Kentucky basketball 2023 recruiting class: Meet 8 players in John Calipari's latest haul (2024)

After an uncharacteristic first-round exit from the 2022 NCAA Tournament at the hands of a No. 15 seed, Kentucky men's basketball and coach John Calipari went into the offseason last year aiming for a return to form on the recruiting trail.

The Wildcats' star-studded 2023 class suggests they did just that.

With four five-star signees secured, UK boasts the nation's No. 1 class on 247Sports' teamrankings for the eighth time since Calipari arrived in Lexington.

Legacy recruitReed Sheppard of North Laurel High School got the ball rolling for the 2023 class when he announced his commitment in the fall of 2021.Seven months later, Sheppard was joined by top-rated point guard prospect Robert Dillingham of California.Highly touted wing Justin Edwards was next.

Big man Aaron Bradshaw committed Oct. 14, exactly one month before his high school and AAU teammate: combo guard DJ Wagner, the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2023 class.

The Wildcats added two more players to the group in June: Forward Jordan Burks, who originally signed with Ole Miss, committed June 12, while guard Joey Hart (formerly signed with Central Florida) gave his pledge June 17.

Croatian center Zvonimir Ivisic joined the fray Aug. 1.

Kentucky basketball 2023 recruiting class: Meet 8 players in John Calipari's latest haul (1)

C.L. Brown:After NBA draft deadline, John Calipari and Kentucky basketball need buzzer-beater

K.T. Turner:This new assistant could be vital to Kentucky basketball recruiting in the transfer portal

Here's a look at each member of the class:

Kentucky basketballrecruiting: Meet the Wildcats' 2023 class of commitments

Zvonimir Ivisic

Position: Center

Former team: SC Derby (ABA League)

247Sports Composite rating: N/A

What to know: The 7-foot-2, 220-pound Ivisic became the final piece of the Wildcats' 2023 recruiting class — and their 2023-24 roster — on the first day of August. He committed at noon Croatian time, which was 6 a.m. in Lexington. His commitment came after UK went 4-0 and brought home the gold medal at the GLOBL JAM event in Toronto in July. The Wildcats accomplished won the tournament with their two tallest players, sophom*ore Ugonna Onyenso and fellow 2023 signee Aaron Bradshaw, unavailable because of foot injuries. Ivisic not only provides more depth in the front court, but another option from deep: despite his size, he's shown an ability to knock down 3-pointers with ease. Playing for SC Derby in the ABA League during the 2022-23 campaign, his regular-season numbers (3.9 points and 2.4 rebounds per game) weren't impressive. But Ivisic bounced back with a stellar showing in the playoffs (15.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game) against Partizan, which went on to win the league title.

Calipari on Ivisic: "I'm excited about Big Z. He’ll be a great addition. As excited as he is to play for us, I’m just as excited to have the opportunity to coach him."

Zvonimir Ivisic:Kentucky basketball adds to 2023-24 roster with potential NBA Draft pick from Croatia

Joey Hart

Kentucky basketball 2023 recruiting class: Meet 8 players in John Calipari's latest haul (2)

Position: Shooting guard

High school: Linton-Stockton (Linton, Indiana)

247Sports Composite rating: 3 stars

What to know: A late addition to the 2023 class, Joey Hart committed to UK on June 17, shortly after an official visit. He signed with Central Florida in November but was released from his letter of intent in May before giving his pledge to UK. Hart was one of the best players in the Hoosier State during his prep career, ending his career with 1,901 points, 424 rebounds, 224 assists, 162 steals and 112 blocked shots. He made 39.6% (219 for 553) of his shots beyond the arc in four seasons. He was a finalist for the IndyStar's 2023 Mr. Basketball award after averaging 23.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game as a senior — and hitting 39.9% of his attempts beyond the 3-point line — in leading Linton-Stockton to a 29-2 record and a berth in Indiana's Class 2A state finals. Hart led the Under Armour circuit in 3-point makes last season and was the second-leading scorer at last year's Under Armor Next Summer Tournament, averaging 19.7 points per game.

Calipari on Hart: "Joey can really shoot the basketball but also brings a tremendous all-around game to this class. His best days of basketball are ahead of him and I look forward to watching him develop alongside the rest of the class. I’m excited to get Joey on campus so he can continue to improve at this next level.”

Jordan Burks

Kentucky basketball 2023 recruiting class: Meet 8 players in John Calipari's latest haul (3)

Position: Forward

High School: Hillcrest Prep (Phoenix, Arizona)

247Sports composite rating: 3 stars

What to know: Burks committed to Kentucky on June 12, a week after taking an official visit to Lexington. He spent last season playing on the Overtime Elite circuit, a league for 16-to-20-year-old players in Atlanta. Burks was the league's most lethal scorer, leading the OTE in points per game during the regular season (27.1) and again during the playoffs (23.0). Burks originally signed with Ole Miss in November, but once the Rebels fired Kermit Davis and hired Chris Beard, Burks asked for a release from his letter of intent. Before signing with Ole Miss, Burks held offers from numerous schools, including Florida, Mississippi State, Marquette and Texas Tech.

Calipari on Burks: "Jordan has good size and has the ability to be a prolific scorer. His length allows him to play multiple positions, be dynamic in the open court, rebound at both ends and he can put it on the floor and score in a variety of ways. Jordan has challenged himself against the best of the best and wanted to continue to be pushed at the next level. I really love his toughness and his upside is tremendous, and that his dream since he was young was to play at Kentucky! I’m looking forward to getting in the gym and helping him take his game to new levels."

Jordan Burks:Former Ole Miss pledge commits to Kentucky basketball 2023 class

DJ Wagner

Kentucky basketball 2023 recruiting class: Meet 8 players in John Calipari's latest haul (4)

Position: Combo guard

High School: Camden High School (Camden, New Jersey)

247Sports composite rating: 5 stars

What to know: The No. 1 overall prospect in the Class of 2023, DJ Wagner committed to Kentucky on Nov. 14 after a back-and-forth recruiting battle between John Calipari and his former colleague, Louisville coach Kenny Payne. The 6-3, 165-pound combo guard is as creative as they come with the ball in his hands; he averaged 19.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.3 assists and 3.1 steals during Camden High's run to a 12th state championship in 2022. Wagner has also excelled on the EYBL circuit this summer, averaging 19.1 points and 5.1 assists per game while drawing crowds to whichever court he and the NJ Scholars take. The South Jersey native was also considering reported scholarship offers from Memphis, Syracuse, Temple and Villanova.

Calipari on Wagner: "I have known D.J. his entire life and I’ve always wanted to coach him. Above all he is a competitor. He attacks the offensive end and is a versatile scorer, but he is equally as tough on defense. I love the spirit he’ll bring to practice every day, and I love that he wanted to be at Kentucky. He knows that to get the best of himself, he needs to be surrounded by other talented players who are going to match his competitive energy."

DJ Wagner:Top 2023 basketball recruit, picks Kentucky over rival Louisville

Aaron Bradshaw

Kentucky basketball 2023 recruiting class: Meet 8 players in John Calipari's latest haul (5)

Position: Center

High school: Camden High School (Camden, New Jersey)

247Sports composite rating: 5 stars

What to know: One of the most coveted big men prospects in the 2023 class, Aaron Bradshaw committed to Kentucky on Oct. 14, less than an hour before Big Blue Madness tipped off. Much like one of his high school and AAU teammates, DJ Wagner, Bradshaw’s recruitment had appeared to be a race between the Wildcats and rival Louisville leading up to the 7-footer’s announcement after he visited both schools in June. Bradshaw is the No. 2 center prospect in the 2023 class and No. 6 overall talent, according to 247Sports composite rankings. Per NJ.com, he averaged 8.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.2 blocks per game as a junior during Camden High's run to a 12th state championship in 2022. In addition to UK and U of L, Bradshaw had scholarship offers from more than 15 other Division I programs, including Oklahoma State, Maryland, Michigan and UCLA. He also considered a jump to the NBA's G League.

Calipari on Bradshaw: "The most impactful trait we can have on the defensive end is the ability to block shots, and Aaron is elite at that. He also has all of the tools that a versatile big in today’s game needs. Aaron’s motor continues to improve, he has great size and mobility. As a 7-footer, he can change the game on both ends of the court. He has a high ceiling and has only begun to scratch the surface of the kind of player he can be."

Aaron Bradshaw:Top-5 2023 center commits to Kentucky basketball: Report

Justin Edwards

Kentucky basketball 2023 recruiting class: Meet 8 players in John Calipari's latest haul (6)

Position: Small forward

High School: Imhotep Institute (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

247Sports composite rating: 5 stars

What to know: Ending what has appeared to be a two-horse race for quite some time, Justin Edwards committed to Kentucky over Southeastern Conference rival Tennessee on July 25. Edwards, who comes in at 6-7 and 180 pounds, is the top small forward and No. 3 overall prospect on 247Sports composite rankings of the 2023 class. Before announcing his pledge to UK, the Philadelphia native averaged 16.3 points and seven rebounds per game for Team Final during the EYBL circuit’s weeklong Peach Jam tournament in North Augusta, South Carolina. Other contenders for Edwards’ commitment included: Auburn; Kansas; Maryland; Villanova; and the NBA G League.

Calipari on Edwards: "Justin has the ability to impact the game in a variety of ways. He has terrific size, can play multiple positions and can score the ball at all three levels. I really like how active he is defensively and his desire to rebound every ball. He already has a great understanding that he can positively impact winning without scoring. That isn’t something you can teach, and I know Justin is going to demand the same of his teammates."

Justin Edwards:Top small forward recruit in 2023 class commits to Kentucky basketball

Robert Dillingham

Kentucky basketball 2023 recruiting class: Meet 8 players in John Calipari's latest haul (7)

Position:Point guard

High school:Donda Academy (Simi Valley, California)

247Sports composite rating: 5 stars

What to know:The top-rated point guard in the 2023 class, Robert Dillingham committed to Kentucky on June 24. The6-foot-2, 165-pound California native is at least the 11th true point guard prospect ranked among the top five of 247Sports composite rankings to pledge to UK since Calipari accepted the head coaching job in April 2009. Dillingham chose the Wildcats overLouisville, Auburn and the University of Southern California.

Calipari on Dillingham: "Our best teams have had really good guards and this class has that. Rob has the ability to make good decisions, can create for others or get his own shot. He can make contested layups, which opens the court for him offensively. He is an extremely efficient scorer, but I’m excited about the fact that Rob wants to be pushed by other really good guards on our roster and continue to develop his versatility by playing with or without the ball in his hands."

Robert Dillingham:Top point guard recruit in 2023 class commits to Kentucky basketball

Reed Sheppard

Kentucky basketball 2023 recruiting class: Meet 8 players in John Calipari's latest haul (8)

Position: Shooting guard

High school: North Laurel (London, Kentucky)

247 Sports composite rating:4 stars

What to know:Reed Sheppard followed in his parents' footsteps when he committed to Kentucky in November 2021. His dad, Jeff Sheppard, won two national championships with UK men's basketball in the 1990s, while his mother,Stacey Reed Sheppard, starred on the women's team.At 6-foot-3 and 170 pounds,Sheppard is the No. 5 combo guard prospect on 247Sports composite rankings and the top rising senior in the Bluegrass State.

Calipari on Sheppard: "I know playing for Kentucky has been a dream of Reed’s ever since he was a child, but Reed isn't here because he wanted to be here. He’s here because he’s a really good player who can help this team win. He has terrific fundamentals and is the kind of player who can excel on or off the ball. I love his work ethic and the fact that he wants to be pushed on the biggest of stages to reach his full potential."

Reed Sheppard:What legacy recruit's commitment means for Kentucky basketball

Reach Louisville men's basketball reporter Brooks Holton at bholton@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter at @brooksHolton. Reach Kentucky men’s basketball and football reporter Ryan Black at rblack@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter at @RyanABlack.

Kentucky basketball 2023 recruiting class: Meet 8 players in John Calipari's latest haul (2024)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Arline Emard IV

Last Updated:

Views: 6332

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (72 voted)

Reviews: 95% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Arline Emard IV

Birthday: 1996-07-10

Address: 8912 Hintz Shore, West Louie, AZ 69363-0747

Phone: +13454700762376

Job: Administration Technician

Hobby: Paintball, Horseback riding, Cycling, Running, Macrame, Playing musical instruments, Soapmaking

Introduction: My name is Arline Emard IV, I am a cheerful, gorgeous, colorful, joyous, excited, super, inquisitive person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.