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Basketball Recruiting News
By Nick Roush on ©May 31st, 2017 @ 11:00pm
We’ve seen John Calipari in almost every kind of setting. We’ve seen him in press conferences, ESPN’s All-Access, inside the locker room with KY Wildcats TV, the Calipari Call-In Show and even a 30 for 30. There’s one place we’ve never seen Calipari perform and it’s the place where he is at his best: on the recruiting trail.
Snapshots are shared of Calipari at AAU events, but cameras never go inside an in-home visit with Calipari. That changed today in a documentary about Immanuel Quickly’s recruitment titled, “My View From the Top.”
With a quiet Joel Justus beside him, Calipari starts by explaining some of what the family saw in the 30 for 30. That is followed by a secondary pitch for a “lifetime scholarship.” If Quickley completes his term, he can leave for the pros and return to Kentucky later to complete his degree.
“Your basketball window is four to five years. Your academic window is fifty,” Calipari says.
That leads to Calipari’s primary pitch. At Kentucky, he’s not sending guys to the pros for one contract, it’s to get their second contract, the one that changes families forever. He stays on message while addressing his detractors, a.k.a. his competition that will spew lies about his program on the recruiting trail. He puts the detractors in a bodybag.
“If it’s facts, they lose. If it’s the truth, they lose. They know what’s happened for our kids with how I coach, and what’s happened for their kids and how they coach. They can’t beat us.”
Apparently the pitch worked. On Monday Quickley cut his list to four: Kansas, Maryland, Miami and Kentucky.
A five-star point guard, Quickley is the only point guard to have an offer from Cal in the 2018 class. He also reportedly has an invitation to try out for the Team USA U19 team Calipari will coach this summer.
Since he was in seventh grade, Scottie Lewis has been considered a five-star, can’t-miss stud in the 2019 class. A junior-to-be, the 6’4″ wing is beginning to take visits to various schools around the country. Earlier this month, Lewis and his longtime teammate Bryan Antoine visited Lexington. He shared UK’s recruiting pitch with Rivals.
“We had a lot of questions for them,” Lewis said. “It was fantastic to hear their pitch. Their pitch was basically that they don’t want to grow guys. They want to get them in, get them out and continue their reputation of getting guys to the NBA.”
Lewis and Antoine have been two peas in a pod throughout their early amateur careers. They are both lengthy athletes who play on the wing for the same New Jersey school and the same AAU team. The term “package deal” gets thrown around a lot in recruiting circles. This one actually seems viable, but there’s still a long way to go.
“It’s very debatable,” said Lewis of whether or not he and Antoine are a package deal. “That’s the No. 1 question that we get as a duo. That’s something we are definitely thinking about. Seeing if there’s somewhere that we can carry our skills to and continue to complement each other’s games.”
If you’re wondering why this tandem is such a big deal, watch them do work and you’ll quickly understand.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 29th, 2017 @ 1:11pm
Immanuel Quickly’s recruitment is down to four schools.
The five-star point guard in the 2018 class narrowed his list to four on Monday and Kentucky is still in the mix for his services, along with Kansas, Maryland and Miami.
FINAL 4 ‼️👀😈💪🏾‼️ pic.twitter.com/TZmgX6npmy
— Immanuel Quickley (@IQ_GodSon) May 29, 2017
Quickley told Scout.com’s Evan Daniels, “I think those four schools fit me the most as a person and as a player… I think off and on the court those schools fit me the best.”
Ranked No. 2 at his position in the 247 Composite rankings, Quickley was the first point guard in the class to receive a scholarship offer from John Calipari. “Getting freshman PG’s, developing them and getting them to the NBA is what I like about Kentucky,” he said of the Wildcats.
Calipari will get a closer look at Quickley next month when Quickley tries out for the U19 team in Colorado.
LaVar Ball’s $3B family sponsorship pitch isn’t looking too good after LaMelo’s latest game highlights…
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 28th, 2017 @ 11:00pm
I tried to avoid using this family’s name in a story at all costs, but this one was just too good to pass up.
LaMelo Ball, youngest son of LaVar Ball and younger brother of NBA Draft prospect Lonzo Ball, was featured in a new highlight tape that may end Big Baller Brand entirely.
