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Basketball Recruiting News
After striking out on Jaylen Brown, Kentucky’s roster for next season is probably set; however, there is still a chance Jamal Murray reclassifies and considers the Cats, and now, there may be another option: four-star wing LaGerald Vick. Vick decommitted from SMU this weekend and although he is currently a 2016 prospect, he is reportedly considering reclassifying to 2015. If so, expect to hear his name A LOT the next few weeks. The 6’5″ 180 lbs. Vick is currently ranked the 30th best shooting guard in the 2016 class.
So far, we haven’t heard of interest from either side, but wing is one position in which Kentucky could use some more help next season. Something to keep an eye on this week…
This group of young girls watching Jared Polson speak at a church recently are similar to how UK fans were in hoping to get one more recruit
There have been some strange recruiting decision moments in my time here on KSR. There was the time we had a cell phone held up at the Patrick Patterson press conference in order to play the audio live over my (virtually unheard) radio show. There have been the countless streams of grainy video from high school gyms across America, as UK fans crash all viewing parties with their sheer numbers. And there was the year that all of UK’s decisions were part of a reality show, that showcased the traveling circus that can be UK basketball. However few decisions for me were more random than the one Friday night with Jaylen Brown. I was at the Barnstable Brown party with Drew Franklin and about 25-30 UK fans, all waiting anxiously for the Brown decision. The group was outfitted in tuxedos and surrounded by celebrities but the only thing anyone cared about was where Brown would go. When the text came through that he had picked California, I announced it to the group and the look of shock was ubiquitous. HOW COULD HE DO THAT? I just shook my head and answered the same way I have explained the Newman, Zimmerman and other decisions this year with two words, “That’s Recruiting.”
It has been an odd string of losses for UK and it is clear that the continued punches to the gut have weighed on the fanbase. Just one week ago, it looked as if Jaylen Brown had virtually no chance of picking Kentucky, but then things changed. Kentucky moved up on Brown to such a degree that most around Lexington believed the Cats had him. The last Friday was a circus of activity. A national recruiting insider sent me this text around noon, “it is Kentucky or California…I think he has eliminated Michigan but don’t tell anyone because the kid doesn’t want it out.” Not telling anyone was easy (it was Oaks day and the distractions were everywhere) but the sentiment made me feel great. I was hesitant to eliminate Michigan since most of the world seemed to think they were the favorite, but if it was Kentucky and California, how could a kid from Atlanta, Ga who wants to be in the NBA not pick Kentucky? During the Oaks I got a text that the folks in Lexington were feeling good about their chances and that “everyone will be by their phones this weekend.” One national recruiting writer even went so far as to tell me he had the Brown to Kentucky story written, because he felt it was close to done. Then Friday night came…and the pick was California. Amazing.
At the end of the day, this much is clear. The platoon system killed Kentucky on the recruiting trail in the final weeks. What was a huge positive during the season, because it showcased how Calipari would take care of his kids and a group of players could sacrifice their individual interests for a collective goal, became a hammer that opposing coaches pounded UK with on the recruiting trail. One source told me, “Zimmerman, Newman, Diallo and Swanigan all four at some point probably had UK as their leader…and all four were barraged with the platoon talk all season.” Even though Calipari told the recruits that the platoon thing was a one time deal and told parents that people should look at it as a positive (he takes care of all his kids), the worry about playing time being sacrificed made kids who were UK leans turn into open recruits. After seven players declared for the Draft, Kentucky then found itself behind in recruitments that it once led in (Zimmerman, Newman) and forced to play catchup on recruitments where it had trailed (Ingram, Brown). Everyone assumed someone would bite…but slowly no one did as the characteristic which made the 2015 team so special was used to help weaken the crop that would make up the 2016 version.
In Brown’s particular case, another factor was at play. A source close to the situation told me on Sunday that “Jaylen Brown is one kid where the UK media/fan attention actually hurt UK’s chances.” According to the source, Brown expressed to a number of people the worry that the attention at UK was overwhelming and might be more than he would like to deal with. All season long, Brown has avoided the media spotlight…he didn’t do a ton of interviews, his people leaked almost nothing to the press and he also chose to make his announcement without any tv cameras or press in attendance. Instead he did it after a team banquet, and the only reason people knew it was happening was due to a school student fan section Twitter account (how random is that?). Brown’s choice of California was for a variety of reasons but those close to the recruitment said a big one was the circus that UK basketball was the year/has been for decades. “For most players, UK being on Sportcenter every night and having fans blowing up their twitter account is a positive…but Jaylen is one of the few that saw it as a negative.”
