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Top basketball recruit Jonathan Kuminga cuts list to five. Kentucky and G League still in mix.

Ben Roberts, Lexington Herald-Leader on

Published in Basketball

The top high school basketball prospect in the class of 2021 has his eye on moving to 2020 and playing in college -- or, perhaps, the pros -- next season, and Kentucky is on his new list of finalists.

Jonathan Kuminga -- a highly versatile 6-foot-8 forward from Congo, now playing for a high school in New Jersey -- announced Friday that he has narrowed his recruitment to UK, Auburn, Duke, Texas Tech and the G League.

Rivals.com, 247Sports and ESPN all rank Kuminga as the No. 1 overall player in the 2021 class, but he has long been considered a candidate to reclassify to 2020, a move that would put him on the path of playing college basketball next season. Many recruiting analysts are expecting him to make that jump, but the G League's new program that pays select players who'd rather skip college and train up to the NBA draft is also expected to be a legitimate option.

ESPN's recently updated mock draft for 2021 pegged Kuminga as the No. 4 overall pick, behind 2020's top three recruits Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State), Evan Mobley (Southern Cal), and Jalen Green, who has already committed to the G League's program.

If Kuminga does play college ball next season, he would be an instant-impact addition for whichever school lands his commitment. He averaged 16.2 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game -- despite dealing with injuries -- for The Patrick School (N.J.) this past season after tallying 22.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game on the highly competitive Nike circuit last summer.

UK coach John Calipari watched him play multiple times with both his high school and Nike teams over the past year, and he was the first player from the 2021 class to land a UK scholarship offer, picking up that honor during a visit to Lexington late in the 2018-19 season.

His Nike league coach, Andy Borman, told the Herald-Leader last summer that Kuminga's "high motor" sets him apart on the court.

"He plays both sides of the ball -- literally plays both sides of the ball. Wants to guard the other team's best player at all times regardless of position," Borman said. "He's the kid heading into a game that says, 'I got him.' And he's a kid that -- even if I dictate a change on the matchup -- he's saying, 'Coach, I can take him if you need me to.' Which is great, because so many kids want to just talk about offense.

 

"And don't get me wrong, he's offensively talented. Any time he sees single coverage he's up there, 25, 30, 35 (points). ... But a lot of times he's going to see double-teams and triple-teams. And with that, he's a willing passer. He's got great vision. There's not a hole in his game."

Though he is 6-8 and a willing rebounder, Kuminga wouldn't do much to help UK in the frontcourt next season. He's looking to play some on the perimeter as he prepares for the NBA draft.

There's not much consensus among national recruiting analysts as to a clear favorite in Kuminga's recruitment, though Rivals.com's Corey Evans did log a prediction in favor of Auburn on Kuminga's Future Cast page last month. His older brother, Joel Ntambwe, transferred to Texas Tech last year and will be eligible to play for the Red Raiders this season.

There is no timetable for Kuminga's final decision on where he'll play next season.

(c)2020 Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.)

Visit the Lexington Herald-Leader (Lexington, Ky.) at www.kentucky.com

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