In the wake of the NCAA’s decision to move the start date of the 2018-19 →
Basketball Recruiting News
As much as it pains me to say, based on the latest swath of predictions from national recruiting analysts, I don’t think we’ll get to see Zion Williamson suit up in blue next year. The common sentiment I’ve seen get tossed around among fans about Zion’s decision seems to be utter disbelief that a player as elite as him would attend a school that hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2011.
But don’t look now: Clemson is actually playing really good basketball at the moment.
Currently ranked 25th in the nation, and set to move up after an overtime win against Louisville yesterday, the Tigers are poised to make their return to the Big Dance in 2018. Even with a relatively weak schedule thus far, a 14-1 record at this point in the season is impressive, and we’ll get to see just how effective Clemson can be when they face Miami at home and UNC in Chapel Hill before Zion’s January 20th commitment.
The Tigers have 5 players who average double figures in scoring, including a pair of redshirt junior guards, Shelton Mitchell and Marcquise Reed, who score 12.4 and 15.9 points per game, respectively. They also lead the team in assists, combining for 110 thus far this season.
Clemson will return 3 of their starting 5 next season, with Mitchell and Reed being joined by 6’9″, 237 lb. forward Elijah Thomas, who averages 11.6 points and 8.3 rebounds on the year. One slot that will be coming available is that of 6’8″ senior forward Donte Grantham, a position ripe for a flexible forward like Zion.
So while the idea of Williamson playing with the potential trio of Quade Green, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Immanuel Quickley is salivating for Kentucky fans, it shouldn’t be overlooked that Clemson actually has a stable core of experienced contributors who would likely be happy to have such an elite talent stay home and join the team. And while I’d like to think a decision this monumental wouldn’t be swayed by just a few games, Kentucky has lost 2 of their last 5, while Clemson has won 10 straight, and for all we know, Zion could be looking for any reason to stay in South Carolina.
Regardless of the current situation, Coach Cal is still Coach Cal, the de facto NCAA ambassador to the NBA, and you can never count him out. But should Zion decide on Clemson… well, I guess I can kind of understand.
I’ll still be livid.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 04th, 2018 @ 4:00pm
Kevin Knox proved that recruiting experts can be way off with their predictions; however, buzz continues to suggest Zion Williamson will pick Clemson on January 20.
All four of 247 Sports’ recruiting experts — including Evan Daniels — say they’re hearing Zion will choose to stay home and play for Clemson, his stepfather’s alma mater.
“Since the news broke Wednesday evening that Williamson will announce on January 20th, nearly every recruiting call has yielded a conversation about the 6-foot-6, 275-pounder,” Daniels wrote. “In terms of where he might land, nearly all of the talk has centered on Clemson. I can’t say that I think he’s definitively going to Clemson, but they are certainly getting all of the buzz.”
Jerry Meyer has Kentucky as his Crystal Ball pick, but is inching closer to changing it.
“Even when talking with reliable sources, I hear a variety of combination of schools who might land Williamson. Only one school has been a constant among my sources and that is Clemson.”
How are the folks in Lexington feeling? According to Matt, not great.
After talking to folks in Lexington today, I get the sense “Zion to Clemson” buzz is real. The Jan 20 decision date has led to pessimism. 2 weeks a long time but Clemson is now (for the first time) my pick
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) January 4, 2018
Ugh. Please pull a Knox and make us all look back at this and laugh, Zion.
Breaking news in the recruiting world: Zion Williamson will announce his college decision on January 20. He just shared the news on Twitter:
The date is set‼️ pic.twitter.com/BqzjJJpeiz
— Zion Williamson (@ZionW32) January 4, 2018
The five-star forward is down to Clemson, Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, and South Carolina, although most believe he’s down to the Cats and the Tigers. Last week, he said he was closing in on a decision, but recent intel from recruiting experts suggests home state Clemson has all of the momentum; based on that, the fact that his announcement is coming up in a few weeks doesn’t bode well for Kentucky.
Or, is he just trying to make Tyler Herro’s birthday extra special?
— Tyler Herro (@raf_tyler) January 4, 2018
We’ll find out soon enough.
Kentucky commit Tyler Herro has had an amazing start to his senior season, but after suffering a calf injury, he’s now out two to three weeks to recover.