So now we are where we are. Jamal Murray is still on the board, but his status at this moment is unclear. He may not want to reclassify to 2015 and if he does, issues of him fitting into the UK system/shunning an Oregon program that has been on him for some time will still come into play. His situation should be more clear at some point this week. There is still always the chance another player could pop up (either by transfer or a potential 2016 reclassification), but fans should come closer to accepting the very real possibility that this UK team as constituted may be the final draft. A very good year is still quite possible. It requires a few variables to break a certain way (Alex be healthy, Skal totally eligible, Derek Willis ready to make a step up), but if those things happen, the Cats can still be very good. But absent Murray or a last minute surprise, Brown’s pick of Cuonzo Martin and former UK Assistant Tracy Webster (who was Cuonzo’s lead recruiter for Cal on Brown), may have made the roster what it will be…a group with lots of talent, lots of questions and the a vow to never use the word “platoon” again.
By Courtney Sealey on ©May 03rd, 2015 @ 1:30pm
There was yet another elite high school game that slipped under the radar last night, but two of our favorite recruits were still the stars.
The 5th annual Ballislife.com All-American game was played last night on the campus of Long Beach City College and featured Skal Labissierre and Isaiah Briscoe, among others.
Labissieerre was the MVP after scoring 16 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Labissierre said the talent on the floor made him play better.
“Whenever me and Thon play each other it’s always really competitive and it’s always a battle,” Labissierre said. “The comeback was us getting out of the all-star game mentality and getting back to playing basketball.”
Thon Maker responded by saying he liked playing against Skal.
Briscoe added 20 points and four assists for the team. Briscoe also beat Thon Maker to win the 3pt contest held earlier that day,
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 2, 2015
I guess that is a wrap for high school basketball.
It's official. 2015 HS season is in the books. Big thanks to these All Americans for helping to make it so memorable! pic.twitter.com/EQqo77y0Kx
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) May 3, 2015
Well. It looks like we all have a common enemy to add to the list. Although we don’t know their name, 678 Winky Face found the fast track to joining the ranks of BBN’s most hated. Yesterday when trying to decide if it was a man or woman, Matt brought up the point that guys aren’t as good with emojis as females are.
Based on that point, and a little inspiration from @FakeBarneyKSR, I thought he could use some help with appropriate responses to 678 Winky Face. Here are a few I came up with:
The Broken Heart
The Evil Smiley
The Pile of ……
The Sad Cat
Do you have better responses? Let us know in the comment section.
Tomorrow marks the 141st run for the roses as the first Saturday in May is already upon us. It’s a holiday across our great commonwealth as the eyes of the sporting world descend upon the big fashion and big thrills of the Kentucky Derby. So sing one song for your old Kentucky home, drink a mint julep, read Hunter S. Thompson, grab a bucket of KFC, and celebrate the fastest two minutes in sports tomorrow. People are calling this field one of the best assembled in quite some time which should make the race one for the ages.
On to the news and views
Cats Take Over Barnstable Brown
— Scott Utterback (@Utterback13) May 2, 2015
Salt N’ Pepa. Dakari Johnson. Sam Malone. The Twins. Julius Randle. Our own Matt Jones and Drew Franklin. Every year the Barnstable Brown gala is the place to be on the Friday before the derby and tonight was no exception. Several picture rolled in from twitter with the former Cats enjoying themselves. I’m going to miss these guys
Jaylen Brown To California
We all bought in. Kentucky had made some major progress and was down to the wire with Michigan. 678WinkyFace said Kentucky had taken the lead. The missing piece for Kentucky’s team seemed to be lining up and word began to trickle out Brown would be announcing tonight. Well, he did announce tonight after much deliberation and Kentucky fans scouring every tweet.
Jaylen Brown is heading to Berkeley to play for the Golden Bears of California. It’s a major coup for Cuonzo Martin an one that nobody saw coming. Top players from 2015 have now picked schools like UNLV, Miss State, LSU, and Cal. What an odd year.
The hope for Kentucky to add to the class now remains with Jamal Murray. Will he be on campus this weekend or not?
Meet Isaiah Brown
Kentucky may not have landed Jaylen Brown but they will be adding Isaiah Brown to the football roster. Brown is a 2015 wide receiver/defensive back from Augusta Christian High School in Martinez, Georgia who will be walking-on position to the UK football team. His high school teammate and offensive tackle signee Calvin Taylor is also a member of the class. Can’t have too many athletes on the team, especially at those positions.
Coach Cal Congratulates Billy D
Billy Donovan is headed to Oklahoma City, and this afternoon, John Calipari took to social media to wish his former SEC colleague well:
I want to congratulate Billy Donovan on his new opportunity in Oklahoma City. What a great opportunity for a great guy. For six years we competed against each other yet remained friends. I always loved seeing his dad at the games and spending time with him. I’ll miss coaching against Billy but he’ll do terrific work for the Thunder. Oklahoma City made a great choice.
