Basketball Recruiting News
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 15th, 2019 @ 6:55pm
Kentucky is set to host a massive visitor this weekend with No. 1 Tennessee in town.
Sources have confirmed to KSR that 2019 five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr. will be in Lexington on an unofficial visit, joining a list of elite talent in BJ Boston (2020), Justin Powell (2020) and Kennedy Chandler (2021) for the highly-anticipated matchup.
Forward | 6-8 | 185 lbs.
Fort Wayne, IN | North Side
AAU: Spiece Indy Heat
|ESPN||No. 30 | 9 PF||Top247||No. 16 | 5 SF|
|Rivals||No. 35 | 13 PF||247 Comp.||No. 22 | 6 SF|
At one point, sources told KSR that Kentucky had significant momentum in Brooks’ recruitment, with those within the program feeling extremely confident in their position with the 6-foot-8 forward out of Fort Wayne, IN. Even when most major recruiting analysts believed Indiana was the runaway favorite, those on Kentucky’s side of things felt there was a strong chance they could win out in the end.
Over the last few weeks, however, I was told that Kentucky lost a bit of ground, with both Michigan State and North Carolina likely jumping UK and joining Indiana as the main contenders to land the consensus top-35 prospect.
Now, it appears Kentucky has made yet another significant push for the five-star, with Brian Snow of 247 Sports going as far as to say the Cats may have jumped back into his top two with Indiana, and certainly in his top three with IU and MSU.
With an announcement expected over the next week or so, Kentucky has an opportunity this weekend to make up serious ground and possibly even secure his commitment when the time comes.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 14th, 2019 @ 9:15pm
If you take the word of at least one major recruiting analyst, Kentucky is expected to land one of the most talented prospects in the class of 2020, five-star forward Isaiah Todd.
|Isaiah Todd (2020)
Power Forward | 6-10 | 195 lbs.Richmond, VA| Trinity Academy Of Raleigh
AAU: Team Loaded VA
|ESPN||No. 8 | 4 PF||Top247||No. 18 | 3 PF|
|Rivals||No. 15 | 2 C||247 Comp.||No. 13 | 2 PF|
Evan Daniels of 247 Sports, one of the most connected recruiting insiders in the game, made a Crystal Ball pick for Todd in favor of the Cats.
Corey Evans of Rivals.com also listed Kentucky among the four main competitors for Todd’s services should he decide to make the jump to 2019.
He does, however, believe North Carolina is the team to beat as of today.
“By making such a move, the four programs that stand the best chance with him consist of Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma State and UNC,” he said. “UK has yet to offer, but there is a chance that he could visit Lexington before the college season wraps up. Until then, the Tar Heels may be the program to beat. He has visited the campus a handful of times this winter and the assets that he possesses are the exact traits that the Tar Heels are looking for with the potential losses of Nassir Little, Cam Johnson and Luke Maye in mind.”
Sources have told KSR over the last several weeks that Todd was leaning toward reclassifying to the class of 2019, with Kentucky being a prime candidate for his commitment if that jump were to happen. With Kentucky’s options dwindling down in the class of 2019, I’m told Todd would be one of their top targets to close out this recruiting class.
As mentioned in the Monday Insider Notes, we’ll learn more about Todd’s recruitment and his reclassification status when his season ends next week (at the latest).
Until then, you can watch his highlights here:
Come on down, big fella.
By Nick Roush on ©February 14th, 2019 @ 2:00pm
Future Kentucky point guard Tyrese Maxey will represent the USA in April’s Nike Hoop Summit.
Maxey is the only current UK signee on Team USA’s roster. Kahlil Whitney was passed over for lower-ranked players who have more experience in the USA Basketball program, ESPN reports. Last year two Wildcats played in the Hoop Summit, Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro.
Maxey will be joined by UK target Matthew Hurt. The two teamed up for Team USA last summer to win a gold medal in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship in Canada. A look at the rest of the roster:
The World Team rosters will be announced at a later date. The Nike Hoop Summit is April 12 in Portland, Oregon.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 13th, 2019 @ 1:30pm
John Calipari and the Kentucky coaching staff are still looking to close out the class of 2019 strong, but that’s not stopping them from making moves for the future.