LaMelo is currently listed as a consensus 5-star prospect in the class of 2019 with a firm commitment to UCLA, his only offer.
You may remember LaMelo for scoring 92 points in a single game on wide open layups (and not getting back on defense) several months back. At the time, he took over the social media world, and many thought he could eventually become the best Ball brother in the game.
After watching his latest game highlights, recruiting services may need to pump the breaks on the hype for this kid:
This dude LaMelo Ball has to be the worst person imaginable to play with pic.twitter.com/QGsUPLha6w
— NBA All Access (@nballaccess) May 28, 2017
Down 25 points at halftime, good ole’ Coach LaVar gave his team quite the pep talk rocking a “Stay in Yo Lane” shirt…
LaVar Ball in the huddle with his Big Ballers during their loss to the Compton Magic. pic.twitter.com/t9QmlBrI1e
— Jace Evans (@JaceTEvans) May 28, 2017
The “Big Ballers” lost to the Compton Magic 109-57. 52 points.
A little rough when you play someone with half a lick of talent and have to play defense, eh?
LaVar Ball better hope Lonzo pans out, because his Dr. Evil-esque negotiation tactics with sponsors aren’t getting him anywhere…
Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR
In an interview with D1Vision, the top player in the Class of 2018 reaffirmed that he will stay in the class of 2018. Bagley said, “I’m just worried about getting better. I’m not worried about reclassifying. I’m just taking it day by day. Whatever happens in the future happens.”
In the interview, Bagley was asked about Arizona, Duke, USC and UCLA, but not Kentucky. This, to me, is interesting, because he currently is 80% Kentucky on his 24/7 Sports’ Crystal Ball. Although, it must be worth mentioning that the latest update to his Crystal Ball was by Jerry Meyer, who did predict UCLA.
Power Forward | 6-10 | 200 lbs.
Phoenix, AZ | Sierra Canyon
AAU: Phoenix Phamily
★★★★★ (2018 Class)
|ESPN||No. 1 | 1 PF||Top247||No. 1 | 1 PF|
|Rivals||No. 1 | 1 PF||Scout||No. 1 | 1 PF|
Be sure to check out the entire interview from Bagley by clicking here.
After that, watch this video to see Bagley work. I don’t know about you, but I think he would look good in Blue and White.
By Nick Roush on ©May 27th, 2017 @ 4:00pm
Last year Shaka Smart coached USA’s U18 team to a Gold Medal in Chile. The opportunity to coach Mo Bamba is (probably) one big reason why Bamba committed to Texas nine days ago. Could something similar happen between Kentucky and Romeo Langford?
The top-ranked guard in the 2018 recruiting class from New Albany, Indiana spoke with Rivals’ T.J. Walker today about his invitation to camp with Team USA’s U19 team. Langford said it could give Kentucky an advantage in his recruitment.
“Somewhat if you think about it. I’ll get to know him a little bit more. I would be spending a lot of time with him.”
Moving forward, Langford said what will help differentiate the local schools recruiting him — UK, UofL and IU — is how comfortable he is with the coach. “Now it’s just getting to know the coaches more and becoming more familiar with them. It’s about being around them and seeing how I fit.”
Langford and Calipari already have a “pretty good” relationship. If Calipari coaches him for a few weeks this summer to build a stronger rapport, it might be awfully difficult to turn down Kentucky next spring.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 25th, 2017 @ 2:00pm
John Calipari will soon hold a training camp for his USA U19 World Cup team, and we now know the first of the participants who will be out in Colorado to compete for a spot on the final roster.
Immanuel Quickley, the first point guard in the 2018 class to receive an offer from Cal, has been announced as one of the attendees. Quickley played on the 12-man U17 team last summer that won the gold medal in Spain. He averaged 3.2 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in six of the United States’ seven games.
You can also expect Calipari to have several of his current Kentucky Wildcats in the mix for the final roster. Last year’s U18 team included Hamidou Diallo, Kevin Knox, P.J. Washington and Quade Green, so they will almost certainly be back in training camp, as well as potential appearances from Jarred Vanderbilt (if healthy) and Sacha Killeya-Jones.