Herro strained his left calf Wednesday night in Whitnall’s 54-33 loss to Waunakee. Thankfully, the injury isn’t as bad as first anticipated. His dad told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel they thought Tyler tore his Achilles from the way he went down, but thankfully, it’s just a strained calf muscle. He’ll be in a boot for a week and then start rehabbing.
So far this season, Herro has scored 30+ points in five of his team’s nine games and is averaging 26.9 points. Here’s hoping he gets healthy and gives us more highlights like this soon:
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 27th, 2017 @ 5:10pm
When will Zion Williamson make his decision? According to him, sooner than you may think.
The five-star phenom posted a new blog entry for USA Today High School Sports today and said he feels “the time is coming” to decide where he wants to go to college.
“I honestly feel like I’ll be making a decision soon. I’ve been really thinking here lately about the pros and cons and I just feel like the time is coming.
I won’t say that I feel pressure, but the fact that I have to actually pick one school is starting to be more real in my mind.”
Zion has been sidelined with a foot injury the past few weeks, but plans to be back in action in January. Clemson has had the momentum for the Spartanburg native in recent months, but he said the time off the court has allowed him to focus on his college decision and “grow mentally.”
“I’ve been watching all of the schools recruiting me on TV a lot and I watch the players in my position and how the schools use those guys; just doing my homework on everybody.”
I didn’t realize Clemson’s games were televised on anything other than ACC Network Extra. Good for them. For more on Zion, check out his blog at the link below.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©December 22nd, 2017 @ 11:00am
In case you haven’t heard, Kentucky is the heavy favorite for the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2019, James Wiseman. And there have been rumors spreading for months that he could be reclassifying and joining UK’s class of 2018 for a potential superteam next season.
In early December, Wiseman told reporters at the Marshall County Hoopfest that a move to 2018 “wasn’t an option” and that he didn’t even know where these rumors were coming from.
According to SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker, however, there are still whispers of Wiseman reclassifying to 2018.
He has said he will not. But I continue to hear rumblings that such a move is far from off the table. And as of this moment — two days after UK assistant Tony Barbee was courtside for Wiseman’s game at a holiday tournament in Florida — I’d still give it a 50 percent chance of happening.
And he brings up an extremely valid point. This past offseason, top 2018 recruits Marvin Bagley III and Jontay Porter told reporters constantly that they wouldn’t be reclassifying, even playing through the summer AAU circuit when other 2017 signees were making their way to campus. Within a few weeks of summer AAU championships, they both “surprisingly” made the jump to 2017 and were both deemed eligible to play this season.
Tucker reports if you reclassify to the prior recruiting class, you are ineligible to play in the AAU summer championships, hence why Bagley and Porter kept it a secret for so long. With Wiseman’s Memphis East AAU team being a national powerhouse with a legitimate shot at the EYBL Championship, he could be keeping it quiet so he can help his team win at the Peach Jam next summer before making his way to Lexington.
Considering John Calipari has yet to offer another big man in the class of 2018, even with five-star center Moses Brown essentially begging for an offer from Kentucky, the theory seems plausible.
Here’s just one reason the Kentucky staff and the rest of the top coaches in America are so high on Wiseman:
6’11 junior James Wiseman (@BigTicket_JW with impressive back-to-back possessions at both ends of the floor showcasing why he is the No. 1 prospect in the @espn 60 rankings ft. high school prospects in the Class of 2019#east high school is playing #webstergrove live on #espn2 pic.twitter.com/9pGbS7FGT7
— DraftExpressContent (@DXContent) December 15, 2017
And a few more reasons:
Having Wiseman in the class of 2018 would make for a monster recruiting class, but as long as he’s here sometime in the next two years, I think the Big Blue Nation will be happy.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©December 17th, 2017 @ 9:30pm
High school basketball season is finally kicking into full gear, and we’re already seeing why Coach Cal fell in love with Kentucky’s three early signees.
Keldon Johnson, Tyler Herro, and Immanuel Quickley are all putting on shows, with some pretty impressive highlights to prove it.
Johnson finished with 31 points and ten rebounds this afternoon, including some pretty ridiculous dunks. Check it out:
Kentucky commit Keldon Johnson, a 6-6 wing out of Oak Hill Academy (VA), posted 31 points & 10 rebounds in their win over Lancaster. 👀 pic.twitter.com/WZj51zkWUq
— SLAM HS Hoops (@SLAMonline_HS) December 18, 2017
Tyler Herro has already had games of 42, 34, and 43 points this year. Just two days ago, he dropped 31. Here are some of his early highlights:
— UK Basketball (9-1) (@BBNation15) December 18, 2017
Immanuel Quickley recently returned from injury/illness, and he’s already turning heads this season, as well:
— ImmanuelQuickleyFans (@QuickleyFansBBN) December 10, 2017
In case you missed it last week, Quickley went in-depth with SLAM Magazine to talk about John Calipari and how excited he is to play at Kentucky next year. Check it out:
— SLAM Magazine (@SLAMonline) December 13, 2017
The Cats have three unbelievable talents signed, sealed, and delivered for next season, and it’s only going to get better from here.
Next stop: Zion Williamson.
Following Kentucky’s 93-86 win over Virginia Tech, John Calipari made the trip to New Castle, Pennsylvania to watch Kennedy Catholic’s Oscar Tshiebwe. Tshiebwe is a 6’9 Power Forward from Hermitage, PA and a member of the Class of 2019. Hermitage is just east of Youngstown, Ohio.
Calipari is watching Tshiebwe against Sewickley Academy. He is currently still awaiting a possible offer from Kentucky, but does hold offers from West Virginia, Georgetown, Clemson, Oklahoma State and others, but Duke and Virginia have expressed interest recently. Here is a view of Calipari from the game:
Here is a look at Tshiebwe:
Calipari could also show interest in 3-star Kennedy Catholic guard Maceo Austin. The 6’4 member of the class of 2019, Austin just recently picked up an offer from Virginia. Currently 24/7 Sports predicts that both will go to West Virginia, but you can never count Cal out. Here is Austin in action:
Kentucky’s top target in the Class of 2019 is showcasing his talents on ESPN2 right now as James Wiseman and Memphis East take on a team out of Missouri. Wiseman is the No. 1 overall prospect in his class and there is some talk that he could reclassify to 2018 and commit to Kentucky this spring.
In the meantime, Big Blue Nation is left hoping Wiseman makes that jump while marveling at his game whenever we’re able to see him, like tonight. So do some of that marveling now via this clip of the Memphis big man blocking a shot on one end and busting a three-pointer from the top of the key on the other.
6'11 junior James Wiseman (@BigTicket_JW with impressive back-to-back possessions at both ends of the floor showcasing why he is the No. 1 prospect in the @espn 60 rankings ft. high school prospects in the Class of 2019#east high school is playing #webstergrove live on #espn2 pic.twitter.com/9pGbS7FGT7
— DraftExpressContent (@DXContent) December 15, 2017
Get on over to ESPN2 to see more Wiseman on national TV. Maybe you’ll see a lot more of him around this time next year when he’s playing for Kentucky?
Want to check out one of Kentucky’s most coveted players in the 2019 class? Tonight at 7 p.m. James Wiseman’s Memphis East (Tenn.) will take on Webster Groves (Mo.) on ESPN2, giving you the perfect chance to do a little Thursday night scouting.
Memphis East is currently ranked number one in the country, and, as you can see above, is coached by Penny Hardaway. Because Wiseman also played for Hardaway on Team Penny in the EYBL, he was ruled ineligible for this season at Memphis East, but yesterday, was granted a temporary injunction so he can play for the time being.
There were some rumblings Wiseman might reclassify to 2018, but he shot those down last week. Regardless, Kentucky is still the clear favorite for his services, which is an excellent thing because he’s very good at basketball.
|Power Forward||6-11 | 216 lbs.||Memphis, TN||East High/Team Penny|
|ESPN: 1 | 1 PF||Top 247: 4 | 2 PF||Rivals: 2||Scout: 2 | 2 PF|
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©December 14th, 2017 @ 9:00am
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One step closer to Virginia Tech
The Hokies may not be the marquee non-conference opponent we all had hoped for, but the closer we get to Saturday’s game, the more excited I am to see how the Cats respond to their potent offense. We’re used to seeing Kentucky overwhelm opponents with its speed and athleticism, but Virginia Tech is one of the rare teams thus far capable of keeping up. Plus, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s cousin plays for them and he’s very good.
