(Mark Zerof | US Presswire) “Be careful,” they said. “This will be a close game,” →
Basketball Recruiting News
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 27th, 2015 @ 6:30pm
Congratulations to future Cat Isaiah Briscoe, who scored his 2,000th career point last night in Roselle Catholic’s win over Union Catholic. Briscoe’s milestone moment came on a soaring one-handed dunk, and he finished with 24 points, 9 assists, and 4 steals. Check it out:
Now, if he could only figure out how to unlock his iPhone:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 24th, 2015 @ 5:00pm
Five-star combo guard Malik Newman took an unofficial visit to LSU for the Kentucky/LSU game a few weeks ago, and in his latest blog for USA Today’s high school sports site, Newman says future Cat Isaiah Briscoe and future Tiger Ben Simmons are both trying their hardest to recruit him:
My boy (Isaiah) Briscoe hits me up about coming to Kentucky with him and my boy Ben (Simmons) is trying to get me to come with him to LSU.
It makes sense that they would because those are a couple of the schools that I’m considering, and I feel like if I team up with any one of those guys we can win the national championship. I really believe that!
Newman also says he would be comfortable announcing his decision at the McDonald’s All-American Game, which takes place April 1 in Chicago. His list includes Kentucky, Kansas, UConn, LSU, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss.
With Devin Booker’s stock rising and the Harrison twins likely headed to the draft, you have to feel good about Kentucky’s chances with Malik, especially with Briscoe in his ear.
School: St. Rita’s High School
From: Chicago, IL.
-All UK for a While Now: Being the first UK commitment for the 2015 class, Charles Matthews has had plenty of time to become familiar with the Big Blue Nation. We UK fans are used to waiting on late spring decisions while trying to sift through all the “done deals”, package deals, and other drama to find the truth. It’s almost always a roller coaster ride from start to finish with 4 and 5 star recruits, so when a recruit like Matthews decides to pick the Cats over a year before signing day, it is a nice change of pace. There are around eight months left before Matthews will suit up for the Cats during Big Blue Madness, but it is always good to have a player of his caliber already signed and ready to head to Lexington.
-Matthews’ Recruitment: John Calipari must have liked what he saw in Matthews’ ability very early because he was one of the first players in the 2015 class to receive an offer from UK. He received the offer in June of 2013, which was around two years before he would ever suit up to play college basketball. After that offer, Coach Cal stayed in regular contact and visited Matthews several times at his high school. Matthews must have liked Calipari’s recruiting pitch because he pushed any and all drama aside and decided to commit to the Wildcats on February 26, 2014. The commitment took place after a visit from the UK head coach the weekend before. He had several Division 1 offers from some of the nation’s top programs, but ultimately decided to commit to Kentucky over Marquette, Kansas, Illinois, and Michigan State. After committing, Matthews has been pretty quiet and is just focusing on basketball since he doesn’t have to deal with the recruiting process. He decided to sign with the Wildcats during the early signing period on November 14, 2014 and is in the midst of finishing up his senior season at St. Rita’s High School in Chicago, Illinois.
-Rankings: Not many recruits see their ranking change as much as Charles Matthews has. Early in his high school career and when he committed to Kentucky he was ranked in the top 25 by every recruiting service and was considered one of the premier 5-star talents in the country. After a lackluster junior season that also included him missing some games with an injury, his ranking dropped significantly among the nation’s top players. He went from being a consensus top 25 recruit to dropping to as low as the 60’s in some rankings. Matthews is a confident player however, and after a strong senior season thus far (averaging 22.8 points per game) he hopes to climb the rankings back to 5-star status. But even if he doesn’t the BBN shouldn’t worry, because if Coach Cal wants him, then so should we.
ESPN – #42
Rivals – #58
247 – Composite #57
1. Athleticism 1. Shooting
2. Finishing at the Rim 2. Defensive Rebounding
3. Defense 3. Average dribbling
4. Smart Passer 4. Needs to get stronger
5. Length/Size for his position 5. Settles for easy shot too often
According to Jerry Meyers of 247Sports who talked to KSR back in Feb. of 2014, “Matthews is an exceptional athlete as a wing finisher…Defensively, he has the tools to be a force.”
-Bottom Line: Expect Charles Matthews to be a very good player for Kentucky before he leaves, even if he isn’t a one-and-done like most Calipari recruits. He could even be an important part of the team as a freshman because of what he brings to the defensive end of the floor. His length and athleticism as a guard gives him great potential to be a lock-down defender. He has even been compared to former UK player Deandre Liggins for this reason. On the offensive end he is great at finishing at the rim and is a very good and willing passer for a wing. However, he does need to continue to develop his jump shot and handle to become a complete player. If he comes to UK with the right mindset and works hard to improve on the offensive end and to become even better on defense, then he will be a very important piece to the team going forward. Depending on what other guards they get in this class and if Aaron Harrison and Devin Booker decide to turn pro, we could see Charles Matthews make an impact sooner rather than later.
Random Fact: According to twitter he has only watched one Super Bowl in his life…
I never watched a super bowl besides the one w/ the Bears vs Colts lol.Really waiting for my big bro @BMarshall to be in one.He deserves it!
— Charles Matthews (@CMATT_4) February 1, 2015
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 18th, 2015 @ 12:59pm
The recruiting services wasted no time taking Thon Maker’s move to the 2015 class into account. Maker debuted at #6 in Scout.com’s 2015 rankings and #8 in 247 Sports’. ESPN and Rivals have yet to note the change.
Maker is also moving up the draft boards. Since his reclassification announcement this morning, Maker has jumped to #10 in Draft Express’ 2016 Mock Draft. UK signees Skal Labissiere and Isaiah Briscoe come in at #3 and #14, respectively.
Kansas and Kentucky are considered the favorites for Maker if he decides to go the college route. There is still a strong possibility Maker will forego college and play overseas for a year ala Emmanuel Mudiay, but seeing him play in college would be way more fun than that, especially if it’s at Kentucky.
We finally have some news about Thon Maker. After months of speculation, the 2016 phenom tweeted this morning that he’s on track to graduate this year, therefore reclassifying to 2015:
I'm on track to graduate this year but a lot of hard work ahead this summer! No shortcuts on this road to success. #built4this
— Thon Maker ™ (@ThonMaker14) February 18, 2015
Maker’s guardian Ed Smith previously told Zags Blog that if Thon reclassifies, he will “definitely” visit Kentucky and Kansas. While Calipari already has a commitment from Skal Labissiere and leads on several other 2015 big men including Stephen Zimmerman, Cheick Diallo, Caleb Swanigan, and Ivan Rabb, Maker is one of those players you just can’t pass on.
Coach Calipari is currently visiting NYC, watching UK commit Isaiah Briscoe and recruit Cheick Diallo. The game is being held at the Nike Zoom Area, which is located in lower Manhattan. In case you were wondering, the set up in that arena looks like something out of a black-light mini golf course.
Also playing today is 6’10” freshman Naz Reid, who Adam Zagoria tweeted out could be on Calipari’s radar.
6-10 Naz Reid just had an alley oop dunk that probably wasn’t lost on Cal. Kid is only a 15-yr-old frosh but is super athletic & will grow
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) February 15, 2015
Wouldn’t shock me if Kentucky gets involved w/ 6-10 Naz Reid. Kid spun into the lane and lofted a nice fallaway jumper that rolled out — Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) February 15, 2015
Our very own Matt Jones was also in attendance for the game, and shared his thoughts on Briscoe & Reid via Twitter.
UK’s future PG Isaiah Briscoe looks good…passes well, nice penetrator, solid jump shot. Step slow today on D and maybe little out of shape
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) February 15, 2015
Briscoe has a 15 year old teammate named Naz Reid that is a 6’10” REALLY good Freshman..if he doesn’t end up a Top 10 player I’ll be shocked
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) February 15, 2015
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 12th, 2015 @ 2:00pm
A reminder: tomorrow, 2016 phenom Thon Maker will announce whether or not he will reclassify to the 2015 class. The 7-footer’s guardian told ZagsBlog the decision was pushed to the end of the week:
“Thon will be able to make a decision [on reclassification] on Friday,” Smith said Wednesday by text from Canada. “Being stuck in New York [because of weather] pushed the timeline to the end of the week.”
Smith also said that if Maker does reclassify to 2015, he will visit Kansas and Kentucky, two of a handful of schools he’s considering. While Maker is a “can’t-miss” recruit, reclassification may not be ideal for John Calipari. Cal already has Skal Labissiere coming in and several other big man prospects on the burners, including Stephen Zimmerman, Cheick Diallo, Caleb Swanigan, and Ivan Rabb. If Maker doesn’t reclassify, Cal could build his 2016 class around him, with, presumably, a much less-crowded frontcourt.
Regardless of which class he’s in, landing Maker is a priority. This mixtape will show you why:
Ready for some big news? According to The Clarion Ledger’s Courtney Cronin, five-star combo guard Malik Newman will attend tonight’s UK/LSU game in Baton Rouge. Per his father, it will be an unofficial visit.
Newman is considered the fourth best player in the 2015 class, and over the weekend, a source close to future UK point guard Isaiah Briscoe told ZagsBlog that Newman will eventually choose the Cats. Right now, his list includes Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Kentucky, Kansas, LSU, NC State and Ohio State, but the Cats are the perceived frontrunners, along with Kansas and the home state Bulldogs.
LSU may be on Newman’s list, but considering the timing, this visit seems to be all about the Cats.
A source close to Isaiah Briscoe tells Zagsblog today they believe Malik Newman will ultimately join him at UK
— Aaron Kall (@AaronsUKBBBlog) February 7, 2015
Dreaming about that Ulis-Briscoe-Malik Newman (maybe Booker, too?) backcourt next season? A source close to Isaiah Briscoe says they’re pretty sure it’s going to happen.
