Basketball Recruiting News
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 06th, 2019 @ 3:30pm
After a 29-0 start to the season, Keion Brooks Jr. and the La Lumiere Lakers came up just short in the GEICO High School Nationals title game, falling to IMG Academy by a final score of 66-55.
In his final game as a high school basketball player, the Kentucky commit finished with a team-high 15 points (6-18 shooting, 1-9 from three), five rebounds, and one assist in the loss.
La Lumiere (Ind.) defeated Bishop Gorman (Nev.) in the quarterfinals on Thursday, and followed it up with a victory over Cole Anthony’s Oak Hill squad yesterday afternoon.
In three games, Brooks averaged 17.7 points, seven rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game on a combined 48 percent shooting overall and 25 percent from three.
After the event, the 6-foot-8 forward was named to the GEICO Nationals All-Tournament Team:
#GEICONationals All-Tournament Boys' Teams
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (IMG)- MVP
Isaiah Stewart (La Lumiere)
Keion Brooks (La Lumiere)
Jaden Springer (IMG)
Josh Green (IMG)
— InsideTheLockerRoom (@ITLR_DMV) April 6, 2019
After watching all 100+ minutes of action with Brooks on the floor this weekend, here is a quick rundown of his biggest strengths and weaknesses:
- Spot-up shooting
- Scoring instinct
What impressed me the most about Brooks’ game is that he is a true grab-and-go threat on offense. With great instincts on the glass, the future Wildcat can grab a rebound, take it coast to coast, and finish over talented defenders. With a confident shooting stroke from mid-range and three, along with a knack for finding open lanes and easy baskets inside, he can put the ball in the basket wherever he wants on offense.
His shot obviously didn’t fall from deep this afternoon, but the mechanics are there and he has proven throughout the course of his senior season that he can be a consistent threat.
- Shot selection
Where Brooks struggled the most was when he tried to force the issue too much with the ball in his hands. Against quicker, aggressive guards, the 6-foot-8 forward had the ball stolen from him on numerous occasions both in the half court set and in transition. He’ll need to get that tightened up if he wants to play on the wing in college.
In terms of shot selection, he reverted to hero ball a bit when his team was down throughout the tournament. He would drive the lane and shoot over double teams or take unnecessary jumpers to bring his team back from behind. On Friday, it worked, as he scored several consecutive baskets, allowing La Lumiere to come back and win over Oak Hill. Today, it didn’t as the Lakers fell behind again, and unnecessary shots pushed the deficit even more.
While John Calipari has been recruiting Brooks to play a Kevin Knox role at Kentucky, I see him as a mix between Jarred Vanderbilt and Wenyen Gabriel. Like Vanderbilt, Brooks has phenomenal playmaking ability with the ball in his hands, but his smooth face-up shooting ability allows him to have a Gabriel-like impact from deep.
As a scoring threat from all three levels, Brooks will be able to make an instant impact at Kentucky. While he struggles with turnovers and forcing the issue a bit as La Lumiere’s primary ball handler and scorer, he’ll thrive as a third or fourth option in Calipari’s system.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 06th, 2019 @ 1:30pm
Back in February, 2020 five-star combo guard RJ Hampton announced on Twitter that he was down to five schools, with Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis, and TCU making the final cut.
Today, Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com spoke to Hampton’s father, who said the 6-foot-4 prospect out of Little Elm, TX is now down to four.
The hometown TCU Horned Frogs were dropped from contention, while Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, and Memphis remain in the running.
Hampton confirmed the report with a Twitter post of his own.
and then there were 4…
— 14 (@RjHampton14) April 6, 2019
To add even more intrigue to the situation, Hampton’s father said reclassifying to 2019 is still a “strong” option.
RJ Hampton’s dad tells me they’re at 4 schools now w/ Duke, UK, Kansas and Memphis and may cut to 3 soon. Reclassifying to 2019 is still a strong option. They will look at what PGs go to the NBA, including what Tre Jones does at Duke. Story coming later.
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) April 6, 2019
Sources tell KSR that if freshman point guard Ashton Hagans decides to make a jump to the NBA, the UK coaching staff is expected to make a strong push for Hampton to reclassify and join their 2019 recruiting class.
Hampton is close with Kentucky signee Tyrese Maxey, with sources telling KSR that the two have spoken about playing at UK together next season.
As Zagoria mentioned, Hampton will be monitoring Tre Jones’ situation at Duke and his upcoming NBA decision. As of today, the Blue Devils and the Wildcats are garnering the majority of the buzz, with Memphis hanging right in the thick of things, as well.
By Nick Roush on ©April 06th, 2019 @ 11:30am
A future Kentucky Wildcat is one win away from a National Championship.
Five-star small forward Keion Brooks and top-ranked La Lumiere will take on IMG Academy and future North Carolina Tar Hell Armando Bacon Jr. in the Geico National Championship today at 12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
In the semifinals against Oak Hill Academy, Brooks made 9-of-16 shots (2-for-5 from three-point land) to score a team-high 20 points. He added six boards, two assists and only two turnovers in the one-point win. A few of his best moments from the win:
VIDEO: From the #HZone15 to the HS national championship game, @KeionB_12 had 20 pts in the semis today to send @LaLuBasketball to the national title game vs. IMG Academy tomorrow afternoon! pic.twitter.com/zvLtD305AR
— Glenn Marini (@GlennMariniWANE) April 5, 2019
Through two games at the Geico Nationals, Brooks is averaging 19 points and 8 rebounds per game. He’s shooting 57% from the field and 42.9% from behind the three-point line.
Throughout the entire tournament, he’s had some support from the BBN in New York City. Blue always gets in.
— Keion Brooks (@keion_brooks) April 5, 2019
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 04th, 2019 @ 3:45pm
Kentucky fans will have their very first chance to catch Wildcat commit Keion Brooks Jr. in action since he made his big decision back in March.
At 4:00 p.m. this afternoon, Brooks will be playing on ESPNU as his La Lumiere squad begins their title run at the Geico National Championships in New York City.
Former Kentucky forward target and Brooks’ teammate Isaiah Stewart, a Washington signee, will also be taking the floor for La Lumiere.
If Brooks’ team wins their first game today, they will play tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2. From there, the national championship game is scheduled for Saturday at noon, which will be televised on ESPN.
