Last season, Kentucky made some noise with an upset over No. 11 Louisville and its →
Basketball Recruiting News
By Drew Franklin on ©August 23rd, 2017 @ 10:00am
Mitchell Robinson is not expected to play college basketball this upcoming season, according to a report from Pat Forde over at Yahoo! Sports.
The one-time Western Kentucky Hilltopper, if only for a moment, will instead focus his efforts on preparing for the 2018 NBA draft, per Forde’s sources.
Robinson had been considering Kansas and the University of New Orleans as potential options for college, but the sources say Robinson, a five-star center in the 2017 class, hasn’t maintained contact with the two schools and he will not play college basketball this fall. He would likely have to sit out the 2017-18 season due to transfer rules anyway.
Robinson was the No. 9 overall player and top-ranked center in last year’s high school class. He enrolled at WKU early in the summer, only to leave campus shortly after.
His recruitment and the couple of months since he signed with Western have been very bizarre, to say the least.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 22nd, 2017 @ 4:00pm
For a long time, Romeo Langford was the only shooting guard in the 2018 class with an offer from Kentucky. That changed this afternoon. Today, John Calipari extended an offer to five-star wing Keldon Johnson, the latest sign the Cats are pulling out of the race for one of the best prospects in the area. What gives? Let’s examine the tea leaves.
A Louisville fan from the start
Langford is from New Albany, Indiana, right across the river from Louisville and the Yum Center. As a result, he grew up cheering for the Cards, which has every Louisville fan in existence convinced he’ll play for Rick Pitino next season. Langford still calls UofL his “hometown team” and insists their NCAA sanctions won’t be a factor in his recruitment; however, there’s another coach that may want him even more than Pitino.
An Indiana savior?
Langford may have grown up cheering for the Cards, but if Archie Miller has his way, he won’t be leaving the state of Indiana. The new head coach of the Hoosiers has made it his mission to land the New Albany native, selling him on being a home state hero. Langford may have been a Louisville fan growing up, but Miller has made it clear that he is his number one priority in the 2018 class. Meanwhile, Calipari has his eyes on bigger fish, such as Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett.
An Egyptian revelation
When Langford made Calipari’s U19 squad for the FIBA World Cup in Egypt, most thought it was a prime opportunity for Cal to make up some ground with the five-star scorer; however, that didn’t exactly happen. Langford battled back spasms throughout the trip and didn’t play much, which he expressed a lot of frustration about on his USA Today High School Sports blog. Whether or not that was directed at Calipari, who knows, but let’s just say the two didn’t exactly bond on the trip like Calipari did with other recruits.
Rising stars > Plateaus
Jack Pilgrim spent last month on the recruiting trail and sources told him that Kentucky’s interest in Langford has been waning for a while.
“While some of the other prospects are still blossoming, Langford has hit a plateau,” a source said. “The coaching staff really doesn’t feel like he’s improved all that much in the last year. He hasn’t separated himself from the competition the way they expected him to.”
On the flip side, Keldon Johnson was one of the rising stars on the summer circuit, averaging 20.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. He also turned heads at the Nike Basketball Academy last week.
After not clicking with Langford in Egypt, it’s clear Calipari is ready to move on to other options, as evidenced by today’s offer. I stand by my hot take from a few weeks back. Kentucky and Indiana will play in 2018, with Romeo Langford starting at shooting guard for the Hoosiers. Will it be Johnson matched up against him?
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 22nd, 2017 @ 1:42pm
On a whim, 2018 five-star wing Keldon Johnson decided to take an unofficial visit to Kentucky today, and apparently, that paid off in the form of a scholarship offer.
According to Evan Daniels, the 6-5 200 lbs. Johnson picked up an offer on his visit, making him the ninth player in the 2018 class John Calipari has offered. Johnson is considered the second best shooting guard and the twelfth overall player in the 2018 class by ESPN, and just transferred from Huntington Prep to Oak Hill Academy for his senior season. He had a big summer on the EYBL circuit, averaging 20.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, and 3.1 assists for Boo Williams.
