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Basketball Recruiting News

Isaiah Briscoe named a McDonald’s All-American


Congratulations to UK signee Isaiah Briscoe, who was named a McDonald’s All-American a few minutes ago. Briscoe is the only UK signee to make the roster over Charles Matthews and Skal Labissiere, who wasn’t considered due to his ineligibility under the TSSAA guidelines.

However, several UK targets made the roster, including Jaylen Brown, Thomas Bryant, Cheick Diallo, Brandon Ingram, Malik Newman, Ivan Rabb, Caleb Swanigan, and Stephen Zimmerman. Come late spring, UK will surely pull in a few more burger boys.

Here are the complete rosters:


  • Dwayne Bacon, SG, Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) – Florida State
  • Antonio Blakeney, SG, Oak Ridge (Orlando, Fla.) – LSU
  • Isaiah Briscoe, PG, Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) – Kentucky
  • Jaylen Brown, SF, Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) – Undecided
  • Thomas Bryant, C, Huntington Prep (Huntington, W.Va.) – Undecided
  • Cheick Diallo, PF, Our Savior New American (Centereach, N.Y.) – Undecided
  • Henry Ellenson, PF, Rice Lake (Rice Lake, Wis.) – Marquette
  • Jawun Evans, PG, Justin F. Kimball (Dallas) – Oklahoma State
  • Luke Kennard, SG, Franklin (Franklin, Ohio) – Duke
  • Dedric Lawson, PF, Hamilton (Memphis, Tenn.) – Memphis
  • Ben Simmons, F, Montverde Academy (Montverde, Fla.) – LSU
  • Diamond Stone, C, Dominican (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) – Undecided


  • Carlton Bragg, PF, Villa Angela-St. Joseph (Cleveland, Ohio) – Kansas
  • Jalen Brunson, PG, Stevenson (Lincolnshire, Ill.) – Villanova
  • Deyonta Davis, PF, Muskegon (Muskegon, Mich.) – Michigan St.
  • P.J. Dozier Jr., PG, Spring Valley (Columbia, S.C.) – South Carolina
  • Brandon Ingram, SF, Kinston (Kinston, N.C.) – Undecided
  • Chase Jeter, C, Bishop Gorman, (Las Vegas) – Duke
  • Malik Newman, SG, Callaway (Jackson, Miss.) – Undecided
  • Ivan Rabb, C, Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland, Calif.) – Undecided
  • Malachi Richardson, SF, Trenton Catholic Academy (Trenton, N.J.) – Syracuse
  • Caleb Swanigan, C, Homestead (Fort Wayne, Ind.) – Undecided
  • Allonzo Trier, SG, Findlay Prep (Henderson, Nev.) – Arizona
  • Stephen Zimmerman, C, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) – Undecided

Malik Newman’s dad calls what Calipari’s doing “special”

Malik Newman remains one of Kentucky’s top prospects for the 2015 class, and yesterday, his father, Horatio Webster, called into the Sunday Morning Sports Talk show on 630 AM to talk about his son’s recruitment. Webster told Mark Buerger and Larry Vaught that with the number of players on the roster, this year’s Kentucky team “could’ve been a disaster,” but John Calipari’s use of the platoon system has instead made it something special:

“It’s special what Coach Cal is doing down there because [to keep] almost a McDonald’s All-American team together and all of them gel as one, that takes a special coach to do that,” Webster said. “In order to keep everybody happy and keep a smile on everybody’s face. That team could’ve went any way, it could’ve been a disaster or it could turn out like it is now. And you have to give Coach Cal and his staff all the credit for  that. I don’t know how he did it, I don’t know how he do it, but that’s why he gets paid the big bucks.”

Newman is considering Kentucky, Kansas, NC State, Ole Miss, and others, and plans to visit Kentucky soon. He got his first taste of the Big Blue Nation at the Marshall County Hoops Fest in December. “The fans–I really can’t describe it, but it was unbelievable. You looked, they reacted to everything Malik did. I don’t know if that was part of the recruiting plan, I don’t know if y’all sent out a memo before we got there, but whatever the case may be, whatever Malik did, they reacted to in an excited way. It was fun. He really enjoyed it.”

Webster says Malik won’t announce until late April, and he has no clue where he’ll end up. “No idea” Webster said. “I was talking to him two nights ago and I said, ‘Malik, April is approaching really fast, so you need to be doing something and he just looked at me and smiled and said, ‘OK.’ I can’t get anything out of him.”

If Devin Booker ends up going to the NBA, could we end up trading one Mississippi shooting guard for another?


Tai Wynyard talks about committing to Kentucky

Yesterday, Kentucky picked up a commitment from New Zealand forward Tai Wynyard, the son of world champion wood choppers. Wynyard, who played with the New Zealand national team this summer, spoke with Maori TV station TVNZ about his commitment.

Yes, I have committed to Kentucky for the 2016 season,” Wynyard, who visited campus two weeks ago for the Missouri game, said. “Being right behind the bench and seeing the coaching from John Calipari was just amazing, and that probably was the biggest upside for me.” The New Zealand academic calendar could allow Wynyard to reclassify and join the Cats in January 2016, but he says he hasn’t made that decision yet.

Tai’s mother Karmyn said she liked that her son would have the opportunity to get a championship ring, and Tai called the opportunity a dream come true. “Any little boy, this is their dream to be able to play for the best university in the country–their country. It’s just amazing to get the opportunity.”

The BBN clearly had an impact on Tai. “The fans? Oh my god, the fans are amazing over there,” Tai said. “I would walk out and they’d be chanting ‘Oh, it’s the Lumberjack, it’s the Lumberjack!’ I’m like, how do they even know me? I’d get into the airport and they took a photo of me and put it in their paper or whatever, like ‘Here’s a new recruit who’s coming to look at Kentucky.'”

Actually, it was our website, but whatever. Welcome aboard, Tai.

Tai Wynyard’s Sunday Night News and Views

Tai Wynyard’s Sunday Night News and Views


Photo courtesy of

The first Sunday afternoon of the year with no football usually means a slow day in sports, but not for us college basketball fans. Duke stormed back from a double-digit deficit at Madison Square Garden to give Coach K his 1,000th win. While the rest of the world celebrates the milestone, we remember the reason why he should still have 999: Christian Laettner’s stomp on Aminu Timberlake.

Elsewhere in the ACC, Virgina escaped to stay unbeaten with a 60-57 win over Virginia Tech. The Hokies, 8-11 and 0-6 in ACC play, led for most of the second half but couldn’t finish it off. After a lackluster performance by the Cavs, we’ll see tomorrow if the Cats could be a unanimous No. 1 once again. Also in action today was the UK women. The No. 14 Cats defeated Missouri on the road, 83-69.

The biggest UK news of the day is the commitment of New Zealand big man Tai Wynyard. The 6’9″ 265-pound Wynyard visited Kentucky two weeks ago and liked what he saw, choosing the Cats over Villanova and Texas this afternoon. Currently Wynyard is a member of the 2016 class, but New Zealand’s academic calendar could allow him to reclassify to the 2015 class. If Wynyard does reclassify, he’d join the Cats in January, 2016. Now with five projected first rounders on the roster, the sooner Wynard can play, the better.

Here is what everyone is saying about the son of two World Champion wood-choppers:

ESPN’s Fran Fraschilla: What Tai Wynyard means for Kentucky

Tai Wynyard, who committed to Kentucky on Sunday over Villanova and Texas, is one of the best young 16-year-old players in the world at the moment.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s ready-made to step in for the Wildcats. But they are getting a 6-foot-9 power forward who plays with terrific physical toughness inside for his age. He has an ability to make shots away from the basket, but his bread and butter is around the rim. In many ways he reminds me of a young Enes Kanter, a Turkish import who never gained NCAA eligibility at Kentucky and still ended up as an NBA lottery pick with the Utah Jazz.’s Evan Daniels: Why Tai Wynyard picked Kentucky

“I commited to Kentucky because I feel like they will push me to my maximum potential, the academic side looked awesome and the facility was great,” Wynyard said.

What did Wynyard like most about his visit to Kentucky?
“The fans,” he said. “They were awesome.”

Courier Journal’s Steve Jones: Wynyard’s skills compare to Trey Lyles

Wynyard said he’s mostly a physical inside player, but he believes he’ll develop into hybrid power forward/small forward at UK as he continues to work on his shooting, ball-handling and other perimeter skills. Calipari told him he thinks his development pattern could follow that of 6-9 UK freshman Trey Lyles, who was almost exclusively a center in high school but now plays primarily small forward.

Herald Leader’s Ben Roberts: Pro experience won’t impact Wynyard’s eligibility

There are no questions about Wynyard’s amateur status as a college recruit, unlike former UK recruit Enes Kanter, who played for a Turkish professional team and was later ruled ineligible at Kentucky.

Wynyard sits on the (New Zealand) Breakers bench for home games but does not travel with the team and is not paid by the Breakers. His parents and Breakers personnel are aware of the requirements for NCAA eligibility and have kept Wynyard on the path to play in college.

“He’s not going to have any eligibility issues whatsoever,” Jonathan Givony said (of “He’s been on the college track from a very early age.”

–In football recruiting, there was good news and bad news today. The good news was that Kentucky received a commitment from Ohio 3-star defensive tackle Javon Provitt, who also held offers from Cincinnati, Ohio, West Virginia and Purdue.

The bad news is the decommitment of 3-star defensive back Jeremiah Dinson. The Miami native announced the news on Twitter today and is now considered an Auburn lean.

–In an NBA thriller between ex-Cats, Anthony Davis (28 points, 10 rebounds, 5 steals) carried the Pelicans to victory over Rajon Rondo (17 points, 9 assists, 8 rebounds) and the Mavericks. Davis sealed the game with two free throws and a late steal.

–Last but certainly not least, congratulations to Randall Cobb on his Pro Bowl debut. I’m a little embarrassed to admit I was watching the Pro Bowl, but Cobb hauled in a 9-yard reception on the game’s first drive.


Update: Tai Wynyard may join Kentucky in January of 2016


The good news of the day may even get a little sweeter, as Kentucky’s latest 2016 commitment, New Zealand big man Tai Wynyard says he might join Kentucky in January of 2016. For those who struggle with math like I do, that means that Wynyard COULD join Kentucky’s team next year halfway through the season. 

The 6-9 descendant of wood choppers caught up with Evan Daniels of Scout to discuss his timetable for arriving at Kentucky as well as his reasons for committing. “I committed to Kentucky because I feel like they will push me to my maximum potential , the academic side looked awesome and the facility was great.” 

When pressed on what his favorite part about Kentucky was, Wynyard responded, “The fans. They were awesome.”

As far as when Wynyard plans to enroll, he told Daniels that he hasn’t quite made that decision yet. He will either join with the rest of the 2016 class, or join midway through next season. 


To read Daniels’ full article, click here. 

TIMBER!!!! Tai Wynyard commits to Kentucky

TIMBER!!!! Tai Wynyard commits to Kentucky


That didn’t take long. According to Evan Daniels, New Zealand forward Tai Wynyard has committed to Kentucky. The 6’9″ 265 lbs. Wynyard visited Kentucky two weeks ago and obviously liked what he saw, picking the Cats over Villanova and Texas this afternoon.

In case you forgot, Wynyard is best known around here for being the son of two world champion wood choppers. He’s expected to be part of Kentucky’s 2016 class.

Wynyard played a few games with the New Zealand national team this summer, which means his dance at Big Blue Madness has to be the Haka, right?

Welcome to the fam, Tai.

Tai Wynyard is close to a decision

Tai Wynyard

Karmyn Wynyard, mother of UK target Tai Wynyard, e-mailed Adam Zagoria yesterday with an update on the status of her son’s recruitment process.

The world-champion woodchopper told Zagoria that Tai has a good idea of which school feels best but he will wait until he gets out of camp with the New Zealand Breakers to talk it over with his coaches and family. A final decision will be made shortly after that, it seems.

Also from Mama Wynyard’s e-mail to ZagsBlog, why the family likes each of the three schools he is considering:

Kentucky- complete focus on basketball
Villanova- academic success/focus
Texas- strength and conditioning coach

Thanks for playing, Texas.

ZagsBlog: New Zealand Big Man Tai Wynyard Closing in on Decision

Skal Labissiere jumps to #3 in ESPN’s latest 2015 rankings


Congratulations to Skal Labissiere, who jumped from #11 to #3 in ESPN’s latest 2015 recruiting rankings. The UK signee is now considered the best center of the class by ESPN, ahead of Diamond Stone, Caleb Swanigan, and Stephen Zimmerman. Fellow signees Isaiah Briscoe came in at #13 and Charles Matthews at #42. With several cards still on the table, the Cats have the #1 class in the country.

John Calipari checked in on Skal a few weeks ago at the Mustang Madness tournament in Paducah, where he turned in 22 points, 17 rebounds, and five blocks. Here’s some footage of him from the Marshall County Hoop Fest:

Jaylen Brown scores 31 points in front of Calipari


2015 five-stars Jaylen Brown and Ivan Rabb squared off in front of John Calipari this afternoon, and both put in impressive performances. Brown stole the show with 31 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out of the game. Rabb had 24 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks, leading Bishop O’Dowd to the 79-70 win over Brown’s Wheeler.

Brown was named MVP of the event and turned heads when he put on an “I Can’t Breathe” shirt to accept the award. The shirt is a nod to Eric Garner, an unarmed black man who died in an apparent chokehold by the NYPD. Interestingly, ESPNU made Brown remove the shirt before doing a postgame interview on air.

Cal will stick around to see Stephen Zimmerman play at 3 p.m. You can see the game on ESPNU.

Calipari still in Massachusetts to watch Jaylen Brown, Stephen Zimmerman, and Ivan Rabb


Photo by J. Anthony Roberts

Yesterday, John Calipari watched Thon Maker, Cheick Diallo, and Thomas Bryant play in the HoopHall Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts, and it sounds like he’s sticking around to watch 2015 five stars Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, and Stephen Zimmerman, along with 2016 stars VJ King and Jayson Tatum. Here’s today’s schedule:

11:00 AM: Wheeler (Jaylen Brown) vs. Bishop O’Dowd (Ivan Rabb)
3:00 PM: Montverde Academ vs. Bishop Gorman (Stephen Zimmerman)
5:00 PM: Paul VI (VJ King) vs. Chaminade College Prep (Jayson Tatum)

How much of a boss is Cal? He pushed his appearance on the SEC Coaches Teleconference from its normal time of 11:35 a.m. ET to 12:38 a.m. ET, presumably to catch as much of the Jaylen Brown/Ivan Rabb game as possible. John Robic will also handle this afternoon’s press conference.

Stephen Zimmerman’s mom is pumped Cal is coming:

Want to do a little scouting yourself? ESPNU will carry the games starting at 11 a.m.

(Bob Blanchard/ RBJsports)

Thon Maker Plans to Reclassify to 2015.

(Bob Blanchard/ RBJsports)

(Bob Blanchard/ RBJsports)

According to Matt Jones and Andrew Slater from 247, Thon Maker plans on reclassifying from 2016 to the 2015 class. This is huge news for the Cats. If Cal could get 7’1″ Maker to commit, Kentucky would have both him and Skal Labissiere, two extremely tall bodies in the front court for next season. Right now, Kansas leads for Thon Maker (44%), according to 247’s crystal ball, with Kentucky coming in close (38%) on their heels.

That may change soon though, as Cal was in the building to watch Thon play today at the Hoop Hall Classic:



This is the second time that Cal has watched Thon play in a little over a week. In today’s game, Maker went 21-23 in the second half and paired that with 11 rebounds.

Right now, he is ranked in the 247 composite rankings as the 4th best player and the 2nd best power forward in the 2016 class.


Isaiah Briscoe will play in the Nike Hoop Summit


The high school basketball all-star season is fast approaching, and today, UK signees Isaiah Briscoe and Charles Matthews made the preliminary list of nominees for the McDonald’s All-American game. As expected, Skal Labissiere did not make the list because the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association ruled him ineligible to play for Lausanne Collegiate, the school he attends. Labissiere now plays for Reach Your Dream Prep, a team founded by his guardian.

While the final rosters for the McDonald’s All-American won’t be announced until January 28, Briscoe tweeted that he has already made the roster for the Nike Hoop Summit, which will be played on April 11:

I think that calls for some Isaiah Briscoe highlights:

Calipari had Willie and Trey talk to a recruit last night

Tai Wynyard (@owaa22)

John Calipari came on Kentucky Sports Radio to talk about his team’s win over Missouri, and per usual, he was swagtastic. Last night, there were three recruits in for the game–Derryck Thornton, Thomas Bryant, and New Zealand power forward Tai Wynyard–and Calipari said that he asked Willie Cauley-Stein and Trey Lyles to speak to one of them to tell them what playing at Kentucky is like.

“We had a recruit in town, and Willie told the mother, and he told the kid, ‘It’s on warp speed here.’ You are forced to grow up. You are forced to go to another level. You are under a microscope here, you can’t do stuff here you do at other schools. You get in trouble at another school, you’re in bed with the bed with the media so closely they don’t even write the story. Here, it’s national. It’s national. You can’t do that stuff here.”

Did you catch that dig at Louisville’s media? Just checking. Back to Cal:

“And on the basketball court, you’re forced to move. Off the court, grow up. You’ve gotta become a man and you’ve gotta do it fast. And Willie said, ‘It’s a family here. That’s what it’s about. He was really good about it. I wanted the young man and his mother to talk to both Trey–because Trey’s having to grow up. Believe me, we’re seeing it right before our eyes.”

So, which lucky recruit got this talk from Trey and Willie? My money’s on Tai Wynyard.

Derryck Thornton sort of cracks a smile with Calipari

The 2016 guard is in Lexington for tonight’s game, along with 2015 PF Thomas Bryant and Tai Wynyard. Earlier today, a stoic pic of him in the UK locker room surfaced, but in this collage he posted on Twitter, he looks slightly more excited to be ballin’ in the Joe Craft Center. Slightly.