As for the other young Wildcats, Nick Richards (Jamaica) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (Canada) are out, and it’d be tough for Cal to include Jemarl Barker over the many talented players rated well above him. Wenyen Gabriel is ineligible because he turned 20 in March.
Then there are the prospects from the 2018 class who Cal would love to coach for the recruiting advantage because we saw what it did for Shaka Smart with Mohamed Bamba. T.J. Walker is reporting Romeo Langford is already on the tryout list, and I think you can go ahead and count on seeing point guard Javonte Smart, who, like Immanuel Quickley, played on the U17 gold medal team and is currently being recruited by Kentucky. Zion Williamson, Marvin Bagley and Cameron Reddish are other names to watch; all three have UK offers.
Lastly, there will be the Team USA veterans Calipari can’t pass on, some of whom he recruited and couldn’t get. This group includes Mohamed Bamba, Michael Porter Jr., Trae Young and Collin Sexton, to name a few.
The entire list of USA U19 training camp invitees is expected to be announced in the coming days.
By Brett Bibbins on ©May 21st, 2017 @ 11:00pm
In what usually wouldn’t be newsworthy on Kentucky Sports Radio, Arizona swingman Rawle Alkins has chosen to remove himself from this year’s NBA Draft and return to Arizona for his sophomore season. The reason that this impacts the Kentucky basketball landscape is that Sean Miller and Arizona were thought to be the leader for Pittsburgh transfer Cameron Johnson.
Rivals.com’s Corey Evans told CatsIllustrated that he thinks it puts Kentucky in the driver’s seat in the chase for Johnson.
“Definitely does help UK though,” Evans said in a message. “Think they jump ahead of Zona.”
The one big thing for UK fans to watch is how North Carolina has turned into a possible contender in the Cam Johnson sweepstakes. Evans mentions that he thinks UNC is the probable landing spot for Johnson if Pittsburgh decides to recant on their decision to block his transfer to any other ACC school.
You can read the entire story from CatsIllustrated.com here.
I think that the Hamidou Diallo decision that will come sometime in the next three days before the May 24th deadline, will have a major bearing on if Johnson is playing for the Wildcats next season. In my opinion, if Diallo chooses to stay in the draft, I think there’s a much larger chance that Coach Cal can bring Johnson to Lexington. However, if Diallo comes back to school for a season, then the door is wide open on that recruitment.
The first half of this week will almost completely finish the mold for what the UK basketball team will look like next season. Should be an exciting three or four days.
By Jay Winkler on ©May 21st, 2017 @ 4:00pm
Since UK’s acquisition of Kevin Knox, the prospect of Cam Johnson ending up at Kentucky has seemed more improbable. But Johnson is still considering the Cats.
As of now, though, UNC seems to be preferred destination for Johnson. Problem is, Pittsburgh ain’t too keen on letting the kid transfer to a fellow ACC school. Jay Bilas tweeted out Pitt’s statement on the matter:
Restricting Cam Johnson’s transfer is the same as a non-compete provision in an employment contract. Pitt athletes: students or employees? pic.twitter.com/YQkpDZAA9i
— Jay Bilas (@JayBilas) May 21, 2017
Seems to me like a lot of unnecessary hurdles. Of course, those hurdles could be avoided at Kentucky. Even with Knox on the roster, I’m sure a spot could be made for Johnson.
Naz Reid, the 11th ranked player in the class of 2018, recently cut his list to 10 schools including Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, North Carolina, UCLA, UConn, Seton Hall, and Rutgers.
Reid’s high school coach, Dave Boff went on The 4 Quarters Podcast to discuss Reid recruitment, “Nazi’s a kid who doesn’t really get caught up in all that stuff, but it is now a time, I just spoke to him, it’s coming to a point where he’s gotta get serious about the decision-making process and starting to think about what he’s looking for in a program. He’s got some tremendous national programs looking at him. He also has got a couple of the local schools that he’s excited about, so he’s just got to go through that list and start trimming it down as we move forward.”
Kentucky has not officially offered the 6’10 big man but Boff says, “I speak to the Kentucky guys on a fairly regular basis.”
Reid attends Roselle Catholic, the same school that Isaiah Briscoe went to.
