Kentucky picked up three commitments during the Friday Night Lights camp this past weekend, two →
Basketball Recruiting News
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.
Some good news (from my perspective) on the UK basketball front from Scout.com. The website is reporting that 2015 Big man Caleb Swanigan received an offer from Kentucky today, a big development for the star player. Swanigan had a GREAT Peach Jam and was one of my favorite players during the event. He played against Cheick Diallo and had the better of the matchup and it was that performance that may have pushed Calipari over the top. Michigan State has been the considered leader and Indiana/Louisville are also involved. But with Kentucky in the picture, things may change for a guy with lots of talent and a frame that is ready to compete right away in major college basketball.
KSR’s annual trip down south for wings, more wings and AAU basketball provided the opportunity to see several of the high school juniors and seniors John Calipari is eyeing this summer. We’ve known the names and YouTube clips of UK’s targets for a couple of years now, but the July recruiting period is always our chance to see them play in person, and this year was one of the best.
As you know, Matt, Tomlin and I attended the first day of the AUU Finals in Atlanta on Wednesday, followed by two days of basketball at the Nike EYBL Peach Jam in Augusta. We did our best to watch every UK prospect at least once, catching big names like Diamond Stone, Jaylen Brown, and Stephen Zimmerman. We did not, however, lay eyes on Charles Matthews or Malik Newman, two guys we were hoping to see. Newman made the trip but did not play due to injury.
Now that we’re back home and saw what we needed to see and ate the wings we needed to eat (and the ones we didn’t), I took some time to rank the players based on their performances in the games I attended. I’ll say that again: these rankings are based on the games I attended. So before you disagree with me in the comments section, remember, these rankings are based solely on the games I attended. It’s a very small sample size, just one or two games per player, so don’t put a ton of stock in how I number them below.
1.) Malik Monk
Shooting Guard, 2016
I knew very little about Malik Monk before following John Calipari (fresh off his visit with LeBron) to Court 4 on Friday night, where Monk scored 40 points against eventual Peach Jam champion Team Penny. Monk’s 40-piece came on 14-for-20 shooting from the field, including 6-of-10 from downtown.
Currently the third-ranked shooting guard and sixth overall in 247Sports’ 2016 rankings, Monk made a strong case for being the best player in the class. He is an unstoppable scorer, whether it’s attacking the rim off the dribble or shooting from outside.
Watch the highlights from that 40 point effort below:
2.) Jaylen Brown
Small Forward, 2015
As good as Malik Monk was, it still took some serious thinking to put him above Jaylen Brown. I should call them 1a and 1b in the rankings, because Brown was just as impressive. The 2015 small forward target dunked, dunked, dunked, dunked and then dunked again in the Wednesday evening game in Atlanta. Robic sat against the wall under the goal, smiling from ear to ear with each new explosive highlight reel play.
In a class with longtime UK priority Malik Newman and several elite post players to choose from, Jaylen Brown may be UK’s new biggest target. He is the real deal.
3.) Tyus Battle
Shooting Guard, 2016
A teammate of Cheick Diallo, Tyus Battle was Team SCAN’s consistent offensive weapon all weekend. The class of 2016 target can score in a variety of ways and he showed some hops with a couple of flashy dunks in transition. I think he benefited from Diallo and Thomas Bryant drawing attention inside, but I’ll give him the third spot here anyway. He earned it with one of the dunks.
4.) Caleb Swanigan
Who? Caleb Swanigan. The big guy went up against two top 25 players in Diallo and Bryant and he outplayed them both. His big night in front of the UK coaching staff included a buzzer-beating three to send the game to overtime, followed by another three at the buzzer to force a second overtime. I believe he had 20 and 10 in the game.
UK has been in contact and interest likely picked up after he stole the show at the Peach Jam.
5.) Diamond Stone
The No. 1 center in the class had his hands full in his first game of the Under Armour event. He drew the task of going up against Doral Moore, another highly-touted center with an offer from Kentucky.
Stone played well but not great, showing flashes of what we’ve long heard about his game: that he is a very skilled post player. However, he settled for long jumpers on too many possessions, rather than using his big frame to get inside and put that offensive skill set to work.
He did finish with 18 points and 12 rebounds, the better numbers in the head-to-head matchup with Moore, but Stone was blocked by Moore with a minute left in a tie game that led to the deciding basket on the other end. He turned it over on the final possession with a chance to tie.
