would sign with Kentucky.
“Playing basketball for a national championship — that’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Young said during his press conference. “They were all good schools, but (Kentucky coach John) Calipari is more of a family guy, and I’m a family guy, too. I feel like he and I had a lot in common.”
Young averaged 25.1 points, 10.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a junior last season at Troy High School and had a 49-point game. Young transferred to Rochester High in August, just days before the school year began.
The left-hander also had an extraodinary summer playing for The Family during the Elite Youth Basketball League. He averaged 21.5 points and 8.5 rebounds during six games at the Peach Jam, shooting better than 46 percent from 3-point range.
One of Young’s strengths is running the floor, a priority in Calipari’s system. He’s also a strong finisher at the rim, another trait Calipari likes. Young is also one of the best 3-point shooters in the 2013 recruiting class and should help make the Harrison twins even more effective players.
“His athleticism, improvement on offense and ability to rebound from his position are among his better attributes,” said Evan Daniels, Scout.com national recruiting director. “I think Young fits into what Calipari wants to do quite well. Young is a supreme talent and one of the better offensive weapons in the country.”
He can play either shooting guard or small forward, which makes him an even better fit with the Harrison twins.
“I think he complements Aaron Harrision on the wing quite well. He's not quite the scorer Aaron is, but he's better at slashing and will defend and board his area well. I think he's a nice fit with the twins,” Daniels said.
Calipari has already four straight No. 1 recuriting classes and now has three of the nation’s top 10 ranked players again in his 2013 recruiting class along with Bullitt East standout Derek Willis. That has him positioned for a No. 1 class again.
“It'll depend on how the rest of the high profile decisions play out. Florida could certainly make a play for the No. 1 spot again if they were able to snag Julius Randle or Jabari Parker. With that said, it's looking good for Kentucky to finish the 2013 rankings at the top again,” Daniels said.
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The Harrison twins and Young are expected to attend Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena tongiht, but Calipari also expects to have 6-9 senior forward Marcus Lee of California and junior Cliff Alexander of Chicago and JaQuan Lyle of Evansville, two top 2014 prospects, at Madness. Kentucky also got a boost Wednesday when New Jersey forward Karl Towns, one of the nation’s best sophomores, said he would attend Madness.
He played on the Dominican Republic national team that Calipari coached last summer. Towns is the only player in the 2015 recruiting class with an offer from Kentuky.
The Harrison twins along with Bulllitt East forward Derek Willis, who committed to UK¿during his junior season, are also expected to attend Madness.
Andrew Wiggins, the nation’s top-ranked junior who is contemplating reclassifying to the 2013 recruiting class, went home to Canada because Huntington (W.Va.) Prep is on fall break.