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BB Recruiting

Basketball Recruiting News

Recapping recent basketball recruiting developments

John Calipari tweeted a picture of Mt. Rainier on Thursday evening and unless he’s taking a vacation to the Pacific Northwest it likely means he was heading to an in-home visit with Jaden McDaniels. It also appears Kentucky will meet with Keion Brooks this weekend, too. These are two names that were close to fan favorites in the spring or the beginning of summer, but haven’t been discussed with UK’s 2019 recruiting efforts over the last couple months.

So, what’s going on?

This seems like a somewhat bizarre development for Kentucky’s staff. UK has added Kahlil Whitney and Dontaie Allen last month and that seemed like it would end Kentucky’s chances with Brooks and McDaniels. And yes, McDaniels is more of a four than any of the other players, but he’s going to translate to a three at the college level and UK already has two wings committed in the class.

Stranger things have happened in recruiting but I don’t see a scenario where McDaniels or Brooks end up in Lexington for college. There’s more of a mystery around McDaniels, and it’d be silly to tell UK’s staff they’re wasting time in a recruitment, but I can’t imagine UK can do enough to land either player.

McDaniels claims to be wide open in his recruitment, and he did say that UK was his dream school (he later clarified that he currently doesn’t have a dream school and that he liked UK when he was a kid. Really wanted to drive that point home at Peach Jam that Kentucky was no longer his dream school), but Washington is in a good spot in his recruitment and surprisingly San Diego State is right there, too. His brother plays for the Aztecs. Kansas and Arizona are other blueblood programs that are in the hunt. As of today he doesn’t hold an offer from UK, but maybe that changed during the meeting.

The biggest thing I’ll be looking for out of this in-home visit is if McDaniels schedules an official visit to Lexington. Obviously if McDaniels never visits Kentucky then that means he’s not going to Lexington, but if my opinion is correct that UK is behind, an official visit could change things. It doesn’t seem like McDaniels is rushing to make a decision anytime soon, so that could be good news for the Cats.

In the summer when things started to quiet down with McDaniels I was told that UK was still talking to him “once or twice a week”. I’m starting to think that never really changed, but with McDaniels on the west coast, and UK landing two other wing targets, there wasn’t as significant as a buzz around McDaniels. UK has recruited other bigs harder than McDaniels, but it’s probable that Kentucky has been in contact all along, but did a solid job of keeping things underwraps. Or recruiting folks just missed it. I’m guilty of this because I haven’t mentioned McDaniels or Brooks in weeks.

We all know how calculated John Calipari is, so it’s fair to ask why he tweeted the picture that shows him going to the Pacific Northwest? Was he throwing us media folks a bone? Did he want the nation to know that he still thinks he has a chance with McDaniels? I’m still trying to figure out why Calipari tweeted the picture, but maybe he just wanted to share a pretty picture of Mt. Rainier.

Again, I don’t think the Cats have a chance with Keion Brooks (he seems like a heavy Hoosier lean), and I think it’s a longshot with McDaniels, too. But I also didn’t see UK visiting either for in-home visits and potentially bringing them in for official visits. This recruiting cycle is starting to remind me of 2015. UK had their top targets but slowly started to cast a wider net. It was a weird class that resulted in several head-scratching recruiting decisions. I don’t know if we’ll have as many head-scratching decisions, but the Cats are casting a wider net.

Make of that what you will. My opinion is that UK still feels good about a few big targets in 2019, but is putting some pressure on some targets. The Cats would like one or two bigs signed in the fall.


Calipari visits RJ Hampton, will have in-home visit with Oscar Tshiebwe next week

Calipari visits RJ Hampton, will have in-home visit with Oscar Tshiebwe next week

Kentucky head coach John Calipari is a busy, busy man right now.

He has already conducted in-home visits over the last week with James Wiseman, Vernon Carey Jr., Kahlil Whitney, Matthew Hurt, and Zeke Nnaji. He also hosted Wiseman for an official visit in Lexington this past weekend.

Today, he added to that list by meeting top-10 2020 prospect RJ Hampton at his home in Texas.

Hampton, a 6-foot-4 guard, tweeted out the following picture this afternoon:

And it’s not slowing down anytime soon.

