Part two in an eight part series previewing the 2014 Kentucky Football Wildcats. Cats hope →
Basketball Recruiting News
Malik Newman has a brand new entry in his blog over at USA Today and it includes an update on the timetable of his decision. The Kentucky target plans to cut his list to a final five or six schools in three weeks when he returns from his trip with USA Basketball. Kentucky will undoubtedly remain in the mix.
And though he’s already cutting suitors from his recruitment, Newman is in no hurry to come to a final decision. “I think that I’m gonna wait until the late signing period,” he writes. “I’m not in a big hurry; I plan on taking my time with this process.”
He will set his official visits shortly after he announces his list.
Our good friend Evan Daniels over at Scout.com recapped the July recruiting storylines on his website today and Evan’s report confirms what we’ve heard all summer: Jaylen Brown will decide early.
Brown’s AAU coach, Ryan Falker, told Evan, “He’ll definitely decide in the first period.”
Kentucky currently leads with 40 percent of Brown’s Crystal Ball predictions, slightly ahead of UCLA’s 32 percent. But Brown recently told a UCLA beat reporter “there may be some truth” to the rumors he is leaning toward becoming a Bruin. Of course, he may same the same thing about Kentucky if asked by a UK beat reporter, so read into that however you’d like.
Regardless of his current leader(s), Brown will visit UCLA next week and has plans to check out Kentucky and Kansas before coming to a decision.
For more on Brown and the July recruiting period, check out Evan’s wrap-up here.
Much has been made of the 2015 recruiting class. Most “experts” say that there is no real star outside of LSU commit Ben Simmons. Also, Coach Calipari has offered many more scholarships this year than in the past for a couple of reasons; first off we will need to bring in a pretty big class after presumably losing around 5 guys, and secondly with no clear cut stars left in the class it is harder to distinguish a list of top targets. There have been rumblings of even more negative recruiting going on against Kentucky than normal and some have wondered if getting top players like the Harrison twins to return, on top of a good 2014 recruiting class, has scared away some of the top 2015 recruits. However, despite the skepticism that surrounds the ‘Cats developing 2015 recruiting class, I think Coach Cal has a better handle on the class than he is getting credit for.
I generally try to take the 247Sports Crystal Ball ratings with a grain of salt because the predictions being made are just an educated guess at best. Some of the scouts and recruiting analysts have good sources and may have a good feel for what a prospect will do, but others are simply either guessing or piggy-backing off what others do. If we look at the Crystal Ball Predictions, as of this morning, Kentucky would land the #3, #4, and #16 prospects in the 247Sports Composite Rankings. Also, the ‘Cats are tied for the top spot with three other recruits, so just landing one of those would round out another excellent recruiting class.
As the Malik Newman/Diamond Stone package deal rumors start to die down I continue to feel more and more confident we will land the standout guard from Mississippi. Kentucky also appears to be in a very good position for dynamic perimeter player Jaylen Brown and we are locked in a battle with Louisville for electric scorer Antonio Blakeney. If Coach Calipari can land those three prospects, along with commit Charles Matthews, UK will once again have a top recruiting class and the backcourt will be set for the next couple of years.
When it comes to post players in the 2015 class, that is where UK is locked in some big time recruiting battles. Power Forward Carlton Bragg, the #9 prospect in the class, has his Crystal Ball split three ways between Kentucky, Kansas, and Ohio State. Another Power Forward, Cheick Diallo, is split evenly between Kentucky and Kansas as well. Top ranked Center Diamond Stone has Kentucky, UCONN, and Wisconsin all within a few percentage points and Doral Moore’s Crystal Ball shows UK trailing Illinois by just a slight margin. If Coach Calipari can simply get a commitment from one of those four post players it will round out one of the top two recruiting classes in the country.
While Kentucky only has one commitment right now, the “experts”, based on Crystal Ball ratings, have UK in a pretty good spot for a number of top prospects. With all of the good post players that Coach Cal has right now, and assuming that a few return next season, it isn’t as important to land all of the top post targets as it is to get guys like Malik Newman, Antonio Blakeney, and Jaylen Brown.
I can absolutely admit to being spoiled when it comes to recruiting success as a Kentucky fan. I count on Coach Calipari to bring in the very best players every year and have simply come to expect a #1 class. While this 2015 class may not have the marquee players and is developing a little more slowly, the ‘Cats are still in a good position to land a handful of the top prospects.
One of Coach Cal’s favorite targets in the 2015 basketball recruiting class narrowed his list to seven schools today and UK made the cut. Antonio Blakeney, the third-ranked shooting guard in the 247Composite rankings, says he is down to Florida State, Louisville, Missouri, Kentucky, Oregon, LSU and South Carolina.
With all due respect to those schools, that’s an ideal bunch for Kentucky to go up against.
My final 7 : FSU, Louisville , Mizzou, Kentucky , Oregon , LSU and USC . No order . Thanks to all the other schools who recruited me 🙏!!
— Antonio Blakeney (@blakeney96) July 28, 2014
If you were watching ESPNU earlier today, you probably saw Kentucky target Jaylen Brown put in major work at the Adidas Super 64 showcase game in Las Vegas, Nevada. Brown squared off against fellow UK-target Thon Maker- and the two certainly put on a show. Brown finished with 32 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 blocks, while Maker tallied 21 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 blocks. Jaylen is currently considered the #4 player in the class of 2015, though that could soon change after his stellar play this summer.
See him in action:
By Matt Jones on ©7:15 pm
Kentucky made the list of five official visits for 2015 big man Stephen Zimmerman. The top player with the longest hair in the 2015 class says he will visit Kentucky, Kansas, North Carolina, Arizona and UCLA before making his college choice. While he didn’t say these were his final five schools, it is a good indication to where he will ultimately end up. In a bit of a surprise, UNLV did not make the list, a school that most believe is one of the two or three leaders for his services. But with it being in his home area, he has probably been many times to the campus as is. Still, an odd omission all things considered.
Calipari really likes this kid and this will be a recruit he fights for.
Kyle Tucker of the Courier-Journal has a fascinating article, complete with interactive maps, on how the use of private jets was utilized in reeling in their respective recruiting classes.
How much does success cost might you ask? A. Lot.
According to flight records obtained by The Courier-Journal, Calipari and football coach Mark Stoops combined to take $450,000 worth of chartered flights just for recruiting purposes during the 2013-14 fiscal year.
But is this all necessary? Calipari thinks so:
Coaching at Kentucky allows certain opportunities, one of which is to be able to coordinate our busy recruiting schedule and team practices. Because of access to private planes, I am able to get out and see the kids I need to see but make it back in time to be with my team.
I won’t share anymore details so that you can read Kyle’s article for yourself, but it’s filled with all sorts of cool tidbits on when and where Calipari and Stoops have been flying, who they may have been seeing, and some jet and recruiting-centric quotes from Coach Mark Stoops and Deputy Athletic Director DeWayne Peevy.
Jaylen Brown’s outstanding play in July has him holding down the No. 2 spot in the new 247Sports rankings for the 2015 class, updated today. Fellow UK target Cheick Diallo moved up from fifth to third, behind Brown and LSU commit Ben Simmons, the top prospect. Malik Newman and Ivan Rabb round out the top five.
Other UK targets:
11. Brandon Ingram
12. Carlton Bragg
14. Antonio Blakeney
16. Diamond Stone
17. Stephen Zimmerman
20. Derrick Jones
23. Skal Labissiere
24. Caleb Swanigan
50. Doral Moore
Charles Matthews, once a top 15 player in the class, is all the way down at No. 58. UK’s lone commit in the class has been in and out of action all summer with an injury.
Skal Labissiere is one UK’s top targets in the 2015 class. Memphis leads for the 6’10″ power forward, but Cal has made him a priority in recent weeks, watching him play at Minnesota this past weekend and Vegas this week. Yesterday, Labissiere told CBSSports.com that he’s considering playing overseas for a year before declaring for the 2016 Draft, following in Emmanuel Mudiay’s footsteps. Earlier this week, Mudiay signed a contract with a Chinese professional team for $1.2 million. Labissiere admitted “that’s is a lot of money,” and going overseas is now one of many options on the table.
Because Calipari is the best at turning elite prospects into NBA Draft picks, there’s of course some negative recruiting going on, by both Memphis and Ole Miss. Parrish writes that Labissiere’s guardian, Gerald Hamilton, is pushing him to stay close to him–Memphis or Ole Miss–and both schools are playing that card as well:
Truth be told, Ole Miss and Memphis are both playing that card — that Labissiere enrolling at UK would separate him from Hamilton and open the way for William Wesley or Jay Z (or any number of folks, really) to swoop in and create a divide that could cost Hamilton what one industry source described as his “meal ticket” for a 501 (c) (3) organization he founded called Reach Your Dream. If avoiding such is important to Hamilton, the argument goes, then he better try to guide Labissiere away from Kentucky — not to mention UNC and Georgetown.
Memphis is a pretty heavy favorite, but never count out Cal, especially when he’s putting on the full-court press. However, the fact that Skal’s considering going overseas shows that Cal may have some international competition to go along with all the negative recruiting he’s facing these days.
Thon Maker is one of the most sought after prospects in the 2016 recruiting class and it’s likely it stays that way, says his guardian. According to an Australian basketball Twitter account, Ed Smith, the guardian, said it is “not likely” Maker jumps to 2015. It was reported he was considering it a couple of months ago and would wait to see how he fills out his frame.
This news may explain why Calipari was watching Skal Labissiere in Vegas last night when Maker and Brandon Ingram were playing against each other right down the road at the same time.
John Calipari bounced around Las Vegas last night to watch at least two of his top targets, at two separate events. First, we know he was at the Fab 48 Tip Off Challenge at Bishop Gorman High School, where he saw Skal Labissiere put on a show. Josh Pastner, who has seen every one of Labissiere’s games this July, was also in attendance.
Then he made his way over to the Adidas Super64 at the Cashman Center, about a 10-minute drive north from Bishop Gorman. That is where Jaylen Brown scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds in a win in front of Cal, Roy Williams and several others. Afterward, Brown told a UCLA blog there is “maybe a little truth” to a rumor that the Bruins are his leader.
Meanwhile, John Robic stopped in the Wednesday’s action at the AAU Nationals in Louisville. Robes is back again this morning to watch Antonio Blakeney.
Fort Wayne’s Caleb Swanigan is the latest high school senior to receive the ultimate prize: a scholarship offer to play basketball at the University of Kentucky. A top 25 player in the class, Swanigan shined at the Nike EYBL Peach Jam last weekend in front of the UK coaching staff, earning him the offer from John Calipari on Sunday.
An unofficial count makes Swanigan the 13th member of the 2015 class to receive an offer from UK. We know the others, so now it’s time we get to know a little more about Caleb in tonight’s ‘Meet The New Guy’ feature.
6’8″, 265 lbs.
Fort Wayne, Indiana (Homestead)
Top247: No. 29 overall, No. 5 C
247 Composite: No. 17 overall, No. 3 C
Rivals: No. 20 overall, No. 5 C
ESPN: No. 17 overall, No. 5 C
Scout: No. 12 overall, No. 7 C
Other offers include: Michigan State, Louisville, Indiana, Arizona, Kansas, Tennessee, Missouri, Georgetown
247Sports Crystal Ball prediction: Michigan State, 94%; Louisville 6%
He reclassified to the 2015 class in May.
Swanigan was a sophomore in high school last season as a member of the 2016 class but made the jump to 2015 to start the summer. He will turn 18 before graduating next May.
Slice Rohrssen told him to “go to work” at the Peach Jam.
Swanigan told Chris Fisher, “He texted me and said, ‘go to work at Peach Jam and do what you do.’”
Slice was on Swanigan early, back when he was an assistant back at Pittsburgh. Swanigan called him a good guy that is easy to relate to.
He went to work at the Peach Jam.
After posting 20 and 17 in his first game in North Augusta, Swanigan stole the show from Cheick Diallo and Thomas Bryant in the Thursday evening session. He went for 20 points and nine rebounds against the two top 20 players inside, adding a three-pointer at the buzzer in regulation to force overtime, followed by a three-pointer at the buzzer in overtime to force another. Both shots came off long inbound passes with only a few seconds remaining, leading Rick Pitino to make a Christian Laettner reference to Matt Jones.
Swanigan went for 15 and 15 in his next game on the second day of the tournament and that’s all we needed to see.
He thinks he would fit in at UK because he plays hard.
In the aforementioned conversation with Chris Fisher, he noted how hard kids play for John Calipari in Lexington. He said he believes he would fit in because he also plays hard.
He was invited to football camp at Alabama.
Before putting all of his focus on the hardwood, Swanigan was making a name for himself on the football field, too. He was getting some serious looks from several high major programs as an offensive tackle.
He’s lost almost 100 pounds since the 8th grade.
Once football became an afterthought, it was time to shed the weight and take basketball seriously.
He’s on Vine.
He played AAU ball with Trey Lyles and James Blackmon Jr.
Swanigan was a young contributor on last summer’s Spiece Indy Heat team that featured UK freshman Trey Lyles and Indiana freshman James Blackmon Jr. This year he did his best to step in and fill the starring role they left behind.
He’s a big fan of Kobe Bryant.
Maybe Julius Randle can have Mamba give him a call?
He begins USA Basketball U17 training tomorrow.
Swanigan is one of 36 players invited to take part in training for the FIBA U17 World Championships, beginning tomorrow in Colorado Springs. Several other UK targets will also compete for a spot on the team that will play in Dubai early next month.
And that, my friends, is Caleb Swanigan.
2016 shooting guard Malik Monk turned a lot of heads at last week’s Peach Jam. In fact, Monk was so impressive that John Calipari flew back to North Augusta Friday night after hanging out with LeBron James just to see him play. Monk, who picked up an offer from UK late last month, told the Herald-Leader’s Ben Roberts that Cal leaving LeBron to see him play shows him he wants him pretty badly: “He says that he wants me real bad,” Monk said. “And I can tell that he does.”
Monk responded, putting up 40 points, including some dunks that impressed even the most cynical of pundits. Monk says that since he picked up the offer from UK last month, he’s been talking to Calipari once a week. In fact, he said he’s already a UK fan, telling Roberts he watches all of UK’s games and is friends with former Cat and fellow Arkansan Archie Goodwin. Right now, the home state Razorbacks are a favorite in his recruitment, but probably not for long if Cal keeps up the full-court press.
Read more quotes from Monk at the Herald-Leader, and watch him work below:
After stealing the spotlight in a game against Cheick Diallo and Thomas Bryant at the Peach Jam, Caleb Swanigan picked up an offer from Kentucky and landed an in-studio interview with a Fort Wayne news station. 247Sports’ fifth-ranked center sat down with WANE yesterday to discuss his recruitment and the development of his game this summer.
Swanigan, who hit two buzzer-beating threes to force two overtimes against the loaded Team Scan, called himself “the best rebounder in the country.” See for yourself in the video below:
We’ll have a full profile of Swanigan on the website tomorrow.