Kahlil Whitney believes John Calipari can mold him into a basketball “legend” like LeBron James, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 30th, 2019 @ 10:45pm
After committing to the University of Kentucky in March of 2018 and repping the school for over four months, 2019 five-star small forward DJ Jeffries became the first recruit to ever decommit during the John Calipari era at UK on July 31.
Just over a week later on August 8, the Wildcats turned around and snagged a commitment from five-star small forward Kahlil Whitney, three days after he officially visited Kentucky.
At the time, many saw Whitney’s addition as a simple, yet solid replacement for Jeffries. He was the No. 19 player overall and the fifth-best small forward in the nation (247 Sports) at the time, fitting the mold of players Calipari has fallen in love with over the course of his time here in Lexington. An athletic freak with a knack for putting the ball in the basket in transition, he’s a perfect fit.
And according to Whitney, the feeling is mutual.
“The relationship I have with Coach Cal (is what sold me on finally committing), but Kentucky has always been my dream school since I was about seven or eight years old,” Whitney told KSR. “Coach Cal really coaches guys and gets the best out of them.”
But for the 6-foot-7 wing out of Roselle Catholic (NJ), he wants to prove he’s more than just a replacement for Jeffries. His dreams are infinitely larger.
He doesn’t just want to be a college star and a solid NBA draft pick. Whitney wants to become one of the greatest players to ever touch a basketball, and he feels Coach Cal is the coach to help him reach that level.
“I went to Kentucky to make my dreams come true,” he said. “Since I was a kid, I wanted to be a McDonald’s All-American. I made that happen. I’m just looking forward to the future because I want to make it to the NBA, but not just make it, I want to be an All-Star, a legend like LeBron, Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, all those guys. I knew what Coach Cal has done in the past, and I’m confident in him, and I’m pretty sure he’s confident in me and we can get that job done.”
So what does he bring to the table? Elite athleticism, a strong midrange game, and defensive intensity.
“Over the last year or so, I’ve been working a lot on my midrange game, shooting off the dribble, and getting my speed up,” Whitney said. “My athleticism is there, and I feel that my ballhandling, shooting the midrange off the dribble, and defending (are my best traits). Defending gets me going, when I take the ball from the opposing player, getting deflections and steals, and stopping them from scoring, that’s what gives me more confidence elsewhere.”
And what is currently holding him back from becoming the superstar player he wants to become in the future?
“Ball handling in tight spaces, reading screens, and being a better playmaker,” he said. “Those are the things I probably need to work on the most.”
To get a better feel on Whitney’s game, I asked his future Kentucky teammate, Tyrese Maxey, to give a scouting report.
First, what would he do to slow down the New Jersey native?
“If I was guarding Kahlil, I would make him take tough shots,” he said. “I think he likes taking tough shots for some reason, so I’d get up on him and contest it. You don’t want him running downhill because that’s when it gets ugly for you.”
But according to Maxey, the positives significantly outweigh the negatives. At Kentucky, he’ll be able to show off an extremely versatile game that his future point guard believes will separate him from the pack at the college level.
“He’s freakishly athletic and he’s very versatile. This week at (McDonald’s All-American) practice we’ve had him playing the four, and other times we had him at the two. That’s really good, man. He’s really strong and athletic, and he shoots it pretty well. I’m really excited to play with him.”
For Whitney, it’s not about being arrogant or setting the bar too high. He just doesn’t want to settle for average when he knows he’s capable of more.
“It’s just my competitive spirit,” he said. “I always want to win and I hate losing.”
He just has to get to Lexington first.
“Yeah, I’m definitely ready to get to Kentucky ASAP.”
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 29th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
Over the last several years, Kentucky fans have been fairly critical of the UK coaching staff for failing to seal the deal on some of the top recruits in the nation. National recruiting analysts say John Calipari’s magic wand is gone.
They’ve certainly been recruiting at an elite level, but the top-three prospects that flocked to Lexington every year to start the Calipari era are now either headed to Duke or staying home and playing for their local schools.
After starting his Kentucky career with the No. 1 recruiting class in six of his first seven seasons, including five consecutive (2009-2013), Calipari has been topped by Mike Krzyzewski and the Blue Devils in four straight years. They’ve still managed the No. 2 recruiting class in each of those seasons (and still could overtake the No. 1 spot in 2019), but the growing frustration in not bringing in players such as Vernon Carey Jr., Zion Williamson, RJ Barrett, and Marvin Bagley III, among others, is evident.
Outside of the consensus top-three players going to Duke, we’re also seeing players like James Wiseman, Anthony Edwards, Romeo Langford, and Dennis Smith Jr. saying no to the blue bloods and opting to be the big fish in a small pond at their hometown schools.
With these growing questions, I asked some of the players in the 2019 recruiting class who actually made these decisions their side of the story and whether or not the Big Blue Nation’s worries are justified. Is Kentucky “losing their touch” on the recruiting trail or is it simply a string of tough decisions that just didn’t swing their way?
On the flip side, I also asked future Kentucky Wildcats Kahlil Whitney and Tyrese Maxey their thoughts on the matter and why they felt UK was the best fit for them. Does that narrative put a chip on their shoulders when they get to Lexington?
Why not Kentucky?
James Wiseman (Memphis)
“I had a great relationship with John Calipari, he’s a great coach, he treats his players well, and he’s just a great mastermind at basketball. What led me to Memphis is just the fact that me and Penny Hardaway have a strong relationship, and that’s my guy. They’ve got an NBA coaching staff this year, they’ve got Sam Mitchell and Mike Miller, so I feel that I can develop tremendously under their wings. My game will change there.
“Kentucky has a lot of guys coming in, a lot of playmakers, so Calipari said we’d run a pick-and-roll system, go up and down in transition, stuff like that to get me going. An uptempo system. Kentucky is definitely a great school, but so is the University of Memphis. I just did what I had to do to better my family, really. And just me personally to develop my game.”
Vernon Carey Jr. (Duke)
“It’s just… I don’t know. I just feel like the recruiting class that’s coming in with Duke, I’ve had a great relationship with them. I knew Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney, but I didn’t really know them like that. It’s just the relationships I had with the teammates I have coming in with me in this class.
“But no, (that narrative) isn’t true at all. They still got Tyrese, Kahlil, and they still might get (N’Faly Dante or Isaiah Todd) to reclassify. So they’ll be fine.”
