Kentucky basketball recruiting: Nation’s No. 2 prospect Justin Edwards commits to Wildcats on CBS Sports HQ

Kentucky landed a huge commitment Monday, when five-star winger Justin Edwards picked the Wildcats over Tennessee live on CBS Sports HQ. Ranked No. 2 overall for the Class of 2023 by 247Sports, Edwards is the UK’s third top-30 commitment in the class and the second five-star commitment with guard Robert Dillingham.

Amid the reclassification of No. 1 overall prospect GG Jackson in the Class of 2022, Edwards has emerged as one of the top candidates to claim the top spot in the Class of 2023. Among his main contenders for the honor is another Kentucky target in DJ Wagner guard.

No matter where he ends up in the final standings, Edwards is a big advantage for the Wildcats as they skip UConn and move from No. 3 to No. 2 in the 247Sports team rankings for the class. Duke remains atop the standings for now, but a commitment from Wagner could change that.

Before narrowing his roster to Kentucky and Tennessee, Edwards also considered Auburn, Kansas, Maryland, Villanova and the G League Ignite. The 6-foot-7 star from Philadelphia’s Imhotep Institute is considered the No. 1 small forward in the class and boasts a .9980 rating in the 247Sports Composite rankings.

Edwards as a player

Edwards averaged 18.3 points and 8.3 rebounds per game while leading Imhotep to city and state titles as a junior. His strong showing for Imhotep helped him jump from No. 12 to No. 3 in the 247Sports Player Rankings for the Class of 2023 in May.

On the summer circuit, he plays for the team final. Here is Edwards’ recent assessment of Travis Branham from 247Sports:

“Edwards is the most complete player in the class when firing on all cylinders. He’s a 6-foot-7 winger with length and athleticism who can dribble, pass and shoot with a polished attacking package able to come out and create his own offense at all times and can rebound and defend at a high level.”

The Kentucky Mark

If there were any concerns over British coach John Calipari’s continued pleas on the recruiting trail following the Wildcats’ stunning first-round exit of the NCAA Tournament at the hands of No. 15 seed Saint Peter, that should appease him. It’s been a horrible end to the season, especially after going 9-16 in 2020-21, but Edwards’ commitment shows just how strong the Big Blue Nation brand remains in recruiting.

Kentucky’s 2022 class was led by five-star prospects Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston, but finished No. 14 overall for 247Sports teams. With Edwards, Dillingham and No. 28 overall prospect Reed Sheppard signed on, the Wildcats are firmly on the hunt to finish with the top-ranked class this time around.

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