While at major recruiting event, UK’s basketball coaches offer scholarship to versatile center

Following Tuesday’s slate of games at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, three of the four Kentucky basketball coaches at the major recruiting event stood in a huddle.

While associate head coach Alvin Brooks III chatted with another college coach, the UK trio of head coach Mark Pope and assistant coaches Cody Fueger and Jason Hart stood in a circle, talking for several minutes before departing the AdventHealth Arena floor at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

Their conversation couldn’t be heard from the media seating area at the event. But, the details of that conversation perhaps were revealed less than an hour later, when one of the camp’s standout performers reported a Kentucky scholarship offer.

On Tuesday evening, class of 2025 center Chris Cenac Jr. reported a scholarship offer from the Wildcats.

The 6-foot-10, 220-pound Cenac has been an across the board performer at the NBPA Top 100 Camp, which is being held in front of personnel from all 30 NBA franchises, in addition to college coaches and recruiters.

Through eight games at the event, Cenac is averaging 20.3 points per game and leads all camp participants in rebounds per contest (11.7). Cenac is also among the event leaders in steals per game (1.8) and blocks per game (1.7).

“I just try to show my versatility all the time,” Cenac said, noting that he tries to model parts of his game after NBA standouts like ex-Cat Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant and Naz Reid.

Cenac is ranked by the 247Sports Composite as a four-star prospect and as the No. 29 overall player in the 2025 recruiting class. Cenac, whose scholarship offer list also includes Alabama, Baylor, Houston, Kansas, Louisville and Tennessee, among other schools, plays at the Isidore Newman School in New Orleans.

That school is more known for its exploits on the football field than the basketball court: It’s the alma mater of NFL Super Bowl winners wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and legendary quarterbacks Eli and Peyton Manning.

But Cenac’s profile as a recruit stands out, regardless of his school’s athletic history.

Cenac is ranked by the 247Sports Composite as the top player in Louisiana in the 2025 recruiting class and as the third-best center in next year’s recruiting group, just ahead of Great Crossing’s Malachi Moreno, another UK recruit who is at the NBPA Top 100 Camp.

“I can just shoot the ball, handle the ball, defend the one through the five, post a guy up,” Cenac said of his versatility. “I can really do everything on the floor, rebound, all that.”

Cenac said it’s this versatility that is most valued by college coaches and recruiters.

“They like how I can switch off of pick-and-rolls, how I can shoot the 3. Just my versatility,” said Cenac, who added that he will try to pare down the number of schools involved in his recruitment later this summer.

In addition to UK, Cenac also reported a scholarship offer from Michigan (led by new head coach Dusty May) on Tuesday night.

“Those are great offers to get,” Cenac said of Michigan and Kentucky. “(Those schools) are looking to build a good relationship.”

New Kentucky men’s basketball coach Mark Pope is beginning to recruit several high school prospects in the 2025 recruiting class.
New Kentucky men’s basketball coach Mark Pope is beginning to recruit several high school prospects in the 2025 recruiting class.

Mark Pope, UK basketball begin to recruit class of 2025 players

While the new-look Kentucky basketball coaching staff has spent most of the offseason focused on the transfer portal — UK has a brand-new roster for next season that includes nine portal pickups — the focus is shifting toward planning for future seasons.

Kentucky’s coaching staff has had a recruiting presence at several major events this offseason, including the Nike EYBL circuit in Indiana, the Adidas 3SSB circuit in Texas, the Puma PRO16/NXT circuit in Kansas, the FIBA Men’s Under-18 AmeriCup in Argentina and the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Orlando.

Scholarship offers to high school prospects have followed.

Cenac is now part of a growing list of class of 2025 prospects who have been extended scholarship offers by Pope’s Kentucky staff. This group also includes small forwards AJ Dybantsa (the consensus top recruit in the 2025 class) and Dwayne Aristode, another five-star prospect, as well as power forward Niko Bundalo, who is also a five-star recruit.

Additionally, Pope and his coaching staff have continued to recruit several class of 2025 prospects that were initially offered and recruited to UK by former head coach John Calipari. This group of players includes the aforementioned Moreno and former Woodford County guard Jasper Johnson.

The class of 2025 prospect that Pope and Kentucky appear to be furthest along with is five-star small forward Will Riley, who is from Canada and has been tearing up the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League this year with his distinct scoring style.

Kentucky recently hosted Riley for an official visit, and the Wildcats are among Riley’s top five post-high school playing options, along with Alabama, Arizona, Illinois and the New Zealand Breakers of the National Basketball League (NBL), the top professional men’s basketball league in Australia and New Zealand.

Riley is a strong candidate to potentially reclassify to the 2024 recruiting class. UK still has one scholarship left to use for its 2024-25 roster, which already features three incoming freshmen (Collin Chandler, Trent Noah and Travis Perry).

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