Isaiah Stewart (Washington)
“Kentucky is a powerhouse, they pump out pros every year. Coach Cal is definitely a great guy, Kenny Payne is a great guy, the whole coaching staff over there. They’re definitely a school that came into my recruitment late, but I still enjoyed the process we did have, the relationships we had and still have. It wasn’t really a specific reason why I didn’t pick Kentucky, it just felt that Washington was the best fit out of all of my schools. My relationship with Coach Hopkins, that stood out a lot, and I’m a relationship guy.”
Oscar Tshiebwe (West Virginia)
“It was a hard decision because I like Kentucky, and I love Coach Calipari. But I ended up at West Virginia because it’s the school I used to think about a lot (growing up). I like the way that they play at West Virginia, I like the coach, and I like the program. That’s why I ended up going there.
“Coach Calipari was saying, “I want to coach you. Come play for me. I’m going to help you, and you’re going to become a great player. I’m going to help you reach your dreams.” They told me a lot of good things. Kentucky was second (on my list).”
“To me, if you took an official visit to Kentucky and you see the actual work they put in, if you’re not the kind of guy that wants to come in there day in and day out and put that work in, I’m pretty sure it’ll run you away. When I saw that, I knew they were going to get me better, that Coach Cal was actually going to coach me. I’m coachable, so I know he’s going to push me to my limit, and that’s going to get the best out of me. When I saw how he coached Keldon (Johnson) and Tyler (Herro) these past (several) months, it really made me excited. I want to be coached. I want to be held accountable. I want to be pushed. That’s why I chose Kentucky.”
“I think it’s a trust thing. I really trust Coach Cal. I’ve seen his track record, and I feel that the (negative pitch from opposing teams) of not scoring or not getting enough shots, he wants to win. And that’s what I want to do. I want to win. At the end of the day, I want to win a national championship. Like I’ve been telling everybody, whatever it takes. If it takes me to get a rebound or block somebody out, I’m gonna go do it. And I feel that Coach Cal will put me in the best position for my future.
“Coach Cal, he came into my home, and he told me straight facts. He never lied to me, and I feel like he’ll get me to the next level. … Everybody says “Oh, Coach Cal is going to be yelling at you.” No, he’s going to be coaching me. He’s going to make me a lot better than I am today, and I already thank him a lot for that. Giving me the opportunity to come to Kentucky.”
The 2019 edition of the McDonald’s All-American Game is officially underway, and KSR is live from State Farm Arena to see it go down.
ESPN2 is broadcasting the game featuring two future Kentucky Wildcats, Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney, and two UK targets, Matthew Hurt and Jaden McDaniels.
We’ll be discussing everything going on and some of the leftovers from earlier in the week right here in our Live Diary.
7:13 – Jack
Welcome in, BBN. You guys can feel free to comment on anything that stands out tonight or ask whatever questions you may have about what has happened throughout the week with our guys.
7:16 – Jack
So far, the score is 25-15 in favor of the East squad. Maxey, Whitney, and Hurt are on the West, while McDaniels is on the East.
Maxey had an impressive floater to start the game, while McDaniels had a solid step-back three-pointer on the other end.
7:28 – Jack
Now that I’m settled in a bit, I’ll drop a few notes to catch you up on everything leading up to the game today:
- Traffic in Atlanta is always horrible, but it was absolutely ridiculous leading up to this event. It took me about 45 minutes to go about a mile and a half between my hotel and State Farm Arena.
- Finding the media parking was even worse. I went to three different structures/lots before I found the right place. They weren’t very helpful with directions, so most people here were left trying to figure it out on their own. Most people in the media room were complaining about it.
- Outside the media area there was a cloud of weed smoke, and it was coming from the “VIP Dressing Room.” Migos is the halftime performer today. Sounds like we’re in for a good time.
- The media food was absolutely delicious. Braised beef, cheese grits, and steamed broccoli. Big fan.
- The crowd is completely silent. I didn’t even realize the game tipped off when it did. Most of the lower bowl is filled, but they make the folks in the lower level at Rupp Arena sound like party animals.
- Jonathan Dunn of LEX18 drove from Raleigh, NC to Atlanta for this game after the UK women’s basketball team lost, and he’s pretty thrilled that we only get ten minutes with the Kentucky players after this game.
7:34 – Jack
Score with 3:25 remaining in the half is 52-40. There isn’t a boxscore available yet, so I have no idea who the leading scorer is. I think it’s Isaiah Stewart, but your guess is as good as mine.
7:38 – Jack
Just found stats. Maxey has five points, zero rebounds, and one assist. Whitney has zero points, zero rebounds, and zero assists.
Cole Anthony leads all scorers with 10, followed by Stewart with eight, and Hurt with six.
7:43 – Jack
HALFTIME: East leads West 60-49.
Time for Migos.
7:44 – Jack
Question by BBNSince93: ESPN showed on the screen that we are in the running for Trendon Watford. Is this a real thing or just an error by ESPN because he hasn’t been covered on this site at all?
Kentucky is not in the running for Trendon Watford. He has been considered an Alabama lean for a while, but now that Avery Johnson is out, I wouldn’t be surprised if he joins James Wiseman and Penny Hardaway in Memphis.
His brother is Christian Watford, so there’s also that.
8:02 – Jack
Migos performed at halftime, and they actually weren’t too bad.
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) March 28, 2019
Here was part of the performance, in case you were curious. pic.twitter.com/4M9kfgc4fO
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) March 28, 2019
Also, this might be in the running for picture of the year:
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) March 27, 2019
8:08 – Jack
Apparently Tyrese Maxey’s three didn’t make it on the ESPN broadcast earlier, they were showing a highlight instead. That’s just lovely.
It was an open three in the corner. Catch-and-shoot. Looked great.
8:12 – Jack
Comment from BLUE WHITE: Not very many alley oops or big plays so far.
It’s riveting basketball, lemme tell ya. Imagine doing a Live Diary on it.
8:17 – Jack
Tyrese Maxey just hit another impressive three, brings his point total to eight. Second on his team behind Wiseman.
Still waiting for a Whitney bucket.
8:19 – Jack
Maxey hits another three. He’s heating up. Leads the team in points with 11 now.
East leads the West 84-70.
8:38 – Jack
East leads the West 107-90 with 2:58 left. Fans starting to hit the exits.
Maxey is up to 13 points, and Kahlil Whitney just scored his first basket.
