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Hardly Committed E12: Big Blue Madness, Krysten Peek and Here Comes Treble

Before recruits descend upon Lexington for Big Blue Madness, T.J. Walker is back for another exciting episode of Hardly Committed.  T.J. tells you who will be at Rupp Arena this weekend after a candid conversation with Rivals’ Krysten Peek.  Later in The Annex, T.J. and Nick stay on the Halloween train with a discussion on “Here Comes Treble.”  Highlights:

— What went down during Oscar Tshiebwe’s official visit to West Virginia.

— That time Jaden McDaniels and Kahlil Whitney got into a scuffle.

— Two big 2019 recruits that could be especially impressionable at BBM.

— Who will be officially visiting UK in the near future.

— One Advantage for Dontaie Allen.

— What do we think of Erin and Nelly?

— Toby Flenderson: Big Creep.

— An acute Monster Mash observation.

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.


Insider Notes: We may know UK’s future frontcourt sooner than expected

IG: bigticket_j13

The USA Basketball Junior Minicamp concluded over the weekend and there was unsurprisingly plenty to talk about. UK commits Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney were there and did some much needed recruiting for the Cats, plus we have interesting news from some of Kentucky’s biggest targets in the class of 2019.

Let’s get to the notes.

Bigs:

Carey: He talked in Colorado about wanting to play with Isaiah Stewart or James Wiseman in college. He also said that he would like to decide in 2018 after initially planning to decide in the spring. We heard a few other players mention they may be announcing earlier than anticipated, but while Carey had mentioned the spring as his timetable he never seemed adamant about it. Both of these things are incredibly interesting and seem like positives for UK, especially wanting to play with Wiseman and Stewart.

What I found to be most interesting is that he said some pitches involve him being the guy on the frontcourt and others involve him playing with another star like he will be doing in the NBA. He admitted he liked the former pitch. Again, also great news for UK.

Wiseman: The five-star center seems almost certain he will make his college decision by the end of January at the latest, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he decides in November. The biggest news from this weekend with Wiseman is how he continues to say it’s not just between Memphis and Kentucky. He still has visits planned to Memphis along with Florida State and Vanderbilt, but I still think the Cats are the team to beat. I don’t blame Wiseman for reiterating that all five schools have a chance and I wouldn’t really expect him to say anything different, but people behind the scenes that know Wiseman’s recruitment have told me that UK has put in the most work and Wiseman and his family have a stronger connection to UK’s staff than any other. Then you mix in UK’s platform and available playing time, I think the Cats are in a great spot.

Stewart: There wasn’t a great deal of tell when it came to Stewart’s recruitment over the weekend, but the sooner we hear of a decision date the better for UK. He currently hasn’t set any other official visits and if that is still the case in a month than Stewart will likely either already be committed to Kentucky or the Cats will be the clear favorites when he does announce a decision. But, I’m hearing at least one other official is likely and probably two. That will change things for Stewart but I like where things stand as of today. One analyst that was in Colorado told me he was the best big.

Hurt: As we get surprised by new timetables for other recruits, Hurt doesn’t appear to be in any sort of rush. I love Hurt’s game and I think UK has done a good job in his recruitment, so nothing would surprise me, but I’m told there’s a lot of Kansas buzz after this weekend. Again, it doesn’t seem like there will be a decision anytime soon, and that’s good for UK and Hurt, but the connection Hurt and Bill Self made this summer being together for USA Basketball may be too tough to overcome.

So, how does it shakeout?:

I don’t know. If UK doesn’t currently lead for Carey, Wiseman and Stewart I think the Cats are easily in second. Second doesn’t mean anything in recruiting, but it shows the Cats are right there. Without using an inside source for this take- it seems like the odds would indicate that two of those guys end up at Kentucky. UK will be losing its entire frontcourt, a couple of those players have mentioned playing together and it would come as a surprise if UK misses on three out of the four.

Carey and Hurt will be on campus this weekend for Big Blue Madness. I know UK jokingly, but also serious, extended the invite to Stewart and Wiseman to also come and check it out, but Wiseman will be in Nashville checking out Vandy and it seems unlikely that Stewart returns to UK so suddenly when he’s still debating on taking other official visits.

This is a big weekend for UK’s chances with Carey and Hurt. I think the Cats can make up a lot of ground on Hurt and maybe extend its lead with Carey.

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tshiebwe:

He visited West Virginia this weekend and sadly I won’t hear more of the visit from folks close to Tshiebwe, including his coach, until later this evening or tomorrow. I’ll be sure to make a post based on what I’ve heard. Tshiebwe won’t return home until later this afternoon, so we don’t have much information at this point.

I was told the visit went well (drink) and that WVU was really pushing how long they have been recruiting him and how they have considered him part of their family for years. Of course Tshiebwe’s host parents are pushing WVU. They made the trip with him to Morgantown but skipped the trip to Lexington.

If Calipari can pull this one out it would be something special from a recruiting standpoint because the odds were stacked against UK from the beginning. I still think UK has a chance but I need to hear more from the official to WVU.

Whitney:

I was told by someone out in Colorado that Kahlil Whitney could go down as John Calipari’s best wing player. Ever. Better than Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who was the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft. Whitney’s growth over the last few months is incredibly promising and while we figure out the big situation in 2019 it should make Kentucky fans feel better knowing the backcourt and wing will be elite in 2019-2020.

