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Monday Insider Notes: NBA Draft, backup plans and recruiting nuggets

Monday Insider Notes: NBA Draft, backup plans and recruiting nuggets

Welcome back to the Monday Insider Notes! I hope you all had a great weekend, enjoyed the Preakness, and watched the UK Softball Cats dominate their regional.

The NBA Draft Combine is over and while things are slightly more clear there’s still much to be determined in the next nine days. We only have nine days! The deadlines are confusing with the NBA’s deadline being in June and the NCAA’s deadline being May 30th, but circle May 30th. That’s when we will know about P.J. Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel’s final plans.

Of course those three could decide earlier and make our job easier, but if Hamidou Diallo taught us anything last year this may come down to the wire.

Jarred Vanderbilt: Not only did Vanderbilt not compete in the NBA Combine, I don’t think Vanderbilt has met with many (if any) NBA teams since the season has ended. Calipari said last week that he met with a team or two, but I’m not so sure how formal those meetings were and how many actually took place. If it’s any it’s likely not more than two or three.

Obviously NBA teams do these interviews to learn more about potential prospects. They want to learn about their character, competitive nature and to try and smooth over any potential red flags.

But with Vanderbilt the obvious topic of conversation would be his injuries, possible surgeries and when he will be able to play basketball. The fact that we haven’t learned more about these meetings is telling but behind the scenes people close to the situation haven’t heard of any formal meetings between Vanderbilt and front-office executives.

Things look better for UK’s chance at having a sophomore Vanderbilt, but the crux of his decision remains prominent. Does he need to start making money because of injury concerns or does he need to prove he can stay healthy? He certainly isn’t drumming up more NBA buzz with how quiet things have been around Vanderbilt’s camp.

Some have asked if Vanderbilt is still hurt from the March injury that ended his season. Many folks believe he’s been rehabbing from a possible surgery required after that injury. That timetable would seem to line up and keep him out of NBA Draft Combine activities.

My guess is he comes back to Kentucky.

P.J. Washington: It seems more likely that P.J. Washington leaves for the NBA than returns to Kentucky as of today. Things had been leaning that way for a few weeks but the NBA Combine may have sealed the deal for Washington. I was told that if Washington completely stunk in Chicago then that could tilt the scales, but he didn’t stink. His measurements were great in some areas and underwhelming in others, but his performance on the floor in scrimmages turned heads.

It may be all Washington needed to officially make the jump. P.J. had the quote that if he wasn’t a guaranteed first round pick he would return to UK, but some fans have misinterpreted that quote.  There will be no written agreement between Washington and an NBA team, but instead it will be a promise. Washington could be told that he will be a first round pick but there won’t be a binding agreement. Basically, an NBA team could screw over Washington. Or an NBA team could be sincere and take him with one of the last picks in the first round. Regardless, it’s been overblown. I know if Washington stays in the draft and doesn’t go to the second round some people will call him a liar. That won’t necessarily be true.

Regardless, I’m guessing Washington hears what he wants to hear and stays in the draft. UK has a plan in place if Washington leaves.

Wenyen Gabriel: Gabriel is the guy that I go back-and-forth on more often than any other player. Gabriel wasn’t invited to the NBA Draft Combine and wasn’t included in the Professional Basketball Combine (a second tier combine). However, Gabriel wasn’t invited to the PBC because you must have given up college eligibility to participate. He is still considering going back to school.

He continues to work out for teams (Sacramento Kings) but that seems to strictly be for summer camp roster spots, which Gabriel would land if he stays in the draft. It would be a major shock if he heard his name on draft night. However, while it is far from being set in stone my opinion has turned to Gabriel returning to Kentucky for his junior season.

If Gabriel was set on going pro he missed an opportunity not participating in the PBC. He will continue to work out for teams likely up until the deadline and that will be great learning experience for Gabriel.

Roster Outlook: If I’m right and Vanderbilt and Gabriel return to UK, let’s look at the frontcourt:

Jarred Vanderbilt, Nick Richards, Wenyen Gabriel and E.J. Montgomery. That wouldn’t be Calipari’s best frontcourt but it would be far from his worst. You would have scoring, rebounding and defense. Gabriel would be a threat from deep and Montgomery can stretch the floor, too.