Scottie Barnes, a consensus top-five prospect and the No. 1 forward in the class of 2020, has officially cut his list to eight schools, and Kentucky made the cut.
|Scottie Barnes (2020)
Forward | 6-8 | 210 lbs.
Fort Lauderdale, FL | University School
AAU: Nike Team Florida
|ESPN||No. 4 | 2 PF||Top247||No. 3 | 1 SF|
|Rivals||No. 4 | 1 PF||247 Comp.||No. 3 | 1 SF|
The final schools in contention? Kentucky, Duke, Florida State, Kansas, Miami, Ohio State, Cal-Berkeley, and Oregon.
He announced the final cut on his Twitter account:
Top 8! pic.twitter.com/6kQg4FjyCq
— Scott Barnes (@ScottBarnes561) February 13, 2019
Barnes, a 6-foot-8, 210-pound forward out of Florida, is known as one of the most versatile players in the class of 2020 with the ability to score at all three levels, bring the ball up the court, and use his length to alter shots on the defensive end of the floor. With more room to grow and his skills developing at a rapid pace, it’s no surprise he is one of the most sought-after prospects in the class.
As far as his recruitment is concerned, Barnes has already officially visited Florida State and Oregon, along with a few unofficial visits to Miami over the past two years. Beyond his handful of visits over the course of his high school career, it seems as though the Fort Lauderdale native is in no rush to make a decision.
During every major media opportunity he has had over the last year or so, Barnes has nearly brushed off recruiting entirely, saying he’s only focused on playing basketball right now. In the few times he has opened up about specific schools, Kentucky always finds themselves in the discussion as one of his potential favorites.
He was the first player in the class of 2020 to receive an offer from John Calipari, after all.
“When they came to my school to talk to me they said they saw something special in me,” he said of Kentucky, via Prep Circuit. “They like how I can develop their program and be a major key to them. They love the way I play on defense and they know that I like to win. They know that I will bring that leadership to their team.”
Kentucky assistant coach Tony Barbee has been in to visit Barnes multiple times, while assistant coach Joel Justus has also maintained consistent contact with the star forward.
Beyond Kentucky, Florida is a school that has garnered quite a bit of buzz in Barnes’ recruitment, making it a bit of a surprise they didn’t make the cut. Oregon has also picked up steam, with Andrew Slater of 247 Sports submitting a Crystal Ball pick for the 6-foot-8 prospect on February 2.
Watch his summer highlight reel:
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 12th, 2019 @ 11:00am
Mondays always suck, but they suck even worse when the No. 1 high school basketball recruit chooses Tom Crean and the Georgia Bulldogs over your beloved Kentucky Wildcats.
Unfortunately, that became reality yesterday morning when Anthony Edwards brought out his baby nephew and revealed him wearing a Georgia t-shirt and bib.
On this edition of Pilgrim’s Insider Notes, we’ll break down what happened with Edwards and what’s next for Kentucky on the recruiting circuit.
Let’s dive right in.
As Edwards himself said yesterday morning, the decision to go to Georgia was made two weeks ago, and it’s a big reason why all of the major recruiting outlets went all-in on their predictions in favor of the Bulldogs. It really wasn’t a secret, especially following his official visit to Athens the weekend after his trip to Lexington.
To get this out of the way, some are jumping to the conclusion that money or extra benefits changed hands or something of the sort. With all of the shenanigans going on with the FBI and the NCAA lately, it’s certainly easy to just assume that there’s no way a potential No. 1 draft pick could actually go to a school like Georgia without receiving something on the side. But fans should absolutely believe it, because I truly don’t believe there was any shady business going on in this recruitment. It was relatively cut-and-dry, honestly.
Yes, Edwards actually wants to attend a school that is currently 10-13 on the year and 13th in the SEC. And he’s pretty darn excited about it.
