Prep coaches rave about incoming UK frosh

Published 3:00 pm Friday, June 9, 2023

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Kentucky’s basketball roster remains a hot topic in the Bluegrass as coach John Calipari still has just seven scholarship players.

Kentucky has lost seven players from last season — three to the draft and four to the transfer portal. One more — Antonio Reeves — remains in limbo between returning to UK for a second season or potentially leaving UK as a graduate transfer.

However, one player who will be at Kentucky — and arrived in Lexington last Friday — is guard Rob Dillingham and those who have coached against him really like his game.

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Prolific Prep (Calif.) coach Ryan Bernardi knows the incoming freshman guard “very well” because he coached three games against Dillingham when he was coaching high school basketball in North Carolina. Two of his current players were also one-time AAU teammates with Dillingham.

“They think very highly of him, too,” Bernardi said. “His skill set is unbelievable. He has a way of manipulating the basketball and getting to a spot he wants to be. He is really an electric player.”

Bernardi remembers him as a “tiny little freshman with a big rep” coming off the bench against his team.

“We went 1-3-1 zone and he fired and made one from the volleyball line,” Bernardi said. “ He just drilled and ran back on defense like it was no big deal. He had the courage he could take and make the shot. That’s how he is. He has a great personality.”

Our Savior Lutheran (N.Y.) coach Peter Wehye says he has a “great and competitive relationship” with the Kentucky guard.

“I love him,” Wehye said. “He is an amazing combo guard who can play the one or two. He is a scorer with a high lQ who can really pass the ball. He can really score at all three levels. He is just a dynamic player who I think will be a great player at Kentucky.”

Wehye feels the same about 7-foot freshman Aaron Bradshaw of New Jersey who he says he has “known forever” and coached against him often on the Nike EYBL circuit.

“Bradshaw tries to finish everything and plays with a nasty edge,” Wehye said.

What about another UK freshman, DJ Wagner of New Jersey? He’s been hyped as the best player in the 2023 recruiting class even though he was not No. 1 in the final rankings.

“He is not overhyped at all. I have watched him do it at every level and he did it his senior year and he has continuously done it on EYBL,” Wehye said. “Tough cover. Slithery guard who is able to score on three levels.

“To have both of them (Wagner and Dillingham) that ain’t fair They will play together well. They can both play the 1 and score the ball. It is a dynamic group.”

That includes wing Justin Edwards of Philadelphia.

“We play against him all the time and this year they got us in the preseason. I love him. I have a soft spot for lefties. The kid shoots the heck out of the basketball. He can do it at all levels,” Wehye said. “It’s really a dynamic group that Calipari has coming in.”