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Basketball Recruiting News

Insider Notes: Here’s the latest with Wiseman, Carey, McDaniels as we enter signing week

Photo via Endless Motor

Hey, folks. I hope everyone had a good weekend. There have been better sports weeks for Kentucky fans, but the basketball team is still going to be a contender come March and the football team is still having a great season despite a bad month. The Cats will have two five-star players sign in the coming days for next season’s basketball team and another incredibly talented four-star in-state wing will sign on Friday. It’s not all bad news despite things seemingly not going UK’s way as of late.

Five-star wing/forward Jaden McDaniels visited UK on Friday and there’s more smoke in the Wiseman recruitment. Let’s get to the notes.

McDaniels:

The visit was GREAT (drink, drink, drink!). Despite Kentucky struggling against Southern Illinois I’m told that McDaniels and his family really enjoyed Lexington and they thought the atmosphere at Rupp Arena was impressive. Yes, really. I did hear from a friend that the second half atmosphere was solid, so while we always joke about the lower level at Rupp supposedly they did their job on Friday for the final 15-20 minutes. In that first half I was worried McDaniels may pull a Lonnie Walker and fall asleep.

I’m not sure if I’m ready to say UK leads for McDaniels, but all that I’ve heard throughout his recruitment is that his dad is the one that actively involved in the decision making process and after this weekend the biggest piece of information I have is that the dad prefers UK. Is that Jaden’s choice? I have no clue, but the relationship between UK’s staff and McDaniels’ dad is strong enough to land a commitment. Also, I don’t have confirmation from anyone I trust that the dad is pulling the strings in this recruitment, but that’s the scuttlebutt among recruiting experts. But, I do trust that the dad prefers UK. I’m told if not UK then he’d like McDaniels to stay home at Washington.

Now the big question is when will McDaniels decide? Two trusted sources told me they don’t think he signs in the fall, but one thought he would commit in the next few weeks. The other thought he would wait until January or February. He has one official left on the table and could go to UCLA, but there are currently no plans. His final five includes UK, Texas, Washington, San Diego State and UCLA. He’s officially visited the first four schools. Both guys I spoke with said they like UK’s chances regardless (one thought Washington was right there, too), but if we hear of a decision in the next week or two then UK would be the landing spot. People close to UK are unsure when he plans on committing.

Supposedly it wasn’t just the visit that pushed UK to the top, but instead all the work Kentucky’s staff has put in behind the scenes for the last two months. John Calipari visited twice and the Cats have been in constant contact. One source said this was like the Kevin Knox recruitment where no one gave UK a great chance at landing him, but in reality the Cats were putting in more work than anyone.

So, as of today (and I’m surprised typing this), UK seems to be in a great spot. I’m not sure McDaniels would be the frontcourt piece people were expecting/hoping for, but it’d give UK plenty of options for next season. Rebounding may be an issue but scoring wouldn’t.

Wiseman:

Did you all see all the reports about how Memphis’ staff is telling boosters and media members that Wiseman is a lock to stay home? Well, it’s what we said last week. Memphis’ coaching staff is talking and talking a lot. Sometimes we’ve seen some staffs spread misinformation to try and have the public momentum push the kid in a certain direction, but I’m told this is 100 percent genuine. Memphis’ staff has reason to believe that Wiseman is staying home and playing for Memphis, per people close to Memphis’ staff.

Wiseman’s family has told me that it’s not true. They have told other reporters that it’s not true. They’re telling anyone that can listen that he’s not committed anywhere and he’s still undecided. Maybe they’re telling the truth. They probably are being honest when they say that no final decision has been made, but what else are they supposed to say? “Yup, James is going to Memphis, we’re just figuring out a commitment date?” “Yup, something crazy would have to happen for him to go elsewhere.” “Stop paying attention because this thing is over.” I did find it interesting that Wiseman’s sister went out of her way to reach out to me to tell me that a decision hasn’t been made.

I think Wiseman ends up at Memphis but the family aspect is interesting and UK doesn’t feel they have lost. They don’t think there’s been a silent commitment and they still feel like they have a chance to land Wiseman. So, if you’re looking for some optimism, there you go. Also, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports spoke directly with Wiseman’s mom about the Memphis buzz and he is still currently predicting UK.

So, I lean towards Memphis but never say never.

Carey:

He officially visited Michigan State and I have no new updates on that official visit, but I did speak with someone on Friday that told me it will be Duke, Michigan State or UK. I feel like I’ve been saying that for a few weeks, but here we are. Again, like Wiseman, there’s not much of a UK buzz in this recruitment but people close to UK haven’t conceded.