Still, I saw the potential and why some are comparing him to a young DeMarcus Cousins.
6.) Cheick Diallo
Power Forward, 2015
I caught two of Diallo’s games, and though he didn’t blow me away offensively, I see why Slice loves him and was courtside for his every move. Diallo is a high-energy guy that is going to go after every rebound and challenge every shot. He took very few plays off, a rarity in an AAU showcase game, and played great defense, also rarely seen at this level.
There is a lot for Diallo to work on offensively, but his motor is second to none. Kid’s a competitor and he’s strong, two things you can’t teach. The offense will come.
7.) Doral Moore
The aforementioned Doral Moore did not post outstanding numbers against Stone — eight points, one rebound — but his length and athleticism was on display in the win against the higher ranked center. Moore blocked a couple of shots and altered several others after opening the game with two midrange jumpers, something I didn’t expect to see in his game.
He has room to improve in several areas and needs to add some muscle, but he has the potential to be a Willie Cauley-Stein clone if he puts in the work. He has that rare athleticism and bounce for a 7-footer.
8.) Stephen Zimmerman
Other than being the tallest guy on the court, Zimmerman didn’t show me a ton of game to back up his high ranking in the two or three games I saw. He has good hands and a soft touch, but most of his points came from gifts down low, right around the basket. Word is he can score from the high post but I didn’t see any of that. Maybe it’s there, but he didn’t use it. I wasn’t overly impressed.
9.) Ivan Rabb
Power Forward, 2015
Rabb, a teammate of Zimmerman, also failed to shine. Like Zimmerman, most of his points came from close range. I thought he could’ve done a better job using his size and strength to grab more rebounds and put himself in position to get more opportunities offensively. He could’ve been more active on both ends, in my opinion.
That being said, he’s big, strong and athletic and will make one college team very happy when he arrives on campus.
10.) Derrick Jones
Small Forward, 2015
Jones is super athletic which makes his performance in the game we saw super disappointing. He didn’t do a lot of scoring, in part because his teammates weren’t giving him the ball, and all of the high-flying dunks we had heard about were absent. I’m chalking this one up to a bad afternoon, although his skinny frame is also cause for concern. He’s all bones right now.
So there ya go. That’s a rundown of what I saw on the KSR scouting trip. Now let’s go out and get Jaylen Brown immediately.
Stephen Zimmerman was one of the prospects Cal watched over the weekend at the Peach Jam, and according to Rivals’ TJ Walker, Zimmerman gave Cal a little test on Wednesday night. If you recall, Cal was at the ESPYS that night, and once Zimmerman saw him on TV, he texted Cal to see if Cal would check his phone during the show. He did.
“I saw him at the ESPYs last night and I texted him to see if he would reply to me and he did, so that was pretty cool,” Zimmerman said. “I wanted to see him pick up his phone on TV because I saw him sitting behind a couple people. I was too slow though, but he replied to me, so that was pretty cool.”
Cal flew in to watch Zimmerman and other top prospects the next morning, which the 2015 big man said was “big” considering he was in LA the night before (according to Matt, Jaylen Brown was also impressed with Cal’s jet-setting recruiting style).
Zimmerman just cut Louisville from his list, and plans to visit Kentucky on October 17 for Big Blue Madness. He’s also taking official visits to North Carolina on October 3 and Kansas on October 10. Head on over to Rivals to read more of his quotes about the Cats.
At the UAA Finals in Atlanta, Malik Newman told reporters that the package deal between him and Diamond Stone was still on, only for Diamond Stone to say it was 50/50 about an hour later. This morning, Newman tweeted that Stone will announce his decision before he will, and for the first time, said they may not pick the same school:
My boy committing before me…wish him the best of luck… @Diamond_Stone33 don't mean that's the school I'm going to tho…
— malik newman (@iammaliknewman) July 21, 2014
Stone will announce his decision on National Signing Day in November, and it was expected all along that Newman will wait until the spring. Both players have offers from Kentucky, but it seems Stone is leaning more towards UConn these days. Hopefully, Newman implying that the package deal is pretty much over means he’s looking elsewhere…like Kentucky.
