Going into his junior season of high school, Michael Gilchrist is regarded as the nation's top college basketball prospect.
Many believe the Somerdale resident's college of choice is Kentucky. After all, Gilchrist, who commutes almost every day from Somerdale in Camden County to St. Patrick's High School in Elizabeth, N.J., revealed he wanted to play for John Calipari at Memphis two years ago.
In April, Calipari became the head coach at Kentucky. And since Gilchrist's uncle, William Wesley, and Calipari are close friends, he's a lock to sign with Kentucky, right?
"It's wide open," the 6-foot-7 swingman said. "I want to be recruited heavily."
The 15-year-old even elevated his arms, motioning that Kentucky and Villanova are neck and neck.
"Michael loves Villanova," said Cindy Richardson, Gilchrist's mother. "It's Kentucky, Villanova. Villanova, Kentucky."
"Yes," she said.
Gilchrist, who spends some nights at his maternal grandmother's home in North Jersey during the school year, hasn't narrowed down a list of favorites as of yet. But since June 15, the first day colleges can speak with juniors, he's been contacted by coaches at Kentucky, Rutgers, Louisiana State, North Carolina, Duke, Oklahoma State, Seton Hall, Florida, Florida State, Oregon, Indiana, West Virginia, Maryland, Georgia Tech, Southern Cal, and Connecticut.
Wherever Gilchrist ends up, he will definitely be the prize recruit.
A great talent, he can effectively guard the 1 through 4 positions on defense. Offensively, he scores with ease out to 15 feet. More than just a scorer, Gilchrist is an exceptional ball handler, shot-blocker, and finisher.
Perhaps that's why Scout.com and Rivals.com both rank him as the nation's top prospect, regardless of class. "I see a guy who has a significant ceiling," said Dave Telep, Scout.com's national basketball recruiting analyst. "I see a guy who has unmatched desire to win. I see a young kid that has so much more room to get better."
Gilchrist was recently selected as the outstanding prospect at the NBA Players Associations Top 100 Camp. He is one of the headliners at this week's LeBron James skills academy in Ohio.
"He has a great motor and passion to produce, every game," said Norm Eavenson, a recruiting analyst for Bob Gibbons All Star Sports. "His high level of activity gets him a lot of foul shots. A great open floor player, he gets to the rim from point A to point B with explosiveness and elevation."
That's why Gilchrist is the type of prospect college coaches drool over.
"I'm looking for a school that has a fast-paced transition game," Gilchrist said. "I just want to be with my friends. . . . I want a friend to come with me to school."
But even with that, some colleges may think recruiting him is a waste of time.
"I think the perception is that Michael is automatically going to go to Kentucky," Richardson said. "I had the same [conversation] for every coach that has called: 'Let's not worry about another coach and his program. If you really want my son to come to your school, recruit him. Form a relationship."