The question is would Calipari continue with his plan to bring in a certain grad-transfer from the left coast? If just one of Gabriel or Vanderbilt join Washington in the NBA Draft then it’s a no-brainer. But, if Gabriel and Vanderbilt return it becomes tricky for Calipari. You would want an embarrassment of riches, but you also wouldn’t want to tick off any frontcourt players.

2019 Notes:

Keion Brooks: He remains one of UK’s big targets in 2019, but news broke over the weekend that his dad may try to coach his high school team. I always think it’s cool when a parent can coach their kids, but be on the lookout of other colleges trying to hire Brooks’ father. This is a somewhat common occurrence for recruiting. I think UK is in a great spot for Brooks, but that could clearly change things if his pops is hired elsewhere.

Jalen Lecque: He is still deciding whether to stay in 2019 or move to 2018, but it’s unlikely he ends up at UK in either class. 2018 certainly won’t happen for Lecque and UK, but there’s some rumblings that he prefers other schools. I actually think NC State and Tennessee are in really nice spots for Lecque. Lecque would be a fun combo guard to pair with Maxey in 2019, and it’s not impossible, but seems more unlikely.

Dontaie Allen: He continues to roll in nice offers and my advice for UK’s staff would to be to offer the kid ASAP. Accept his commitment and allow Kentucky fans around the state to fall in love with him during his senior season. I think as long as UK eventually offers Allen he ends up in Lexington, but the sooner the better. UK fans love Kentuckians and Allen would be a great fit. UK’s staff does just fine on the recruiting trail but landing Allen this summer would be nothing but a positive.

Matthew Hurt: Be on the lookout for visits planned by Hurt. He may take some this summer, or he may wait until the early fall, but he isn’t going to drag his recruitment out until the spring of 2019. That may not be great news because UK prefers Carey and Wiseman, but we’ll see how UK handles possibly prioritizing Hurt.


2019 Rising Point Guard Sets Visit to Kentucky

Al.com

John Calipari is not finished recruiting point guards in the 2019 recruiting class.  He already has commitments from Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans (who will likely reclassify to 2018).  Now an Alabama point guard has entered Calipari’s crosshairs.

Kira Lewis is rising star in the 2019 class.  Lewis began the summer season as a four-star prospect just outside the Top 100.  After a few weeks on the EYBL, he soared to No. 24 overall and is now considered the fourth-ranked point guard in 247 Sports’ rankings.

In the last two weeks Lewis has received offers from Oregon and Kansas, but the two local schools, Auburn and Alabama, are the perceived favorites.  According to Jake Weingarten, Lewis will visit his home state school of Alabama on June 1, and on June 10 he will take an unofficial visit to Kentucky.

It’s not the first time Coach Cal and Avery Johnson have gone toe-to-toe for a guard from Alabama.  Johnson won the battle for John Petty, but Calipari is doing what he can to make sure Johnson loses Lewis.


247Sports updated rankings

Photo by adidas

247Sports updated their 2019 rankings and it included some interesting moves for the three UK commits.

Ashton Hagans remains UK’s highest ranked commitment in the class of 2019, but that may not last long. Hagans is expected to make the jump to the 2018 class and play for Kentucky next season.

Hagans fell one spot to No. 7 in the rankings. As of now he’s the top ranked “true” point guard in the class of 2019.

Tyrese Maxey was also rumored to potentially make the jump to 2018 but had a change of heart that will keep him in 2019. Since committing to the Cats, Maxey was bumped up three spots from No. 17 to No. 14. Maxey is the second ranked combo guard. He’s behind the No. 2 player in the class, Cole Anthony.

While Hagans dropped a spot it could be worse. Ask D.J. Jeffries. The first UK commit in 2019 dropped 14 spots to No. 41. While Maxey and Hagans are obvious five-star players, Jeffries is stuck at four.

Jeffries hasn’t been a scrub in the early spring AAU session, but he’s clearly a notch below the best talent in the class. UK didn’t take the Mississippi native to be an instant star when he arrives on Kentucky’s campus for the 2019-2020 season, but instead UK’s coaches think he can develop into a nice multiyear player. Expect the drop in the rankings to serve as motivation for Jeffries.

Seven other players in the class of 2019 hold an offer from UK. If the Cats can add two or three of those players it could be a super class.

James Wiseman– No. 1 in the class (remained No. 1).

Vernon Carey– No. 3 in the class  (dropped one spot).

Matthew Hurt- No. 6 in the class (dropped two spots).

Keion Brooks- No. 9 in the class (moved up seven spots).

Bryan Antoine- No. 11 in the class (moved down three spots).

Scottie Lewis- No. 13 in the class (moved down four spots).

Jalen Lecque- No. 15 in the class (moved down five spots).

Other 2019 recruits of interest that don’t currently hold an offer from the Cats:

No. 2: Cole Anthony. It’s strange the Cats haven’t offered. Maybe Anthony prefers other schools and UK won’t waste its time?

No. 5: Charles Bassey. Bassey plays his high school basketball in Louisville but when UK, Duke and UNC aren’t interested that may be telling.

No. 54 David Johnson. Johnson plays for Trinity in Louisville. Once committed to UofL, the Cats have shown interest in Johnson.

No. 137 Dekeyvan Tandy. Most UK fans would love to see Tandy in blue, but after his father’s recent comments it seems unlikely UK will offer.

No. 154 Dontaie Allen. This may be the Kentuckian that ends up at UK. Allen moved up 61 spots in the latest rankings.

No. 243 Michael Moreno. The Scott County prospect hopes to have a big senior season.

 


Kenny Payne’s son, Zan Payne, signs with Kentucky

Andy Lyons | Getty Images

Lexington Catholic’s Zan Payne made his commitment to Kentucky official today by inking his paperwork during a ceremony at his school.

Payne is of course the son of UK assistant coach Kenny Payne, and his addition to the roster may have a big impact on his dad’s future on John Calipari’s coaching staff.

In an exclusive interview with KSR, Coach Payne said, “I get to monitor him and make sure he’s doing what he needs to do. I get to be hard on him, to push him beyond what he thinks he can go because he’s my blood. I’m not one of those fathers that is going to ever be easy on mine. I’m going to be harder on mine because I know this is bigger than basketball. It’s life.”

He also said he hopes he and Calipari can win a title while their sons are on the team.

“It would be a great experience for them. It would be really gratifying for me and Cal, but more importantly for the Big Blue Nation, the fans, the administration, for the kids, their families.”

Zan Payne ranks 14th in Lexington Catholic history with 1,282 points in his career. He also ranks fourth in school history in rebounds, while earning All-City and All-Region honors his last two seasons.

 


SPRINGFIELD, MA - JANUARY 15:  University School Sharks forward Vernon Carey, Jr. (22) during the first half of the Spalding Hoophall Classic high school basketball game between the Oak Hill Academy Warriors and the University School Sharks on January 15, 2018, at the Blake Arena in Springfield, MA .(Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

Vernon Carey Jr. includes Kentucky in Final Five

SPRINGFIELD, MA – JANUARY 15: University School Sharks forward Vernon Carey, Jr. (22) during the first half of the Spalding Hoophall Classic high school basketball game between the Oak Hill Academy Warriors and the University School Sharks on January 15, 2018, at the Blake Arena in Springfield, MA .(Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

2019 five-star center Vernon Carey has trimmed his list to five, and the Kentucky Wildcats made the final cut.

He released his final five, featuring Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Miami (FL), and Michigan State, on Twitter:

The 6-foot-10, 260-pound center is considered Rivals.com’s No. 1 overall recruit in the class of 2019, and the No. 2 prospect according to ESPN and 247 Sports.

In an interview with the Courier-Journal, Carey Jr. said he talks with Kentucky recruit and top-two big man James Wiseman on a regular basis and that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if they ended up at the same college.

“Me and James talk a lot,” Carey said Friday after his AAU team, Nike Team Florida, completed its first game of the Nike EYBL event in Indianapolis. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we went to school together or not. He’s probably going to do the best thing for him, and I’ll do the best thing for me.”

Considered a bully-ball big man and Wiseman being an elite defender with ridiculous length, John Calipari is recruiting them both to Kentucky to recreate the New Orleans Pelicans frontcourt of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.

In fact, Calipari thinks Carey Jr. can be a mix of both Cousins and Davis.

“That’s what he discussed with me in the meeting,” Carey Jr. told The Cats Pause back in April. “That I could model my game after both of those two players. He told me to focus on those two. Just Anthony Davis’ effort and DeMarcus Cousins’ versatility.”

Here was his most recent highlight tape from the EYBL Dallas Session a few weeks ago:

Bring him on home, Coach Cal.


Matthew Hurt highlights

Scott Jacobson / Post Bulletin

New highlights are featuring Matthew Hurt. The 2019 star is ranked No. 4 in the 247 Sports rankings. The Cats offered back in December, which actually made Kentucky a bit late to the party.

John Calipari visited Hurt in April and the Cats remained active in the scoring power forward’s recruitment. Currently the Cats aren’t perceived as the leader, but plenty can change as Hurt is in no rush to make a final decision.

The 6-foot-9, 200-pound prospect is gifted offensively and unselfish on the floor. I’m curious how his game will translate to the college level because 200-pounds at the four position won’t get it done at major college basketball. He certainly is skilled enough to play the three but he will need to be a deadly outside shooter or become a bit quicker to be a high volume scorer as a freshman. It may not scream as a prototypical John Calipari player, but it’s clear the UK head coach is starting to value scorers more than just pure athletes. Regardless, with that much skill offensively any team would be lucky to have him and the Cats remain involved.

In my opinion it may be tough for UK to add Hurt with James Wiseman and Vernon Carey, but if the Cats miss out on Wiseman or Carey they may make Hurt one of their top priorities.


Monday Insider Notes: 2019 updates and looking at next season

I hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day weekend! The Nike EYBL made a stop in Atlanta and one thing is clear- Tyrese Maxey is good and he’s going to be a major recruiting piece for UK in the class of 2019.

In today’s Monday Insider Notes we’ll talk about the class of 2019, Maxey’s recruitment and recruiting, and we will have to discuss the latest “who stays and who goes” with the current Kentucky roster.

Maxey: Tyrese Maxey continues to show why he’s one of the best guards in the country and it starts with his scoring. He’s great with the ball in his hands, he can pull up from anywhere on the floor and his ability to hit from deep has defenders overplaying him, which makes it easy for him to get to the rim. If he plays point guard, which he may end up playing off the ball some, he will be UK’s best scoring point guard since Brandon Knight and I like Maxey over Knight, but there’s plenty of time to let the dust settle on that debate.

Landing Maxey was huge for Kentucky because it allows UK’s staff to spend more time recruiting other big pieces and it allows Maxey to be in the ears of his peers. That’s always an underrated part of getting early commitments, which is something that doesn’t frequently happen with John Calipari.

UK has some of the best recruiting coaches in the country. I’m not sure there’s a better head coach than John Calipari. Now that Jeff Capel is a head coach I think Kenny Payne is clearly the best assistant coach in the country. Joel Justus does an amazing job building relationships early in the recruiting process and is great at identifying talent. Tony Barbee is underrated as an assistant coach, too.

But those four guys don’t get as much access or time with elite recruits quite like Maxey does/will, and that’s why he will be so important to UK’s recruiting efforts. The reason this is most important is because opposing schools are going to use Maxey to negatively recruit against the Cats.

Maxey is a score first point guard and schools like Duke, Kansas, Memphis and other programs will sell recruits that they won’t get enough touches playing with Maxey. It’s obviously an easy argument to pick apart, but when grown men are telling this to kids the recruits may be more inclined to believe it.

But having Maxey playing with and against these kids, spending late nights traveling or being in the hotel will help UK’s chances. Maxey is a great scorer but he’s far from selfish as a player and it’s my opinion most recruits know that. You’ve already had some recruits say they would like to play with Maxey.

We’ll talk more about it but I think Kentucky will have a super class in 2019, and Maxey and D.J. Jeffries will lead the charge.

James Wiseman: I still think Kentucky remains in a great spot to land Wiseman and I think the Cats have a solid lead over Memphis the more I hear about this recruitment. But that’s where things are as of today. One thing I often hear is that “where things currently stand” or some version of that phrase, and it can be a little concerning because of the pressure on Wiseman to stay home.

UK would love to have Wiseman commit as soon as possible because the longer the recruitment drags on the more Wiseman will hear from Memphis fans, Penny, and the sense that he needs to stay home. But even if the recruitment drags out the Cats will continue to be in a great position.

I’ve said from the day Penny took the Memphis job this will be a heart versus head decision. Wiseman and his family love UK’s staff, but they know going to Kentucky is the smart choice for his future. However, it’s going to be hard to tell Penny no. Penny has been there for Wiseman for a long time and the two are friends. The only way the tide turns in this recruitment is if telling Penny becomes too hard. Maybe that happens but I’m told Wiseman understands some of the risks that could come if he decides to play at Memphis.

Penny has never coached an NBA Draft pick as a college coach, Memphis doesn’t get half the exposure that UK does, and Wiseman’s chances of making a tournament run at UK is far greater than at Memphis.

UK is still the leader here and I wouldn’t expect it to change anytime soon. He plans on taking all five official visits but I’d guess this recruitment ends in the fall.

Vernon Carey: There never has been a great deal of buzz between UK and Carey, but that needs to change. I’m not sure if UK is the leader as of today for Carey, but I think the Cats will have a great chance to position themselves at the top spot the longer this recruitment continues.

UK told Carey over the weekend that they’d love for him to commit ASAP, but that won’t be happening. This recruitment will end in the fall at the earliest, but it could last into 2019. Don’t expect a summer decision.

UK has been selling Carey and Wiseman playing together, which could certainly work with Carey living on the block and Wiseman spreading the floor. I would be completely shocked if UK didn’t land at least one of these two players and I think there’s a better chance UK lands both than none.

We’re still five months away but look for Carey to visit UK for Big Blue Madness.

Keion Brooks: UK will be strong at the guard position in 2019-2020 and the Cats should (assuming they land at least one of Wiseman/Carey) strong in the frontcourt, but Brooks will be the leading candidate to come in and replace Keldon Johnson on the wing for the 2019-2020 season.

Brooks would be the perfect player to add in the class of 2019 because he’s not going to scare away any other players (although maybe he should because of his talent level) but he’s good enough to make a major impact from day one.

Brooks at the wing almost seems to make too much sense for UK and while I wasn’t told a timeline I believe the Cats may currently lead.

Bryan Antoine: He cut his list to five schools and the Cats join Florida, Duke, Kansas and Villanova. UK will have a chance with Antoine but all signs point to Duke, which isn’t shocking. UK isn’t out of it for any other guards in 2019 but the players that have to have the ball in their hands to score may be a tough sell with Maxey locked up already.

UK will have a chance with Antoine and Lewis, but I’m thinking Maxey joins mostly returning guards in 2019-2020. Maybe Antoine falls in love on his visit to Kentucky but it’s going to be a long shot.

NBA Decisions:

The NBA Draft Combine is this week and it should tell us more about the decisions of P.J. Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt and possibly even Wenyen Gabriel (who won’t be at the combine).

Washington: Washington won’t need to dominate for him to keep his name in the NBA Draft, and the great part about P.J.’s game is his consistency. In my opinion the only way Washington has to think more about this decision is if he goes to Chicago and completely stinks, which I don’t think happens.

Washington wants a guaranteed contract, which used to just be for first rounders. Now second round picks are frequently getting more guaranteed contract so the idea that Washington has to be a first rounder should have an asterisk next to it. As long as Washington is projected as a top 40 pick I believe you see him stay in the NBA Draft.

Vanderbilt: He will go through meetings and the topic of those meeting will likely be his health. Surprisingly there’s actually been a very positive pro-Vanderbilt buzz from NBA teams, but how healthy he is will determine if he’s worth the risk. Don’t expect him to go through drills or participate in five-on-five scrimmages, but if NBA teams feel like he’s on the verge of being healthy he will stay in the draft. Of course this will be trickier to measure because we won’t be able to see/follow those meetings.

Gabriel: He won’t be at the NBA Draft Combine but I think it’s more likely he comes back to Kentucky if Washington and Vanderbilt leave. If one comes back then I think it’s more likely Gabriel stays in the NBA Draft. Gabriel wants to go pro and be able to provide for his family, but the only way he’s coming back if there’s a window for him to put up solid numbers. It makes sense.

My Guess: It’s just a guess but I think Washington and Vanderbilt stay in the draft and Gabriel returns. My confidence level is high in Washington leaving, it’s about 50/50 on Vanderbilt and Gabriel depends on the other two, in my opinion.

Backup Plan: If just one of Vanderbilt/Washington leaves, the Cats have a backup plan and it’s not a major surprise. Stanford senior Reid Travis is working out for NBA teams but wasn’t invited to the NBA Draft combine. It seems highly unlikely he stays in the NBA Draft but just continue to keep an eye on the UK roster situation. Travis is a name to remember.


Tyrese Maxey Lighting Up the Nike EYBL

What a week it has been for Kentucky’s newest commit, Tyrese Maxey.

It started with a legendary commitment video that garnered a lot of interest around the country, with the most notable response coming from Miami Heat guard Dwyane Wade.

Pretty cool to hear back from a 3 time NBA Champion after we’ve seen many commitment videos fall flat in recent years.

Maxey has been looking a little like a young D-Wade in this weekend’s Nike EYBL, the 6-3 point guard is showing off his full game today.

He finished with 22 points, 5 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals in last night’s loss to Mac Irvin. Maxey bounced back from the loss with a win this morning against Nike Team Florida by a score of 79-71. Maxey’s team, Houston Hoops, is currently 9-3 in Nike EYBL play.

The BBN is excited to see Maxey in Kentucky Blue.

@EMitchKSR


The Stage is Set for James Wiseman

IG: bigticket_j13

I kinda hate when it seems like the stars are aligning for a big commitment. Hopes get high, and sometimes hearts get broken. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t analyze the puzzle before it’s assembled.

Tyrese Maxey’s decision to remain in the 2019 class is a positive for a couple of reasons. Next year’s backcourt was already oversaturated with quality guards, and Maxey’s services would’ve gone underappreciated. But guaranteeing Maxey’s presence on the 2019 roster also serves as yet another beacon for number one overall recruit James Wiseman.

Wiseman’s wish list of college teammates already includes two UK pledges:

Asked if there are any 2019 recruits he’d love to play with in college, prized big man James Wiseman did not hesitate: “I’d say Tyrese Maxey,” he said. “And I’d say Ashton Hagans.”

[SEC Country]

Hagans, the no. 1 overall point guard in the class, could still reclassify, but as of now, he’s slated to join the Wildcat roster in 2019. So that’s two boxes checked in favor of UK with regards to Wiseman’s interests.

There’s also the matter of D.J. Jeffries, 4-star small forward and former AAU teammate of James Wiseman, who is also committed to the Cats. Jeffries reiterated his commitment in the wake of Penny Hardaway’s hiring at Memphis, which is increasingly seeming like the Tigers’ only selling point for Wiseman.

Jeffries understands Wiseman’s fondness for Hardaway, as they both played under him together on the AAU circuit, but that’s not gonna stop D.J. from trying to woo his former teammate to Lexington:

“I haven’t started yet but I’ll comment on his Instagram posts every now and then,” Jeffries said. “I’m going to give him a little time to think about it and then I’m going to start messing with him this summer.”

[247 Sports]

This recruiting battle is far from over, but at this point, there’s really no more for Coach Cal to do other than lay out the red carpet for Wiseman. If Ashton Hagans decides to remain in 2019, Wiseman’s ideal lineup will already be in place, with only a 6’10” hole left to fill.

That would be one incredibly disappointing puzzle piece to lose.

@JayWinkKSR


How Late Did Tyrese Maxey Call Calipari to Commit?

Not long after point guard Tyrese Maxey committed to Kentucky on Wednesday, he revealed in a USA Today blog that he actually committed to John Calipari three weeks earlier.

His initial commitment to Kentucky did not go over too smoothly.  The first time he tried to call Calipari, the coach was asleep.  How late did he try to call Coach Cal?  That’s what Curtis Burch asked at the Nike EYBL in Atlanta.

It was around 9:30,” Maxey said.  “You know he’s old, so he goes to sleep early.”

This confirms what many expected: Coach Cal is not a night owl.

After posting 27-6-6 in a one-point Friday night win, Maxey’s team lost by six in their first game of the day.  Stay tuned for more updates from all of UK’s targets.   


Today on KSR: Tyrese Maxey Rocks Kentucky Blue

@curtisburch

Tyrese Maxey’s two-minute commitment video concluded with a line from Drake.  “I rock Kentucky blue,” made it official.  That statement should be taken quite literally.

Appearing on the Nike EYBL circuit for the first time since Maxey pledged his allegiance to Kentucky, the 2019 guard rocked Kentucky blue in Atlanta.  Maxey had 27 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists in an 82-81 victory.  A small sample of last night’s performance.

James Wiseman, Vernon Carey, Cole Anthony, Jalen Lecque and many others are also in action this weekend in Atlanta.  We’ll keep you posted with updates throughout the day.

Bat Cats take Game One

Senior Night went according to plan at Cliff Hagan Stadium.  Playing the Cats’ former coach, Gary Henderson, Kentucky erased an early 4-1 deficit to take Game One of the series against Mississippi State.

Tristan Pompey was absolutely incredible in the 9-6 win.  He reached base on all five at-bats, hit two doubles, scored two runs and drove in four.  It was his first multi-RBI game since April 8.

If the Cats can get a victory in Game Two tonight at 5:00, they will move to .500 in conference play.

Justin Lewis Out

The Bat Cats’ dominant Sunday starter will not pitch in the final weekend at The Cliff.  Nick Mingione said Lewis has a strained forearm.  The injury is not serious, but they’re taking every precaution before the postseason.  Mingione will select Sunday’s starter after he sees how Thompson throws today.

Walk-Off SZN

Former Cat Luke Maile continued his excellent 2018 campaign with a two-run walk-off home run over the right centerfield wall in the 12th inning to give the Blue Jays a 5-3 victory over the Red Sox.

SWING and a Miss

Not everybody made contact this weekend.

Reason No. 7,682 why gender reveals are dumb.

UK Football Hosted a PRETTY Big Recruit

Wandale Robinson spent his Friday night hanging out with Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow at the UK baseball game.

TPC Leaderboard

Nationally, it’s a slow sports day.  If you can’t get into playoff hockey, all that remains is baseball and golf.  Silver lining: TPC-Sawgrass is one of the most beautiful courses in America.  After two days, Webb Simpson is atop the leaderboard.

  • Webb Simpson -15
  • Charl Schwartzel -10
  • Patrick Cantlay -10
  • Danny Lee -10
  • Chesson Hadley -9
  • Charles Howell III -9
  • Alex Noren -9
  • Jason Day -8
  • Steve Stricker -8

Justin Thomas is 12 shots back at -3, while J.B. Holmes missed the cut at +3.

Cutler’s Swan Song

Last night Alan Cutler’s retirement tour came to a close.  Famed area broadcasters hosted a party in Alan’s honor to send him off into the sunset.  Mark Stoops made an appearance to make sure Cutler never returns to the press room.

Don’t Forget Mother’s Day

Dear Procrastinators, you have one more day to make sure your mother has a happy Sunday.  The least you can do is dedicate one day to Mom.  Don’t mess it up.


UK’s strong start in 2019 will help the future

Photo by USA Basketball

The 2019 class has been unique for John Calipari. The Kentucky head coach has picked up early commitments before, but currently the Cats stand with three 2019 commitments. Kentucky has never had three commitments this early in a recruiting period, and it’s provided plenty of nice benefits for UK’s coaching staff.

Yes, Ashton Hagans is likely to make the jump to 2018, but currently having Hagans on board with Tyrese Maxey and D.J. Jeffries is doing more than just making UK competitive for 2019-2020.

It’s giving the Cats a chance to get a jump on the tricky 2020 class. And the reason 2020 will be tricky is because it’s the proposed date by the NCAA to abolish the one-and-done, of course if the NBA is willing to play ball.

So, while UK will have extra time to build relationships in 2020, the Cats will need to focus on two things.

1. How interested are the kids in Kentucky? (This is a question they ask every year)

2. Would UK be wasting its time recruiting a kid that won’t play college basketball.

Ben Roberts of the Lexington Herald Leader recently wrote an article about the proposed rule changes, the NCAA and the NBA. This piece will give you some background on the timetable and how likely it is to take place.

Many experts agree that something will change by 2020. Calipari suggested that just a handful of high school players should have the chance to be a one-and-done, as a compromise for the NCAA and the NBA.

It’s even more important UK has extra time to build these relationships because it will give Kentucky’s coaching staff a better idea of who will likely head to the NBA Draft and who is more interested in playing college basketball. Those interested in playing college basketball, even if not ranked one of the top 10 players in the class, will allow UK to turn the corner faster than other programs.

In a somewhat surprising move Calipari has already offered Scottie Barnes and N’Farly Dante in the class of 2020. It’s surprising because Calipari rarely offers players before the fall of their junior year. So, it’s safe to say UK will actively be monitoring those two players, but those two players would almost certainly be interested in the NBA if the one-and-done rule is taken out of play.

So, UK will have to be somewhat creative for the 2020 class, and clearly the Cats are already thinking about the future. Here are a few names to remember for 2020 excluding the two targets Calipari has already offered, and don’t be expecting anymore offers until the fall (click on names for more details):

Isaiah Todd: The 6-foot-9, 190-pound forward is similar to Bol Bol with his outside shooting ability, but he will certainly be on the radar of NBA teams.

Jaemyn Brakefield: Brakefield has been on UK’s campus more times as a 2020 player than I was when I was a college student at UK. He is high on the Cats and probably not quite a candidate to make the jump to the league.

