Ahh, Thanksgiving. That wonderful time of year when it’s socially acceptable to go back to →
Basketball Recruiting News
By T.Walters on ©November 26th, 2014 @ 1:00pm
Let’s be honest here: You’re going to get tired of your in-laws by sundown tomorrow, so here’s an excuse to escape for the weekend. It’s called the Bluegrass Showcase and it features 14 of the nation’s best high school teams in a two-day event in Lexington.
Beginning Friday, the 12-game showcase at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School will see teams from Arlington County Day (FL), Carlisle School (VA), Homestead High School (IN), Huntington Prep (WV), La Lumiere (IN), Life Center Academy (NJ), Orangeville Prep (Ontario, Can.), Prime Prep (TX), Prolific Prep (CA), Quality Ed (NC), Sunrise Christian Academy (KS), Chicago Currie (IL), Faith Baptist Christian Academy North (GA) and White Station (TN).
UK targets Thon Maker (Orangeville), Caleb Swanigan (Homestead), Thomas Bryant (Huntington Prep), Miles Bridges (Huntington Prep), and Josh Jackson (Prolific Prep) headline the event.
For a complete schedule and ticket information, check out the Bluegrass Showcase website here.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 25th, 2014 @ 4:00pm
Hey, another reason to dislike Dan Dakich! Everyone’s favorite Hoosier troll went on the attack this afternoon, calling out players whose moms are actively and publicly involved in their recruitments:
Recruiting rule of thumb..when mommys are active on twitter/newspaper articles… Run away..don't look back..kid ALWAYS disappoints
— Dan Dakich (@dandakich) November 25, 2014
While this seems to be a clear swipe at Stephen Zimmerman, it is possible that Thomas Bryant’s mother’s comments about Indiana prompted Dakich’s tweet. In the same interview Bryant said UK wasn’t right for her son, Linda Bryant also said she was worried by the situation at Indiana right now:
“They have a lot going on,” Linda said. “It seems like we went down there under false pretenses. They didn’t tell us anything about failed drug tests or that type of thing going on. My son doesn’t need to be around that stuff.”
However, Stephen Zimmerman’s mom is famously active in her son’s recruitment, and Dakich’s comments are a major insult to them both. The Zimmermans wasted no time firing back.
I knew I liked this woman.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 25th, 2014 @ 3:00pm
Four-star 2015 big man Thomas Bryant took an unofficial visit to Kentucky over the weekend, but according to his mother, it was nothing more than a fun trip with his friends. Linda Bryant said that her son is down to Syracuse and Indiana, with Syracuse the likely favorite. Bryant doesn’t have an offer from Kentucky, and realistically, his mother says UK is not the school for him:
“You have to give kudos to the man (Calipari) for being able to recruit like that,” Linda said. “But I don’t think that’s the right place for my son. He’s a young man who is still learning the game. He needs to be focused on that, not worrying which platoon he is on.”
Fair enough. Kentucky’s not for everyone. Besides, the Cats already have one commitment from a 2015 big man in Skal Labissiere and are still courting Cheick Diallo, Stephen Zimmerman, Carlton Bragg, Ivan Rabb, and Caleb Swanigan.
Coach Cal is in North Carolina this evening to watch Harry Giles, a top five player in the 2016 class. Giles’ Wesleyan Christian is sold out for tonight’s game but Cal found his way in, as did an assistant from Duke, Giles’ presumed leader.
Giles has long had an offer from UK and has been high on the staff’s list in the class.
It looks like 2015 four-star big man Thomas Bryant won’t be the only recruit on campus this weekend. This afternoon, 2016 five-star point guard Kobi Simmons tweeted that he’ll also take an unofficial visit to Kentucky this weekend.
The 6’5″ Georgia native is considered the fourth best point guard in his class and and visited UK for the Alumni Game last year. UK visited him in Alpharetta earlier this month. Recently, he visited Kansas, Ohio State and Missouri, and also has offers from Louisville, Syracuse and Texas.
Enjoy yourself, Kobi. Enjoy these highlights, readers:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 20th, 2014 @ 1:52pm
UK’s 2015 recruiting just got even stranger. According to Corey Evans, 2015 power forward Thomas Bryant will take an unofficial visit to Kentucky tomorrow. UK has not offered the 6’10” big man, but that may change very soon.
Bryan is considered the 7th best power forward and the 25th overall player in the 2015 class by 247 Sports Composite, and plays for the famous Huntington Prep in West Virginia. Syracuse, Indiana, and Missouri are high on the Rochester, New York native’s list, with Syracuse the perceived favorite. It’s also worth mentioning that former Huntington Prep coach Rob Fulford is now an assistant on Missouri’s staff.
He’ll be in Rupp tomorrow night for UK/Boston University, so make him feel welcome. Until then, watch him work:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 19th, 2014 @ 3:00pm
Good news: you’ll have another chance to see Skal Labissiere play in Kentucky next month. Ben Roberts is reporting that Labissiere’s Reach Your Dream Prep squad will play in the Marshall County Hoop Fest on December 5, one day before they play in the Legacy Nissan Classic at North Laurel in London. RYD Prep will take on perennial power Oak Hill Academy at 5:30 p.m. that Friday night.
Other major UK recruits set to play in the Hoop Fest: Malik Newman, Carlton Bragg, Cheick Diallo, and Thon Maker. For tickets, check out their website. And get the BBQ nachos, they’re legendary.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 14th, 2014 @ 7:14pm
After telling ESPNU that he was going to wait until the spring to sign his letter of intent, it appears that Isaiah Briscoe decided to go ahead and do it. UK just sent out a release announcing that Charles Matthews, Skal Labissiere, and Isaiah Briscoe have all signed their letters of intent.
“All three of these players had dreams to play at Kentucky,” Calipari said. “Those dreams are now a reality. We didn’t have to beg any of them. They wanted to be here. They are all different, yet collectively they will complement each other nicely. It’s a great start to what could be a super class again.”
Here are his comments about each:
Cal on Briscoe:
“Isaiah is a multidimensional guard who can play both the one and the two,” Calipari said. “He’s a big, strong guard with great ball skills that are beyond the norm. He can score the ball at will, but he’s an unselfish player who makes plays for his teammates. That’s why guys love playing with him and why he’s such a great teammate. An importance piece on USA Basketball’s U18 gold medal team, it’s clear he’s one of the best guards in the country.”
Cal on Skal:
“Skal is in the same mold of Marcus Camby and Anthony Davis because he went from 6-2 to 6-11 and he has guard skills,” Calipari said. “He’s a talented two-way player from Haiti with long arms that have helped him both offensively and defensively. What really drew us to Skal is he’s a high-character kid with a 3.5 grade-point average who wants to get better. Going forward, we’ve got to get Skal’s post game to match his perimeter game.”
Cal on Charles Matthews:
“I first fell in love with Charles when I saw him playing with Tyler Ulis,” Calipari said. “What stuck out to me about him is he’s a great finisher who can get to the basket. Not only can Charles create shots for himself, he can create them for his teammates as well. He’s a 6-5 wing player with a lot of athleticism and is already an excellent defender. He’s a quality kid, a great student and he’s going to end up being a great player.”
According to Steve Jones, a UK spokeswoman says she cannot confirm if Briscoe signed a binding letter of intent or some other kind of paperwork, just that he signed.
UPDATE: Sources tell Adam Zagoria that Briscoe did indeed sign a letter of intent with UK today. Well, alright.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 14th, 2014 @ 5:30pm
Less than a day after committing to Kentucky, Skal Labissiere made it official. Labissiere signed his national letter of intent this afternoon at Lausanne Collegiate School, and celebrated with a Kentucky-themed cake, UK gear, and even a festive UK Wildcat stuffed animal.
Happy to announce that I signed today and that I am officially a wildcat!
— Skal Lab (@OneBigHaitian) November 14, 2014
Really starting to love this kid.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 13th, 2014 @ 10:00pm
Former NBA scout Adam Finkelstein now covers college basketball recruiting for ESPN Insider, and after Isaiah Briscoe and Skal Labissiere’s announcements this evening, shared his thoughts on why UK fans should be so excited about their two new commitments.