Precious Achuiwa (West) leads all scorers with 18 points and seven rebounds.
Maxey, Wiseman, and Robinson-Earl each have 13 for the West.
8:45 – Jack
FINAL: East defeats the West 115-100.
Tyrese Maxey ties for a team-high 13 points on 5-10 shooting and 3-6 from three. Also added an assist and two steals.
Kahlil Whitney finishes with two points and one rebound.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 27th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
While future Wildcats Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney compete against elite talent at the McDonald’s All-American Game this week, Kentucky’s newest addition to the class of 2019 is stuck back at home watching the fun from afar.
Five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr., who committed to Kentucky back on March 15, was selected to the Jordan Brand Classic, but was snubbed by the selection committee when the rosters were announced back in January.
Though Brooks Jr. is absent from the event, he is still a hot topic of discussion, specifically with those he is set to join in Lexington and one individual he will be leaving behind back in Indiana.
Indiana foward signee Trayce Jackson-Davis, Brooks’ former Indy Heat teammate and longtime best friend, said that while he certainly wanted Brooks to join him in Bloomington next year, the future Wildcat made a “great” decision for his future by opting for Kentucky.
“I think it was a great decision for him and himself, I know he’s been praying on it and working toward it for a while now,” he said. “He didn’t have a wrong choice (either way), but Coach Cal got a great player that’s going to do really well and fit their system really well.”
Jackson-Davis wanted Brooks to know that no matter where he decided to attend school, he’ll be successful either way. Stressing about it was unnecessary.
“I just told him that he can’t make a wrong choice, so there’s really no need to stress about it,” he said. “I knew he was going to make the choice that was best for his future. It was Kentucky, so I’m really happy for him and I’m really glad he made the right choice.”
After Brooks committed, he mentioned that he wanted Kentucky to add Indiana back on the schedule so he could go heads-up with Jackson-Davis at the college level.
When asked for a response, the Indiana signee said he would be all for it.
“That’d be fun, going against him, going against each other,” he said. “We played against each other when he was at La Lumiere, and those were always great games, so I’d love to battle with him.”
As far as what Brooks brings to the table and why Kentucky fans should be so excited about his addition, Jackson-Davis said that his versatility is a sight to behold. His weaknesses are minimal.
“Just how well he can stretch the floor and he’s a great teammate,” he said. “He always tries to make the right plays, he’s got a huge basketball IQ, things like that. He’s so explosive on the floor and can really guard anyone one through five.”
Five-star forward and former Kentucky target Isaiah Stewart, Brooks’ La Lumiere teammate, added that he is certain the 6-foot-9 forward will be a star in Lexington.
Why? He sees the work he puts in on a daily basis, and in his mind, players with that passion for greatness can never go wrong.
“He’s versatile, can do it all. Dribble, shoot, everything,” he said. “He can defend multiple positions. He’s definitely a good, good prospect. I feel like once he gets to Kentucky, they’re going to give him those tools to become a pro and hopefully become a one-and-done player. I’m very high on him because I see the work he puts in every day. I love what he does.”
As for Brooks’ future Kentucky teammate, Tyrese Maxey, he said he’s counting down the days to when he can finally suit up next to him in Lexington.
“I’ve been playing against Keion since the fifth grade,” Maxey said. “I finally got to play with him at a Nike camp. He’s really good, very versatile like Kahlil Whitney. He can guard two through five, shoots it well from the outside, he’ll bang inside. I really can’t wait to play with him.”
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 27th, 2019 @ 1:30pm
On day one of the McDonald’s All-American Game festivities, the players participated in an open practice, a brief media opportunity, and then the annual Powerade Jam Fest. To catch up on Monday’s happenings, you can see the rundown here.
On Tuesday, we had another competitive practice followed by Media Day and the official McDAAG Scrimmage in the afternoon.
We had a few interviews up on the site yesterday with Matthew Hurt and Jaden McDaniels updating their recruitments, and we’ll have more today from future Kentucky Wildcats Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney, along with a few other features you guys will be interested in.
For my day two notes post, I’ll be breaking down what I saw on a player-by-player basis in both the practice and the afternoon scrimmage.
Let’s take a look:
In my honest opinion, the conversation starts and stops with Kentucky signee Tyrese Maxey. I’ve seen him play several times in the past and have analyzed his film, but I was curious how that would translate on the basketball floor surrounded by the top 25 players in the class.
Not only did he succeed, he looked like one of the best players in the entire gym.
For starters, Maxey easily has the purest jumper in the class, and I really don’t think it’s debatable. Every time he lifted for a jumper, everyone around me (including NBA scouts) assumed it was going in. And if it didn’t fall, he’d get the ball back and never miss the follow-up.
Coming off screens, off the dribble, dribble hand-offs, isolation, and catch-and-shoot opportunities, the future Wildcat thrived at every level from a shooting perspective.
You can see below just how silky-smooth his release and follow-through is.
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) March 26, 2019
Outside of shooting, the future Wildcat is highly underrated defensively, picking up the opposition at 3/4 court on nearly every possession. He’s active with his hands, relentless on pressure, and attentive to the passing lanes. In terms of on-court presence, he’s extremely charismatic, a fantastic teammate, and a vocal leader. I never caught him without a smile on his face, lifting the spirits of his teammates or trash-talking the competition.
From everything I’ve seen out of Maxey, I will be utterly shocked if he’s not a 20-plus point per game scorer at Kentucky. He simply does everything. I get strong Brandon Knight vibes from him, with better potential on defense.
I had been hearing from a few people on the recruiting scene that Kentucky commit Kahlil Whitney had taken a significant step up in his game, specifically on the offensive end of the floor. He has always been an athletic freak with exceptional transition abilities, but his inconsistent jump shot has always limited what he could bring to the table. With a consistent perimeter game, he could be an unstoppable force.
In the time I saw him on Tuesday morning, at times, he looked like the star I had been told to look out for. At others, he looked like the raw athlete we saw last summer. The inconsistency was still there.
Overall, he had an average to below-average shooting day from three, but did impress in the mid-range game. His mechanics are there and he’s getting solid lift on his shot, so it’s entirely possible it was just a bad day. One thing I will note is that he tried to shoot himself out of his slump at times instead of finding easy shots at the rim or facilitating for his teammates, which is a habit he’ll have to toss aside at the college level.
