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UK, Calipari sign four for 2014

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Never count John Calipari out.

Just when it looked like Coach Cal's impressive streak of top-ranked recruiting classes was coming to an end -- it has to at some point, right? -- Kentucky's head coach put together yet another one of the top signing classes in the country.

Touted as one of top two or three recruiting classes so far, John Calipari announced four players for his 2014 class during the early signing period on Thursday. Trey Lyles (Indianapolis), Karl Towns (Metuchen, N.J.), Devin Booker (Moss Point, Miss.) and Tyler Ulis (Chicago Heights, Ill.) have all signed national letters of intent to play basketball at the University of Kentucky, starting in the 2014-15 season.

All four players in the signing class are regarded as consensus top-40 players, and two of them are rated in the major recruiting services' top 15.

"I'm really proud of this group as far as where they are academically, what type of people they are and their basketball ability," Coach Cal said. "All four of these guys are skilled for their position and they have the ability to score. We're happy to announce they will be joining us next fall."

With a handful of the nation's top recruits still undecided and the spring signing period still to go, it remains to be seen whether Calipari will have the top class for a fifth straight season, according to Rivals. But with yet another collection of talented kids, never count Coach Cal out.

Check below for a recap of each player, including a bio blast, quote from Cal and video highlights.

Trey Lyles

  • 6-foot-10, 245-pound power forward from Indianapolis
  • Ranked No. 7 overall by ESPN and No. 8 by Rivals and Scout
  • Tabbed No. 1 power forward by Scout and No. 2 by ESPN
  • Averaged 17.9 points, 12.7 rebounds, 3.9 assists, 3.7 assists and 1.3 blocks as a junior at Indianapolis Arsenal Technical High School
  • Two-time Indianapolis City Player of the Year (2012-13)
  • Averaged 20.3 points for Team Canada in the 2013 U19 World Championships
  • Verbally committed Nov. 5, his 18th birthday
  • Twitter: @TreyMambaLyles

Why Lyles chose the Cats

"Just because of Coach Cal's record with players like me, what he's able to do with guys such as myself, and just really getting us to the stage that we want to be at, which is for me the NBA. I want to be an all-star, and he's had a lot of guys that have been able to step up to that stage and become all-stars in the NBA. His overall pitch to me was just perfect. I think it's going to be the best situation for myself."

"DeMarcus Cousins is out there getting 30 and 15, so that's definitely something I want to be. Julius (Randle), he's just a man-child out there. He has a chance of going No. 1. That just gives them extra points for me, guys at my position that (Calipari has) developed and got into the NBA."

Cal says

"At 6-10, Trey can play both inside and outside. He has the skills to score in both areas. He's seen what some of our former guys are doing in the pros right now and has said he wants to follow in their path. My hope is he's our next beast."

What they're saying about Lyles

"Highly skilled big man understands how to use his strength to create leverage and hold position. Similar to a young Carlos Boozer, not a high flyer but scores with jump hooks and short jumpers. Excellent rebounder who plays physically on both ends." - Eric Bossi, Rivals

"He is terrific around the basket, displaying a variety of post moves and the ability to finish at the rim. He can also face-up and score effectively. He's not an explosive athlete, but he finds ways to make plays and outworks people." - Jeff Borzello, CBS

Video highlights

Karl Towns

  • 7-foot, 235-pound forward from Metuchen, N.J.
  • Ranked No. 6 overall by ESPN and No. 11 by Rivals and Scout
  • Tabbed No. 3 center by Rivals and ESPN and No. 4 by Scout
  • Averaged 21.3 points, 14.3 rebounds and 5.6 blocks last season for St. Joseph's
  • New Jersey Gatorade Player of the Year in 2012-13
  • Tabbed New Jersey's top player by The Star-Ledger
  • Led St. Joseph's to back-to-back state championships
  • Played the last two summers with the Dominican Republic National Team, the first summer under Coach Cal and this past summer under assistant coach Orlando Antigua
  • First commit of the 2012 class
  • Verbally committed Dec. 4, 2012
  • Twitter: @KATis32

Why Towns chose the Cats

"Kentucky is just such a great school. They're just such a powerhouse in basketball and at the same time they're such a great academic school. I just felt that Kentucky was the best choice."

"For me, being with Coach John Calipari on the Dominican team, he never asked about time or about how many shots to take or anything. He just expected me to compete at the highest level every day and just make sure that I played not just for him, not for anyone, but my family and my country. I really respected that a lot out of him."

Cal says

"Karl, at 7 feet tall, brings great versatility. He can obviously score it inside, but his ability to shoot and handle it like he's a guard will spread defenses out. His growth from his first stint with the Dominican team until now has been unbelievable, and I'm looking forward to working with him on the collegiate level."