Here’s what Finkelstein says Briscoe will bring to Kentucky:
Briscoe is one of the best playmaking guards in the country who excels at creating opportunities for both himself and his teammates, as well as getting himself to the free-throw line. While he’s not a truly elite athlete, he compensates for what he may lack in quickness and leaping ability with exceptional physical strength and balance. He’s a power guard who plays through contact better than any other perimeter player in the country. He’s a master of leverage and angles, capable of carrying his defender on his back to the rim, and is both crafty and ambidextrous around the rim. He’s a consistent shooting threat from the 3-point line but an even better mid-range shooter off the dribble. Once he gets his body on you he’s all but guaranteed to draw a foul or be able to create space for his pull-up. While Briscoe is best known for his scoring prowess, he’s also a high level passer with exceptional floor vision and the ability to thread the needle on demand. More than anything though, Briscoe is an ultra-confident playmaker, who has proven his ability to deliver when the lights are on the brightest.
And how he thinks Skal will fit in at Kentucky:
Labissiere is the perfect rim protector for the Wildcats full and halfcourt pressure defense — whether they are playing man or zone or extended full court — with his unique shot blocking talent. Calipari has always had a shot-blocker in the program. He had Marcus Camby at UMass and have had four since taking over at Kentucky: DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, Nerlens Noel and currently Willie Cauley-Stein. Labissiere also has the ability to run the floor, which will allow him to be on the receiving end of easy baskets in transition. In ball screen situations within the halfcourt offense Labissiere will be excellent when he rolls hard to the front of the rim for drop off passes or momentum changing lob passes for dunks. Labissiere will be able to execute his hook shot with single coverage due to his length and the talented teammates around him. That shot will keep help defenders off balance and second guessing whether they should double team in order to force a kick out pass or go for a steal. In most cases they will not leave the surrounding talent and make matters worse for their entire team defense.
With the additions of Isaiah Briscoe and Skal Labissiere, Kentucky’s 2015 class has moved back to the top of ESPN’s recruiting team rankings. Here’s a roundup of all the major outlets.
(Although not included in the graphic, I’m going to assume Arizona is #2.)
247 Sports still has Kentucky 2nd behind Arizona:
Rivals has Kentucky 2nd behind Arizona as well:
3. Texas A&M
9. Florida State
10. Ohio State
Still plenty of work to do.
A photo posted by Skal Labissiere (@skallywally) on
BBN LET'S GOO!!!
— Skal Lab (@OneBigHaitian) November 14, 2014
— Skal Lab (@OneBigHaitian) November 14, 2014
Officially Committed To The University Of Kentucky BBN 🔵
— The Boogie CBG (@_IsaiahBriscoe) November 14, 2014
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 13th, 2014 @ 7:45pm
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 13th, 2014 @ 7:15pm
Both Skal Labissiere and Isaiah Briscoe picked KENTUCKY this evening, which goes to show you should never bet against John Calipari. In order to get better acquainted with our newest Cats, I compiled the 5 Things You Need To Know about each.
6’3.5″, 200 lbs.
Newark, New Jersey (Roselle Catholic)
Top247: No. 6 overall, No. 1 PG
247 Composite: No. 9 overall, No. 1 PG
Rivals: No. 9 overall
ESPN: No. 13 overall, No. 1 PG
Scout: No. 15 overall, No. 3 PG
1. He first caught Calipari’s eye at the Peach Jam
Briscoe popped onto Cal’s radar until an impressive performance at the Peach Jam in July. He averaged 21 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists and led his team to the Peach Jam title and won MVP honors. He also won a FIBA gold medal with the Team USA under-18 squad in June.
2. His nickname is also “Boogie” and there’s a YouTube series about him
Isaiah’s name on Twitter is “The Boogie CBG,” and 8EyeMedia started a YouTube series about him. Here’s the latest episode, in which Briscoe goes to his doctor to see if he can finally get his walking boot off (he suffered a slight fracture in his right foot over the summer).
3. He can easily play alongside Tyler Ulis
At 6’3.5″, 200 lbs., Briscoe is the prototype of a Calipari point guard–big, physical, and powerful enough to muscle his way into the lane. He’s also a great shooter and passer, as his coach Dave Boff told the Herald-Leader’s Ben Roberts. “He’s a fantastic passer. A great finisher around the rim and a good shooter with significant range from behind the arc.”