In short, Edwards’ relationship with Georgia head coach Tom Crean and his assistants was strong and the trust between all parties was built not long after the coaching changes were made. As we’ve said here on KSR multiple times over the court of his recruitment, Crean sold Edwards on being the next Victor Oladipo or Dwyane Wade, and it worked.
I’m under the impression that Crean told Edwards he can come in and instantly get all of the minutes, touches, and shots he could possibly dream of, putting up ridiculous numbers each night en route to the No. 1 draft pick next summer. His family and friends can come watch him become college basketball’s next superstar as a strong representative of his home state. He has said he thinks he can lead Georgia to a national championship next year (not gonna happen), but it shows that he bought what Crean was selling. Even if the Bulldog head coach hasn’t been the biggest media darling as of late.
After Georgia’s 16-point loss to Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon, Crean threw his entire team under the bus and his comments ended up going viral.
“It’s all on me,” he said. “Because I’m the one who decided to keep these guys. It’s all on me. And I get it. Because the last thing I can do, with making decisions, on keeping guys in the program in the spring, is now get overly mad at them because I’m the one who made the decision. So I live with that every day. And it doesn’t mean that they’re not great kids,” he said. “But very few programs, when there’s a takeover, when you have guys who haven’t done it at any point really in their career, a lot of those guys, they move on.”
While many were baffled at his comments and assumed it would hurt his program’s chances with the top prospect in the nation, Edwards said it didn’t faze him at all.
“I know he’s not like that,” he said following his commitment. “He’s a great guy. He didn’t mean it like that.”
To take it a step further, I was told that the comments may have actually solidified his commitment even more. In his mind, he sees it as an opportunity to come in and immediately be the face of a new up-and-coming program under a new coaching staff. Think of it like when four-star football recruits originally committed to Mark Stoops and the Kentucky football program when he got started back in 2013.
On Kentucky’s end of things, I’m told they absolutely made up ground during his official visit to Lexington, jumping past Florida State on his final “list.” He loved Calipari’s pitch and watched Kentucky’s game against Mississippi State back in January very closely, watching every possession and envisioning himself in the system. But even after that, Georgia held the top spot, and they finally sealed the deal that weekend in Athens. Edwards wanted to make things interesting with Instagram posts and uniform pictures, but this thing was officially over the second he left Georgia’s campus.
And with that, we close the door on Anthony Edwards and look elsewhere to close out the class of 2019.
As one door closes, another opens.
Last week, five-star guard RJ Hampton cut his list to five schools, with Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, Memphis, and TCU making the cut.
While the majority of buzz surrounding Hampton’s recruitment seems to be with Duke and Memphis, I’m told Kentucky is right in the thick of things and are absolutely one of the favorites in this recruitment. The family respects John Calipari and the Kentucky program and really feel the combo guard out of Little Elm, TX would thrive in the system.
Dan McDonald of Rivals.com actually said in a recent staff roundtable discussion that he believes Kentucky will end up being the landing spot for Hampton.
“Memphis seems to be one of the schools that has done a lot of work with him early on and I think a lot of what Penny Hardaway is selling was validated by landing James Wiseman in the 2019 class,” he said. “But beating Duke, Kansas and Kentucky is this one will be a tall task because he doesn’t have the same advantage he did with having coached Wiseman. I’ll take a wild guess on this one and roll with John Calipari adding to his collection of really good guards to have played for him.”
There have also been reclassification rumors with Hampton for several months now, and the family isn’t necessarily going out of their way to deny them. In an interview with KSR’s Aaron Torres, Hampton’s father, Rod, said that while the plan is to remain in the class of 2020, his son has put himself in position academically to reclassify and will leave the option open in case his mind changes down the road.
Turning 18 last week, Hampton is ready both physically and mentally to play at the college level. He’s already putting up ridiculous numbers as a junior, and by making the jump now, he’d be back with other players his age and be on track to enter the draft at 19 years old.
To put the icing on the cake, Hampton is one of the most competitive players in the class of 2020, so playing with Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney in the Kentucky backcourt would not scare him away. In fact, Hampton is actually close with Maxey, a fellow Texan, and sources tell KSR they have discussed the idea of playing together at Kentucky together next season.