The last time Coach Cal took a big man from New Jersey it turned out pretty well with Karl Anthony-Towns.
By Eli Mitchell on ©May 21st, 2017 @ 1:00pm
Baton Rouge native and 5-star point guard Ja’Vonte Smart recently announced the final six schools on his list consisting of Florida State, Kansas, Kentucky, LSU, Oklahoma, and UCLA.
Smart went off for 33 points on 12 of 18 shooting in his first action on the Nike EYBL circuit, including 6 of 11 three-pointers in a 99-92 loss to fellow Kentucky target Bol Bol. Smart is rated as the 11th best player in the class of 2018 and the No.3 point guard by 247Sports Composite.
Smart faces a tough decision as he could follow the path of Malik Newman by staying at home and attending his home state school or he could follow Malik Monk’s blueprint by leaving his home-state to attend a blue-blood program.
Kentucky is considered the favorite to land Smart.
By Eli Mitchell on ©May 21st, 2017 @ 11:00am
After Duke’s 2nd round loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament the Blue Devils had a number of players leave the program for the draft, graduation, along with one transfer.
Former 5 star center , Chase Jeter , announced his intentions to transfer from the program on March 24th. After taking visits along the west coast at USC, Utah, Cal, Gonzaga and Arizona the big man has made his decision.
Jeter posted on his Instagram, “I’m heading to Tucson….#BearDown”.
Jeter will not be eligible to play for the west coast Wildcats in the 2017-18 season but will have two years of remaining eligibility when he returns to the court in the fall of 2018.
Jeter averaged just 2.6 points and 2.7 rebounds in 14.9 minutes per game before missing the final 19 games of the season with a herniated disc at Duke.’
Arizona will be a team to look out for next year, especially if Rawle Alkins decides to return to school.
The only 2018 point guard with a scholarship offer from Kentucky will make his college choice this fall.
Immanuel Quickley cut his list to seven back in March: UK, Duke, Kansas, Maryland, Miami, Providence and Virginia. Quickley told Rivals he plans on trimming that list to three or four “in the next couple of weeks.” He’ll visit his finalists, then make a decision before his senior basketball season begins.
Right now, the Cats are in a great position. “What they have done with their point guards like John Wall; the list goes on and on,” Quickley said. “What he has done with freshman and getting them to the NBA, which I think it is pretty cool.”
Point Guard (2018) | 6-3 | 175 lbs.
Bel Air, MD | John Carroll School
AAU: Team BBC
|ESPN||No. 12 | 1 PG||Top247||No. 5 | 1 PG|
|Rivals||No. 15 | 4 PG||Scout||No. 10 | 2 PG|
John Calipari last visited Quickley on April 18 and he’s watched him play multiple times on the AAU circuit during the active recruiting period. The Cats currently hold a 50 percent advantage in the 247 Crystal Ball.
A lengthy athlete who’s improved his shot, Quickley fits the ideal mold for John Calipari point guards.
By Nick Roush on ©May 18th, 2017 @ 11:00pm
Mo Bamba is not coming to Kentucky. Arguably the most sought after recruit in John Calipari’s 2017 class will head to the Big 12 instead of the Bluegrass. A few hours after the decision, Calipari announced the addition of the three spring signees — Jarred Vanderbilt, Kevin Knox and Jemarl Baker — essentially calling it quits on the 2017 class.
Coach Cal did not finish the offseason recruiting season with a new Top Two player, but he’ll be just fine. After all, he’s been here before. Let me take you back to 2013.
All of the McDonald’s All-Americans
Entering the month of May 2013, John Calipari already had stacked the Kentucky roster with a record six McDonald’s All-Americans. The No. 1 recruiting class in America, it was touted as one of the greatest classes ever, drawing “40-0” considerations early and often. You can understand why:
- Julius Randle — 6’9″ 250 lbs., No. 2 player overall
- Andrew Harrison — 6’4″ 200 lbs., No. 3
- Aaron Harrison — 6’4″ 200 lbs., No. 5
- Dakari Johnson — 6’10” 250 lbs., No. 8
- James Young — 6’6″ 200 lbs., No. 10
- Marcus Lee –6’9″ 215 lbs., No. 14
- Derek Willis — 6’9″ 200 lbs., No. 58
- Dominique Hawkins — 6’1 170 lbs., No. 151
Four years later, John Calipari has the No. 1 class in the nation, but it’s received exponentially less hype, even drawing concerns from some fans. Still, Calipari has five McDonald’s All-Americans ranked in the Top 20 of the recruiting class (and maybe even tenth-ranked Hamidou Diallo?).