What they're saying about Towns

"A personable big man with big skills, Towns has great hands, soft touch and is comfortable using either hand around the rim. He has good ball skills and range on his jumper but sometimes roams the perimeter a bit too much. An above average rebounder when he plays in the lane." -- Eric Bossi, Rivals

"Towns is an outstanding prospect, and his uncanny ability to stretch a defense with his shooting range is remarkable, as he knocks down shots to 22 feet. For a 7-1 player his passing skills are terrific, as he shows floor vision and the unselfishness to hit the open man. At this stage of his young career he might be more productive outside rather than inside. As he develops a paint game and learns how to use his mammoth size, he will reach his potential." -- Paul Biancardi, ESPN

Video highlights

Devin Booker

  • 6-5, 185-pound shooting guard out of Moss Point, Miss.
  • Ranked No. 18 overall by ESPN, No. 30 by Rivals and No. 31 Scout
  • Rated the No. 3 shooting guard by ESPN and the No. 5 by Scout
  • 2012-13 Mississippi Gatorade State Player of the Year
  • Averaged 29.7 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 2012-13
  • Tabbed Sun Herald Player of the Year last season
  • Verbally committed Oct. 31.
  • Twitter: @DevinBook

Why Booker chose the Cats

"I felt like Kentucky's worst situation would be better than a lot of better situations at other schools." -- via Evan Daniels of Scout.com

"It's a lot of what everyone is doing nowadays. Going in kind of as a package. I want to be around people I'm comfortable with, people I've hung out with and people I keep in contact with. ... It was mainly my decision, but Tyler and I have been talking about going to college together since our first camp, the Elite 100. Right then I was like 'wow' I wanted to play on the same team as Tyler." - via Evan Daniels, Scout.com

Cal says

"Devin is a scoring machine. At nearly 6-6, he can play three different positions. He's got great range, which should help us spread the floor when he's playing. What I like most about him is his confidence in his ability and his desire to compete with the best."

What they're saying about Booker

"Booker projects as a big shooting guard who can use his size and strength to counter more athletic wings. Very effective as a catch and shoot guy and he's hard to take the ball from because of his size." -- Eric Bossi, Rivals

"Booker, at 6-foot-5, 185 pounds, is a true shooting guard who plays with great confidence on the offensive end. He has a quick trigger and deep shooting range that extends beyond the 3-point arc. Booker also has a smooth midrange pull-up jumper that he can execute going right or left in addition to having the ability to drive to the rim, where he is a crafty finisher in heavy traffic. Booker spots up on the break, comes off screens and knocks down deep jumpers. He will be worth his weight in gold against zone defenses, where he will stretch the defense and be ready to hit perimeter jumpers off the catch. Booker can rebound and start the break too. He has a good basketball IQ and feel for the game. -- Reggie Rankin, ESPN

Video highlights

Tyler Ulis

  • 5-8, 150-pound point guard from Chicago Heights, Ill.
  • Ranked 29th nationally by Scout and 33rd by both Rivals and ESPN
  • Tabbed the No. 4 point guard in the country by ESPN and No. 6 by Scout
  • Averaged 21.9 points, 4.8 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 2.8 steals as a junior at Marian Catholic High School
  • Named the Time Illinois Boys Basketball Player of the Year
  • Guided his team to a team-record 29 wins last year and the program's first sectional title
  • Owns his school's single-season and career record for points
  • Verbally committed Sept. 13
  • Twitter: @tulis3

Why Ulis chose the Cats

"Kentucky is the biggest stage in college basketball. I like how Coach Cal produces point guards and sends guys to the pros and wins games."

"I like Coach Cal. He's straightforward with everything. He just tells you the truth. He says if you're not built for this you can't come here. If you're not ready for the spotlight, the competition, and if you play bad, the criticism, you can't play here."

Cal says

"Tyler is the ultimate competitor. His heart and his ability to make people better set him apart from his peers. He can score in bunches, and like every point guard I've had, he brings a little something different to the table."

What they're saying about Ulis

"Lacks size but plays the point guard position without fear. A natural leader who has a good feel for when to attack, when to pull back and when to turn into a jump shooter. Will obviously need to add strength but moves feet very well and has quick hands on defense." -- Eric Bossi, Rivals

"Tyler Ulis is an ideal fit at Kentucky because he is a true set-up, pass-first point guard who keeps possession of the ball until he is ready to drop off an assist or score himself. With a tight dribble and vision he can see the game and play at any speed. He is special, specifically, in two ways. First is his competitiveness as he is usually prepared to compete from the tap and fights it out until the end. Second, he can make a jumper out to the arc which means you can't just play him for the drive and fish. Under John Calipari, Kentucky has had the No. 1 class four out of the last five years. With all the talented scorers and big men that Kentucky brings in, Ulis will make each one of them look good, and even though he is small, he will never back down from an opponent or a challenge. " -- Paul Biancardi, ESPN

Video highlights

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