ICYMI, Kentucky offered Matthew Hurt
There was a lot of news last night (most of the Louisville variety), so you may have missed John Calipari extending a scholarship offer to Matthew Hurt, the fifth-ranked prospect in the 2019 class. Clearly, watching Hurt drop 48 points Tuesday night made an impression. UK has now handed out eight offers in the 2019 class:
- PG: Tyrese Maxey
- G: Bryan Antoine
- SG/SF: Scottie Lewis
- SF: D.J. Jeffries
- SF: Keion Brooks
- PF: Vernon Carey
- PF: James Wiseman
- PF: Matthew Hurt
The Music City Bowl Gift Suite looked awesome
Yesterday, the football team got to choose their bowl gifts from the Music City Bowl gift suite, which included HDTVs, Yeti Coolers, recliners, gaming consoles, and pretty much any cool electronic you can think of:
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) December 14, 2017
Which gifts would you have chosen?
Did you see the end of the Wisconsin/Western Kentucky game?
The Hilltoppers would have gone to overtime with Wisconsin if not for this terrible call by officials:
— FOX Sports Wisconsin (@fswisconsin) December 14, 2017
Rick Stansbury had every right to be furious. I’m furious.
The football podcast crew is reuniting this morning to tape a new podcast, and later today, the OTT Podcast crew is tackling yet another bracket to determine the Worst Christmas Song ever. I know you’ve got feelings on this, so feel free to share them in the comments.
ICYMI, new episodes of the Funkhouser Situation and the Free Money podcast dropped yesterday, so refresh that KSR Podcast feed.
Anyone else seeing Star Wars: The Last Jedi tonight?
I’m tagging along with my husband and friends to check out the latest installment of the Star Wars series. I’m far from a Star Wars nerd but I enjoyed The Force Awakens, and the people watching should be spectacular. Plus, popcorn.
Shoutout to Brandon for repping KSR on the cliffs of Ireland
— Brandon (@brandonpatt) December 14, 2017
I hope you warmed up with a nice pint of Guinness, Brandon.
Radio in an hour. I have a feeling they’ll mention Rick Pitino once or twice.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©December 13th, 2017 @ 7:30pm
On Tuesday night, five-star forward Matthew Hurt dropped 48 points and nine rebounds with John Calipari and Joel Justus in attendance.
Just a day later, Kentucky extended a scholarship offer to the No. 5 prospect in the class of 2019.
Matthew Hurt scored 48 points tonight in front of Kentucky coach John Calipari and UNC coach Roy Williams. Hurt, a 5-star 2019 forward from Rochester John Marshall, is expected to get a Kentucky offer soon. He already has one from UNC. Video from @SeanTehanABC6: pic.twitter.com/5Qo8N5wjHb
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) December 13, 2017
The talented forward out of Minnesota also holds offers from Kansas, North Carolina, Duke, Louisville, and just about every other big-name program in America.
“I’m very honored and blessed (to get an offer) because they’re a great program and Coach Cal is a great coach and it’s an amazing feeling, really,” Hurt told Evan Daniels of 247Sports.
Hurt told Daniels that Kentucky’s track record with one-and-done prospects certainly helps their chances in his recruitment.
“They have great one-and-done players, Coach Cal does a great job with that,” Hurt said. “The culture is great, but especially they have great one-and-done players and that’s what I’m trying to be right now. They are definitely up there.”
Watch him work:
Come on down, Matthew.
On his radio show last night, John Calipari said he might do a little recruiting today, and now, we know who he’s going to see. According to ZagsBlog, Cal and Joel Justus will check in with Matthew Hurt, a 2019 forward from Rochester, Minnesota. North Carolina’s Roy Williams, UCLA assistant David Grace, and potentially coaches from Duke will see Hurt today as well.
|Power Forward||6-9 | 199 lbs.||Rochester, MN||John Marshall|
|ESPN: 5 | 2 PF||Top 247: 6| 3 PF||247 Composite: 5 | 3 PF||Rivals: 5|
Hurt took an unofficial visit to Kentucky back on September 29, but has not been given a scholarship offer yet. That could change soon. Here’s what ESPN has to say about him:
“Hurt is long and very skilled power forward with very good athleticism. He has a high basketball IQ and feel for the game. Hurt is an excellent shooter in and around the lane and has range to the arc. He can also score in the post on duck ins and can put the ball on the floor and straight line drive. He can pick and pop or roll and can score very well in either case. Hurt does a good job of moving without the ball within the halfcourt offense. He runs the the floor well and can finish above the rim on the break. Hurt is a good area rebounder as well.”
On Friday, he scored 38 points, and followed it up with 46 points and 17 rebounds on Saturday:
By Jack Pilgrim on ©December 08th, 2017 @ 8:00pm
Every year, there is an elite recruit that is deemed a “lock” to end up at Kentucky. A lot of times, there are two or three. In fact, all three of UK’s 2018 signees were all Wildcat locks almost immediately after receiving their respective scholarship offers.
For last year’s recruiting class, five-star guard Trae Young was just about as guaranteed to end up at Kentucky as anyone we’ve seen in the Calipari era.
In interviews, he raved about the program and the coaching staff. Most recruiting analysts had him penciled in as UK’s starting point guard for this season without thinking twice. It just made too much sense.
There were rumors Coach Cal was willing to accept his commitment at any time for several months, but Young never pulled the trigger. Eventually, Quade Green earned a scholarship from Kentucky and developed massive interest in the program, and the first to commit got the roster spot.
Several top recruits were outspoken about wanting to play with Green, as he was seen as a leader and a better floor general than anyone in the country. Young, on the other hand, was seen as a ball-dominant volume shooter, and it has since been confirmed that recruits did not want to play with him for that reason. Calipari put the full-court press on Green to commit, and he finally did. Young eventually landed at Oklahoma, where he could be the No. 1 option and put up as many shots a game as he could ever dream of.
In an interview with Matt Norlander of CBS Sports, Ray Young, Trae’s father, confirmed the talented scorer was just about guaranteed to end up at UK, but “things didn’t work out.”
“He was going to Kentucky or Kansas,” Ray Young said. “It wasn’t even that big of a debate for a while. Once he got the offer from Kentucky, it’s like, ‘Dad, Coach (John) Calipari just left our house.’ I would never say it was a done deal because we really liked Coach (Bill) Self a lot, and being around the coaches at Oklahoma and Coach Kruger, but there was no way he was not going to go to Kentucky, for about six or eight months. That’s the thing people don’t understand. He really wanted to go there but things didn’t work out.”
There were recruiting whispers that Young wanted to play with five-star talent Michael Porter Jr., with some saying they were the ever-popular “package deal.” Porter, however, eventually committed to Washington, a school Young had little interest in. From there, Young-to-Kentucky was full speed ahead.
“Michael Porter was never going to Kentucky,” Ray Young said. “For the longest time Trae and Mike wanted to play together. When Michael Porter Sr. got the job at Washington, we strongly considered Kentucky. Things changed, we started watching both teams (Kentucky and Kansas) and looking at things a bit differently.”
Norlander also interviewed Trae Young about his decision, who simply said if UK was the place that made him the most comfortable, he would be a Wildcat.
“When you go to the next level you want to feel comfortable,” Young said. “If going to Kentucky was best for me, I would’ve done that.”
Funny how things change.
Seeing plays like this, I think I’m just fine with Kentucky’s roster situation.
Like, Trae Young had three separate points here where he could have blown by this poor defender stuck in a switch. He was just like “nah, I’m just gonna mess with him for 10 seconds then pop a 3 from 23 feet. pic.twitter.com/Ohcd6xAtDD
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) November 29, 2017
I like my team.
John Calipari headed up to New York a little early to do some recruiting. According to Pat Lawless, Calipari and Tony Barbee are at Archbishop Molloy in Jamaica, New York tonight to watch 2018 center Moses Brown and 2019 point guard Cole Anthony.
|Center||7-1 | 241 lbs.||Briarwood, NY||Archbishop Molloy/New Heights|
|ESPN: 17 | 2 C||Top 247: 27 | 3 C||Rivals: 13||Scout: 13 | 2 C|
Calipari has yet to offer Brown, but Kentucky’s interest in him picked up considerably once the staff figured out Bol Bol was headed to Oregon. With few big man options in the 2018 class and the possibility of Nick Richards going pro after his freshman year, expect Brown to stay on Kentucky’s radar, as evidenced by tonight’s visit. Luckily, his dad told the Herald-Leader Kentucky is his “dream school.”
Watch him square off vs. Bol Bol in the video below: