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Basketball Recruiting News
College basketball’s fall signing period is over and the University of Kentucky had three signees join its 2018 class.
The school officially named the three future Wildcats — who are Immanuel Quickley, Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro — in a press release Thursday morning.
“We’ve signed three really good players, really good kids who had a burning desire to be at Kentucky, which tells you they’ve got a toughness to them,” John Calipari said. “They didn’t need to be begged; they wanted to be here. All three are guards, all three are tough, and all three have a fight and a skill about them. All three of them are gym rats – the kind of guys who come here and do well. All three are driven and wired the way you have to be to be successful here. They’re going to add to what we do.”
In a video attached to the release, Calipari shared his thoughts on his new guys:
“I’m excited for this class,” he added. “And we’re not done yet. We have to see where all this stuff goes, but our need, we have filled. These three guys are what we needed, and that’s what’s happened. I’m excited.”
Five-star shooting guard Quentin Grimes has committed to Bill Self and the Kansas Jayhawks.
His final list consisted of Kansas, Kentucky, Texas, and Marquette, but many believe his decision came down to the Jayhawks and Longhorns at the end.
“Next year I’ll be heading to Kansas,” Grimes told 247 Sports. “I picked them because they have a winning tradition and to play for a Hall of Fame coach like Bill Self. He let’s the guards run the show. He let’s them have a lot of freedom on the offensive end and that’s what I really liked about coach Self and this team.”
According to Evan Daniels, Grimes’ commitment moves Kansas above Duke and Kentucky in the recruiting rankings.
Kansas now moves to No. 1 in the @247Sports recruiting class rankings with the addition of Quentin Grimes. Their fourth pledge in the top 50.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) November 16, 2017
After Tyler Herro committed to Kentucky, it looked like Grimes and the Wildcat coaching staff mutually agreed to part ways. It was reported Grimes and his family had a fantastic relationship with Kenny Payne, and the Wildcats made the decision a lot closer than people anticipated, but the favorite won out in the end.
It never seemed likely the five-star guard would end up at Kentucky, but after last night’s defeat, this news certainly stings just a bit.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©November 15th, 2017 @ 7:30pm
Big high school basketball news to keep an eye on…
No. 1 prospect in the class of 2019, James Wiseman, has been ruled ineligible by the TSSAA for the upcoming basketball season.
The TSSAA declared the Memphis East basketball player ineligible to play because the school reportedly “violated the state’s “prior link” rule for transfers” in getting him to play at their school this season.
Essentially, Wiseman followed head coach Penny Hardaway from Ensworth HS to Memphis East for basketball purposes only, and the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association.
“The rule states that if a student with an athletic record transfers to a new school where an athletic coaching link existed within the previous 12 months, then that student is ineligible at his new school,” said the report by Commercial Appeal.
Wiseman is widely seen as a Kentucky-lean, and most recruiting analysts already have him penciled in as a future Wildcat. In fact, there have been some whispers that Wiseman could reclassify to the class of 2018 to play for John Calipari.
The 6’11 big man out of Tennessee recently received an offer from Kentucky, but he also holds offers from Kansas, Arizona, Clemson, Alabama, and several other schools.
ESPN lists him as the No. 1 player in the class of 2019, and every other top recruiting website lists Wiseman as a top-three prospect in the nation.
While this ruling doesn’t impact his NCAA status by any means, this does lead to some speculation about his future plans.
Because he is not able to play this season, could this kickstart his reclassification process to move to the class of 2018? Will he even be eligible to reclassify at this point? With the class of 2018’s big man class looking extremely thin, does Calipari push for Wiseman to join this year’s recruiting class? Will he even be interested in a guy with controversy?
Memphis East is appealing the decision this week, but this news could be big for Kentucky basketball one way or another.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 15th, 2017 @ 12:00pm
The early signing period ends today, which begs the question: what’s the latest on Zion Williamson?
The five-star phenom wowed in his season opener last night, scoring 45 points and grabbing 15 rebounds in Spartanburg Day’s 70-62 loss to Christ School. Zion didn’t answer any questions about his recruitment, but according to Phil Kornblunt, he will host coaches from Kentucky today. If you put any stock into Zion Williamson’s Crystal Ball, that’s a good thing because Kentucky’s losing momentum. The last four picks have been for his home state Tigers, including that of Andrew Slater, who was at Zion’s game last night:
New UK signee Tyler Herro told Evan Daniels yesterday that he called Zion on Monday night to tell him about his decision and encourage him to come to Lexington.
“I talked to him last night and I think we are in great position,” Herro said.
Barring a home run visit from Calipari, this recruitment will go into the spring, which may not be a bad thing given all of Clemson’s recent momentum.
Until then, enjoy Zion’s highlights from last night:
Days after officially submitting his National Letter of Intent to the University of Kentucky, five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley is in Chicago for the Cats’ game against Kansas. John Calipari’s next great point guard made the trip from Maryland to root on his future team in the Champions Classic.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 14th, 2017 @ 8:30pm
Earlier today, Tyler Herro committed to Kentucky, and before that, he taped an interview with Matt for “Hey Kentucky!”. Herro goes in-depth on his decision to pick Kentucky, his impressions of Lexington, and how he’s already working with fellow signees Immanuel Quickley and Keldon Johnson to reel in Zion Williamson.
“We’re going to go after Zion pretty hard,” Herro said. “Hopefully we can get him.”
If Kentucky does land Zion, what will the 2018 recruiting class look like?
“I think it can be crazy. With Immanuel being a good point guard, Keldon being able to attack the rim, me being able to shoot and dribble, score off the bounce, and Zion obviously doing what Zion does. Especially if we get another big in there like Bol Bol or Moses Brown, that class is, in my opinion, one of the best classes in the country.”
Get to know the newest member of Kentucky’s 2018 class below as we count down the minutes to tipoff:
Watch the full episode at HeyKentucky.com.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 14th, 2017 @ 4:58pm
Why did Tyler Herro pick Kentucky? Because his number one goal is going to the NBA.
After picking the Cats over Oregon, Kansas, and Villanova, the four-star shooting guard debunked some myths when he told reporters that he doesn’t think Kentucky pressures players to leave after one year; rather, he knows coming to Lexington will best prepare him for the next level.
“When you think of Kentucky, you think of a one-and-done school, everyone, if you go there, you have to be one-and-done to go there, but talking to the coaches, they’re not rushing anyone to get out in one year. It’s more about taking your time. They’re quick at developing people, that’s why they people leave after one year because they don’t party. You don’t get a real college experience. You’re really — I wouldn’t say a superstar, but from day one, you’re working hard every day, two or three times a day. Your goal when you’re there is to get to the NBA.”
Herro (pronounced “hero”) decommitted from Wisconsin less than a month ago and admitted that dealing with the backlash from Badger fans wasn’t easy; however, he knew he had to make the best decision for his future.
“It was tough, obviously. I guess you could say I was turning my back on the state, but I had to make the decision that was best for me and that’s why I did it.”
Kentucky became the early favorite immediately, in part because Herro didn’t really make it a secret that he had the Cats on his mind.
“When I opened up my recruitment I pretty much knew a blue blood was where I wanted to go, so Kentucky or Kansas. Kentucky was on my mind for a while; that’s is why I committed without taking any other visits. I was looking at Oregon, Kansas, and Villanova. But Kentucky is where I want to be.”
What can you expect from the 6-5 shooting guard, whose favorite player is Devin Booker?
“You haven’t seen a shooter that went to Kentucky in a while, so I think me going there, and the guys that would be coming into our class and the guys that stay from this year’s team, I think what I can do and what they can bring to the table, I think we could be pretty good.”
You can be our Herro, baby. (Sorry, I can’t resist!)
After a whirlwind courtship, Tyler Herro just became the third member of Kentucky’s 2018 recruiting class. In a ceremony at his school, the four-star shooting guard picked the Cats over Kansas, Oregon, Wisconsin, and Villanova, signing his letter of intent on the spot.
After an impressive showing at a USA Basketball minicamp in early October, Herro decommited from home state Wisconsin on October 17. Nine days later, Kenny Payne reached out and on October 31, John Calipari offered him a scholarship. This past weekend, Herro took an official visit to Kentucky and, apparently, saw everything he needed to make it official. For a player who strives to be the next Devin Booker, it was the perfect storm.
Herro joins Immanuel Quickley and Keldon Johnson in Kentucky’s 2018 class. He’s ranked the fourth best shooting guard and the 27th overall player in the class by ESPN, but his stock rose after an impressive showing at a USA Basketball minicamp in early October, where he played alongside Quickley, Johnson, Zion Williamson, Bol Bol, and other UK targets.
“Herro is a crafty dependable scorer who loves to run in transition and create in the half court set,” ESPN’s scouting report reads. “His ability to score at all three levels makes him a tough cover. Herro loves to catch and shoot, than hit you with a ball fake for a mid range pull up or floater. Herro loves to score in bunches and has good offensive instincts to score in a variety of ways.”
Welcome to the fam, Tyler. We apologize in advance for the Herro/hero puns.
Shooting Guard | 6-5 | 195 lbs.
Greenfield, WI | Whitnall H.S.
Class of 2018
|ESPN||No. 27 | 4 SG||Top247||No. 40 | 6 SG|
|Rivals||No. 38 | 7 SG||Scout||No. 38 | 5 SG|
By Drew Franklin on ©November 14th, 2017 @ 4:00pm
[Editor’s Note: This post originally ran on November 1, but with Tyler Herro’s announcement coming up at 4:30 PM ET, we’re bumping it back up to the top.]
There is a new name on John Calipari’s basketball recruiting board and it is Tyler Herro, a four-star shooting guard from the Class of 2018.
Calipari paid his first visit to Herro in Milwaukee on Tuesday, and during said visit, offered him a scholarship to the University of Kentucky after watching him work out. There is some talk that Herro could soon accept the scholarship, so we better go ahead and get to know him.
Shooting Guard | 6-5 | 195 lbs.
Greenfield, WI | Whitnall H.S.
Class of 2018
|ESPN||No. 27 | 4 SG||Top247||No. 40 | 6 SG|
|Rivals||No. 38 | 7 SG||Scout||No. 38 | 5 SG|
His last name is pronounced like “hero.”
Not “harrow,” like Ryan Harrow, thank God; or “her-ro,” like “if there is a hot girl in your class, sit in her row.”
It is “hero,” like the Enrique Inglesias song. Just wanted to clear that up before we proceed.
He was once committed to Wisconsin.
Wisconsin is a bad word in Kentucky, but we have no problem taking one of the state’s top high school prospects, especially if he was once committed to the Badgers. Herro originally committed to his home state school in September of 2016, his junior year of high school, but has since parted ways with the program and reopened his recruitment.
“After a lot of conversations with my family and prayer I have decided to reopen my recruitment and explore all of my options,” Herro said on Twitter. “The past year since I committed I have grown not only as a basketball player, but as a person. My drive to become the best on all levels has been the fuel that drove this decision.”
He averaged 23.9 points per game and shot 39 percent from three-point range as a junior.
This past summer, Herro averaged 14.8 points, 5.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game on the Nike EYBL circuit, while playing for Playground Elite.
Watch him hit a game-winner for his team:
— Overtime (@overtime) May 29, 2017
Kentucky is among the teams recruiting him the hardest.
Herro also named Oregon, Kansas, Butler, Villanova and Arizona as programs that have really sought him out since he became available again.
“Kentucky keeps it real,” he says.
In Evan Daniels’ new story after Tuesday’s visit, Herro told him, “Meeting with Coach Cal and Coach Payne was good. They keep it real. They told me Kentucky is a different beast and if I want to make it then Kentucky is the spot. I’m still looking at all my options but it feels good.”
Frank Kaminsky called him “soft.”
The former Wisconsin Badger was a little salty when Herro announced his decommitment:
You mad, Frank?
He wants to be like Devin Booker.
I want to be like Devin Booker. https://t.co/NDrTFFHETK
— Tyler Herro (@raf_tyler) April 5, 2017
On Monday he wished Booker a happy birthday on Twitter. #MCM
He once called Arizona his “dream school.”
In a video explaining why he chose Wisconsin, Herro noted that Arizona was his dream school, but he went ahead and took the Wisconsin offer. He had other offers from Florida, Indiana, Marquette, Purdue, Iowa State, Xavier and Creighton when he made that decision.
He’s considered a three-point shooter, but he’s actually more than that.
ESPN said, “Herro can flat out score the basketball and is wired to score in a variety of ways. Herro’s catch/shoot and dribble drive pull up makes him a tough cover on any close out situations.”
His last 13 Crystal Ball picks are for Kentucky.
Not one person has picked anywhere but Kentucky for Herro since he decommitted from Wisconsin. It is 100 percent UK from the Crystal Ball pickers, which include Evan Daniels and Jerry Meyer.
Watch him work:
There is an invitation to grab the open backcourt spot in John Calipari’s next class and Herro might just be the one to go ahead and take it.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 14th, 2017 @ 9:00am
Tonight, Kentucky will undergo its first major test of the regular season when they take on the fourth-ranked Kansas Jayhawks in the Champions Classic. That’s over 12 hours from now, so here’s what can you expect as the day slowly drags on.
We’ll break down the Jayhawks
Kansas may not have Josh Jackson or Frank Mason III anymore, but they do have Devonte’ Graham. The senior guard is one of the best players in the country and containing him will be a major challenge for Quade Green and/or Shai Alexander, who have yet to impress on defense.
Outside of Graham, Kansas is still a mystery. They started four guards on Friday vs. Tennessee State, but one of them wasn’t Malik Newman, who lost his starting job to freshman Marcus Garrett. Five-star freshman Billy Preston didn’t even play after being suspended one game for breaking curfew. And while the Jayhawks hit 60% of their shots, including 43% from three, they had 20 turnovers. With only one game to look at thus far, it’s hard to know exactly what to expect from Kansas other than they’ve got a lot more experience than we do; however, if we’ve seen one thing over the years, it’s that elite freshmen tend to rise to elite competition. So, who knows.
Regardless, here are the stats if you’d like to compare them (keep in mind Vermont and Utah Valley are much better than Tennessee State):
|Points per game||73||92|
|Opp. points per game||66||56|
|Rebounds per game||37||45|
|Assists per game||16||23|
|Blocks per game||6||7|
|Steals per game||7||8|
|Field Goal %||42.6%||60%|
|3-Point Field Goal %||33.3%||42.9%|
|Free Throw %||73.9%||72.7%|
|Opp. Field Goal %||43.0%||32.8%|
|Opp. 3-Pt Field Goal %||31.9%||34.8%|
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) November 14, 2017
Sacha Killeya-Jones’ mother is feeling good about the matchup with Udoka Azubuike
— ley 🇬🇧🇪🇺 (@Ley_KJ) November 14, 2017
Sacha’s looked great so far this season. I like the way his mom’s thinking.
Looking to party with the BBN before the game?
If you’re in Chicago and looking for the Big Blue Nation, the UK Alumni Association is meeting at the Kaiser Tiger (1415 W. Randolph St). Doors open at 11 a.m and a shuttle bus will be available to take fans to the United Center. For directions and additional details, visit www.ukalumni.net/
4:30 PM: Tyler Herro announces his decision
It’s been a whirlwind courtship with the four-star shooting guard, who will announce his decision at 3:30 p.m. CT/4:30 p.m. ET. The announcement comes on the heels of his official visit to Kentucky, and, at this point, it would be an absolute shock if he doesn’t pick the Cats.
We’ll do our best to find a live stream of the announcement as long as you guys promise not to crash the website. Deal?
We’ll hear from Eddie Gran and the offense
It’s a basketball heavy day, but you’ll get a football fix this evening from Eddie Gran and the offense. ICYMI yesterday, Stoops gave a good rundown of how Gran helped Benny Snell snap out of his early season sophomore slump. He’s had three touchdowns in each of the last three games:
7:00 PM: KSR Pregame Show
I’m sure your family won’t mind if you listen during dinner.
9:30 PM (if we’re lucky), ESPN: Kentucky vs. Kansas
Even though No. 1 Duke and No. 2 Michigan State are both ranked higher, No. 7 Kentucky vs. No. 4 Kansas drew the second half of the doubleheader because ESPN knows UK fans will stay up. Caffeine is your friend this afternoon.
I’ll leave you with this great picture of De’Aaron Fox and John Wall after last night’s Wizards/Kings game. Wall had 21 points and 9 assists to Fox’s 10 points and 5 assists in the Wizards’ 110-92 win, but mentor and the mentee shared a cool moment afterwards:
More of that in today’s BBNBA recap, which is coming your way in just a bit…
By Aaron Torres on ©November 13th, 2017 @ 8:00pm
While the 2017-2018 college basketball season is literally just a couple days old, it’s no surprise to anyone reading this that excitement is already growing for the 2018-2019 campaign in Lexington. Because Kentucky has so few sure-fire “one-and-done” players on this year’s roster, and because we already know that John Calipari is going to load up in recruiting (since that’s what John Calipari always does) it feels like 2019 could set up for a monster year in Lexington, one where a blend of talent, experience and depth should make Kentucky the title favorite from the moment the season begins.
Now obviously there’s quite a bit to figure out between now and the start of next season, but one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle fell into place over the weekend. There, the Wildcats picked up their second commitment in the 2018 recruiting class, when five-star wing Keldon Johnson chose Kentucky over NC State, Texas, Maryland and a host of other schools.
Johnson is a guy that many Kentucky fans probably aren’t totally familiar with, if only because the recruiting process with Kentucky didn’t pick up until late (Johnson wasn’t offered by Kentucky until a few months ago). But according to Johnson’s high school coach Steve Smith at Oak Hill Academy, once Calipari zoned in on Johnson, he made him one of his top priorities in the class.
“I think [Calipari] wanted him over other players, even over other players who might have been rated higher,” Smith, who has known Calipari for years, told KSR. “I think Coach Cal really wanted Keldon because of how he plays, and what he brings to the table. His style of play. All that.”
By Drew Franklin on ©November 13th, 2017 @ 4:14pm
Vanderbilt has its point guard for the future in five-star prospect Darius Garland, who announced he will join the Commodores’ 2018 class on Monday. A one-time UK target, Garland picked Vanderbilt over Indiana, Kentucky and UCLA.
Garland’s commitment is Bryce Drew’s first from a top-10 player at Vanderbilt, and he could add a second soon if Simi Shittu follows Garland’s lead. Together, they’ll be an enormous upgrade in talent for Drew’s squad, which is consistent with what’s been happening around the SEC as more and more young stars are joining the conference.
Catch the fever!
UK target Quentin Grimes will announce his decision and sign his Letter of Intent on Wednesday. The five-star guard is considering Kansas, Texas, Kentucky and Marquette, although it’s believed to be a two-school race between Kansas and Texas.
The announcement will come at 6:30 pm.
— Quentin Grimes (@qdotgrimes) November 13, 2017
Grimes would make a nice addition to Kentucky’s 2018-19 roster, but the backcourt is already pretty stacked.
Kansas and Texas have each visited him in the last couple of days.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©November 12th, 2017 @ 9:30pm
Last night, five-star wing Keldon Johnson became Kentucky’s second commitment of the class of 2018.
The 6’6, 215 lbs. prospect out of Maryland chose the Wildcats over Texas, Maryland and NC State.
ESPN lists him as the No. 7 prospect in the class, and other recruiting services have him list him as one of the top 15-20 players in the nation. Following a huge summer playing in Colorado Springs for Team USA’s camp and the AAU circuit, Johnson is seen as one of the highest-rising prospects in high school basketball.
Let’s break down what Johnson brings to the table for the Wildcats:
Toughness. Tenacity. Grittiness.
Ask any recruiting analyst about Keldon Johnson, and this will be the first topic of conversation.
This kid embraces contact and finishes through it. You could make an entire highlight tape of his and-one conversions and still find a way to be amazed.
In fact, this one comes pretty darn close.
We loved Isaiah Briscoe for being a pit bull, and Johnson is a better scoring version of that. He backs down from no one and takes competitiveness to a whole new level. He has been working on building muscle, but you’d have no idea he’s leaner than the competition with how he plays.
Johnson is an alpha-male, and he plays like it every second he’s on the floor. He’s going to go to war for the Wildcats.
Beyond hard-nosed effort plays, Johnson’s pure basketball skill has blossomed in a massive way. He used to rely solely on drives to the basket and pure athletic plays, but his shooting has improved in a big way.
At Team USA minicamp a few weeks back, several analysts in attendance said his improved offensive game has allowed him to easily take over as one of the top players in the nation. Some said he could end up as a top-five prospect before it’s all said and done.
His ball handling is solid, and impressive dribble moves allow him to create space to either get to the basket or finish over defenders with the help of his great length. His passing is above average, but UK likely won’t need him to do much of that.
Johnson has always been a prolific scorer, and he’s only getting better.
Similar to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander this year, Johnson is incredibly long and uses that to his advantage to jump passing lanes and deflect passes.
On-ball, he’s shifty and uses his athleticism to stay in front of his opponent. He may get out-muscled, but he’s not going to ever get out-hustled on defense. I’d take the latter all day, every day.
The best part of Johnson’s defensive ability is what’s to come, not necessarily what we see today. Things are just now starting to click with him, and he’s only going to get better.
He’s close with other top recruits
Almost immediately, Immanuel Quickley reached out to Johnson on Twitter to congratulate him on his commitment to Kentucky.
— Immanuel Quickley (@IQ_GodSon) November 11, 2017
Quickley then followed it up with a tweet directed toward Tyler Herro and Zion Williamson, implying that he and Johnson reaching out to the both of them and bringing them to Lexington.
— Immanuel Quickley (@IQ_GodSon) November 12, 2017
Considering Herro will likely be committing to Kentucky on Tuesday, it looks like it’ll be all three of them working to bring Williamson home.
In past interviews, Johnson has talked about wanting to play with top talent and how he believes other players will want to play with him. He was a popular kid at Team USA minicamp, and he’s really popular with recruits on the AAU circuit. With how much he’s blowing up, that’s only going to get better.
He may not have the name recognition of RJ Barrett like some fans hoped for, but he’s going to be a household name sooner rather than later. Kentucky just got the highest rising prospect in the nation, and he’s going to be a stud for the Wildcats.