- Jarred Vanderbilt — 6’9″ 213 bs., No. 8 player overall
- Nick Richards — 7’0 240 lbs., No. 14
- Kevin Knox — 6’9″ 206 lbs., No. 17
- P.J. Washington — 6’8″ 230 lbs., No. 18
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — 6’6″ 175 lbs., No. 19
- Quade Green — 6’1″ 175 lbs., No. 30
- Jemarl Baker — 6’4″ 185 lbs, No. 83
Just like in mid-May of 2013, it was an impressive class that still had room to grow, with one top-ranked player at forefront near the end of the spring signing period.
On May 14, 2013, Matt Jones spent two hours on Kentucky Sports Radio calling every famous person in his cell phone to ask: “Where’s Wiggins going?” Choosing between Kansas, North Carolina, Kentucky and his parents’ school, Florida State, the Commonwealth was buzzing like never before for a recruit’s decision.
The future No. 1 pick turned down the Cats and his parents to take his talents to the land of the Big 12 in Lawrence, Kansas. The Jayhawks lost in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, while Kentucky went to the National Title.
Today on May 18, 2017, Calipari’s class “ended” with a whimper when the 2018 No. 1 overall draft pick* opted for Texas. Bamba and Wiggins are much different players, but their unbelievable impact on the game is comparable.
Stability at Center
When Calipari didn’t add a highlight-maker at the end of the 2013 class, the Cats were covered with McDonald’s All-American James Young ready to step in at the wing in Wiggins’ place. In the post, he had an incoming McDonald’s All-American seven-footer, Dakari Johnson. His raw offensive talent is not unlike this year’s McDonald’s All-American center, Nick Richards.
To ensure Johnson did not need to step in to play right away, returning sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein was ready to either temporarily fill the void, or take his game to the next level. This year’s hyphenated returning sophomore finds himself at a similar crossroad. Sacha Killeya-Jones wowed during summer practices, drawing comparisons to the former unanimous All-American, but he could never get comfortable during his freshman season, unable to find significant time on the floor.
By all indications, SKJ is prepared to take a Cauley-Stein-sized step up in 2017-18.
Keep sleeping on me.. I love it
— SKJ (@The_SKJ) May 16, 2017
An Enormous Roster
I made it a point to list the heights for each of the two recruiting classes. The first Harrison Twin team to reach the title didn’t have two-platoons with three guys over 6’10,” but they still had the kind of size rarely seen in college basketball.
As the game shifts toward perimeter-oriented style, Calipari’s 2017-18 team will look like his lengthy teams from the past. Excluding Green and Baker, the rest of the team is at least 6’6,” with the ability to play a lineup ( with Kevin Knox at the wing) featuring four players taller than 6’8.”
Losing Bamba hurts, but there’s more than enough reasons to remain optimistic about next season based on Calipari’s proven ability to cater his style to his players. Additionally, he’ll have extra time this summer to coach most of his new players for Team USA in the FIBA U19 World Championships in Cairo.
Any time there is extreme turnover, there’s a significant adjustment period, but if the team that didn’t get Bamba turns out anything like the team that didn’t get Wiggins, hold on, it’s about to be a wild ride.
All seven of Kentucky’s Class of 2017 commitments are officially on board with the signings of the three spring additions — Kevin Knox, Jarred Vanderbilt and Jemarl Baker.
Coach Cal made a video to announce the news Thursday afternoon, and in it he gives his thoughts on the new three, plus the class as a whole.
“We will be the youngest team, most inexperienced team in the country,” he said (and will say many times again between now and next fall). “This may be my youngest team ever; but you know what, I love the challenge of it because we have guys that will share, that are going to give it up for each other, that are comfortable in their own skin, come from great homes, understand they’re on a mission and want to get better — those are the kind of kids we want here at Kentucky.”
See it all for yourself: