Updated: Aug 5, 2022
Coach Cal has his man! Justin Edwards, a consensus top 5 player in the class of 2023, has announced that he is committed to the University of Kentucky!
Justin Edwards is a 6’7” 180 lbs small forward, who is the top ranked player in his position and second best player overall for his class, according to 247Sports. He is a prototypical Calipari forward: size, athleticism, ability to get to the rim on offense, and lock down on defense are just a few of his most prolific traits. He also has the tools to be an effective perimeter player in modern college basketball. He has a smooth looking jump shot both off the dribble and the catch, the ability to create shots for himself and others, as well as the positional versatility to play anywhere from the 2 through the 4. If Cason Wallace and Chris Livingston fulfill their projections of being one-and-done prospects, Edwards will be an instant impact replacement as an elite freshman two-way wing.
While Edwards’ recruitment ended with almost every crystal ball going in favor of the Cats, it was not always smooth sailing. The 2023 class is filled with many top rated forwards - Justin Edwards, Matas Buzelis, Mookie Cook, Ron Holland, Mackenzie Mgbako, and JJ Taylor, all of which Kentucky reached out to, and John Calipari had a hard time deciding which ones to prioritize. However, Tennessee made Justin their top priority from the jump, swaying all of his recruiting momentum to Knoxville. Eventually, Coach Cal decided that Justin was his top choice and personally took the recruitment into his own hands. And once again, Cal got the job done, flipping the top recruit from their border rival to Kentucky.
Edwards joins pure point guard Rob Dillingham and combo guard Reed Sheppard as the first three commitments in this class, who he will compliment nicely at the 3 position. However, we all know that Coach Cal isn’t done as he is in pursuit of a “super class”. DJ Wagner or Ian Jackson are both very realistic options to round out the backcourt, while Kentucky still remains in pursuit of Ron Holland and Aaron Bradshaw for the front court. Of course, Ugonna Kingsley is also a likely addition at center for next season, but he had recently announced a reclass to the class of 2022, meaning he will play with, but not officially be a part of the 2023 class. Unofficially, Rob Dillingham, Reed Sheppard, Justin Edwards, Ugonna Kingsley, DJ Wagner / Ian Jackson and Ron Holland / Aaron Bradshaw could end up being Calipari’s best group of freshmen ever.