In those two recruitments the Cats don’t have a lot of momentum, so if you want to give up on them no one would blame you. Obviously there’s not a great deal of information on Carey’s recruitment and I’m hoping to learn more after touching base after the MSU visit. Let’s touch back with Carey later this week.

Duke Game:

I’ve had a few people ask me if a beatdown like that can hurt recruiting. It doesn’t help, but it doesn’t hurt. What will hurt more is that Duke will be the college basketball sweethearts all season and constantly featured on ESPN. That won’t really hurt UK until maybe next year but more likely 2021 and later, but Wiseman isn’t picking Memphis because UK was smacked by Duke. Carey isn’t picking Duke over UK because the Blue Devils beat them in Indy. If those players go elsewhere that game had nothing to do with it.

Duke is the cool school again, and that will plant a seed in younger kids, but that stuff constantly changes. The Cats are still licking their wounds from Tuesday but it won’t hurt UK on the recruiting trail.

Other Options:

If UK were to miss on Wiseman, Carey and Stewart (I don’t see him ending up at Kentucky but I don’t have a great feel/connection to this recruitment) you’re probably wondering where Kentucky goes from there. Last week I mentioned that there would either be a grad-transfer or a 2020 reclassification (one UK fan Twitter follower mentioned/suggested Hunter Dickinson in 2020. He’d be physically ready) and I’m very confident in one of those two things happening. I’ve been asked if UK will get involved with Precious Achiuwa, C.J. Walker or Kofi Cockburn. I don’t believe that happens. Maybe Kentucky will send out a feeler to one of the three, or reconnect with Walker, but I doubt the Cats will be able to do enough to get into the picture.

Walker waiting until the spring was somewhat of a surprise, so maybe that means a shift in the recruitment, but the Cats were never heavily involved and my guess is that doesn’t change.

I still think UK gets Hurt.  If you get Hurt along with McDaniels then you would need to find a bruising grad-transfer big and you’d be ready to roll. I’m not sure you could find a better offensive frontcourt, but there clearly would be some questions rebounding and defensively.

In the intermediate be on the lookout for commitment decisions. The sky isn’t falling just yet and never count out Calipari.

 


Dontaie Allen to sign this Friday

Twitter | @MustangsMatts

College basketball’s early signing period begins Wednesday and one of UK’s three commits has already announced his plans.

In-state star Dontaie Allen will sign his official Letter of Intent on Friday in a ceremony at Pendleton County High School. The event is not open to the public. Sorry.

Allen’s fellow commits, Tyrese Maxay and Khalil Whitney, are expected to sign this week too.


Amid Memphis rumblings, James Wiseman’s mother says son’s decision not finalized

Photo: USA Basketball

By reading the tea leaves alone, one would assume a decision for 2019 five-star big man James Wiseman is right around the corner.

And it would be a decision the Big Blue Nation would not be happy with.

Wiseman, the No. 1 overall recruit in the class of 2019, is down to Memphis, Kentucky, Florida State, Vanderbilt, and Kansas, but all of the momentum has been with the Tigers over the last few weeks. Some outlets believe it’s all over but the waiting before Wiseman pulls the trigger for Memphis.

Sources told Adam Zagoria of FloHoops that Wiseman to Memphis is “done.”

The 7-foot Wiseman has yet to set an announcement date for his college choice, but multiple sources told FloHoops.com that Memphis is optimistic it will land the big man from Memphis (TN) East who played high school and AAU ball for Hardaway. Hardaway maintains a close relationship with Wiseman’s family and one source said the Memphis staff has already told some boosters it’s “done.”

KSR’s TJ Walker shared similar pessimism on Wiseman’s recruitment last week.

People in Memphis, and supposedly the Tigers’ staff, feel that he’s a done deal for the Tigers and it’s just a matter of time. One Memphis source told me they expect a decision date set this week and by the end of the month Wiseman will officially be a Tiger.

Corey Evans of Rivals.com says Memphis is the “team to beat” for Wiseman.

Wiseman surprised some last month by speeding up his commitment date and stating that he was leaning towards an early signing. Memphis is the team to beat now and while Kentucky would love to make him the face of its program, the Tigers could be on the precipice of a top-five class nationally thanks to the signing of Wiseman next week.

If you ask the seven-foot center’s mother, however, she’d tell you those rumblings are absolutely not true.

According to Evan Daniels of 247 Sports, Donzaleigh Artis says there is not an announcement scheduled nor does her son know where he will be attending school next season.