Let’s watch him work:
Here’s a list of Kentucky’s 2018 offers so far, not including Jaedon LeDee, who cut Kentucky yesterday:
- PG Immanuel Quickley
- PG Darius Garland
- PG Quentin Grimes
- SG Romeo Langford
- SG Keldon Johnson
- SF RJ Barrett
- SF Zion Williamson
- SF Cameron Reddish
- C Bol Bol
Is Canadian power forward Simi Shittu next?
By Jack Pilgrim on ©August 21st, 2017 @ 11:00pm
Last week, Duke bagged Marvin Bagley III, and immediately took over the No. 1 spot in the 2017 recruiting rankings.
Considered the “holier than thou” school with impeccable academic standards, the thought of a prospect with time at three different high schools being deemed eligible to play college basketball a year early at Duke sounded ludicrous.
The vast majority of media (per usual) stayed silent and glorified Coach K’s recruiting efforts.
Phil Mushnick of the New York Post, however, decided enough was enough.
Bagley already is regarded as a Top 3 NBA draft pick — next year! Technically a high school senior, he’s hoping the NCAA will grant him “re-classification” status so he can play this season at Duke then enter the draft.
And he’ll arrive at Duke having played for three high schools in two states, Arizona and California.
Still, given that it’s Duke, we’re supposed to regard Bagley as a legitimate, Duke-qualified full-scholarship student-athlete who meets with coach Mike Krzyzewski’s heralded high standards — at least as heard on TV, especially CBS and ESPN.
Imagine what those desensitized, TV-celebrated “Cameron Crazies” would do to Bagley if he played at Duke for UNC, North Carolina St. or Kentucky. They’d mob-trash him as a one-and-done rent-a-star.
And we know that is exactly how it would have gone. If the five-star forward decided to reclassify and play at Kentucky, the media would have hounded Calipari and his “lack of morals.”
“Calipari’s one-stop NBA shop is in business yet again,” they’d say. “There is no way Cal could legally get Bagley a year early.”
Hopefully some other outlets (ahem, ESPN) will follow suit and give the Blue Devils similar criticism.
Read Mushnick’s column in its entirety here.
It’s a funny thing when a big letdown is followed up by a massive victory. Karma, it would seem, is a fan of college basketball recruiting, at least in the case of the BBN and Nerlens Noel.
While The Brow is undoubtedly the most iconic physical feature a Calipari player has had, the Flat-top wasn’t too far behind. And while following in the footsteps of a once-in-a-generation player and a national championship team is no easy task, Nerlens gave it all of the mental strength he had, but in the end, it was his body that crumpled under the weight.
After the success of Anthony Davis at UK, the market value for tall, lanky shot blockers was at an all-time high. So naturally, when a 6’11” phenom with a flat-top fade comes on the scene, college coaches were salivating.
The Tilton Academy star entertained offers from the likes of Kansas and North Carolina, but would go on to visit Syracuse, Georgetown, and Kentucky.
Before Noel would announce his decision, there was another matter of business to attend to.
The 2012 recruiting gauntlet was dominated by Noel and Muhammad, both of whom were considering Kentucky and both of whom were going to commit on the same night. Was a package deal in the cards?
Not on this night. After Shabazz committed to UCLA, fans started to entertain the idea that maybe Cal wouldn’t snag either of the top two players in the nation.
But fortunately, the big man came through with one of the slickest college commitments of all time.
Now that’s how you promote not only yourself, but your future school.
Noel played in 24 games, averaging nearly a double-double per game, with 10.5 points and 9.5 rebounds. He was the anchor of the 2012-2013 team, which only made his eventual injury all the more devastating. Without Nerlens, the team struggled to find a rhythm to ride out the rest of the season.
A premature exit in the NIT ended Cal’s most lackluster year at Kentucky.
“Robert Morris” exists as a painful joke in the Bluegrass.
And a healthy Nerlens Noel is now one of the biggest “what if ” scenarios in UK history.
A couple nights ago, 2018 5-star forward Naz Reid trimmed his list of contenders to just two. Kentucky was not one of them.
Final 2‼️🔥 pic.twitter.com/GIVaqbyZww
— Naz Reid (@NazReid) August 19, 2017
Of course, Reid didn’t have an offer from UK, so you can’t blame the kid for moving forward with his recruitment. But that lack of an offer could be telling in regards to Cal’s positioning with Zion Williamson.
While this doesn’t take into account any potential holdovers from this year’s team, with Reid off the table, there is an added layer of pressure on Coach Cal to nab arguably the most electrifying prospect since Lebron James. A shift in Zion’s Crystal Ball predictions toward Kansas last week has a lot of fans on edge, but maybe Cal has an ace up his sleeve that we don’t know about.
I hope so. I want this kid real bad.
It’s time for another Recruiting Rewind, and this time, we look back on one of the more convoluted recruitments of Coach Cal’s tenure at UK: Terrence Jones.
Most college commitments are pretty cut and dry. The kid sets a date, decides a few days before, then announces it to the world with complete certainty. The saga that Terrence Jones went through, however, was pretty much everything but cut and dry.
In a class topped off by Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes, and one flat-earther Kyrie Irving, it would’ve been easy to dismiss a lot of players outside the top 5 of the 2010 recruiting rankings.
But T-Jones did his best to stand out.
At the high school level, Jones was athletic enough to dominate at pretty much every position on the court. His skillset was worthy of a player with the right to choose between Kansas, Oklahoma, Oregon, UCLA, Washington and Kentucky.
By commitment time, the race would pretty much come down to UK, with Cal about to have 5 players drafted in the 1st round, or Washington, where Jones could stay close to home and join his high school teammate Terrence Ross.
Ah, a twist!
I’ve personally never seen a commit less confident in their own choice. The Seattle Times’ Percy Allen knew Jones wasn’t exactly euphoric after his decision:
The news conference is over, but the drama may just be starting.
Almost everyone has left the Jefferson High gymnasium, however, Terrence Jones is huddled with his parents in the corner of the gymnasium and folks are keeping their distance. Seems like a major pow-wow.
I spoke to Jones and I can tell this recruiting stuff hasn’t been fun for him. On what is supposed to be a joyous occasion, he sighed heavily and said he was happy that it was over.
Unlike Terrence Ross, who was decked out in Husky purple and said he made his choice a month ago, Jones didn’t know where he was going until the moment he picked the UW hat.
From there, Jones was still in talks with Coach Cal, and based on an interview Calipari did with Seattle’s 95.5 The Fan, Terrence immediately regretted choosing the Huskies:
Well, we thought that he was coming with us and when he said ‘Washington’ we were like ‘what just happened?’ That was the first thing. Then he called about an hour later and said ‘Cal, I made a mistake. I don’t know what I was doing.’ That is when the thing went like ‘You what?’ So we talked to him and said that we are going to do whatever you want. I am holding your scholarship.”
It’s a good thing Cal left the door open, as Jones would flip the script and commit to the Wildcats just 3 weeks later.
Jones’ freshman year at UK saw him average 15.7 points and 8.8 boards per game. He was named the SEC Rookie of the Year, and was a 1st Team All-SEC selection in 2011.
His sophomore year saw his statistical performance drop, averaging only 12.3 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. Of course, with the additions of AD and MKG, Terrence no longer had to be the only dominant forward on the floor at times for Kentucky.
Jones’ and Doron Lambs’ decisions to stay at Kentucky for their sophomore seasons bolstered the maturity of the 2012 squad. Many fans cite this maturity as the missing link in Calipari’s teams since then.
Of course, we know what their leadership did for this team.
2018 five-star big man Mitchell Robinson shocked the world last June when he decided to play for Rick Stansbury at WKU. With the ability to play just about anywhere in America, Robinson easily became the biggest recruit in school history.
Last month, Robinson made it to campus and began practice for the Hilltoppers, only to pack up his dorm and leave just a few weeks later. Stansbury then pulled the ole “You’re not breaking up with me, I’m breaking up with you” move and suspended the New Orleans native indefinitely.
The star big man then set visits to LSU, Kansas, and the University of New Orleans, with most believing the Jayhawks were the team to beat.
He even sent out a tweet during his visit to Lawrence saying “Kansas is nice.” Signed, sealed delivered, he was a Jayhawk, right? Wrong.
Reports surfaced that the Privateers of New Orleans were the favorite.
And then William Guillory of NOLA.com reported that a final decision for Robinson was in the works, with the final two schools being Kansas and New Orleans.
Just when we thought we had some sense of this recruitment/decision, yet another curveball was thrown.
According to the official WKU Barstool sports account, Robinson is “seriously considering” a return to Bowling Green.
Sources confirm that @kodakmitch23 is seriously considering returning to WKU.
— Barstool Western (@BarstoolWestern) August 18, 2017
When a random Twitter follower asked Robinson about a potential makeup with Stansbury, the 7-footer didn’t necessarily shut down the rumors…
Would he be welcome back in Bowling Green?
This has officially become the most bizarre recruitment in recent memory.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©August 18th, 2017 @ 7:00pm
Recruiting season is officially in full force for high school basketball, with many top prospects narrowing their lists and setting up visits with a final decision in sight.
One popular five-star prospect in the rumor mill? 2018 guard Romeo Langford, but it’s news you’re probably not going to like…
According to Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader, Kentucky is likely slipping in the Langford sweepstakes.
“The buzz in recruiting circles is that Langford and Calipari didn’t quite click during their Team USA time together,” said Roberts.
Dealing with back spasms, Langford played just 29 minutes in the FIBA World Cup in Egypt, and didn’t necessarily find his groove in the time he did play.
“He’s expected to cut his list to seven schools sometime soon, and Kentucky might make that list, ” Roberts said. “But — as of now — it seems highly unlikely that he ends up as a Wildcat.”
At the adidas Uprising Gauntlet in Spartanburg last month, sources told KSR that Calipari and the Wildcats are still interested, but the star out of New Albany, IN is certainly not the priority he once was.
“While some of the other prospects are still blossoming, Langford has hit a plateau,” a source said. “The coaching staff really doesn’t feel like he’s improved all that much in the last year. He hasn’t separated himself from the competition the way they expected him to.”
Langford still has a while before he sets a decision date, and if he takes a major step up his senior year, we could see Kentucky ramp up their recruiting efforts.
The Wildcats aren’t out of the running, but it sure isn’t looking likely Langford ends up in blue and white.
By Drew Franklin on ©August 18th, 2017 @ 5:21pm
The friendship between Immanuel Quickley and Zion Williamson continues to look strong as they’ve been spotted working out together in Aruba.
The two Kentucky targets are in Aruba for yet another adidas event and our friends at Overtime shared a video of Quickley holding Williamson in the wheelbarrow walk on the beach:
— Overtime (@overtime) August 18, 2017
There’s been some recent chatter about Kansas leading for Williamson, but I think you’re looking at two future Kentucky Wildcats in that clip.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 16th, 2017 @ 11:00pm
The addition of Marvin Bagley may have given Duke the edge over Kentucky in the race for the nation’s best recruits, but there’s already another battle on the horizon. Earlier today, Cameron Reddish told Krysten Peek of Rivals.com that he’s nearing a decision, and although he has five schools on his list, most believe it’s down to Kentucky and Duke. The five-star small forward could be the most versatile player in his class, and with all the momentum swinging towards Duke lately, John Calipari desperately needs to land a superstar. Let’s break down Kentucky’s chances, starting with the Cats’ biggest advantage.
PRO: Reddish played for Calipari this summer
Reddish got a taste of what it would be like to play for John Calipari at the FIBA World Cup this summer, and judging by his remarks to Peek, he enjoyed the experience.
“Playing for Team USA under coach Cal gave me a pretty good idea of how he is as a coach. He likes to go and he’s super competitive. I totally understand why players want to play under him because he pushes everyone to be better.”
CON: Reddish’s BFF just committed to Duke
Unfortunately, in that same interview, Reddish raved about Tre Jones, the 2018 point guard that just committed to Duke. Not only are the two close friends, their parents are as well, and Reddish said Jones is already in his ear about coming to Duke. Not helping matters is Reddish retweeting Jones’ tweets about being in the Duke “Brotherhood”:
PRO: Calipari has proven he’ll showcase Reddish’s versatility
At 6’7″, 180 lbs., Reddish is considered a small forward, but he’s so versatile that Calipari started him at point guard on occasion at the FIBA World Cup. Reddish delivered, leading the team in steals and dishing out the second-most assists while averaging 10.7 points per game. By giving Reddish the reins, Cal showed he’s not afraid to let him be a positionless player at Kentucky, a pitch which surely appealed the versatile wing.
CON: He’s playing with Duke players and commits all weekend
The Nike Skills Academy is taking place this week in Los Angeles, bringing together 29 of the top high schoolers and 20 of the top current college players. Unfortunately, zero Kentucky players are there but three current Dukies (Marques Bolden, Grayson Allen, Trevon Duval) are, along with the aforementioned Jones, who will be Reddish’s roommate. That’s a whole lotta people talking about Duke, and none about the Cats, right on the heels of the Blue Devils landing Marvin Bagley.
Double ugh. Can I list the part about Cal starting Reddish at point guard again?
By Jack Pilgrim on ©August 16th, 2017 @ 7:10pm
The No. 1 player in the class of 2018 just cut his list to five, and the Kentucky Wildcats were included.
RJ Barrett, a 6’7 small forward out of Canada, recently reclassified to 2018 from 2019, and nearly all recruiting services list him as one of the top two players in the nation.
I want to thank all the schools that have recruited me.. these are my top 5 in alphabetical order. Haven't figured out any visits yet. pic.twitter.com/hID9BVGWUg
— Rj Barrett (@RjBarrett6) August 16, 2017
After seeing Kentucky’s recent success with Canadian prospects, it’s no surprise the Wildcats are one of the top schools on his list.
247 Sports’ Crystal Ball currently has UK in third, but most recruiting experts believe Kentucky is in fantastic position to land the five-star forward.
Watch him drop 38 points and 13 rebounds on Calipari’s Team USA squad in Egypt:
Bring him on home, Coach Cal.
By Drew Franklin on ©August 16th, 2017 @ 10:12am
Big, unexpected basketball recruiting news today: Cameron Reddish is close to a decision.
We’ve always thought Immanuel Quickley would be the first of John Calipari’s 2017 targets to announce a commitment, but now Reddish, who played under Cal in Egypt, is nearing the end of his recruitment, too.
Reddish told Krysten Peek of Rivals.com his decision is coming “sooner than people are expecting.”
Small Forward | 6-8 | 196 lbs.
Norristown, PA | Westtown
AAU: Team Final
|ESPN||No. 4 | 1 SF||Top247||No. 4 | 2 SF|
|Rivals||No. 5 | 2 SF||Scout||No. 4 | 1 SF|
The five-star forward from Pennsylvania is down to five schools and Kentucky is a serious contender to land his services due to his close relationship and summer experience with Calipari.
“Playing for Team USA under coach Cal gave me a pretty good idea of how he is as a coach,” Reddish told Rivals. “He likes to go and he’s super competitive. I totally understand why players want to play under him because he pushes everyone to be better.”
Duke is also in the hunt and probably the slight favorite with the recent addition of Tre Jones, Reddish’s good friend, at point guard. Jones committed to Duke this past weekend.
UConn, Villanova and UCLA round out Reddish’s final five.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 15th, 2017 @ 2:00pm
By now, you’ve heard that Marvin Bagley, heralded by some as a “once in a generation” type recruit, is headed to Duke, which makes the Blue Devils the definitive No. 1 team in the country heading into the season. Here’s why that’s a great thing for Kentucky.