Right now, Newman – a 6-4 scorer from Mississippi – is making his decision on his official visits, but his father is a big fan of Cal and what he’s doing in Lexington.
We’re ready, Malik. Come on down.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 06th, 2015 @ 5:00pm
Step down memory lane with me for a little bit. Remember Chris Walker? Once considered one of the best players in the 2013 class, the five-star power forward was all about Kentucky during his recruitment, praising the Cats left and right and just waiting for that offer to come from John Calipari.
Well, it didn’t. Instead, Walker committed to Florida and has been tangled up in eligibility problems and suspensions ever since. With tomorrow’s game looming, let’s take a look back at Walker’s love/hate relationship with Kentucky.
July 2011: “I like everything about Kentucky,” Walker says. “I like the fan base, the coaching staff, and the academics the school offers.”
“I’m really expecting to get an offer from Kentucky in Indianapolis on July 6th,” he added. “Then I also wouldn’t mind getting up to campus for a visit in August.”
December 2011: With no offer, Walker takes to Twitter to vent.
He adds “UK in top ten not top three” and “Things can change as soon as they change.”
July 12, 2012: Walker is getting frustrated. “If they don’t offer me this month or pretty soon I’m probably just going to cut them.”
July 21, 2012: Even though Kentucky still hasn’t offered him, Walker puts the Cats in his final four:
Final schools are louivlle, Florida, kentucky, kansas
— Chris Walker (@kingsky23) July 22, 2012
July 22, 2012: Walker commits to Florida and makes one big prediction in this video:
“Together we will be the best duo in college and we will win a national championship,” Walker said of himself and fellow Florida signee Kasey Hill. “You heard it here first.”
April 2013: Walker takes a shot at the Cats during an interview with the Herald-Leader when asked about UK’s top recruiting class that included Julius Randle, the Harrison Twins, James Young, Dakari Johnson, and Marcus Lee.
“I mean, they thought they had the best class last year too, but … ” Walker said before trailing off with a smile.
Walker also wins the McDonald’s All-American Dunk Contest:
Admit it, after watching that, you wondered why Cal didn’t offer him. Well…
August 2013: Chris Walker is ruled ineligible at Florida due to academic problems.
January 29, 2014: Chris Walker is finally cleared to play after sitting out 12 games (40%) of the season, donating $270 of the money he received from agents, and serving 80 hours of community service for receiving preferential treatment from five people before he arrived in Gainesville.
October 2014: Billy Donovan suspends Walker for the team’s first two games and an exhibition game due to an unspecified violation of team rules. “He has such a long way to go in terms of being reliable, accountable and disciplined,” Donovan told OnlyGators.com. “Those would be the three things I would say I don’t have a great grasp on right now, but we’re going to find out.”
Present: Walker is averaging 5.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 15.2 minutes per game.
In Cal we trust.
Rick Pitino has grown accustomed to losing to John Calipari on and off the court, but there’s one loss (at least one) in recruiting that still really bothers him.
On his radio show last night, Louisville’s head basketball coach was asked if there’s one player who slipped away that he really wishes he had back. Pitino told his listeners, “Trey Lyles.”
Lyles, who knocked down three midrange jumpers in the Yum! Center earlier this season, was down to Kentucky and Louisville when he chose the Wildcats in a live announcement on ESPNU last fall. You may remember him throwing a smoke-screen in the days before the announcement, misleading some to believe he would pick the Cardinals.
He did not pick the Cardinals and now he’s Rick Pitino’s one-who-got-away.
Sucks to be you, Rick. We love Trey here.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 03rd, 2015 @ 11:45am
Charles Matthews is sometimes the forgotten member of the 2015 class, but it’s time to change that. Sports Stars of Tomorrow did this nice little profile of Matthews, which includes some great highlights and quotes from the Chicago shooting guard. Here’s one about Kentucky:
“I really went down there and fell in love with the great history and the players that came before me there and what they continue to do with the program and how they win. Their players go on and have much success on and off the court,” Matthews said. “When I get there, my mindset is not strictly NBA. That’s the last thing I’m thinking about. I want to get there, learn as much as possible, win as much as possible, get better as much as possible. I feel if I do all those things, the doors to the NBA will open up.”
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©February 02nd, 2015 @ 7:15pm
Last week, UK signee Isaiah Briscoe was named a McDonald’s All-American, and this week, he’s been added to the Nike Hoop Summit roster, along with UK targets Jaylen Brown, Malik Newman, Stephen Zimmerman, Ivan Rabb, and Caleb Swanigan. Here’s the entire roster:
The Hoop Summit takes place on April 11 in Portland, Oregon. Congrats, Isaiah.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 28th, 2015 @ 6:11pm
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
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 26th, 2015 @ 4:00pm
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?