Quick Hitters:

Cole Anthony: He will being visiting Oregon this weekend. Notre Dame, UNC and Oregon have landed visits from the best point guard in the class. Two left for Anthony. If UK doesn’t land a visit there’s no chance, but I think it’s a longshot regardless if he checks out Lexington. It’s a bummer because he’s that good, but UK should be fine in the backcourt next season.

Keion Brooks: He will officially visit UK on 10/20 and I think I made a mistake somewhat moving on from this recruitment. Since UK missed on Scottie Lewis I’m told that Brooks is the next option for UK. They want to use him like a Kevin Knox (I don’t think it’s an amazing comparison FWIW, Knox was a much better scorer at this level) but both were incredibly long and Brooks is still versatile. I don’t think he ends up at UK, but the Cats have convinced him it would work.

Jaden McDaniels: He will visit San Diego State officially this weekend, where his brother plays. It’s his first announced official visit. A little piece of me is wondering if McDaniels will make all five official visits. Obviously he will have to officially visit UK for the Cats to have a chance. I don’t think he ends up at UK but they are giving him the same pitch they are giving Brooks and he’s receiving more attention after Lewis picked Florida.

Jeremy Roach: He will officially visit Duke (remember, 2020 kids and a few 2019 kids get more official visits). UK has had the lead in this recruitment for months and I don’t think that changes just because he officially visits Duke. Often UK has to make up ground in recruitments but this is one where the Cats have the lead. Great player in 2020 that’s worth getting to know.


Vernon Carey Jr. interested in playing with James Wiseman and Isaiah Stewart, decision coming soon

USA Today

Over the past several months, we’ve heard on numerous occasions that John Calipari is interested in a dynamic 2019 frontcourt pairing featuring both Vernon Carey Jr. and James Wiseman, two top-three prospects in the class.

More specifically, he noticed just how well the Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins frontcourt duo worked in New Orleans last year, and he wants to emulate that next season at Kentucky. Wiseman plays a very similar style to Davis, while Carey has drawn comparisons to Cousins for years. Bada-bing, bada-boom.

Both elite big men have mentioned being interested in that potential scenario on several occasions in the past, though they each reiterated they would make the best decisions for themselves.

Yesterday, however, Carey added gasoline to the flame yet again by saying he would not only mind playing with another elite big man, he welcomes it.

In an interview with Jason Jordan of USA Today, Carey said he is extremely interested in playing with both Wiseman and Kentucky target Isaiah Stewart.

“I think it would be great,” said Carey. “I feel like I have the type of game that can play with anyone. So, yeah, I’d love it.”

Carey said he watched how well Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter played together in the frontcourt at Duke last year, and he’s excited to see Kentucky’s ridiculous big men depth with Reid Travis, PJ Washington, EJ Montgomery, and Nick Richards this season. If that’s the recipe for a national title, that’s what he’s going to do.

“Some schools are selling me on playing with another elite big and some are focusing on me,” Carey said. “I think it’s more attractive to play with another big, actually. I think it would help both of us. I want to win and whatever gives us the best chance to do that is what I want to do.”

So what about Kentucky, in particular?

In an interview with Corey Evans of Rivals.com, Carey said the one-and-done aspect is intriguing, and Kentucky commitments Kahlil Whitney and Tyrese Maxey are pushing hard for the elite big man to join them in Lexington.

“Coach Cal (John Calipari) has just said that he really wants to coach me and that I can be a go-to guy and a one-and-done there. He has just been saying that Kentucky would be the best place for me.

“I have been talking to Kahlil (Whitney) and Tyrese (Maxey) about Kentucky; we are all going their next weekend for Big Blue Madness, along with RJ (Hampton), I think,” said Carey. “They are just saying that they have some of the best crowds in college basketball and Coach Cal and Coach (Kenny) Payne, along with the other assistants, they are all a good, collective group. Coach Cal has compared me to DeMarcus (Cousins) and Anthony Davis.”

Carey has four official visits scheduled in the next four weeks, with Kentucky coming first (October 12), followed by Duke (October 19), Miami (October 26), and UNC (November 3). After those visits, it’s decision time.

“After I take my officials, I’ll probably get my decision over with,” Carey told USA Today. “I should know by then. My goal is to sign during the Early Signing Period. If it’s with another big, I think that’s great, but either way, it’ll be what I feel is the best situation for me.”

(USA Today)

(Rivals.com)


Could James Wiseman end up somewhere besides UK or Memphis?

Photo: Jon Lopez / Nike

It has been assumed pretty much since day 1 that 2019’s star recruit would either wear Kentucky blue or Memphis duller blue. I think most of us are still operating under this assumption, but according to Wiseman himself, he’s entertaining other options.

“I understand why people think it’s either Kentucky or Memphis and, don’t get me wrong, I love both of those schools,” said Wiseman, who dominated the morning session at USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Minicamp on Saturday. “But I’ve got three other great schools that I really love, too. They’re all even to me.”

[Commercial Appeal]

Wiseman’s final five schools are UK, Memphis, Florida State, Kansas, and Vanderbilt.

The only true contender I see among those other three is Kansas, and even then, with the potential fallout from the ongoing FBI case, we could see Bill Self dragged into the mud sooner rather than later. As a player, you probably don’t want your head coach involved in a criminal trial.

So I’m gonna stick with the UK/Memphis toss up. At least then I can say we’ve got a 50-50 shot at landing the golden goose of next year’s class.

@JayWinkKSR