Last year, the national media penciled Duke in as the national champions before the season even began, hyping the Blue Devils as the perfect mix of talent and experience. As we all know, that wasn’t the case. Injuries and chemistry problems plagued Duke all season, and even though the Blue Devils rallied to win the ACC, they lost to South Carolina in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, making the season undeniably a disappointment. There were a lot of factors to Duke’s failure to launch — Grayson Allen sure was a distraction — but it didn’t help that every single struggle was nitpicked by the national media. Because of the preseason hype, Duke was squarely in the spotlight, and clearly did not fare well because of it; with the number one player in the 2018 class reclassifying to join the Blue Devils this fall, that will be the case once again. After Bagley’s announcement, Duke’s odds of winning the 2018 title jumped from 7-1 to 3-1, making them the second largest preseason favorite in the last ten seasons behind the 2014-15 Kentucky team. For the second straight season, college basketball’s crosshairs will be on Durham.
If there was ever a season for Kentucky to dodge the spotlight, this would be it. As John Calipari has said time and time again (and will ad nauseam until the season starts), this is his youngest team ever. While several players gained experience during international play this summer, the only returning player who averaged more than seven minutes per game is Wenyen Gabriel. Wenyen averaged 4.6 points last year, making this Calipari’s first team at Kentucky without a returning player who averaged 5.0 points or more in the previous season.
The freshmen are talented, yes, but they are still freshmen, and this team will take some lumps. Last year’s team — also young — was able to go through its growing pains while the rest of the nation focused on Duke. As a result, when the tournament rolled around, the Cats hit their stride. Thanks to Marvin Bagley, Kentucky will have that luxury once again.
Superstar-in-waiting Marvin Bagley shook up college basketball late Monday night when he announced his commitment to Duke during the 11 pm edition of SportsCenter out on the west coast. Bagley’s commitment to the Blue Devils also came with the news that he plans to forego his senior season of high school and enroll in college this fall.
What the blockbuster announcement means:
Duke is the No. 1 team entering the season, favorite to win the NCAA title.
I wrote about this at lunch yesterday: the addition of Bagley gives Duke the best starting five (on paper) this upcoming season. Coach K adds the best player in the country to a lineup that already had three five-star, top-10 signees from the ESPN100, plus a fourth-year Grayson Allen.
Bagley would make any team a Final Four contender, so adding him to the team that was already 7-to-1 to win it all, is dangerous for everyone else.
Coach K canceled Duke’s international trip for this.
The Blue Devils are supposed to be leaving for the Dominican Republic this week for two exhibition games against the Dominican national team, but the trip was canceled so Coach K could recover from knee surgery. If you think that’s the real reason Duke canceled the trip, you’re not staying woke.
The Bagley situation had everything to do with Duke pulling out of the DR at the last minute, not Coach K’s surgery, which he could’ve gotten anytime. That trip had been planned for months and it would be extremely beneficial for a team that lost all five starters from the end of the year, and you’re telling me Coach K just decided to have surgery on the Sunday before the team left?
Stay woke, people.
The days of criticizing the one-and-done system are officially over.
Most one-and-done critics went ghost when Duke won the title in 2014, but this move officially silenced what was left of them. We have an elite university working diligently behind the scenes to bend the rules so its basketball team can benefit by signing a star, and nobody will say a word about it because it’s Duke.
Do I have a problem with that? No, of course not. Do you, Duke. But save the “right way” talk when talking about the Duke basketball program in the future. I’m just noting that Coach K stooping to this level marks the end of any criticism of the system because nobody will talk negatively about Coach K.
Poor Marques Bolden.
Bagley still has to gain eligibility.
Bagley announced his intentions to reclassify to the Class of 2017, but he still needs his eligibility granted by the NCAA. That can be a seamless transition when a prospect plans ahead and takes the necessary coursework along the way; in Bagley’s case, however, his three years of high school are a complete mess.
Bagley attended three different high schools across two states in his freshman, sophomore and junior years. He began at Corona Del Sol High in Tempe his freshman year; then transferred to Hillcrest Hoops, a prep school in Phoenix; and spent the last year and a half at Sierra Canyon in California, where he was ruled ineligible his sophomore season due to transfer rules.
So, you’re telling me a kid that went to three different schools, was ineligible for competition at one of those schools, and spent the whole summer traveling for basketball, is going to skip his senior year and enroll in college (and not just any college) in mid-August?
I gotta see this!