With incoming teammate Keldon Johnson out of the game due to an ankle injury, all eyes from Big Blue Nation on Sunday were on Tyler Herro, who was on the national stage for the first time in the Jordan Brand Classic.
He did not disappoint.
Showing qualities that are sure to make Herro a Big Blue Nation favorite, Herro posted 13 points, five rebounds, five assists and three steals in just 20 minutes. His team fell 146-136 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.
Herro showed he’s much more than just a shooter – although he’s pretty good at knocking down jumpers as well. In addition to backing up his shooting prowess, Herro showed a smooth but athletic game, confidence and even a little defense in an all-star game that’s defined by offense.
The 6-foot-5 shooting guard out of Whitnall High School in Greenfield, Wisconsin, made 5 of 9 shots, including a pull-up 3-pointer.
Johnson was selected for the game as well but did not play after suffering a minor ankle injury in last week’s GEICO national semifinal game.
UK has had multiple players compete in every Jordan Brand Classic during the John Calipari era, including six in 2013. Since Calipari’s arrival, 35 total players have been selected for the Jordan Brand Classic game.
All told, 40 Wildcats have played in the game. A full list of JBC alumni can be found at jordanbrandclassic.com/history/.
Herro had a spectacular if not overlooked senior season, averaging 32.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 4.0 assists for Whitnall, shooting 4.35 percent from 3-point range. He scored 40 or more points in eight games this season.
The top-ranked player out of Wisconsin, Herro is tabbed No. 25 overall by ESPN, No. 32 by 247 Sports and No. 35 by Rivals. He was one of 54 players selected for the USA Basketball Junior National Team minicamp in October.
A 6-6 shooting guard out of Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, Johnson is a consensus five-star player and one of the best in the class of 2018. A native of South Hill, Virginia, he previously played for Huntington Prep in Huntington, West Virginia, before transferring to Oak Hill for the 2017-18 season. Johnson is ranked as high as the No. 6 overall prospect by ESPN. 247Sports ranks him as the nation’s No. 13 overall player while Rivals has him at No. 14.
Johnson led the Warriors to a 42-1 overall record and averaged 22.1 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game during his senior campaign. Like Herro, he was one of 54 players selected for the USA Basketball Junior National Team minicamp in October. He was tabbed to the Naismith Trophy High School All-America Second Team in March and a member of the All-USA Boys Basketball All-America Second Team last week.
Johnson also appeared in the McDonald’s All American Game on March 28 alongside the third piece of UK’s 2018 recruiting class, Immanuel Quickley. In a game usually defined by highlight-reel dunks and offense, Johnson and Quickley showed they can impact the game in other areas.
Johnson still had a couple of rim-rattling dunks, but it was his defense down the stretch that made the difference in the West’s 131-128 comeback victory over the East. Johnson locked down on defense in the closing minutes, coming up with a key charge – yes, in an all-star game – and a block on USA Today’s High School Player of the Year R.J. Barrett, the top-ranked player in the class, in the closing minutes. Johnson finished with eight points, three rebounds, two blocks and a steal in 20 minutes.
Quickely only scored three points on just two shots but tallied eight assists – third most in the game – and four rebounds in 17 minutes for the East. Earlier that week, Quickley tied for first place in the Powerade Jam Fest 3-Point Contest.
Quickley, a 6-foot-4 guard out of the John Carroll School in Bel Air, Maryland, is a consensus five-star prospect. Considered a consensus top-three player at his position, he’s ranked as high as No. 15 by 247Sports and No. 17 by ESPN. Quickley has battled some injuries during his senior season but led his school to a conference championship while averaging 20 points, six rebounds and six assists per game.
Quickley scored 30 or more in five games, 20 or more in 14 games and finished with eight double-doubles in his junior season. He also averaged 25.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and shot 42.1 percent from 3-point range in the Adidas Summer Championships in July. He was a member of the 2017 USA Men’s U19 World Cup Team that competed in Cairo. Playing under Calipari, Quickley averaged 6.7 points and 2.4 assists in 18.3 minutes per game. He was named the Baltimore Sun Metro Player of the Year in 2016.
Herro and Johnson are back in action on Friday at 10 p.m. ET in the Nike Hoop Summit. That game will be televised on ESPN2.
In every season in the Calipari era, the Wildcats have signed a top-three recruiting class according to the Recruiting Services Consensus Index, which tallies major recruiting rankings and plugs them into a formula to calculate a consensus ranking.
For the latest on the Kentucky men’s basketball team, follow @KentuckyMBB on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, and on the web at UKathletics.com.
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