Jeremy Roach: Roach has also visited UK and was on Kentucky’s campus last fall. He is the exact type of player UK will be monitoring in 2020. He’s incredibly talented but will most certainly play college basketball.

Hunter Dickinson: Behind the scenes UK has shown some interest, but with powers like UNC and UVA making Dickinson a priority don’t be surprised to see interest pickup for the big guy.

Brandon Boston: Boston has visited UK and the Cats will continue to watch him this summer. He’s from Norcross, Ga. Hey, that’s where Jodie Meeks was from, too.

It’s too early to say exactly which players will end up at UK, or even who will end up with an offer from Kentucky, but the 2020 class could revert the game back to how it was nearly two decades ago.

The fact UK is sitting so well in 2019 will allow Calipari and his staff to be on top of whatever changes sweep across college basketball.


Why hasn’t Kentucky offered KyKy Tandy?

Why hasn’t Kentucky offered KyKy Tandy?

Hopkinsville’s KyKy Tandy is earning offers from several college basketball programs as he enters the summer before his senior season at University Heights Academy. His latest came from Gregg Marshall and Wichita State, which brings his list to 10 schools that have extended an offer. That list also includes SEC schools Tennessee, Ole Miss and Florida, as well as Cincinnati, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Kansas State, New Mexico State and nearby Western Kentucky.

But one school is noticeably absent from his offer sheet: the University of Kentucky. So why is that?

For starters, I think Tandy — though very, very good — isn’t quite the level of guard John Calipari can typically hand-pick from the high school ranks. He is currently ranked as the 28th best shooting guard in the 247 Sports Composite (although that ranking will likely improve soon) and there are several other guards who are already on Kentucky’s big board as major targets. Many UK fans see him as a Dominique Hawkins-type addition to the roster, but Tandy is too good (especially in his own mind) to take the Hawkins path of coming off the bench for four years. He wants to shine right away. His father said so.

Calipari could eventually offer Tandy, and maybe he will, but at this stage in the process it doesn’t seem he is in a rush to throw an offer out to someone who isn’t part of his Plan A for the Class of 2019. And that Plan A is already off to a great start with the commitments of DJ Jeffries and Tyrese Maxey, and being in a great position with James Wiseman, Jalen Lecque and Keion Brooks.

Then there is Tandy’s father, who made headlines with his comments to Kyle Tucker. His exact words were: “If he does get an offer, he’s not going to Kentucky with three or four point guards there. He’s not no bench player. And that’s what they think he is: He’ll just come in and play four years. No, no.” [SEC Country]

While I admire his father’s confidence and wanting the best for his son, that attitude is exactly what Calipari stays far, far away from. If you’ve followed Cal closely over the years, you know he has very little tolerance for parents who give ultimatums and can’t let go of control. All the kids he has gotten and succeeded with in the past, they had parents who stepped away and let Calipari work his magic. He wants to be trusted; not told how things will work out. So Tandy’s father might’ve cost his son the opportunity to be a Wildcat by rubbing Cal the wrong way with his comments. Again, there is nothing wrong with what Tandy’s father said and how he sees his son’s value to a team; it just isn’t going to get him a Kentucky uniform as long as Cal is in charge.

Now for a third reason behind Kentucky’s hesitance to extend an offer to Tandy, and it’s only a theory of mine: This tweet did not sit well.

Tandy tweeted his Kansas State offer less than 24 hours after Kansas State beat Kentucky in the NCAA tournament. Was it a troll job? Or did Bruce Weber really call Tandy on the day between the Sweet 16 and the Elite Eight, one game shy of the Final Four, to extend a scholarship offer? It sure seems like Tandy waited to tweet the offer. Whatever the case, though, I’ve heard whispers that it did not go unnoticed by the UK staff and the timing did not help his chances.

So there you go. Three reasons why I believe KyKy Tandy still does not have an offer from the University of Kentucky. Personally, I want nothing but the best for Tandy because he and I are from the same dirt (shout-out Region 2/shout-out El Bracero/shout-out Ferrell’s) and we have a few mutual acquaintances, but I’m afraid he has some factors working against him at this point in his recruitment.

As it stands today, right now at this very moment, I think Cal would lean toward the other in-state prospect, Dontaie Allen, over Tandy.

But Tandy still has a whole summer on the Under Armour circuit and his senior season of high school to change Cal’s mind.