SEC basketball two steps forward, one step back. Who will Florida bring in next?
That’s all the news and views I have after being bummed out by the Jaylen Brown decision. I’ll be back tomorrow to get you geared up for the derby and bring all the UK news in the most ridiculous manner possible. Until then, go Cats!
After months and months of silence on the Jaylen Brown front, 247’s number 3 player in the class of 2015 shocked the world tonight with a commitment to Cal. Only it wasn’t the Cal any of us wanted to see because instead of playing for Calipari he’ll be heading to California. Jaylen’s high school season ending banquet was tonight in Marietta, Georgia and it was after that shindig he announced his decision to become a Golden Bear. Evan Daniels broke the news after much back and forth on twitter:
Jaylen Brown tells Scout that he has committed to California. Story coming.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) May 2, 2015
“678 Winky Face” came through last night with a text to Matt saying Kentucky had the lead but the mystery man must have been a tad off base. Or those in his entourage that didn’t want him in Lexington were able to sway Brown today. Good luck to the kid as he journeys to the west.
Now that the declarations for the draft have all been made and most of the commitments have been filled the outlook on next year’s season is beginning to clear up. As such, ESPN has revised their Way-too-Early rankings for next season and surpise, surprise the Cats are still on top. Here’s a bit of what Eamonn Brennan had to say about next year’s team:
This is hardly the open-and-shut case it was a year ago. Still, the returning trio of Alex Poythress (a senior who would have declared for the draft had he not torn his ACL this season), Tyler Ulis (arguably the best all-around point guard in the country) and Marcus Lee (a freakish interior talent) would earn slavish headlines in just about any other context. Throw in the prospects already on the board — Skal Labissiere, the possible top pick in the 2016 NBA draft, as well as top point guard Isaiah Briscoe and shooting guard Charles Matthews — and the prospects John Calipari is still chasing (including Jaylen Brown, Jamal Murray, and Thon Maker) and it’s hard to imagine UK beginning the 2015-16 season with anything but very real national championship aspirations.
Even with seven players gone, a string of uncharacteristic recruiting misses throughout April, and its least-settled roster in years, Kentucky remains the default choice at No. 1. Is it the right one? We’re less convinced than ever. The 2015-16 prospectus feels more volatile at the top than any in recent memory. But it’s not so volatile — and we’re not so unconvinced — that we can drop UK, either. At least not yet.
UNC, Iowa State, Maryland, and Virginia round out the top 5. Kentucky may not have added any more talent since the season ended a month ago but nobody else in the top 10 really has either. With guys like Stephen Zimmerman picking UNLV, Malik Newman picking Mississippi State, and Ben Simmons going to LSU the talent is becoming more spread out rather than consolidating on one team like we’ve seen the past few years. That means even a “down” recruiting year for Kentucky can still lead to the best team in the country heading into next season.
So if Jaylen Brown goes to Michigan and Murray decides to stay in 2016, you can rest easy tonight knowing the Cats are going to be all right.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 01st, 2015 @ 9:29pm
Jaylen Brown’s announcement is just as weird as his recruitment. Brown’s AAU coach told Jeff Borzello Jaylen hasn’t announced yet, but he will tonight:
Jaylen Brown's AAU coach tells me there has been no announcement yet — but there will be one tonight. That's all I've got right now.
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) May 2, 2015
Until then, we’ll do our best to filter through the fake Twitter reports to find out what’s legit. Stay tuned…
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 01st, 2015 @ 9:12pm
IF Jaylen Brown commits tonight, he’s not giving away a lot with his outfit choice. Here’s a pic of Jaylen (right) at his senior banquet at Wheeler High wearing all black. With a small basketball figurine in front of him. Apparently, the banquet was supposed to end at 9 p.m. and the decision is forthcoming…
No live stream, no insiders, just kids at a senior banquet tweeting the decision. The latest bizarre move in a bizarre recruitment. Stay tuned…
Breaking news: according to the Wheeler High School student section Twitter account, Jaylen Brown will announce his decision tonight:
Breaking: JB will commit tonight, sometime after the senior banquet. #thedecisionishere
— Wheeler HAWKS (@Wheeler_Cats) May 1, 2015
Brown attends Wheeler and their senior banquet is tonight, so this could be legit; however, I figured Brown would want a little more pomp and circumstance. Regardless, have to like Kentucky’s chances right now.
While we wait for the last piece of the 2015 recruiting class, John Calipari is already start on the 2018 class. According to Reggie Rankin, John Calipari has offered Jaedon LeDee, a 2018 guard from Houston, Texas. LeDee confirmed the news on Twitter:
Had a great conversation with Coach Calipari this week and blessed to get an offer from Kentucky 🙏🏽 #BBN
— Jaedon LeDee (@jae_ledee) May 1, 2015
A freshman, LeDee is already 6’7″ 170 lbs. and has offers from Texas, Baylor, Houston, Kansas State, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech.
