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By LARRY VAUGHT
Big Blue Madness started a day early for the University of 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.
Young had narrowed his college list to Michigan State, Syracuse and Kansas along with Kentucky but had been considered a strong lean to UK by recruiting analysts even before the Harrisons committed because often he had noted that UK was No. 1 on his list. Young made an unofficial visit to Kentucky two weeks ago.
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 recruiting 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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Calipari also expected 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 Kentucky.
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.