He said in his media opportunity afterward that he was happy with where he was able to get on the floor and the space he created for his jump shot, certainly in high spirits about his performance and not worried about the misses. Confidence is there, which is a good sign.
As we’ve known for well over a year now, Whitney has great instincts in transition and continues to be a strong finisher at the rim. Yesterday, he usually made the correct decision on the break in terms of passing it off or going for the basket himself.
This was just one of those instances:
Kahlil Whitney with the punch! pic.twitter.com/DqDvY86NKY
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) March 26, 2019
If he missed a shot, he was great at following up his shot for the offensive rebound or quick to make up for it on the glass and on defense. He didn’t sulk after misses, he tried to impact the game in another way, which stood out to me.
Outside of shooting and scoring, Whitney was disruptive on the glass, though he needs to strengthen his hands when it comes to rebounding the ball. He’d put himself in fantastic position and out-jump everyone on the floor for the board, but would often fumble it out of his grasp. He also admittedly struggles a bit with dribbling in tight spaces, something he says he will work on before he gets to Lexington.
Defensively, he’s intense and is great at contesting longer offensive players. Energy is always high and stays that way throughout his time on the floor.
I’m excited to see how he plays tonight at the McDonald’s All-American Game and then again at the Jordan Brand Classic here in a few weeks.
With uncommitted 6-foot-9 power forward Matthew Hurt, he’s much different than he appears on film and in highlights. Online, he looks tall and lanky and relies on his jumper to fall to make an impact on the floor. Again, that’s no knock on his game, as he’s easily one of the best scorers in high school basketball, but I was waiting to see what else he can do.
In person, you can see the work he puts in off the ball, banging inside for tough rebounds and baskets, using his lower body strength to maintain position against stronger players. He’s skinny, but he certainly doesn’t play like it limits him at all.
From a shooting perspective, it took a while for him to find his groove, but he was able to find open looks and utilize his solid stroke time and time again. He’s impressive as a shooter from the perimeter, but his in-between game is just as fascinating. Hurt told me that Duke is recruiting him to play like Jayson Tatum, and I think he has the tools to bring a similar skillset to the table.
Hurt is an elite scorer and a strong rebounder, specifically with timing and spacing. He’s an above-average athlete and above-average to good defender. His game will translate extremely well to the college game for the (likely) one season he’s there… wherever he goes.
The Kentucky forward target is a true 6-foot-10, and he knows how to utilize it well from a length perspective.
With versatility to play anywhere from the three to the five, McDaniels thrives with the ball in his hands and in catch-and-shoot opportunities. His shooting stroke is very impressive for his size, using a unique combination of his ballhandling and length to create space for open jumpers. He draws Kevin Durant comparisons, and it’s obvious why.
He’s also much more explosive than I expected him to be, thriving on backdoor lobs and rising over shorter defenders for strong finishes at the rim.
In terms of weaknesses, he is extremely thin and gets overpowered in the post against most stronger opponents. If his team isn’t playing in transition and utilizing his strengths, he tends to disappear at times, especially if he gets off to a slow start shooting the ball. This proved to be a problem in scrimmages and other live drills, which isn’t necessarily a good sign for the college game. While he looked good in simple shooting drills and teamwork opportunities, he was overshadowed in game settings.
Goodness, gracious. This might be rubbing salt in the wounds of Kentucky fans, but James Wiseman proved yet again he is one of the most dominant players in the class of 2019. In fact, I strongly believe that he has the No. 1 pick locked up, and he hasn’t played a minute of college basketball yet.
While he didn’t have the best performance in the scrimmage on Tuesday afternoon, his morning practice appearance was one that left all scouts and recruiting analysts absolutely in awe at one point or another. At 7-foot-1, his length is just absurd, disrupting shots on defense and finishing on tough baskets inside with ease. He can catch lobs that seem impossible and bring the ball up the floor when he wants to. Oh, and he can shoot jumpers at a high rate.
He relies on the fadeaway jump shot far too often, but his ability to fight his way into the paint for easy inside baskets is second-to-none.
Stuff you can’t teach. Simple as that.
Though it was out of his control, James Wiseman is the one that got away for John Calipari.
Despite being a bit undersized, Washington commit Isaiah Stewart has been destructive in the paint all week long. He’s great at using his body to his advantage to create space and work his way inside for easy baskets. He was easily the most impressive player on the floor in the scrimmage on Tuesday afternoon.
Big fan of his game and think he’ll fit in well at Washington.
Former Kentucky target Oscar Tshiebwe was always a fascinating prospect to me, and for a while, I wanted Calipari to make a strong push for him.
After watching him in person, though, I actually think it might have been a blessing in disguise that the 6-foot-8 forward opted for West Virginia, at least from an immediate standpoint.
While he is a high-character guy and works hard, he is still an extremely raw basketball player. Tshiebwe has elite athleticism, but he’s undersized, has poor instincts on both ends of the floor, and he’s simply not the dominant brute I expected him to be. He gets lost at times and takes unnecessary contested shots in the paint right now.
While I think he will develop into an incredible talent at West Virginia in a few years, I just don’t see him being an instant-impact player in college, and that’s something Kentucky will need next year with PJ Washington and Reid Travis gone.
That being said, he’s a fantastic kid and I will be cheering hard for him in Morgantown.
While Jaden McDaniels remains mum on recruitment, Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney are making their presence known
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 26th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
It’s no secret 2019 five-star forward Jaden McDaniels is different from his peers. He has never been extremely outgoing, he’s not a fan of social media, and he really doesn’t like to participate in interviews.
While other prominent high school basketball recruits eat up the national spotlight and the celebrity life that comes with being an athlete, McDaniels actually shies away from it. It’s not that he’s arrogant and/or thinks too highly of himself, it’s just simply not his scene.
Despite being a consensus top-ten prospect, standing 6-foot-10 with elite guard skills, and drawing regular comparisons to NBA superstar Kevin Durant, McDaniels just likes being a “normal” kid.
And at the McDonald’s All-American Game festivities this week, he’s putting that on full display.
At practices, he laces up his sneakers and just goes to work. At the Powerade Jam Fest on Monday night, McDaniel cheered on his teammates, but always hung around the back of the crowd, never dancing or goofing off. During media opportunities, specifically at Media Day today, the Federal Way, Washington native was tucked away in a corner seat with an event staff member trying to keep traffic down to a minimum. He’s an extremely kind and genuine kid, but he’d rather have a basketball in his hands and show what he can do on the floor than talk about it.
Bombarded with questions on his eerily quiet recruitment this afternoon, McDaniels continued to add to the mystery by saying he had absolutely no update on where things stand. He has no timeframe on a decision, and really has no idea when he might come up with one.
“Just whenever I’m ready,” he said.
The final schools involved, as announced several months ago, remain the same.
“Kentucky, UCLA, Texas, San Diego State, and Washington,” McDaniels added.
When I asked about the Wildcats and why he’s so high on them, the 6-foot-10 forward said he would certainly love to play for a legendary program like Kentucky, but values his relationships with the coaching staff even more.
“Kentucky, I feel like it’s a big deal talking to them. It’s one of the best college programs,” he said. “Coach Cal and Kenny Payne, they keep it real with you. They don’t just tell you what you want to hear. Kenny Payne is always telling me “If this is what you wanna do, you’ve got to work for it.” So I feel that they are two dudes that people trust a lot.”
Part of the intrigue has to do with the fact that they are recruiting him exactly how he wants to be recruited. They’re not constantly showering him with calls and texts, asking the same questions over and over again.
“I keep in touch with Kenny Payne and Cal(ipari) every once and a while because they know how I am,” he said. “So they’ll check in or come to Seattle to see how I’m doing. … I like that they’re not overwhelming.”
No matter how much he favors the idea of sticking in the background and keeping to himself, he understands that it won’t always happen that way, especially at a social event like this.
He says that players down in Atlanta with him, specifically Tyrese Maxey (Kentucky), Kahlil Whitney (Kentucky), and Isaiah Stewart (Washington), are making their points known that he’s wanted at their respective schools, but they are making sure they’re being respectful about it.
“Every once and a while (they’re recruiting me to their schools) just for the fun of it,” he said. “But at the same time, everybody lets people have their space, being respectful, stuff like that.”
Kentucky signee Tyrese Maxey said that he maintains a solid balance of space and pressure with McDaniels. He limits the recruiting as much as he can out of respect, but when he does come, he makes sure to let the elite prospect know they can do special things in Lexington together.
“I know when someone has been annoying to me, so that’s why I only hit him up every now and then. Like if there’s a tweet that comes out or something that I see, when I see him in person I’ll just tap him and say “Big Blue Nation.” I try not to be overly annoying because I wouldn’t like that.”
Kentucky commit Kahlil Whitney said that while he understands both McDaniels and five-star forward target Matthew Hurt are quiet about their recruitments, he’s letting them both know that they can team up and win a national title in Lexington.
“I’m recruiting both Matthew Hurt and Jaden McDaniels,” Whitney said. “Those guys are pretty chill with their recruitments. But they’ll give me a couple chuckles, you know, I’ll tell them, “Hey, we can team up and win a national championship” and stuff like that. But they definitely tell me that Kentucky is a top option and we’re just waiting to see their decision.”
For Maxey, he knows that while adding both would be special, just one of those two options can take Kentucky’s recruiting class to the next level.
“Matthew Hurt or Jaden McDaniels. One of those two,” he said. “We’re gonna see what happens.”
Check out KSR’s entire interview with McDaniels below:
Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 26th, 2019 @ 7:30pm
Though Kentucky basketball’s 2019 recruiting class is rounding into form, John Calipari and the UK coaching staff are looking to close out their roster with just a few more key pieces. While most of the top recruits in the nation are signed, sealed, and delivered to their respective schools, there are a few prized prospects remaining.
One of those targets? Consensus top-ten forward Matthew Hurt.
Hurt, who told reporters on Monday that he will make a final decision on April 19, has said publicly on multiple occasions that he is down to six schools in his recruitment: Kansas, Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina, Minnesota, and Memphis.
At the McDonald’s All-American Game Media Day this afternoon, I spoke with Hurt about his recruitment and asked him what he liked about each of his finalists.
“I’ll start off with Kansas. They’re a great program, a great fanbase. I played for Coach Self for U-18 (Team USA) last summer, and it was a great experience. I got comfortable with it.”
“They’re recruiting me to be a Jayson Tatum kind of player, a high-rate three (point shooter), three or four for them. They tell me I can come in and help change the culture, we’d be really hard to guard (with the other talent coming in).”
They have a great recruiting class this year, and all of them want me to come with them. I like them a lot, I like everybody that is committed there.”
“(2019 five-star forward signee) Armando Bacot Jr. is really good. Me and him would be really good together I think.”
“It’s home. The home fans are great.”
“They’ve got NBA experience with Penny (Hardaway) and their assistant coaches. I think that’d be really good.”
While these are the six main schools he’s focused on, during today’s McDonald’s All-American Scrimmage, Matthew’s father, Rich, told the ESPNU crew that his son’s recruitment would come down to Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, and North Carolina, effectively eliminating Minnesota and Memphis.
While Kansas has been seen as the longtime leader and Duke has received recent buzz, I asked Hurt to elaborate on his thoughts on Kentucky and how they stacked up against the other contenders. While some have counted out the Wildcats in this race, the elite scorer wanted everyone to know that they are right in the thick of things and shouldn’t be counted out.
For starters, the 6-foot-9 power forward out of Rochester, MN said he’s extremely fond of Kentucky head coach John Calipari and his pitch.
“My relationship with John Calipari has been good,” he said. “He said he wants to coach me, he thinks he can coach me the right way. Push me to my limits, especially. I like that a lot because I want a coach that pushes me.”
Hurt specifically pointed out Kentucky forward PJ Washington’s progress this season as a major plus for the program.
In his mind, if things were to go south for him during his freshman year in Lexington, Washington showed that you can come back for another year of school and still improve your draft stock.
“Look at PJ Washington,” he said. “Maybe you don’t have a good first year, but his sophomore season he has done really well. I can be that kind of player.”
As for Kentucky’s current commitments/signees, they’re making sure Hurt knows he is wanted in Lexington during McDonald’s All-American Game festivities this week.
“They’ve all been (recruiting me hard), especially Tyrese (Maxey),” he said. “Me and him played together on a summer team last year, so he’s been hitting me up since last summer about Kentucky. And (Kahlil Whitney, Keion Brooks Jr., and Dontaie Allen).”
You can check out our entire interview below:
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 26th, 2019 @ 8:30am
McDonald’s All-American Game festivities tipped off yesterday, and future Kentucky Wildcats Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney made sure their presence was known from the jump.
The Wildcat duo, both suiting up for the West squad this week, got things started on Monday morning with their first practice, followed by a brief media opportunity. Yesterday evening, Maxey and Whitney each participated in the Powerade Jam Fest event, where they both turned heads.
Let’s dive right in.
With over 90 NBA scouts in Atlanta watching the top high school basketball players in America compete, both Wildcats participating this week let those watching know that they are two of the most impressive players in high school basketball.
For Maxey, it was his elite shooting ability and competitive nature that had onlookers fascinated.
Here are just a few of the reactions:
I’d say Kentucky commit SG Tyrese Maxey (@TyreseMaxey) caught all the NBA scouts eye’s this morning. A pure stroke in his shot, brings great energy on the floor, and is able to knock down jumpers from basically anywhere on the floor #MCDAAG. Potential one-and-done.
— Samad H. (@Mod_Hines) March 25, 2019
I love watching Tyrese Maxey. Kentucky fans are going to have so much fun watching him and his consistent energy on the floor. Just an infectious positive dude to be around.
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) March 25, 2019
Here is Maxey’s entire highlight tape from this morning, where his ridiculous shooting stroke separated himself from his peers:
As for Whitney, while his athleticism and defensive intensity is always the center of attention, his improved jump shot was also quite impressive.
Here is one look at it:
Stay tuned for our upcoming documentary on him called ‘The Year of the Dragon’ dropping after the Dance. pic.twitter.com/GT1869PU8U
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 25, 2019
And another look:
Kahlil Whitney from deep at McDonald’s practice… pic.twitter.com/RpqKcsvSGM
— Ben Roberts (@BenRobertsHL) March 25, 2019
As early as last year, Whitney had a Hamidou Diallo-like hitch in his shot that really hurt his ability to find consistency as a shooter. He has always been able to drive and finish in the paint, but opponents could neutralize him a bit on the floor by sagging off of him and forcing him to work from the outside.
Now that he has tweaked his form and has developed that muscle memory, he has truly become a threat on all three levels of the floor. Every time I watch him play (especially now) I see a more-advanced Jaylen Brown at this stage. Going into college, Brown was a low-30s 3-point shooter, and he followed it up with a “meh” 29.4 percent clip in his lone season at Cal-Berkeley.
In the NBA, though, Brown has shot 36.3 percent from three over the course of his career and has become just enough of a consistent threat to keep defenders.
If he’s even an above-average perimeter shooter at Kentucky, the rest of his game will more than make up for it.
As far as media availability is concerned, we only got about ten minutes or so for quick interviews after practice, so it’s slim-pickings with news (from yesterday, at least).
The biggest updates of the day, though, are as follows:
- 2019 five-star forward Matthew Hurt will make a decision on April 19, down to Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Memphis, and Minnesota. He’s still working on visits to Memphis and Minnesota, and he claims all six schools are on equal ground.
- 2019 five-star forward Jaden McDaniels still has no idea where he wants to go and has no timeline for a decision.
- Kahlil Whitney talked about how excited he is to get pushed to the limit by John Calipari in Lexington, says the elite competition makes him want to get on campus as soon as possible.
- Tyrese Maxey believes Kentucky is going to win the national title this year, says he thinks his group can make another run next year. Still recruiting a piece or two to close out the 2019 class.
As far as light-hearted content is concerned, Jake Rosen of JakeInThePaint.com sat down with Maxey and asked him about his favorite food, movies, music, and more.
You can check that out here:
Caught up with Tyrese Maxey (@TyreseMaxey) after the early morning practice. The future Kentucky Wildcat is a killer on the court and has a personality that leads people to gravitate towards him. He brings an elite package of energy, skill and leadership to the hardwood. pic.twitter.com/030w9Mqa4p
— Jake Rosen (@JakeInThePaint) March 25, 2019
With Media Day taking place this afternoon, we’ll have more time to talk with the players, where I’ll be able to ask more Kentucky-specific questions to those in attendance. Be on the lookout for that in a bit.
Powerade Jam Fest
After practice and media opportunities, we packed into buses and drove to Wheeler High School (EJ Montgomery’s former school) in Marietta, GA for the Powerade Jam Fest.
There, Maxey competed in the Legends and Stars Shootout, where he absolutely dominated the event.
After going 1/2 from the 3-point line (both shots looked good, if we’re being honest), the future Wildcat jogged over to the half-court line and drilled it in one attempt.
Take a look:
— HoopFocus (@TheHoopFocus) March 26, 2019
No one else came close. Maxey ran away with the easy victory in this one.
From there, Kahlil participated in the Slam Dunk Contest, where he unleashed his ridiculous athleticism.
On his first attempt, Superman cape and all, Whitney got Maxey to toss him an alley-oop off the backboard:
Kahlil Whitney gets help from future Kentucky teammate Tyrese Maxey on his first dunk attempt: pic.twitter.com/JdFWneeNUy
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) March 26, 2019
On his second attempt, Whitney went with the self-oop back-scratcher, where his entire head was above the rim.
On his second attempt, Kahlil Whitney gets his whole head above the rim: pic.twitter.com/5igqmHLt31
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) March 26, 2019
Maxey also helped out future Florida Gator Scottie Lewis in his insane dunk attempt:
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 26, 2019
This was the contest-winning dunk from Stanford women’s basketball commit Francesca Belibi:
Only the 2nd woman to EVER win the dunk contest ?
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 26, 2019
Overall, it was a fun event and the Cats looked impressive in the national spotlight.
Evening Media Opportunity
After the Powerade Jam Fest, Maxey, along with Belibi, five-star recruit Cole Anthony, and Notre Dame women’s basketball signee Samantha Brunelle, each talked to the media about their performance.
Maxey, in particular, talked about his Lewis jumping over him in the Dunk Contest, his favorite dunk from the night, and practicing specifically for the half-court attempt in the Legends and Stars Shootout.
Take a look:
Practice will be from 9:15 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. this morning followed by Media Day from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
I’ll have several updates with all the footage, interviews, and analysis you could ever need throughout the day.
See you then.
In less than a month, we’ll know where Matthew Hurt is going to college. The five-star forward told USA Today Sports that he plans to announce his college decision April 19 at his high school in Minnesota. He’s down to Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, and Kansas.
“My birthday is on April 20 so I’m gonna do it the day before,” said Hurt, who averaged 37 points and 12 rebounds a game this season. “I do not know where I’m going yet. The coaches have done a really good job of recruiting me; they haven’t been over the top with it, and I appreciate that. I can only pick one school, and I know that I’ll be happy with my decision in the end.”
Hurt is one of several top 2019 players, including future Cats Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney, in Atlanta for the McDonald’s All-American Game this week. Our own Jack Pilgrim has his boots on the ground and will bring you the latest from the practices and interviews today. Until then, check out what he was hearing on Kentucky’s chances with Hurt in last week’s Insider Notes.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 21st, 2019 @ 6:30pm
Looking for some pregame reading prior to Kentucky’s opening-round matchup with Abilene Christian in the NCAA Tournament tonight? I’ve got you covered.
Usually these go up on Monday evenings or Tuesday mornings, but with Keion Brooks Jr.’s announcement this past Friday and my mini post-commitment insider notes going live shortly after, I decided to push these back a little bit to let the dust settle on UK’s newest addition and what’s next for the Wildcats.
Let’s break it down.
Keion Brooks Jr. commits
In the middle of Kentucky’s matchup with Alabama in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals last week, the Wildcats picked up a commitment from 2019 five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr., and it’s one the coaching staff is absolutely giddy over.
To rewind just a bit, I genuinely thought there was zero chance Brooks would end up at Kentucky following Kahlil Whitney’s commitment back in August. They don’t technically play the same position (Whitney is more of a two/three while Brooks is a three/four), but it was close enough to where I figured the UK coaching staff wanted to go all in on the remaining true big men.
When I talked to a source within the program in early January, though, not only was I told that Brooks was still an option for Kentucky, it was made very clear to me that UK was one of the strong favorites to land him.
It’s no secret Brooks grew up dreaming of playing for his hometown Indiana Hoosiers, but that dream slowly faded when he watched Archie Miller’s group, led by Romeo Langford, crumble their way to the NIT this season. Brooks’ relationship with the coaching staff was strong, but reality set in that he likely wouldn’t have progressed the way he hoped for in his one or two seasons in Bloomington. He wanted to make it to the NBA early, but he watched Langford’s draft stock fall in his lone season. He wanted to play for something of substance in college, but he watched the Hoosiers miss the NCAA Tournament. It was the perfect storm for Kentucky to go in for the kill, as they could offer both things. That’s exactly what they pitched to the 6-foot-8 forward out of Fort Wayne.
When it comes to the actual decision process, sources tell KSR that Kentucky and Indiana were the only two schools seriously in contention over the last week and a half or so, with Michigan State having a shot over two weeks ago, and North Carolina also being involved a bit earlier. That’s how the unofficial cut process went down.
I’m told that when it came down to both schools, Brooks wanted to play with his friends at Indiana, but everything changed once his family and inner circle shifted toward Kentucky. When they said they wouldn’t mind driving down to Lexington for home games and felt he would develop better under Calipari, along with his impressive unofficial visit for the Kentucky vs. Tennessee game, his mind changed. It wasn’t a done deal, but it was enough for the Cats to take the lead, and they never fell behind from that point on.
When he announced his decision date, he knew he was favoring Kentucky, but wanted to give him some time to make a final decision. As the week of the decision came around, Brooks visited with both coaching staffs, and we still saw little-to-no movement on his leaderboard, which was good news for Kentucky. Things went quiet from Wednesday evening through late Thursday, and the official decision was made sometime in that timeframe. And then on early Friday morning, word leaked out that Kentucky would be the choice.
At 8:00 p.m., Brooks made it official.
With that, we can finally close the book on Keion Brooks Jr. and turn to Kentucky’s final few remaining targets in the class of 2019.
One of the most important? Five-star forward Jaden McDaniels.
While his final list consists of Kentucky, San Diego State, Texas, UCLA and Washington, most believe the decision will come down to the Wildcats and Huskies.
I’ve said in the past that things have been extremely quiet with him, but I will tell you that there has been a lot of Washington buzz as of late, with several recruiting analysts changing their predictions in favor of the Huskies. Though a lot of that might be educated guesses, there is genuine interest in McDaniels staying out west and playing with his friend Isaiah Stewart, a five-star center out of Fort Wayne, IN.
While I do believe Washington is a serious threat, and very well could win out in the end, I think that we’re still a week or two away from hearing any significant updates on his recruitment. Next week is the McDonald’s All-American Game, and with McDaniels selected to participate in the event, he will certainly be answering questions on his status. I will be there to get as much information on his interest in Kentucky as I can.
Just a few weeks ago, one source I trust flat-out told me Kentucky was not a serious option for the consensus top-ten 2019 prospect. The very next week, Calipari was up in Minnesota visiting Hurt and other recruiting analysts said the Cats were still one of the main contenders. It was admittedly an odd stretch.
We also reported here at KSR that there was worry from Hurt’s camp that Kansas, the perceived leader, was scaring them away a bit with their involvement in FBI rumors. I’m under the strong belief that any serious violations/sanctions found in that scandal will steer him away from the Jayhawks. With Bill Self possibly getting called to testify and more information leaking out of his school’s involvement, that’s looking like a serious possibility.
If that’s the case, Hurt will likely go through an entire second recruitment, where Kentucky will be one of the top options with Duke, North Carolina, and Memphis as the other strong contenders.
Like McDaniels, Hurt was also selected for the McDonald’s All-American Game, so I will be sure to ask about where Kentucky stands and when a decision might come. If you’re playing the odds, I wouldn’t expect a decision until all of the NBA decisions are made and the dust settles a bit on the FBI/college basketball trial. But you’ll have an update this time next week.
Beyond those two, there’s nothing really new on Isaiah Todd, N’Faly Dante, and the other reclassification candidates. I was also told Kentucky will explore the graduate transfer market if need be, but that’s only if the other options fall through and there is a perfect fit a la Reid Travis.
If you’ll remember, EJ Montgomery committed to Kentucky on April 9, while Travis didn’t officially commit until June 20. I’m told that while they do have their top options in place, we could see more opportunities open up once March Madness ends and players go through the draft process.
Kentucky wants at least one more frontcourt signee, and there are plenty of solid options out there to snag. Be patient with this one. After getting Brooks, anything else is icing on the cake.