Regardless, a decision is likely coming soon, and it doesn’t look good for Kentucky.


Today on KSR: UK’s returns to the court for its home opener

Today on KSR: UK’s returns to the court for its home opener

Happy Friday, folks! Kentucky returns to the court tonight for the first time since the game no one wants to talk about, and thank goodness! The taste left in our mouth from Tuesday was sour and disgusting and I think nearly every UK fan was ready for the Cats to play another basketball game ASAP. But our wait is over and the Cats host Southern Illinois at 7 p.m. tonight.

Cal previewed the Salukis:

As you may expect, John Calipari said that Southern Illinois is good enough to beat the Cats, but his Thursday press conference focused as more of a followup on where things stand after Tuesday.

But getting away from tonight’s game and Tuesday’s loss, Cal was asked about Christian Dawkins’ emails, which mentioned potential payment plans to two UK players (one current and one former). Cal didn’t seem overly concerned about Ashton Hagans’ eligibility or the eligibility status of former Cat Jarred Vanderbilt:

“The best thing about coaching here is you coach basketball. What you’re talking about, our administration and compliance are so thorough, doubly thorough, that I trust everything is fine. They get parents involved. I mean, they go to a point where it’s uncomfortable for me, you shouldn’t be having to do this. But then this.. you say, ‘Hey, I’m glad you guys do that.’”

It was an informative presser from Cal. Read about the five most newsworthy things HERE.

Stoops talked, too:

Cal wasn’t the only UK head coach to speak to the media on Thursday. We heard from Mark Stoops for the last time until Saturday as the Cats take on Tennessee. Stoops said that Tennessee was low down, they dirty, they some snitches.

OK, he didn’t actually say that, but it would have been pretty cool if he did. Stoops’ most newsworthy tidbit from Thursday was talking about the kicker situation. The Cats are planning on using Chance Poore, which means he could only play in one game the rest of the season before having his red shirt taken away. In my opinion this is UK’s last possible loss in the regular season. Use Poore on Saturday and have him sit against Middle Tennessee and UofL. The Cats should be able to get by both those opponents without Poore, and then you use him one final time in the bowl game.

WATCH: Mark Stoops Speaks for the Final Time Before Tennessee

Heartbreak for Booker:

Former Kentucky great Devin Booker lost a heartbreaker in overtime to the Boston Celtics. Booker finished with  a season-high 38 points and nine assists, but Marcus Morris’ three at the end of regulation forced overtime and the Celtics overtook Phoenix for a 116-109 win out west.

The Suns have fallen to 2-9.

In other UK in NBA news- SGA had a career high 19 points and it’s clear he’s going to shine just like he did at Kentucky.

Eric Bledsoe had 26 points in 26 minutes for the Bucks.

Not Phoenix’s only loss:

Phoenix Rising FC fell to Louisville City FC 1-0 at Lynn Stadium in Louisville last evening. LouCity’s captured the USL Cup for the second consecutive season becoming the first team to go back-to-back in the USL.

It had been an up-and-down year for LouCity as the club lost its head coach during the middle of the season, took weeks to hire a replacement and was spent after a long run in the US Open Cup. But patience paid. Once the club hired John Hackworth the team regrouped and went on a monster run to finish the season and coasted through the USL playoffs once again.

It was another special night for LouCity and only one more season until they open their new stadium in 2020.

Former Cat George Davis IV had a tremendous game for LouCity, but it was Luke Spencer who propelled the boys in purple to the lead.

Petrino’s swan song?:

The buzz around Louisville is that tonight’s game against Syracuse may be his last for the Cardinals. UofL is having an abysmal season and currently stand at 2-7 on the year. UofL fans have Jeff Brohm fever, but even if the Cards can’t land the Purdue head coach, they want something different than Petrino.

The Cardinals are 21-point underdogs and don’t be surprised to see AD Vince Tyra try and stop the bleeding if UofL is blown out once again. Louisville has lost several commitments in an already underwhelming 2019 class, and now many players are quitting the team or requesting transfers.

Things aren’t pretty in Louisville and Petrino is receiving all the blame. Of course I hate this move because I wanted to make sure the Cats beat Petrino at Cardinal Stadium to end the season.

If it turns out to be the end, adios Petrino. Don’t let the door hit ya.

Jaden McDaniels starts his official visit:

Five-star wing/word Jaden McDaniels will travel from Seattle to Lexington to start his official visit to UK. It’s McDaniels’ fourth official visit and an incredibly important one for the Cats.