Wait, what about Tyler Ulis? Although Briscoe is considered a pure point guard, Evan Daniels told us on KSR this morning that he can definitely play alongside Tyler Ulis as a shooting guard. “Yes, 100%,” Daniels said. “I certainly think he can play both positions. I think at times, Briscoe’s a better shooting guard. I definitely think he and Tyler Ulis can coexist in the same backcourt.”
4. His fellow 2015 prospects voted him the Biggest Trash Talker in his class
USA Today’s Jason Jordan polled more than 30 elite players over the summer, and they voted Briscoe the “Biggest Trash Talker” in his class, as well as the player with the “Best Handle.” Here’s why:
5. He’s tight with Antonio Blakeney
Briscoe and five-star shooting guard Antonio Blakeney are buddies and took an official visit to Missouri together. “We’re tight,” Briscoe told Adam Zagoria last month. “Every camp, everywhere we go, we’re always roommates and all that, so we’re pretty cool.” Both have mentioned playing together in college, and while package deals are notoriously unreliable, having Briscoe on board can’t hurt UK’s chances with Blakeney.
6’11”, 200 lbs.
Memphis, Tennesee (Lausanne Collegiate School)
Top247: No. 13 overall, No. 2 C
247 Composite: No. 7 overall, No. 2 C
Rivals: No. 4 overall
ESPN: No. 11 overall, No. 5 C
Scout: No. 3 overall, No. 1 C
1. His last name is pronounced “Lay-biss-e-air”
The most common question about Skal is how to pronounce his last name. (Seriously, the question has 2,350 results on Google.) After us thick-tongued Americans butchered it for the past four years, Evan Daniels finally called Skal today to ask for the proper pronunciation. Skal said it is “Lay-biss-e-air,” which is close enough to my eight-years-of-French-educated guess.
2. His family was stuck in the rubble of the Haiti earthquake for three hours
By now, you should know that Skal came to the US after the Haiti earthquake in 2010. His family was living in Port-Au-Prince at the time and Skal had just arrived home from basketball practice when it hit. He was trapped under a wall inside his house for three hours until his father was able to dig him out. A desk was the only think preventing the wall from crushing him completely. Skal couldn’t walk for weeks after and it took him and his family months to fully recover.
3. He was the first recruit in the 2015 class to receive a scholarship offer from John Calipari
Calipari knew Labissiere’s former high school coach long before Skal arrived in Memphis, and made sure to get his foot in the door first before Memphis became the early favorite. Skal got an offer from UK before any other player in the 2015 class, which includes some major heavyweights like Malik Newman and Stephen Zimmerman. That alone will tell you how much Cal wants him.
4. He’s got the most upside of any recruit in the 2015 class
The best thing about Skal is his potential. At 6’11”, 200 lbs., he’s a string bean, but once he adds some weight to his frame, he could be dominant. His strengths right now are his mobility and versatility, and he’s got a solid right jump hook and touch around the basket. He’s even show flashes of a mid-range jumper, an elusive skill in a player his size. He’s been compared to Anthony Davis in terms of build and skill set, but it will take a LOT of development to even get close to that.
5. He’s got a 3.5 GPA, speaks four language, and loves to cook
Labissiere’s former AAU coach Scotty Robinson came on the radio show this morning to tell us a little about Skal, and couldn’t have been more complimentary of his game and character. Robinson said Skal is an excellent student with a 3.5 GPA, speaks four languages, and even wants to learn how to cook! Most importantly, Robinson said Skal has the work ethic to make it on the next level. “One of the nicest, hard-working individuals I’ve every come across and I’ve seen a lot of great players, a lot of great individuals,” Robinson said. “Skal’s got unlimited potential on the basketball court, but he’s one of the best young men I’ve ever come across.”
Welcome to the fam, boys.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 13th, 2014 @ 6:55pm
An important note to keep in mind: Isaiah Briscoe said he will wait until the spring to sign his letter of intent, whereas Skal will sign his this week. Why wait? “I’ll just wait to see how everything plays out and see who stay and see who goes and things like that and make sure it’s the perfect fit,” Briscoe said. “I don’t want to rush into signing.”
So, basically, if Andrew Harrison comes back to school, Briscoe will probably flip to St. John’s. Slim chance that happens, so fine by me.