I would not be surprised in the slightest if he takes the Marvin Bagley III route and says he’s staying in the class of 2020 all the way through the AAU circuit before deciding to make the jump. If Hampton announced his intention to reclassify now, he would be ruled ineligible to spend one final summer trying to earn a championship playing AAU, one of the goals he has set for himself before heading to college.
(As a side note, there is also a rumor out that Hampton, a current prospect on the Under Armour circuit, may be making the move to the Nike EYBL circuit with hopes of competing for a title at Peach Jam this summer.)
We’ll monitor this situation closely.
Last week, we told you about Trinity Academy (NC) five-star forward Isaiah Todd and his decision to either stay in 2020 or make the jump to 2019.
In an interview with KSR, Trinity head coach Bryan Burrell said should his star forward reclassify, he’d be ready to make an instant impact next year in college.
“I think one of his best qualities is that he’s able to pick things up quickly,” he said. “If he was able to get there and immerse himself with his teammates and the coaching staff, and the coaching staff explained to him from day one what they were looking for specifically with production, I think he’d be able to help out a program immediately.
Burrell said that Todd will dive into the recruiting process harder and make a decision on his reclassification once his season ended, which as of today, only has a maximum of four games remaining. The state tournament starts on Thursday and (if Trinity makes it to the title game) ends next Saturday, so we’ll hear more about it from there.
After digging a little deeper on Todd and his circle, I was actually told that those around him actually wouldn’t mind seeing Todd head off to college a year early. He was born in Maryland, found his way to Virginia for school, and then moved to North Carolina to close out his high school career, so it’s not like he has strong ties holding him down in any certain location. Sources tell KSR that if he can get his academics in order, and that’s looking likely as of now, he will be making the jump to 2019.
As far as specific schools he is interested in, I can say with certainty that Kentucky wants him and they would like to have him next season. And as far as I know (again, we’ll learn more about specifics when his season ends), the interest is mutual.
Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma State and Boston College have all been in this week for five-star junior Isaiah Todd. Talented forward could reclassify to 2019. @Dwayne_Wise
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) February 8, 2019
Outside of Kentucky, North Carolina, Maryland, and Oklahoma State are seen as the other main contenders in this thing.
If I were a betting man, I’d say both Todd and Hampton find themselves in the class of 2019 before it’s all said and done, with Kentucky right in the thick of things with both.
On Saturday night, video leaked out of a scuffle between Kahlil Whitney’s Roselle Catholic Lions and the Montverde Eagles, sparking a bit of controversy on social media.
To break it down, a Montverde player got tangled up with a player on Roselle Catholic and appeared to shove him into the bench. In response, Whitney and numerous other Lions came to their teammate’s defense, sparking a bench-clearing brawl.
From there, we saw pushing and shoving from both sides until security came out to break things up. After things cooled down, Roselle Catholic inbounded the ball and dribbled the clock out. Game over, no big deal.
On social media afterward, however, Whitney (being a high-profile, top-10 prospect) was quickly made out to be the bad guy, as people began calling out his maturity and temper, among other things.
Sources tell KSR the folks at UK weren’t happy with the negative comments Whitney and his team have been receiving and felt it was ridiculous people felt a minor incident like that had any bearing on a teenager’s character.
In short, Kentucky is standing by their guy and they are ecstatic for him to sign on the dotted line on May 3. Case closed.
We’ll be back next week with more on the remaining 2019 guys, reclassification rumors, and whatever else is almost certain to pop up between now and Monday.
The No. 1 player in America, Anthony Edwards, will attend Georgia over Kentucky and Florida State. Edwards announced the decision by holding up his young nephew.
It’s an odd decision for someone who presumably wants basketball success, but it’s the decision Edwards made and will have to live with. He credited Tom Crean’s success with Dwyane Wade and Victor Oladipo as the reason for picking the Dawgs.
One of the top-ranked high school basketball players in America, Anthony Edwards, is moments away from announcing his decision to the world. Edwards is all set to choose between Kentucky, Georgia and Florida State, and though most of the buzz has been around Georgia, Kentucky is still very much in the hunt. In fact, Edwards even shouted “Kentucky commit” during a late Sunday night live video on Instagram.