Five-star UK target starts official visit to Kentucky tomorrow

KSR is live at The Ketch:

Check out the KSR crew at The Ketch in Lex. It’s a huge Kentucky sports weekend and nothing will get you ready for it like traveling to a KSR remote. It’s been a tough six days for UK sports, but things change this weekend starting tonight.


What I’m hearing: Dawkins’ emails about Vanderbilt and Hagans

Yesterday news broke via ESPN that former Kentucky player Jarred Vanderbilt and current Cat Ashton Hagans were two of 19 players mentioned in a business plan  Christian Dawkins proposed to his partners back in September 2017.

If you missed it clicked HERE, but here’s a summary below:

“According to the email, Dawkins planned to give Vanderbilt’s family $30,000 in travel expenses to watch him play for the Wildcats last season, plus his father was going to get a $25,000 signing bonus when his son turned pro.

“Brother Jamal and dad will also be a part of the deal, and receive 25% of our income on all sides,” Dawkins wrote.

Dawkins proposed giving Vanderbilt a $100,000 line of credit and $25,000 advance on his marketing revenue if he was projected as a lottery pick at the end of the 2017-18 season.”

“Dawkins also planned to recruit 2019 point guard prospect Ashton Hagans of Cartersville, Georgia, who reclassified to the 2018 class and is a freshman at Kentucky. According to the email, Dawkins wanted to pay Hagans $2,000 per month from October 2017 to October 2018, then $3,000 monthly through April 2020.”

Hagans’ father told Jerry Tipton that the Hagans family doesn’t know Christian Dawkins and “we never met this fool a day in our life.” Read more about that HERE.

UK head coach John Calipari was asked about the emails on Thursday and here’s what he had to say:

“The best thing about coaching here is you coach basketball. What you’re talking about, our administration and compliance are so thorough, doubly thorough, that I trust everything is fine. They get parents involved. I mean, they go to a point where it’s uncomfortable for me, you shouldn’t be having to do this. But then this.. you say, ‘Hey, I’m glad you guys do that.’”

UK Athletics announced that at this time that the eligibility hasn’t changed for any current or former students at this time.

I spoke with Hagans’ AAU coach, Chris Williams. Williams knew about Hagans’ recruitment as well as anyone outside of the family. He said there is no reason for concern regarding Hagans’ eligibility.

“Not at all,” he said in a text to KSR on Thursday. “There were no dealings with him whatsoever. Ashton has two hard working parents, no need to accept cash from strangers fro the game of basketball. Something (Ashton) grew up loving and doing for free.”

Williams said UK also isn’t concerned.

In my opinion based on the few people I’ve spoken with about these claims there is next to nothing to worry about with Hagans. Maybe Dawkins did have a plan to try and pay Hagans, but there is zero evidence that Hagans’ family was open to the plan or accepted any cash. From my understanding there is no chance that evidence surfaces because Dawkins’ plans never reached Hagans or his family. Hagans played on the adidas AAU circuit and has always been a star recruit (although originally part of the 2019 recruiting class), so it would make sense for Dawkins to be interested in him, but that doesn’t mean Dawkins ever paid him or had a relationship with the family.

Vanderbilt is slightly more worrisome because of the complexity of the plan. Here’s what one AAU source regarding Vanderbilt’s situation:

“You don’t know how tight of a circle the family had. Someone close to (Jarred) could have been talking with Dawkins working all of this out without the family knowing.”

According to Dawkins’ claims, Vanderbilt’s dad and brother were going to be a part of the deal. Vanderbilt’s dad didn’t return text messages to KSR.

Vanderbilt’s situation seems more complicated and more thought out, but the thing to remember is even if it’s true and even if Vanderbilt’s dad and brother were communicating with Dawkins there’s currently no evidence of that being the case and there’s certainly no evidence of anyone receiving payments from Dawkins. Those two things would need to be proven before UK could be on the hook with the NCAA.

But if evidence was ever provided the worst thing that could happen is UK vacating game from last season and possibly the entire season. A mediocre Sweet 16 performance. I’m interested what the NCAA ruling would be since Vanderbilt only played in 14 games during his UK career. There’s a chance UK would have to just vacate those 14 games that Vanderbilt played. The Cats were 7-7 in those games.

Kentucky would avoid any major penalties unless the staff was in the payments or tried to cover up Vanderbilt/Hagans eligibility concerns. Knowing how UK Compliance operates and Sandy Bell’s reputation, that’s not happening.

I can say that people close to UK are not worried about Hagans in the slightest and they didn’t seem too concerned about Vanderbilt, either. Had Dawkins not been arrested and these plans came to fruition this may be a different story, but these were plans that were stymied.

It seems safe to say that there’s no reason to panic and you should expect to see Hagans playing tomorrow night.


Jaden McDaniels to officially visit this weekend

Five-star wing Jaden McDaniels will visit Kentucky this weekend, 247 Sports first reported and later confirmed by KSR.

McDaniels has already officially visited San Diego State, Washington and most recently Texas all in the last month. The visit to UK will be his fourth official and there’s no current date set for the 6-foot-11, 185-pound Federal Way, Wa. native to checkout UCLA.

Earlier today we wondered when McDaniels would see UK. The Cats are trying to get several top targets to visit for the Kansas game in January, but it seemed unlikely that McDaniels would wait that long to check out Lexington.

It turns out he won’t wait long at all and will see Lexington this weekend.

The Cats play Duke on Tuesday but will play their first official home game at Rupp Arena on Friday against Southern Illinois. The plan is for McDaniels to be at that game.

The versatile wing is unique. Despite being nearly 7-feet tall, McDaniels has guard-like handles and is more comfortable playing outside. He doesn’t blow you away with his speed or strength, but he’s incredibly skilled offensively and uses his length well defensively. He averaged nearly 19 points and over nine rebounds per game in the Nike EYBL this summer.

McDaniels wouldn’t be a bruising forward for the Cats or any college team, but with teams relying more on offense John Calipari could definitely play him as a stretch four. McDaniels’ brother plays for San Diego State and many consider the hometown Huskies also a major threat to land him.

But don’t count out Kentucky. John Caliapri has visited McDaniels twice this fall. It’s unclear when he will make a final decision, but there’s a chance it could be in the next few weeks. It seems unlikely he will sign in the fall, but may make a decision in November or December.


Insider Notes: Is a James Wiseman decision looming? News on other UK targets

I hope everyone had a good weekend. UK football is still going to do some amazing things this season and I can’t wait to see it, but I’m also equally thrilled for the start of basketball season. The Cats take on Duke and all the pent up frustration these staffs feel with one another on the recruiting trail comes to a head when they actually get to play one another. This game by itself won’t have a major impact on recruiting, but I promise you that recruits will be watching tomorrow night. James Wiseman, Vernon Carey, Matthew Hurt, Isaiah Stewart and all of UK’s other targets in 2019 and 2020 will be up late watching the Cats and Duke. If UK can win it certainly won’t hurt its recruiting efforts with those player.

Let’s get to the notes.

James Wiseman:

Memphis has more momentum at this moment than any team has during the two-year recruitment. It was another huge weekend for the Tigers regarding their chances with Wiseman. After Wiseman officially visited Memphis during Halloween weekend he returned this weekend for the Tigers exhibition game on Friday. Then Wiseman went and watched Tigers’ commit D.J. Jeffries on Saturday. Supposedly during the exhibition game on Friday Wiseman was hanging out in the concourse and chatting it up with fans, takings pictures and looking like he was having a great time. He also had a conversation with Jeffries’ dad on Saturday (strangely enough, Jeffries’ game was called in the third quarter because of fighting). People in Memphis, and supposedly the Tigers’ staff, feel that he’s a done deal for the Tigers and it’s just a matter of time. One Memphis source told me they expect a decision date set this week and by the end of the month Wiseman will officially be a Tiger. We’ll see if that happens.

I don’t have too much new from UK’s side of things. I wasn’t able to get a comment on Wiseman’s active weekend in Memphis. I will say that if Wiseman ends up at Kentucky I will understand some of the frustration from Memphis fans. It’s somewhat similar to the Damien Harris recruitment. I didn’t blame Harris for constantly visiting UK and saying all the right things, and I don’t blame Wiseman for going and checking out a college basketball game close to his house, but all the writing on the wall from Memphis’ side of things indicates that Wiseman will be a Tiger. If that doesn’t happen Memphis fans will be livid. I still need to hear from UK before I officially flip, but it’s tough to ignore all the positive momentum and recent happenings.

A story I wrote last week detailed Memphis’ momentum and a Wiseman family member reached out to me and said that my Memphis sources were unreliable and that there was “still so much to see before he decides.” So, that may be a positive, although I doubt she would say that “Yup, it’s over. He’s going to Memphis.” But she clearly searched Wiseman’s name on Twitter and felt strongly enough to comment on the article. Make of that what you will.