It has been a heck of a week around the KSR Compound, with Week four of the KSR Tour, a trip to recruiting events throughout the South and a big UK Football recruiting weekend in Lexington. All in all, it felt like this was the week where we kicked it into high gear for the upcoming season and I for one am ready. Throughout my travels, I have been catching up on reading and while I have gone through some very good books (like “Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen), some interesting ones (like “This Love is Not For Cowards” about a soccer team in Juarez, Mexico) and some decidedly mediocre ones (“The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair” may be a world sensation but is decidedly blah in translation), none have held my attention like the tremendous book centered around Hurricane Katrina called “Five Days at Memorial.” The book follows the aftermath of the Hurricane at one of New Orleans’ largest hospitals, Memorial, a facility that was submerged in water and cut off from the rest of the city. For five days, it was without power in a hellish situation that is almost unfathomable to imagine in modern-day America. The doctors and administrators of the hospital were forced to make decisions that literally determined who died and who lived as they waited for rescue missions that came too few and too far between. It is a fascinating story, not just for the sadness around their plight, but the awful decisions human beings had to make and the ramifications for their choices. While it gets bogged down a bit in unnecessary details, I still HIGHLY recommend it to everyone. It isn’t light summer fare, but it is important and one of the more thought-provoking books I have read in some time.
And with that Oprah recommendation, lets get on to a few thoughts on the weekend:
— We spent most of last week watching UK Basketball 2015 targets at the Peach Jam and Under Armour Finals. It was a great trip for the oddity of the events, which Drew and Tomlin have both outlined on here…and below are links to their other stories to get a feel for specific guys we saw and games. There is a ton of coverage. However my quick summary of UK’s targets are as follows:
JAYLEN BROWN: My favorite player I saw all week. Along with Ben Simmons (who is going to LSU and is a stud…go ahead and assume he is the first pick of the 2016 NBA Draft), he was the most impressive guy we watched in any game. His athletic explosiveness is special…as with Simmons, he is the only guy currently out there with “WOW” potential on the basketball court. He has the ability to get to the rim on anyone, is a solid defender and can dunk as good as I have seen in high school in some time. His has a pretty outside jumper, although he missed it often in the two games we saw. Nevertheless, he is my current 2015 Calipari “Must-Get”…take him and I will be happy with most anything else. I expect in the end, it will be Kentucky or Kansas.
ANTONIO BLAKENEY: The other guy whose stock rose mightily for me this week. A quick guard who can fill it up from outside and would be a perfect compliment to Brown in a backcourt. I love the way he can drain from the outside with a hand in his face, a rare skill for even good shooters in high school. Calipari has fallen for the kid too, offering him earlier this week and taking the thunder from Louisville (where it was expected he would go). This will be a UK/UL/Florida recruiting battle and I like the Cats’ chances…and I love the amount of threes he would drain in Lexington.
BIG GUYS: Here is the thing about the big guys in the 2015 class…there are a LOT of good, skilled ones with talent. But there are no (in my eyes) GREAT ones. The three best players in the class are, to me, Simmons, Brown and Newman. The big guys each have strengths and weaknesses and if Kentucky gets any of them, they will probably be ok. Diamond Stone is ranked highest, but is very inconsistent and doesn’t look like the #1 guy in America to me. I think he ends up at UCONN, depending on if the “package deal” thing works. Ivan Rabb is #1 on ESPN but while he has moments of splendor and is crazy athletic, he also disappears and can be a forgotten man on the court…not a good sign for a star. I like Chieck Diallo a lot and he played better as the week went on, but his offensive game needs work. It is clear UK likes him a lot, as Slice watched every minute he played. Caleb Swanigan impressed this weekend and may get a UK offer (he is between Michigan State and Indiana). He looks 35 but is very skilled and has a huge body…not sure why he isn’t ranked higher. Doral Moore also doesn’t have a UK offer and wants to go to Kentucky. He is slightly awkward, but played Diamond Stone to a draw and will probably commit to the Cats if they offer. The best big I saw in my mind was Stephen Zimmerman, who is the least athletic of the group, but probably the most skilled. In an AAU setting, a big man like him rarely shines, but he was always around the basket and finished well, even while getting mugged (referees don’t call fouls for big men in these games). All of these guys are impressive in their own right, but none are polished. If Calipari gets one or two of them he will be fine (don’t forget Thon Maker, who is 2016 but may reclassify and didn’t play this weekend), but don’t get hung up on rankings. I liked Stone probably less than all the others and he is ranked the highest…this big man group is truly a “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” bunch.
2016 GUYS: Now here is where I get excited. Two guys that will be HUUUUUUGEEEEE talents next year are Tyus Battle and Malik Monk and Kentucky is sitting well with both. Each guy has an athletic “next gear” that simply could not be matched. Battle was on a better team and shared the ball well with Diallo, while still doing a move that caused a certain coach down the road to say “Damn that was something.” Monk may have been the story of the camp, filling up the score sheet with huge point totals and ball-handling displays that had the crowd dancing like it was a “Streetball” exhibition. There are a lot of GREAT guards in the 2016 class and these are two…if UK gets one, watch out…if they get both…well then go ahead and start booking 2017 Final Four reservations (how is that for looking ahead?)
For more on the Peach Jam, check out these stories we posted from the weekend and Tomlin’s wrap-up a couple of posts down:
Daniel Orton played this weekend…he has gotten rather large
— On the football side of things, this was a massively successful recruiting weekend for UK football. The Cats picked up three commitments, two in the 2015 class and one for 2016, all three of which were big gets. Marcus Walker is the most obvious good news, as the 4 Star Safety did what is rare…recommitted after decommitting just recently. He picked the Cats over Florida and getting him is huge for UK’s Secondary. They also added Kei Beckham, a recruit that not only is very talented, but was also plucked away from Louisville and West Virginia (two schools that UK seems to beat consistently for players). Stoops added 2016 in-state talent Zy’Aire Hughes, and could get big Offensive Lineman George Brown soon. But most importantly, the weekend showcased an unbelievably good vibe around Kentucky football. The players and recruits were all tweeting about what a great time they were having, new recruits talked about visiting and the vibe coming out of Lexington was unbelievably positive and exciting. The Football Cats are now in the Top 20 in the Class rankings and continue to get better and better. This weekend, combined with the DC commitments just a week or so ago, have Kentucky football sitting pretty in recruiting heading into the Fall.
Scotty Too Hotty knew what was up
— We also got some basketball team news for this season as Calipari made clear he is VERY excited about what he sees from this team. After an absurd weekend of flying back and forth to recruiting events and Lexington, he returned on Saturday night and the entire team was in the gym playing pickup. He wrote about excited he was to see that energy and you could sense at the Peach Jam that Calipari is extremely motivated for this season. On Thursday night, while Drew, Tomlin and I hung out at the coaches’ hotel bar (where you can see some crazy stuff as the coaches/media let their hair down), Calipari and his staff sat a table by themselves on the other end of the restaurant, eating a late dinner and talking about the team. At one point, Seth Greenberg (a friend of Calipari) even joked to him, “hey Cal! It’s only July”…but Calipari and his group are focused and ready to go…partially because they are so excited not only at the talent on this team, but also the work ethic…add those traits and experience, and next year could be special.
— Finally, Lexington was abuzz Friday night with LEBRON IS IN TOWN tweets, texts, snapchats, etc. Lebron came to see his son play at the KBA and in addition to the awesome video of the two of them (which is below a few posts down), his presence got UK fans excited. Calipari flew back into Lexington to see him (Calipari gets it) and the place was packed with onlookers to see King James. Lebron told a person I knew there that he “loves Lexington”, but Lexington also loves the stir of Lebron in town…he left without Calipari, which is what we all hope also happens next summer as well. You can’t have him Lebron, sorry.
The Tour is back at it tomorrow in Owensboro as we have our Western Kentucky swing, with stops in the Boro, Morganfield, Madisonville, Hopkinsville and our first trip ever to Paducah. Come see us at the stops below and enjoy the festivities. Until later, have a good start to your week:
MONDAY, JULY 21ST: OWENSBORO
3232 Villa Point (Just off Highway 54)
Owensboro, KY 42303
TUESDAY, JULY 22ND: MORGANFIELD
101 W. Main Street
Morganfield, KY 42437
WEDNESDAY, JULY 23RD: MADISONVILLE
1055 Crossing Place
Madisonville, KY 42431
THURSDAY, JULY 24TH: HOPKINSVILLE
2910 Fort Campbell Boulevard
Hopkinsville, KY 42240
FRIDAY, JULY 25TH: PADUCAH
BW3′S brought to you by IMAC Regeneration
2916 James Sanders Boulevard
Paducah, KY 42001
Earlier, John Calipari tweeted out a picture of himself in Minnesota with Hillary Clinton at an event, causing fans to speculate why he was there and a few to blow their gaskets in our comment section. Well one reason for the trip was to see 2015 UK Recruit Skal Labissiere. Skal has been forgotten a bit since he played in the less known event in Minnesota instead of the big two in Georgia/South Carolina. But the Cats are fighting Memphis for his services and he is one of the eight or so big men that Kentucky is following. As with the others (I will have more on this in the night post), Skal is hard to differentiate as a talent from the rest of the group…he is raw but has skills and is very athletic. Most people believe Memphis leads (his Crystal Ball right now is 86% Memphis) owever Calipari wants him and depending on how things fall, you never know.
On paper, if you’re a practical person — and even if you’re a practical person who is a gigantic basketball fan — you can’t deny that the prospect of watching four days of non-stop high school basketball seems daunting. When I say “non-stop,” I really do mean “non-stop,” as in “there is little to no break at all in games throughout the day.” Many times, at these tournaments, the very second the final buzzer blows the next team is pushing themselves quickly out on the court to get a precious few minutes of warm-up in before the next game immediately starts. The team leaving the court and the team coming onto the court practically mow each other down. It’s that constant. There are no breaks.
I personally have a fairly average-to-healthy interest in recruiting and I still think all that basketball sounds like a heavy order. But a funny thing happens when you start making your way around an event like the Peach Jam or the UAA Finals: the atmosphere is so incredibly lit up that it’s very hard not to find yourself enthralled in the proceedings. Why wouldn’t it be exciting? You’re literally in the same building where the trajectory of several human lives may change in incredibly drastic ways. You’re present at the moment a coach notices a player – that very same moment during which the potential of a player’s life goes from the eventuality of being an insurance agent to the possibility of Summer League NBA ball. Dreams are made and crushed at events like these, and the feeling is palpable.
Another year of the Peach Jam and I’m starting to pick up a few things here and there. For instance:
-There’s a very odd “starter fan base” for a lot of these players, and a walk around the Peach Jam yields sightings of many pockets of young girls (think middle-school age) wandering among the players. I’m not saying there’s anything nefarious going on at the Peach Jam, and I certainly don’t have any reason to think there is, but it just seems very interesting to me — though maybe it shouldn’t, and I’m just being naive — that so many young girls are already here to start meeting these guys already.
-Some of the team names here are simply ridiculous. A few of the team names we’ve noticed over the past few days include:
Miami City Ballers
While many of these names do reflect the basketball culture in context to hip-hop right now — being part of a “family” or being seen as a “soldier” is very trendy right now. I don’t understand what “Juice All-Stars” means, but I’m fairly sure that the team name “Swilling Storm” is entirely based upon having chosen the wrong word, as “swelling” storms are a real thing but it makes very little sense that this team plans upon pouring large amounts of water or other liquids over their opponents, which is what their team name by definition would imply.
-It’s very possible to see a top guy have an off game (or two, or three off games). As I write this, footage from the Peach Jam is airing on ESPNU and their current list of the top players includes Ivan Raab as a number one prospect — but had you watched the game I watched, with me, we’d have easily agreed that we didn’t see much of the magic he’s so clearly displayed elsewhere. Ditto for Derrick Jones, when we saw him in Atlanta, and Cheick Diallo in North Augusta. It’s not like these guys are so extraordinary that they may not have bad days (though, admittedly, here would be a bad place and time for a bad day), but there are definitely times when the layperson might not see what the recruiting pros see.
-Speaking of recruiting pros, and I think I may have touched on this last year, it sometimes seems like the entire “recruiting analyst” career is one of the greatest boondoggle jobs in history. While it may help in evaluating and moving order around for, say, the top ten or fifteen recruits in the country, it would seem to me that numbers 30-100 are completely arbitrary. Kind of like Vegas oddsmakers, recruiting analysts set the excitement level for the big guys, of course, but I would challenge anyone to come here and accurately rank the next seventy without honestly being conscious that you were making a few random assignments here and there. But give these guys credit — they saw a niche (people who wanted to know what high school basketball recruits were doing and who wanted to have a system by which to rank them) and they filled it. We should all be very sad we didn’t think of it first.
-The North Augusta Hooters remains the quintessential place to see and be seen. From players to AAU coaches to NCAA coaching staff to media members, there’s no place else one should go during the Peach Jam than the North Augusta Hooters. Though we missed “bike night,” regrettably, it’s always one of the most enjoyable places to attend during this particular trip. From Jeff Goodman to Andy Kennedy, it’s a who’s who. Just hope you don’t end up at Alisha’s table, because she’s a terrible waitress. And possibly a liar.
Now, onto some of the recruits we saw, a brief recap:
Derrick Jones: Matt and I literally looked at one another and shrugged while watching him. Although I since understand, through the magic of Twitter, that we saw him have an off game and that after we left Atlanta his performance picked up, we didn’t see a lot of excitement out of this youngster — barring a very explosive attempted dunk that turned the place on its ear. If that’s the kind of thing he’s truly capable of, then I’m on board. We just didn’t see much of it.
Stephen Zimmerman: the big man from team Young Soldiers (Lebron’s former team) was very quick and agile and seemed to make a seamless contribution to his team without being flashy. His player IQ seemed high and his long arms were a lot faster than some of the other long arms at the Peach Jam. I believe we’d be very happy with a guy like him.
Ivan Raab: Raab is another player who allegedly picked up as the tourney went on, but what I saw of him certainly wasn’t negative. Raab needs to embrace his height a bit and find out how to use it to work the floor more, but his fluidity was impressive and he helped run his team well. He and Zimmerman had good chemistry even though it may be a longshot that they end up playing together in college. I’d love to see what a great coach could do with a guy like Raab, and his in-demand status these days means we’ll probably get that chance.
Jaylen Brown: Easily my favorite player I saw the entire week, Jaylen Brown looked like a one-man highlight real. Everything was crazy good, from his fundamentals to his many dunks. He’s just a really fun guy to watch and, while I sometimes float around these tournaments not getting attached to anyone because at this point they could end up anywhere, I walked away from Jaylen Brown honestly hoping we end up with him because he was a blast to see on the court.
Tyus Battle: Next to Jaylen Brown, Battle was one of the more impressive players I saw over the past several days. He’s fast, long and quick and he seems to have a maturity I didn’t notice in a lot of the other players I watched. I think whoever ends up with Battle is going to get a smart, astute shooting guard — and a good kid to boot.
Diamond Stone/Doral Moore: We saw these two play against each other, and though Diamond Stone has the more press (and probably should), Moore had the better game, ending it with a block on stone and forcing a Stone turnover. Still, I’d go with Stone over Moore, though Moore sure is tall at nearly 7’0.
Overall, it’s been a great five days on the road with Matt and Drew. The opportunity to see some of the nations top high school performers, the pageantry of the delicate dance between coach and recruit and the shoulder-rubbing of some of the biggest names and personalities in NCAA sports is always a fantastic time. The atmosphere is truly interesting and I hope I’ve adequately been able to transfer some of that to you this week. As for the recruits we saw, we’ll certainly see how they shake out over the next year, but there’s definitely quite a bit of talent out there to choose from at the moment — and hopefully with another strong UK season we’ll have the pull to get more than a couple. All will be revealed, to be sure.
ESPNU is airing the semifinals of the Peach Jam right now and the current game features two UK targets: Cheick Diallo and Tyus Battle. Their Team SCAN trails the Playaz at the half. Flip over to catch the second half if you want a look at two guys who may very well end up being Cats.
(I’m posting this via phone from Malone’s bar so I hope it goes up.)
When it comes to the name Malik, many Kentucky basketball fans have become accustomed to hearing about 2015 5-star played Malik Newman, who is a big target for Kentucky. One of the risings stars in the class of 2016 shares the same name, and you should expect to be hearing a lot about him in the future. Malik Monk is the 6th rated player in the class of 2016 and garnered a lot of attention this weekend at the Peach Jam, dropping 40 points in front of Coach Cal and Bill Self, among others. Calipari reportedly could do nothing but shake his head at some of the long range 3-pointers Monk was burying in one of his games last night. Calipari thought he was important enough to watch that he made the trip BACK from Lexington to Augusta AGAIN last night after hanging out with LeBron just to catch Monk in action.
Adam Zagoria reported earlier today that Kentucky has extended an offer to the 5-star shooting guard from Arkansas. Monk also already holds offers from the likes of Kansas, Arkansas, Florida and Baylor.
Check out some highlights from Monk’s impressive weekend:
Nike’s EYBL Peach Jam in North Augusta, South Carolina is the hottest spot in basketball recruiting every year. College coaches from all over the country fly in to watch the nation’s most elite high school basketball players in a five-day event, the biggest stage of the summer.
By now you know all about the participants and the coaches in town to watch them play, but unless you’ve been to the Peach Jam and taken in the whole scene, you don’t know anything about the many other faces in attendance. So today I present to you a KSR special: a behind-the-scenes look at The Real People Of The Peach Jam.
The Angry Parent
We all know “the angry parent” (if you don’t, you are the angry parent) and the loudest and craziest in the country gather here in Augusta for the Peach Jam. With the highest level of high school basketball comes the highest level of insanity in the stands.
The Assistant Coaches Who Are Overly Nice To Everyone, Hoping To Land A Better Job
This is a big weekend for the recruits, but it’s also a big weekend for that hungry youngster looking to climb the college basketball coaching ladder. Lowly assistants from the Vermonts, Furmans and Toledos of the world can be seen hobnobbing with head coaches of bigger programs whenever the opportunity presents itself. For example, I watched one aspiring young chap do everything but massage Bill Self’s shoulders as they sat courtside during the afternoon session. Self was not interested in the rook’s many attempts to strike up a conversation, but he wasn’t going away without giving his two cents about every player on the court.
The People Who Were Told To Not Stand In The Corner But Didn’t Listen
Fire Marshal, anyone?
The People Who Were Told To Not Stand In The Corner And Listened
Birdseye view of the action.
The Kids In The Lobby Who Need Supervision
Seriously, who is watching all of these kids? One of them threw a piece of a pretzel at me earlier. This isn’t free daycare. Get these kids out of here.
The Old Man Using The Gym Because It’s His Gym And A Basketball Tournament Won’t Stop Him From Getting His Wednesday Workout In
Maybe the most bizarre moment of the trip happened Wednesday in Atlanta when an old man walked out of the locker room in nothing but his briefs and a towel draped over his shoulder to watch the end of the game. I guess the Suwanee gym was still open to its regular members and he wasn’t going to let AAU basketball ruin his weekly routine on the StairMaster.
The Jersey Chaser In Training
Just as the Peach Jam is the beginning of a bright future for the boys in jerseys, it’s also the beginning of a lifelong thirst for the girls who like the boys in jerseys. Young groupies make their presence known outside the locker rooms.
The Fat Guy Carrying A Sweat Towel
One prominent head college basketball coach once told us there is always a massively overweight friend of every AAU program, standing in the corner near the bench, wiping his face with a sweat towel throughout the game. Coach K, I mean, that prominent head college basketball coach, was exactly right, too. There is always one Biggest Loser candidate in every gym, every game.
The Guys Who Think They’ll Strike Gold With A YouTube Video
Someone has to make all of those YouTube videos we watch religiously throughout the recruiting periods. You’re looking at the masterminds behind those videos, the guys who hope to get one with 100,000 views so they can pay rent.
The UK Fan
Go in any of the four courts, make one quick scan of the crowd, and I guarantee you you will find at least one Kentucky fan. Decked out in a UK polo or a ’12 National Championship tee, the UK fan is often here alone, further proving their dedication to the Cats. Ridge Runner, one of our favorite KSR commenters, makes the solo trip to the Peach Jam every year, although we missed him on Thursday.
Also, a special shout-out to the gentleman who watch Jaylen Brown, Diamond Stone and Doral Moore in Atlanta Wednesday night. I don’t know who you are, but you were cheering for the UK targets like they are already commits, and your enthusiasm did not go unnoticed.
The Blogger That Takes A SnapChat Of His Knee Because It Is Touching Tom Izzo’s Knee, When He Should Be Paying Attention To The Basketball Game That Is Right In Front Of Him
When “Slice” Rohrssen came over from Pittsburgh, one of the main objectives in his first few months as an assistant at Kentucky was to sway Cheick Diallo, a top 10 New York prospect, to join the Wildcats. Diallo is a 6’9, 218lb. PF and is ranked as the 3rd ranked prospect in the 2015 class by 247Sports. Kentucky had been recruiting Diallo some beforehand but Rohrssen was Diallo’s lead recruiter at Pittsburgh and combining Slice with the prestige of Kentucky has elevated the Wildcats into the race.
However, according to CBS Sports and their sources, Kentucky will have to make up ground on both Kansas and Iowa State to get Diallo to sign on the dotted line. Kentucky, St. John’s, and Pittsburgh are also involved. I would expect that Kansas, Kentucky, and Iowa State will eventually make up Diallo’s final three, and with Coach Cal’s recent track record with long, athletic rim protectors I would think they stand a pretty good chance.
In Slice We Trust.