He’s got skills:
Odds he hits another growth spurt and becomes the next Anthony Davis? Even if he doesn’t, I’m glad Cal’s getting in early.
If you missed today’s show, you missed some premium inside info on Jaylen Brown. Last night, Matt received a text message from a number he didn’t know about Brown. The text was an iMessage from a 678 area code, Atlanta, which means it couldn’t have been a fake number someone made in Google, which is apparently a thing people do now. Why is it notable that it’s an Atlanta number? Brown lives in nearby Marietta. Here’s what the text said:
“You don’t know me, Matt, and I can’t tell you who I am. But my friend from Kentucky says you’re the go-to guy for Kentucky information and I have a great source that, right at this moment, Kentucky leads for Jaylen Brown.“
When Matt asked who the person was, they said they’d rather not say, but “facts are optional, right? ;)”, one of our favorite sayings here on KSR. Hmmm. He/She, who was henceforth known as “678 Winky Face,” even speaks our language.
Last night, Brown cut Kansas from his list, leaving Kentucky, Michigan, Cal, and UNC. The buzz over the past few days suggests the Cats and the Wolverines are the leaders. Michigan is an adidas school, something that may hold clout with Brown, and he has family there; however, he has praised Kentucky profusely in the past, going as far to call UK the best program in the country. You could also argue that Shaun Kirk’s decision to sign with NC State points to good vibes between Kentucky and Brown. If he came to Kentucky, Brown would have a chance to be “the guy” at small forward, a spot at which Kentucky could really use an elite player.
Brown’s recruitment is notoriously shrouded, but if you’re looking for something good to cling on to, look no further than the text from 678 Winky Face. Thankfully, we’re hearing Brown will probably decide by Tuesday of next week.
Listen to Matt and the crew discuss the text in the first hour of today’s show:
V.J. King, the No. 2 small forward in the 2016 class, trimmed his list to five schools today and Kentucky made the cut. King is down to Arizona, Kentucky, Louisville, Virginia and UConn.
He recently announced that he will take his first official visit on May 19 to Louisville. Louisville assistant coach Kenny Johnson is a former assistant at King’s high school and they are very close.
If you’re picking the favorite today, it’s likely the Cards, although Kentucky has been high in the mix from the beginning.
A photo posted by VJ King (@vjking_) on
Most of the talk around Jaylen Brown’s recruitment has been about shoe companies. He’s loyal to Adidas, they say. Count all the Nike schools out.
Brown even said it himself:
“Adidas very much looks out. They take care of me and my team and they talk to me about things. They make me feel welcome. I know a lot of the reps and a lot of the head guys. Definitely going to an Adidas school. It’s a benefit. I play on the Adidas circuit, so going to an Adidas school is good. I already have a relationship built with all the reps and owners. It doesn’t matter to me if the college is in Switzerland. If it’s the best fit for me, that’s where I’ll be going.”
But as Big Blue Nation holds out hope that Brown will complete UK’s 2015 class, and next year’s roster, I can’t help but notice: For a guy who is so loyal to Adidas, Jaylen Brown sure does wear a lot of Nike.
Here are just a few of the many examples on his social media…
Also, the kid takes a lot of pictures of his feet. I mean A LOT of pictures of his feet.
They’d look much better with the Joe Craft Center as a backdrop, amirite???
By Drew Franklin on ©April 29th, 2015 @ 9:39pm
Someone with a lot of free time created a fake Jaylen Brown Twitter account and tweeted a fake commitment to Kentucky earlier tonight. The tweet read, “Happy to announce that I will be attending the University of Kentucky #GoBigBlue.” It has since been deleted.
Several Kentucky fans were duped into believing the tweet was real. I can’t even imagine the pain when they realized it was false.
CONGRATS JAYLEN BROWN!!! GO BIG BLUE.
— Matthew Patrick (@mattpatrick360) April 30, 2015
They're saying Jaylen Brown to Kentucky!!! @univerky
— Keith Varnado (@varnadoikv) April 29, 2015
Jaylen Brown to UK 🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻🙌🏻 😼😼😼😼😼😼😼😼😼😼😼😼😼 #BBN 🔵⚪️🔵⚪️
— BoRyanPaidTheRefs (@justbhonestt) April 29, 2015
Jaylen brown to UK 🙌🏼🙌🏼
— 20k walker (@austin_walker18) April 29, 2015
To fair, Jaylen Brown’s Twitter account is @FCHWPO; the fake account was @FHCWPO.
The wait continues…