I would say if my Memphis source is right and this week he sets a date for his decision, I really won’t feel good about UK’s chances.

USA Today

Vernon Carey Jr.:

He officially visited North Carolina over the weekend and I’m not concerned about the Tar Heels. The only thing that slightly worries about UNC is how Carey wants to play with another elite big and maybe he feels that Bacot will be the best for his game. I don’t think that happens and I think UNC isn’t in the top three, but if UNC were to surge it would be because of Bacot. Plus, for a team to not be surging after an official visit is usually pretty telling.

Everything I hear still has the Cats right there with Duke and Michigan State. He will finish his official visits after this weekend’s (return) visit to Michigan State. Carey Jr., is taking advantage of the new NCAA official visit rules because he already officially visited MSU in February. But because he’s now a senior MSU can pay for another visit. It’s also a clear indication that he thinks highly of the Spartans, but we knew that.

I still have people telling me to not count out UK. For the last few weeks Duke has had the majority of the momentum and many analysts think MSU may be the favorite, but don’t count out John Calipari in this recruitment.

I’m still expecting a decision this month or next for Carey Jr.

Mystery Big:

I was told by one source familiar with UK’s recruiting efforts in 2019 that one of UK’s big commits for the 2019 class is currently in the class of 2020. Supposedly UK feels good about a target in that class but I can’t say who the target is because I don’t know. UK has offered Scottie Barnes, N’Faly Dante and Jalen Johnson in the class of 2020. Those are the only three “big targets” and that’s a stretch to call Johnson and Barnes bigs. They’re wings. I’m not sure Johnson could play the four. Barnes could be would be undersized. Dante is already physically ready to play college basketball so there would be no issues there.

I never enjoy reclassification talk. An SEC assistant coach once told me that every elite kid thinks about reclassification, half try to make it happen and only a small percentage of that half will have a realistic chance of making it happen. I doubt those numbers factually add up, but the overall premise is what’s important. It’s really tough to determine who can actually do it. So, I’m not sure who the player is, but I would definitely keep an eye on 2020 targets making the jump. There’s a few guards that I think will go 2020 to 2019, but supposedly it’s a big that will ultimately join UK.

Another reason I don’t like reclassification talk is because in nine months we could be having this same conversation. There’s no timetable. No deadline. So, I wish I had more information but I’ll officially be on “reclassification watch” for the foreseeable future.

(Photo: Lopez/Nike)

Keion Brooks:

He also officially visited UNC this weekend with Carey. I heard the classic “the visit went well” (drink!) but I’m not overly concerned about the Tar Heels stealing Brooks. I’ve always said that IU is the team to beat for Brooks, and I still feel that way, but someone I trust on the Nike EYBL circuit told me that he thinks UK leads. For the record, I don’t feel that way, but I do know that Brooks and his family love UK’s staff and Kentucky has done a great job building a relationship.

UK’s biggest draw here besides relationships is Cal’s track record getting guys drafted and ready to roll in the NBA. I said after Brooks’ official visit to UK that if “getting to the next level” becomes his top priority in his recruitment/decision making process then he will be a Cat. I still don’t know if that’s his deciding factor, and I’m not sure if we will truthfully ever know, but like Matthew Hurt’s family they will look at this as a business decision. That’s good news. I still lean IU but I feel better about UK’s chances than I have in a long time.

Jaden McDaniels:

He officially visited Texas over the weekend. I haven’t heard anything about that visit and we’re still trying to figure out when he will check out Lexington, so I wish I had more but my update is I don’t have a McDaniels update. I do know that UK is trying to have a HUGE guest list for the Kansas game, but it’s difficult to have so many elite targets because of the high school basketball schedule. Maybe McDaniels waits until then to check out Lexington, but that’s a ways away. My guess is he checks out UK before the end of the year.

 


Hardly Committed E14: James Wiseman, Spooked and a Scary Story

Happy Halloween from Hardly Committed!  T.J. Walker breaks down the latest in James Wiseman’s recruitment before Nick Roush tells a spooky Waverly Hills story to celebrate Halloween.  Highlights:

—  A date to circle for a potential Matthew Hurt visit.

—  Where would T.J. send his son to play college basketball?

—  Move-in day is the worst day EVER.

—  Nick and T.J. draft a starting five from the 2015 and 2019 teams.

—  Any buzz on C.J. Walker?

—  A table read of the gruesome conference room scene of The Office’s “Spooked.”

Subscribe to Hardly Committed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app to get the podcast delivered directly to your phone.  You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play, and streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.


James Wiseman update after his Memphis visit

Well, some not-so-great news. In yesterday’s Monday Insider Notes I said I was unable to talk with any AAU sources about Wiseman’s visit to Memphis over the weekend but one did get back with me this afternoon.

This is someone I’ve been able to chat with about Wiseman’s recruitment for a long time and nearly two months ago he told me he thought Wiseman would end up at Kentucky.

His reasons were reasons we’ve heard (and I’ve repeated) throughout Wiseman’s recruitment:

  • He wants to win a championship
  • UK has done an incredible job building a relationship with the family
  • He will be the guy on the frontcourt
  • John Calipari’s track record with bigs and getting them selected at/near the top of the NBA Draft.

This fella told me today that he now thinks Memphis is the leader and he would be “pretty shocked” if he ended up going anywhere else. He did mention if not Memphis it would be UK, but he thinks Penny has done enough to earn a commitment.

I did ask if his information came from someone on Memphis’ staff and it did not, so that’s good news. But here are the reasons he provided for why this Nike EYBL source believes Memphis will land Wiseman:

  • Penny hasn’t missed with his former AAU/HS players that he’s wanted to coach at Memphis.
  • The family is convinced he can be a No. 1 pick at Memphis (I found this interesting. Did they initially not think he could be drafted as the No. 1 player at Memphis? That would be surprising).

Then he listed off some hints he thinks people have been missing in this recruitment to “validate” his prediction:

  • Wiseman stayed in Memphis instead of going to prep-school.
  • Wiseman’s mom was set on an April or May decision, but now he’s wanting to announce in November or December. My guy said there’s still time for Wiseman to get other players to join him in Memphis.
  • Wiseman initially wasn’t going to officially visit Memphis, but gave the Tigers the last official visit. (I don’t know it’s true he was deadset on not officially visiting Memphis, but instead had planned other visits first).
  • The entire town is trying to get him to stay in Memphis and it would be a “bad business” move to commit while still living in the city. (I also slightly disagree with this, but no doubt he’d get boo’d during his home games)

I passed along this information with folks close to Kentucky and they weren’t phased. They still think they’re in a great spot to land Wiseman and while I don’t feel overly confident about it one way or the other, I’m still leaning UK as of today. That may change in the next few weeks or months, but the Cats have still put in a lot of work in this recruitment and they’re not panicking just yet in Lexington.

Also, 247’s Evan Daniels is still picking UK. So even though the tide may be turning in the AAU ranks there’s still reasons to believe the Cats will be the choice.

I hope my guy is wrong but it’s clear that Memphis has the momentum (again) after the official visit. Gotta love the rollercoaster ride that is recruiting.

 


Insider Notes: James Wiseman and Vernon Carey Jr. take more official visits

Hey, folks. I hope everyone had a great weekend and enjoyed another UK football win. I love that we’re rolling into November, one of the most important basketball recruiting months of the season, and the vast majority of UK fans are prioritizing football. That’s the way it should be and I hope it continues for years to come. However, there’s still plenty of basketball recruiting news to get to and that’s what we do on the Monday Insider Notes.

James Wiseman took his official visit to Memphis and is now finished with visits. Vernon Carey also checked out his hometown school, Miami (Fla.). He will see North Carolina this weekend and will be finished with visits. Both players are open to committing in November or December, so the end could be near.

Let’s get to it.

James Wiseman:

He checked out Memphis and the Tigers pulled out ALL the stops for the five-star center.

The unicorn bit is a nickname for Wiseman. People call him a “unicorn” and he’s adopted it. So, if you ever see him posing for a picture with a finger over his forehead that’s his unicorn pose. He does it often.

Memphis fans chanted his name during the exhibition game (no word on if they put him on the jumbotron again). Memphis coaches made sure Wiseman and his family felt the love all weekend and they paraded him around in public any chance they had.

I was unable to talk with any AAU sources/any Memphis connections over the weekend about Wiseman, so unfortunately I don’t have a “Memphis” side of this recruitment, but I did talk with someone close to UK after the Memphis visit. Two things stood out, one is an interesting point that gets lost in the shuffle and the other point I disagree with.

Let’s start with the disagreement:

When I mentioned that Memphis pulled out all the stops I was told that UK wasn’t worried and it showed that Memphis is getting desperate. I understand the logic, but this was Wiseman’s last official visit and he may announce at some point in the next two months. Was Memphis supposed to play it cool? If they feel like the leader they aren’t going to just have it be a run of the mill official visit. Once Memphis was given a chance to pay for Wiseman and his family to enjoy a weekend on them, the Tigers were going to go all out. So, I disagree with that sentiment as a sign of panic from Memphis. Penny put on a show and he’s going to do whatever he can to land a commitment.

The other talking point: Memphis can do whatever they want to try and land Wiseman, but at the end of the day Wiseman has told people close to UK that winning is one of the most important aspect of his recruitment. He wants to play in a Final Four and he wants to realistically compete for national championship. Now, of course he could just be saying that to UK, or maybe he commits to Memphis and genuinely thinks he has a chance to win big there, but at least one person close to UK thinks if he truly wants to play for a national contender his one year in college it won’t be at Memphis.

This recruitment seems too close to call. Nationally it seems like the majority of analysts believe he will stay home, but people close to UK (and Evan Daniels) feel like they are still the team to beat.

I’m guessing you will see some Crystal Ball picks flip and flop over the next couple weeks.

My personal opinion, if you hear of a decision date set in the next week or two I wouldn’t take that as good news for Kentucky. I don’t think that happens, but you never know. If he can make it through the next few weeks without committing that would be promising.

D.J. Jeffries:

He committed to Memphis over the weekend giving the Tigers even more momentum on the recruiting trail. UK is obviously fine with not having Jeffries on their commitment list. Kahlil Whitney is better and Dontaie Allen gives UK more options offensively, but many will look at Jeffries’ commitment and think it will impact Wiseman’s recruitment.

I wouldn’t worry about that. If Wiseman goes to Memphis it’s because of Penny, it won’t be because of Jeffries. I talked about it back when Jeffries committed, over the summer and certainly after he decommitted- Jeffries and Wiseman are friends but there was never a package deal and they’re not best friends. Even on the floor the two hardly communicated with one another.

So, maybe Wiseman ends up at Memphis but it won’t be because of Jeffries.

Photo by FIBA

Carey:

Carey checked out Miami and nothing I’ve heard makes me think the Canes are a serious threat to land a commitment from Carey. Sadly, there’s still a Duke buzz. Maybe that wears off when he visits North Carolina this weekend, but the Tar Heels would need to do something special to get in the conversation with UK, Michigan State and Duke.

But UK is doing what they have to do in this recruitment. John Calipari will once AGAIN travel to Florida to visit Carey on Monday. Calipari will likely check out a couple targets this week, but UK is making sure they aren’t going to be outworked for their top targets. Carey is as big of a target as any other player.

We hope to hear more about the in-home visit, and if we do we’ll post it, but you gotta love Calipari’s work ethic.

I’ll be curious to see if Carey will take another visit to Michigan State. There’s a chance he could take advantage of the new NCAA rules and officially visit Michigan State again, but he hasn’t indicated that’s something he’s planning on doing. He checked out MSU back in February.

I was told that if Wiseman cares about winning then Carey is obsessed with it. So, I doubt Carey goes to Miami. That’s good. However, unlike Wiseman, Carey has other elite options that could compete for titles and Final Fours.

One thing that worries me, and this was tossed around in Kevin Knox’s recruitment and was obviously untrue, but Carey may equally like UK/Duke but picks the Blue Devils because ACC games will be closer for him and his family. No inside information that it matters to Carey, but something I think about when looking at this recruitment.

Isaiah Stewart:

I haven’t heard anything to make me think that UK is back in the drivers seat. He is officially visiting Duke this weekend and there’s a little part of me that worries about him and Carey pairing up at Duke. Carey wants to play with Stewart or Wiseman, so that’s something to keep an eye on.

I would be surprised to see Stewart end up at UK with where things stand today.

CJ Walker:

There was a lot of buzz last week that UK was becoming a major player in CJ Walker, but Walker made it clear he’s focusing on Miami, Oregon and LSU. Walker wanted an offer and the only way Walker was going to be a serious option for UK is if he waited until the spring and the Cats could look at other options first. He didn’t want to do that and that was that.

Photo by adidas

Hurt:

I’m still trying to figure out when Hurt will officially visit UK. It will be during the season and my guess is the Kansas game is the one that everyone is trying to make work. Hurt’s high school season/schedule will play a big part in his visit schedule, but don’t worry, Hurt will check out UK’s campus at some point.

I’m still confident the Cats are in a great spot for Hurt.

Maxey:

He will play three games in Kentucky later this year. December 28th-29th at Marshall County. It will be a great chance for UK fans to watch the future Cat, and Larry Vaught has you covered on the details. Read those HERE.