So will it be Kentucky or was he trolling Big Blue Nation? We’ll find out very soon.
John Calipari will speak to the media later today.
Fresh off a hard-fought victory down at Mississippi State, John Calipari will hold a press conference prior to Kentucky’s Monday afternoon practice in the Joe Craft Center to look back on the win and ahead to tomorrow night’s game against LSU.
We will have the live stream here on KSR at 2 p.m. followed by a recap of his comments.
Kentucky will likely stay put in this week’s rankings.
Despite pulling off a win at almost-ranked Mississippi State, Kentucky will likely remain at No. 5 in both the Associated Press and USA Today Coaches polls when they’re released later today. It’d be nice to jump fourth-ranked Gonzaga, but with the Zags’ wins over San Francisco and Saint Mary’s by a combined 74 points, the leap will probably have to wait another week.
Did you see the new edition of The Journey? It came out last night.
Chapter 23 of your favorite web series is here.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) February 11, 2019
Three brief observations:
1. During halftime, Calipari accurately predicted Mississippi State’s two second-half runs.
2. Tyler Herro’s three-pointer looks even better in slow-mo. What a shot.
3. In the locker room after the game, Coach Cal immediately called out PJ Washington for having only three rebounds, rather than celebrating the victory. It’s clear he is going to push and push Washington and then push some more to make sure he is getting the best out of who he believes is the best player in the country.
If The Journey wasn’t enough behind-the-scenes Kentucky for you…
The Cats will be featured on SEC Inside.
Monday night’s episode of SEC Inside will follow Kentucky basketball in (I believe) the events surrounding last week’s game against South Carolina.
The show will air twice tonight: once at 9 p.m. and again at 11 p.m. on the SEC Network.
No Matt Jones on today’s show.
Matt took a long weekend to visit the Big Apple, so it will be Ryan Lemond and I driving the KSR radio show today. We will be joined by Kyle Tucker in the first hour and then Michael Bennett–yes, Michael Bennett–will make his official KSR debut in the second. Tune in as we recap the weekend and talk about stuff.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 07th, 2019 @ 10:00pm
To celebrate his 18th birthday, 2020 five-star guard RJ Hampton decided to make the first major step forward in his recruitment by trimming his list down to five.
|RJ Hampton (2020)
Combo Guard | 6-5 | 190 lbs.
Little Elm, TX | Little Elm
AAU: Mudiay Elite
|ESPN||No. 5 | 1 PG||Top247||No. 6 | 1 CG|
|Rivals||No. 5 | 1 PG||247 Comp.||No. 6 | 1 CG|
The final schools in contention? Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Memphis, and TCU.
He announced his final list in a tweet this afternoon:
— 14 (@RjHampton14) February 7, 2019
Those five schools shouldn’t come as a surprise. Kentucky, Kansas, and Memphis are the three schools that have received official visits for the elite guard, while Duke and TCU have also received unofficial visits.
Now that he has focused his recruitment on five schools, things are about to get interesting.
Sources tell KSR that while the narrative out there is that Duke may have a slight lead, all five schools in contention have a shot and Hampton is going to play out this process with an open mind.
When he does dive into the nitty gritty of things, I’m told Kentucky will be right in the thick of things until the end. The entire Hampton family is very fond of John Calipari and his sales pitch, which yes, continues to be the ever-popular “Kentucky isn’t for everyone” mindset. With the elite scoring guard being one of the toughest competitors in all of high school basketball, they embrace the fact that nothing would be handed to him at Kentucky and it won’t be easy.
The next interesting aspect of Hampton’s recruitment is when he’ll actually be playing college basketball. His name has been thrown around in reclassification rumors over the last several months, and while it’s not a certainty by any stretch, sources tell KSR it is in consideration for the elite prospect.
We’ll have more on Hampton’s recruitment on the Monday Insider Notes, and KSR’s Aaron Torres will also be back next week with his own big update on Hampton, so be on the look-out for that.
For now, though, you can watch his most recent highlight tape below:
Come on down, RJ.
Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep. 120: Recruiting with Corey Evans + How Many Teams can Actually Win the Title?
By KSR on ©February 07th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
It’s a new episode of the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast, as Aaron welcomes on recruiting guru Corey Evans to discuss the best high school prospects remaining in the 2019 class. Who will commit and to what schools? But first, Aaron talks about the happenings around college basketball, including a wild story at Arizona. Here’s a rundown of the show:
Is Sean Miller about to get fired? On Wednesday night, a wild story came out about MORE controversy at Arizona, this one involving grade changes for Shareef O’Neal. Aaron breaks down what it means, and why he believes this will ultimately end up as the final straw for Sean Miller at Arizona. Also, Aaron transitions away from Arizona and asks a simple question:
How many teams can win the national championship? It isn’t as many as you think.
Recruiting guru Corey Evans joins the show: Rivals.com’s Corey Evans joins the show to talk all things recruiting. Anthony Edwards commits on Monday — is Tom Crean REALLY going to get the No. 1 player in America?
Kentucky Recruiting Updates — What is the latest on Matthew Hurt? Does Kentucky have any chance of getting Jaden McDaniels out of the Pacific Northwest? And finally, who are the players in the class of 2020 who are most likely to reclassify?
Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app. You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. Don’t forget to follow the show on Instagram too.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 07th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
We’re headed down the home stretch for the No. 1 overall prospect in the class of 2019, and according to a report from 247 Sports this afternoon, it looks like there won’t be much suspense in the final days of his recruitment.
With his announcement set for Monday, 6-foot-5 five-star shooting guard Anthony Edwards has canceled his official visit to Florida State originally scheduled for this weekend.
Edwards has already canceled official visits to Kansas, North Carolina, and FSU, making Kentucky and Georgia the only two schools on his list to get an official.
Evan Daniels reports Florida State has not been officially cut from Edwards’ list, but it’d be hard to see a player cancel an official visit to the school only to commit to them the very next week. Stranger things have happened, but it’s looking like the announcement will come down to Georgia and Kentucky, with the Bulldogs being the heavy favorite.
Sources told KSR that while the Kentucky coaching staff has been confident for several weeks in this recruitment and feels Edwards has more interest in UK than the general public seems to realize, Tom Crean has done an exceptional job in recruiting the elite guard to Georgia and the Bulldogs are the team to beat.
To make matters worse, Daniels, one of the best recruiting insiders in the business, recently entered a pick for Georgia in the 247 Sports Crystal Ball.
Corey Evans of Rivals.com also added that Georgia has the most momentum going into Edwards’ announcement and he expects the Bulldogs to be the choice.
His reasoning? Tom Crean and the Georgia coaching staff is selling Edwards on being the next Dwyane Wade and/or Victor Oladipo, two former Crean standouts at Marquette and Indiana.
Georgia has the most momentum in the race with Edwards and while defeating FSU will be difficult, as will Kentucky, the Bulldogs have the chance to build their entire team around Edwards next season. Plus, I found it a bit intriguing that, whenever I spoke with Edwards last month, he said that he studied the games of Dwyane Wade and Victor Oladipo, two standout guards that each played for Tom Crean during their respective college days. Throw in that Crean hired two respected assistants that hail from the Peach State with strong connections throughout and I will have to side with the Bulldogs when it comes to Edwards revealing his commitment next Monday morning, despite the timing looking a bit off if it were to be Georgia.
We’ll find out on Monday, and I’ll be here to break it down later in the day on Pilgrim’s Insider Notes.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 04th, 2019 @ 10:45pm
Good evening, BBN! Welcome back to the Monday Insider Notes!
This edition of the notes will be a little bit different, as we’ll really only go in-depth on one prospect and touch on some other news going on within the Kentucky basketball program and some guys already signed/committed for next season.
We’ll start with the biggest news of the day…
Shooting Guard | 6-5 | 215 lbs.
Atlanta, GA | Holy Spirit Preparatory School
|ESPN||No. 4 | 1 SG||Top247||No. 1 | 1 SG|
|Rivals||No. 3 | 1 SG||247 Comp.||No. 2 | 1 SG|
On Thursday, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports reported five-star shooting guard Anthony Edwards cut his list to four, with Kentucky, North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida State being the final schools in contention. After having an official visit scheduled to Kansas, he cancelled the visit and removed them from consideration entirely.
Today, Daniels broke the news that not only will Edwards be cancelling his visit to North Carolina originally scheduled for today through Wednesday, he’s also dropping them from his list and deciding between Kentucky, Georgia, and Florida State…… next Monday.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) February 4, 2019
Concerning the first bit of news, sources tell KSR that the Tar Heels (like the Jayhawks) were not one of the schools Edwards seriously prioritized during the home stretch of his recruitment and the superstar guard prospect has been focused on those final three schools for a few weeks now.
Now let’s break down all three finalists.
Following Edwards’ official visit to Kentucky last week, those within the program felt very confident in their position with the elite guard. There’s no doubt the Kentucky coaching staff realizes how talented he is and believes he has a legitimate shot at becoming the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NBA Draft, and they feel they are the best school to help him accomplish that feat.
Though he’s close to Tyler Herro, his relationship with Ashton Hagans is especially strong, and the current Kentucky point guard is selling him on following in his footsteps: reclassifying, turning down the ‘hometown hero’ offer from Georgia, and developing into one of the top guard prospects in the nation. I’m told Edwards has been receptive of this pitch and strongly values Hagans’ opinion. They likely wouldn’t play together (we’ll get to that in a minute), but it still means something for the elite guard prospect to have someone from his area go through the process already and find success at a high level.
Those outside of Kentucky, however, feel Georgia has taken over the top spot, followed by Florida State and Kentucky, in that order. Staying home and putting on a scoring display in front of friends and family every night, along with continuing his strong relationship with the Georgia coaching staff, is pulling at his heartstrings. He also has a strong relationship with the Seminole coaching staff, so the decision will come down to going with the relationships established at lower-profile schools or going to the blueblood program with glitz, glamour, and branding opportunity before making the jump to the big leagues.
Edwards will be a top-five pick no matter where he goes, but where can he make the biggest name for himself? Under the national spotlight at Kentucky, with a deep run in the tournament possible? Or by putting up absurd numbers at Georgia or FSU, similar to what we saw from Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons?
He’ll be visiting Florida State this weekend, the school many believed to be the leader from the second he reclassified to the class of 2019, so it’ll be interesting to see the kind of push they make. With it being an official visit and his recruitment coming to an end immediately afterward, the Seminole coaching staff will be rolling out the red carpet to make a push back into the lead. Florida State has technically been on him longer than Georgia, so you better believe that they’ll use that as part of their one final pitch to the No. 1 prospect in the nation. Unfortunately for them, I think the relationships are close enough to where Edwards will value proximity to home more when he makes it official on Monday.
Each school feels confident in their spot, but my gut says Georgia on this one.
NBA Draft scuttlebutt
On my first edition of the notes, I told you that Kentucky felt strongly that PJ Washington and Keldon Johnson would enter the NBA Draft after this year, but beyond those two, everyone else was expected to return at that point.
With a few impressive games under his belt, they knew there was a chance Ashton Hagans would make a midseason jump like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander did last season and ultimately find his way on the draft boards. With Tyler Herro, NBA scouts have always been intrigued by his game, but they’ve been looking for more efficiency before showing draft interest, especially in the first round.
Since then, both Hagans and Herro have upped their games, and their draft stock has reflected that. The goal for both has always been to enter the draft after one year at Kentucky, and now (barring a major and unexpected late-season change), that’s likely to come to fruition.
Now, the expectation is that Washington, Johnson, Hagans, and Herro will all make the jump to the NBA after this season.
With those four likely moving on, that would leave Kentucky with a roster of Immanuel Quickley, Nick Richards, EJ Montgomery, Jemarl Baker, Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney, and Dontaie Allen. With Matthew Hurt and Jaden McDaniels still on the board for 2019, along with 2020 prospects Isaiah Todd and N’Faly Dante still being seen as reclassification options, the Wildcats still have a lot to work with to close this next class out.
Should the other targets fall through, sources tell KSR that Kentucky will explore the graduate transfer route again, a la Reid Travis last offseason. It’s not the preferred method, and they still feel confident in what’s left on the table elsewhere, but they’re leaving the option open.
Kahlil Whitney and Tyrese Maxey
I had a conversation that I found interesting a few weeks back that I have been waiting to share on the notes, and with things relatively “slow” outside of the big Anthony Edwards news, I feel like now is a good time to share.
According to several people I’ve talked to, both on Kentucky’s side of things and elsewhere in the high school/AAU circles, Kentucky may have secured commitments from the two most underrated players in all of high school basketball… and they’re both consensus top-15 prospects.
With Whitney, I have been told those within the Kentucky basketball program believe he has top-five draft selection and NBA All-Star written all over him. In the past, Whitney has been known as an athletic freak with great slashing ability and high defensive potential, but his shooting ability has always been subpar.
Now, the 6-foot-6 small forward has become a knockdown shooter from both midrange and beyond the arc, really the only major hole he had in his game. The form is there, and finally, the consistency is, too.
With his most recent developments, Whitney is about as well-rounded of a prospect as you can get with a game fit perfectly for college basketball and the NBA. I was told by one individual that former Kentucky target and current Boston Celtic Jaylen Brown is Whitney’s strongest player comparison, and I think that’s pretty fair (and obviously high praise).
He’ll be signing with Kentucky on May 3rd, and it’s a get the UK coaching staff is absolutely giddy over. He was once seen as a fantastic replacement for DJ Jeffries following his decommitment will become one of the best blessings in disguise we’ve witnessed over the course of the Calipari era.
With Maxey, his ability as a pure shooter and scorer is certainly well-documented, with several recruiting analysts saying he would have been a major contributor on this Kentucky team, let alone the 2019-20 year. He’ll be able to put points on the board at an incredible rate next season in Lexington, all while being a pest on the defensive end of the floor.
Keldon Johnson was a player we heard whispers about coming out of high school as an instant impact/underrated guy, but I think the whispers may be even louder with these two. Considering how good Johnson has been for Kentucky, I’m ecstatic to see what we get out of Whitney and Maxey.
The No. 1 player in America will soon announce where he will attend college.
Five-star shooting guard Anthony Edwards will make his college decision one week from today, Monday, February 11 at 9:00 am on CBS Sports HQ. “I can’t wait,” Edwards told Evan Daniels.
Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, Tom Crean’s Bulldogs are a surprising frontrunner. Edwards recently cut North Carolina, leaving Kentucky and Florida State as his remaining finalists. Edwards officially visited UK two weeks ago for the Mississippi State game. He will take an official visit to Tallahassee this weekend.
Jack Pilgrim will have more on Edwards’ decision in tonight’s Insider Notes.
By Brett Bibbins on ©February 03rd, 2019 @ 10:00pm
Evan Daniels of 247Sports is reporting tonight that consensus top 3 overall player in the class of 2019, Anthony Edwards has canceled his official visit to North Carolina. Earlier this week, Edwards cut his list of schools down to Kentucky, Florida State, Georgia, and North Carolina.
Five-star guard Anthony Edwards cancels North Carolina official visit, but still plans to visit Florida State on Feb. 9, a source tells @247Sports | Story: https://t.co/bqf8OXBURq pic.twitter.com/utUA1QG5x1
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) February 4, 2019
It doesn’t appear that there are plans as of right now for Edwards to reschedule his North Carolina visit, which is only good news for the three other teams on his list. Edwards has widely been regarded as a Florida State lean, but recent reports have given analysts feelings that other schools are closing the gap, most notably Georgia. The Kentucky staff really liked how his visit went to Lexington a few weeks back, but the verdict’s still out if a team can overtake the top spot from the Seminoles. I’m sure Jack will have more on his recruiting post later this week, so it will be interesting to hear more details on this development.
If you’re unfamiliar with Edwards, check out some highlights below: