John Calipari extends new offer to five-star point guard from North Carolina

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Five-star point guard Robert Dillingham is the latest recipient of a scholarship offer from Kentucky.

UK Coach John Calipari extended the offer during Dillingham’s official visit to Lexington this weekend, the star recruit announced Sunday morning. Calipari was also in North Carolina late last month to visit with Dillingham, who has long been regarded as one of the top playmakers in the 2023 class. He is the No. 8 overall prospect in that group, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

The 6-foot-1 point guard from Hickory, N.C., recently transferred to the Kanye West-back Donda Academy in California after playing last season for Combine Academy in his home state. Dillingham was named the Charlotte Observer’s High School Basketball Player of the Year for the 2020-21 season, in which he averaged 21.2 points, 4.9 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game and led his team to a 29-3 record. He also shot 40.1 percent from three-point range and 87.5 percent on free throws.

MaxPreps.com named him a first-team sophomore All-American.

More recently, Dillingham earned most valuable player honors on the FIBA Americas 16U team that won a gold medal in Mexico over the summer, averaging 15.7 points, 6.2 assists, and 3.2 steals per game. He tallied 31 points, six rebounds, four assists, three steals and went 5-for-11 from three-point range in the championship game of that event.

Dillingham has picked up previous scholarship offers from North Carolina, Kansas, Texas, Memphis, Florida, Auburn, Tennessee and several other major programs. Though there were some early Crystal Ball predictions in favor of the home-state Tar Heels, there has been seemingly little movement toward a commitment from Dillingham in recent months. He did take a recruiting visit to Memphis last month and made another trip to Louisiana State a few days ago, while UNC added a commitment from five-star 2023 combo guard Simeon Wilcher last week.

Kentucky has already extended a scholarship offer to class of 2023 point guard DJ Wagner, who has long been ranked as the No. 1 overall player in that group and has deep family ties to Calipari. UK has also offered in-state legacy recruit Reed Sheppard, who could play the point guard position in college but could also be utilized off the ball at the next level.

Both Wagner and Sheppard took recruiting visits to UK for Big Blue Madness on Oct. 15.

There has been some reclassification buzz surrounding Dillingham’s recruitment, but he just turned 16 years old in January and is already in his age-appropriate grade. Even if he did make a jump to the 2022 class, current NBA rules would not allow him to enter the draft until 2024, so such a move would mean he would need to play two seasons of college ball before moving on to the NBA.

UK already has commitments from a trio of perimeter-based players in the 2022 class — Skyy Clark, Chris Livingston and Shaedon Sharpe — and the Wildcats are widely expected to add an additional commitment from five-star 2022 combo guard Cason Wallace this fall.

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