2019 five-star guard Scottie Lewis will head to Lexington on an official visit this weekend, and Calipari will follow it up with an in-home visit with five-star big man Oscar Tshiebwe on Monday.

Stockrisers’ Jake Weingarten was the first to report the news:

In an interview with Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader, Rivals.com’s Eric Bossi said he leans Kentucky in Tshiebwe’s recruitment.

“He’s a guy who prides himself on testing himself against the best of the best and not running from competition,” Bossi said. “And that’s the sale that Kentucky tries to make with the guys they recruit: ‘You’re going to come here and be pushed against the best.’ I think when he visits they have a chance to make that resonate with him. And, for that reason, I lean toward Kentucky with him.

Many expect Tshiebwe to earn a scholarship offer from the Cats when he takes his official visit later this month. With Calipari coming to visit next week, however, he may feel it is time to extend the offer and try to push for a commitment.

For those keeping track at home, here are the remaining (announced) official visits for the coming weeks:

Scottie Lewis (Sept. 14)

Tyrese Maxey (Sept. 21)

Oscar Tshiebwe (Sept. 28)

Vernon Carey (Oct. 12)

Dontaie Allen (Oct. 12)

Just bring ’em all home, Coach Cal.


Hardly Committed E8: In-Home Visits and Todd Packer

During the week, Kentucky’s basketball coaches are visiting the nation’s top recruits.  On the weekends, the Wildcats are hosting the best of the best on official visits.  T.J. Walker is here to talk about it all on Hardly Committed.

This episode does not focus entirely on the 2019 class.  T.J. is joined by Jeremy Grubbs, the man who trained Keldon Johnson and is an assistant coach at First Love Christian.  Their conversation will prepare you for the impending battle between Johnson and R.J. Barrett.  After that interview, T.J. takes your basketball recruiting questions and goes to The Annex with Nick Roush to talk about “Sexual Harassment.” Highlights:

— The sudden emergence of Zeke Nnaji.

— T.J.’s already preparing for his Halloween Costume.

— The latest on Scottie Lewis.

— How does Big Blue Madness directly impact recruitments?

— Our first introduction to Todd Packer, big William Hung fan.

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


Rivals’ basketball recruiting predictions aren’t pretty for UK

Rivals’ basketball recruiting predictions aren’t pretty for UK

Kentucky already has commitments from Tyrese Maxey, Dontaie Allen and Kahlil Whitney, but there may just be one or two players left for the Cats according to Rivals’ four national recruiting analysts.

Dan McDonald thinks UK will land Vernon Carey.

Krysten Peek thinks the Cats will land Matthew Hurt.

Eric Bossi and Corey Evans think Kentucky will earn a commitment from Oscar Tshiebwe.

That’s it. That’s a wrap for five-star prospects in 2019 according to the Rivals’ staff.

No recruiting analyst picked UK to land two remaining five-stars and no one picked Kentucky targets James Wiseman, Cole Anthony or Scottie Lewis to UK.

That’s not good news, folks. But let’s remember a few things:

  • It’s a guessing game. While these analysts may have inside information on some recruitments, they’re guessing on most.
  • It didn’t include predictions for Aidan Igiehon or Zeke Nnaji, who aren’t five-star players but both are strongly considering UK.
  • Half the analysts thinking UK will land Tshiebwe is great news.
  • Let’s hope McDonald is correct about Carey, Peek about Hurt and Evans/Bossi about Tshiebwe. Boom. Dominant class.

In all seriousness, I wouldn’t get too worked up about these predictions. Wiseman, Anthony and Carey will all decide in the spring, and it’s unclear when exactly Hurt will pull the plug. They will certainly do a similar article like this in a few months and their predictions may change. All four do great work but you can’t be plugged in on every single recruitment.

I would put some stock in Evans picking UK for Tshiebwe. He’s been doing a great job covering that recruitment and seems to have solid feel on where things are going.

You can read all their predictions HERE.

Also, the fine folks at Rivals updated their 2019 rankings. Kentucky has two players in the top 10 with Kahlil Whitney jumping up to No. 7.

Despite a 16 spot bump, Whitney isn’t satisfied. You have to love his confidence.

Dontaie Allen dropped eight spots to No. 55.

You can see the rankings HERE.