Peach Jam showcasing top UK targets


Head coach John Calipari overlooks the team during open practice prior to the first round of the NCCA tournament at Well’s Fargo Arena on March 16, 2016 in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo by Taylor Pence

Kevin Erpenbeck

It’s July, which means Kentucky head coach John Calipari has begun his next wave of recruiting. The first stop on his list is the 2016 Peach Jam.

The Hall of Fame head coach took UK assistants Kenny Payne and Tony Barbee with him to North Augusta, S.C. to observe some of the top prospects of the 2017 class display their skills in front of several other NCAA coaches (including Syracuse’s Jim Boeheim, Louisville’s Rick Pitino and Memphis’ Tubby Smith). 

One of UK’s top recruits (and arguably the best prospect in the country) is Mohamed Bamba, a 6-foot-11, forward from Harlem, N.Y. Bamba told reporters on Thursday that he has received “a lot” of scholarship offers and he plans to narrow his choice of future schools to 10 by August.

According to, Bamba has received 21 total scholarship offers so far, including ones from Kentucky and Duke. The two basketball blue-blood schools are said to be the top contenders to land Bamba. But the power forward also told reporters that he’s looking to play at a school where other players play like him, explaining that he plays “postion-less basketball.” Bamba went on to say that Duke hasn’t had anyone that plays like him “in a while.” Meanwhile, Calipari has acknowledged that he wants to implement position-less basketball into his system.

Bamba started his Peach Jam off strong by posting 21 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked in the PSA Cardinals’ 89-79 win over South Beach.

Trae Young, UK’s top point guard target, also displayed an impressive performance as he finished with 26 points, seven assists, five rebounds and four steals in his team’s 105-74 win over King James. Young is listed as the 20th best player in the 2017 class and the No. 3 point guard nationally.

The 6-1 point guard told reporters on Friday that while he could see himself going to a top basketball school like Duke or UK, he could also envision staying in state and making a name for himself. Young is from Norman, Okla., and currently as scholarship offers from Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. 

“They get a lot of one-and-dones, a lot of guys that have been on that big stage,” Young said of UK and Duke. “I see myself on that stage, but I also see myself being different and going to another school where I have a chance to make a name for my team and my school and be a legend there.”

But Calipari isn’t just looking for top 2017 players. Kyle Tucker of reported on Friday that Calipari and assistant Joel Justus had gone to Spartanburg, S.C., for an Adidas event to watch 2018 stars Romeo Langford, Immanuel Quickley and Zion Williamson. Calipari is expected to return to North Augusta to observe the conclusion of the Peach Jam during the weekend.