LEXINGTON, Ky. – At the beginning of the early signing period, the Kentucky men’s basketball team has received National Letters of Intent from Aaron and Andrew Harrison, Marcus Lee, Derek Willis and James Young, head coach John Calipari announced Thursday.
Analysts have predicted it will mark the fifth consecutive top-ranked class in the country for the Wildcats.
The tandem of Aaron and Andrew Harrison is a pair of 6-foot-5 guards from Fort Bend, Texas. Andrew directs the floor as the nation’s top-rated point guard, while Aaron is the nation’s most prolific shooting guard.
Aaron Harrison is in his senior season at Travis High School. He averaged 18.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 2.6 steals, leading his team to a 36-4 record and 5A State Championship game in 2011-12. The oldest of the Harrison twins by a minute, Aaron Harrison is ranked the No. 1 shooting guard in the country by all three recruiting services, while Rivals and Scout both rank him the fourth overall prospect in the country. ESPNU Recruiting ranks him fifth. Aaron was named to the Preseason American Family Insurance ALL-USA Team.
“Aaron is more of a scoring guard who can make shots and make plays at the rim,” Calipari said. “He can also play some point in a pinch. Like his brother, Andrew, he has the ability to physically dominate the opponent.”
Andrew Harrison averaged 12.5 points, 6.0 assists, 4.9 rebounds and 2.1 steals, while also helping guide his team to an appearance in the 5A State Championship game and a 36-4 record in 2011-12. Along with his twin brother, Aaron, they are the first UK signees from the state of Texas since Jeff Brassow (1989-94). Andrew is ranked as the top point guard in the country by all three recruiting services and the third-best prospect in the country by ESPNU Recruiting. Scout and Rivals both rank him as the fifth-best prospect. Andrew was also named to the Preseason American Family Insurance ALL-USA Team.
“Andrew comes in ready to play physically at the point-guard position,” Calipari said. “He’s a driver, slasher and playmaker with great size. He and his brother Aaron have the ability to be great on-ball defenders.”
Lee is a 6-9 forward from Antioch, Calif., who averaged 13.9 points, 13.1 rebounds, 9.1 blocks and 1.3 steals as a junior for Deer Valley High School. In his first AAU competition he registered a triple-double that was highlighted by 11 blocked shots. Lee is ranked as the No. 17 overall player and the No. 5 power forward in his class by Rivals. ESPNU Recruiting has him rated as the No. 30 overall prospect and the ninth-best power forward. Scout has him tabbed as the No. 40 overall player and the No. 3 center.
“Marcus Lee is a long, agile, quick-bounce, quick-twitch, 6-9 forward,” Calipari said. “He gets to the basket, he’s a terrific shot-blocker and he can rebound above the rim. Marcus has unlimited upside because he’s going to get stronger and he’s going to improve his skill around the basket. His speed, quickness, jumping ability and length set him apart.”
Willis is a 6-9 power forward from Mt. Washington, Ky., who is in his senior season at Bullitt East High School. Willis averaged 18.0 points and 9.3 rebounds while leading his team to the Sweet 16 in Rupp Arena last season. Rivals has tabbed Willis as the No. 25 power forward, while Scout has him ranked at No. 27. ESPNU Recruiting has rated him at No. 37 at his position.
“Derek is a very skilled, 6-9 big man who is learning to play through bumps, which is going to elevate his game,” Calipari said. “He’s a long-armed basketball player who can get his hands on balls and really pass. Like Marcus, he has a tremendous upside because he’s going to get stronger and be able to play more physical and really use his size and his shot-making ability to spread the court for us.”
James Young, a 6-6 shooting guard from Rochester Hills, Mich., is in his senior season at Rochester High School. As a junior at Troy High School, Young averaged 25.1 points, 10.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.5 steals, earning first-team All-State honors from the Associated Press, Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. Young is ranked as the No. 6 prospect in his class by ESPNU Recruiting and No. 10 by both Rivals and Scout. ESPNU and Rivals rank him as the second-best shooting guard in the country, while Scout ranks him as the third-best small forward in the nation.
“James is a long, athletic and skilled wing,” Calipari said. “He’s a lefty who can shoot it and get in transition. You can throw it ahead to him and he can make basketball plays. He rebounds the ball for his position as well anyone in the class.”
The early signing period runs through Nov. 21.