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Photo by Kelly Kline/Getty Images

E.J. Montgomery includes Kentucky on list, will visit Duke

Photo by Kelly Kline/Getty Images

After missing on Zion Williamson, Kentucky is now recruiting E.J. Montgomery, the top big man left in the 2018 class. This morning, Kentucky made Montgomery’s list of eleven schools, and his father told Evan Daniels they’ve been hearing a lot from the Cats in recent weeks.

“They’ve been involved for a month or so now,” Montgomery Sr. said. “We first heard from them a month ago. They’ve been talking to me and EJ, we’ve been texting back and forth. They are planning to go to a game as well.”

The 6-10 Montgomery originally committed to Auburn back in 2016, but severed ties once former Tigers assistant Chuck Person was named in the FBI’s probe into college basketball. The recently named McDonald’s All-American is on a tear this season, averaging 26 points and 14 rebounds per game. He had 39 points and 15 points last night.

Now, the bad news. Even though Duke will be LOADED next season, his father says they still plan to take their first official visit to Durham. A trip to Kentucky was not mentioned, but his father said they plan to narrow his list of eleven to five in a week or so and schedule more visits.

Ugh. C’mon kid…please don’t go to Duke.

[247 Sports]

E.J. Montgomery

Power Forward 6-10 | 215 lbs. Marietta, GA Wheeler/Atlanta Celtics
ESPN: 16 | 5 PF Top 247: 6 | 2 PF 247 Composite: 12 | 3 PF Rivals: 11


Tyler Herro scored 37 points in 20 minutes last night WHAT

Tyler Herro scored 37 points in 20 minutes last night WHAT

Kelly Kline/Under Armour

Kentucky signee Tyler Herro appears to be good at the game of basketball.

He also appears to be inspired by his McDonald’s All-American Game snub.

Last night in a friendly game between Milwaukee area high schools, Herro scored 37 points in only TWENTY MINUTES of action. He went 14-for-20 from the field and hit six of his nine three-point attempts in that short stint on the court.

That’s good, right?


Evan Daniels talks recruiting on Hey Kentucky

Evan Daniels talks recruiting on Hey Kentucky

Tonight on Hey Kentucky!, Matt was joined by recruiting guru Evan Daniels, who broke down Zion Williamson’s surprising decision and where Kentucky goes from here in the 2018 class and beyond. No one knows recruiting better than Daniels, so take some time before tipoff to see what he has to say about why the Cats missed on another top five prospect.

Watch the entire episode at HeyKentucky.com.


Calipari takes another shot at Duke’s recruiting pitch

In the wake of Zion Williamson’s announcement, there’s no denying Duke has passed Kentucky when it comes to landing the sport’s best stars; today, John Calipari took a shot at Mike Krzyzewski’s recruiting pitch, which he says is bogus.

“I don’t sell, ‘When you come here, the university and the state will take care of you for the rest of your life.’ You may buy that, and I’ve got some great property and some swampland in Florida to sell you too.”

Being “set for life” is the pitch Duke commonly uses to lure in recruits. In April 2016, Hamidou Diallo told the Herald-Leader that’s how Mike Krzyzewski tried to sell him on being a Blue Devil.

“Kentucky’s pitch was just the NBA thing,” Diallo said. “Duke’s pitch was just like, if you come to Duke you’re going to be set for life. It’s more than just basketball.”

Less than a month later, Calipari attacked the pitch in one of his famous “state of the program” blog posts.

“I refuse to go in a home and paint a picture saying things like, ‘If you come with us you’ll be taken care of for the rest of your life by the program and by our alums’ even though you may only be in school for a year or two,” Calipari said. “How preposterous does that sound? What if I say that same thing and the young man decides to transfer for one reason or another? Does that still hold true that we’re going to take care of them the rest of their lives?”

Almost two years later, Calipari still disagrees with Coach K’s approach, even though it’s helped Duke take the lead in the arms race.

“My concern is, whoever we get here, how do we help them to be the best version of themselves, both on and off the court? How do we send them off from here after a year, two years, three years, four, whatever, with a basis to have success both on and off the court, where they can be involved in their communities and where it’s not just solely basketball. How they can count on themselves?”

“Everyone of us in this country is based on, you’ve got to take care of yourself. And then when you make it, you make sure you’re helping. And along the way, you’re bringing other people with you. That’s what we’re trying to do. Just give these guys the best opportunity. We’re not trying to say this university and this state will take care of you the rest of your life. There’s no socialism here. This stuff is, you’ve gotta go do it and we’re going to help you do it. Some like that, some don’t like that.”

Despite the momentum shift, Calipari said he doesn’t think the recruiting landscape has changed much since he arrived in Lexington, taking the opportunity to remind everyone how successful Kentucky’s alums in the NBA have been.

“I don’t think it has. There are some classes that are really good classes and there are some classes that are okay classes. That’s just how it is. We don’t get every kid. I’ve said that all along. We get the ones that need to come here and others choose not too. That’s fine, that’s their choice. Obviously, the kids that have come here are worth over A BILLION dollars. Seventeen have graduated, 35 got drafted, three were number one picks. Kids that have come here have belonged here. It doesn’t mean that everyone needs to come here, and they don’t. And I don’t think it’s changed much at all.”


David Butler II | US Presswire

Moses Brown is going to UCLA

David Butler II | US Presswire

Moses Brown will not be an option for Kentucky after all.

The five-star center pledged his commitment to UCLA on Monday, ending an up-and-down relationship with UK on the recruiting trail. John Calipari and his staff had kept a close eye on Brown over the years, but never extended the scholarship offer because they weren’t quite convinced he was the caliber of player they needed. For what it’s worth, Brown really wanted the UK offer and it appears he got tired of waiting for it.

So what does this mean for the Cats? They’ll be more than fine if Nick Richards and Sacha Killeya-Jones return for 2018-19. If not, they’ll need to find a big man, somewhere.


Kelly Kline/Under Armour

Tyler Herro gets five-star bump in new ESPN rankings

Kelly Kline/Under Armour

ESPN Recruiting released its new rankings for the 2018 high school basketball class on Monday, and one of Kentucky’s three signees earned a new star by his name.

Tyler Herro, the shooting guard out of Wisconsin, got bumped up to a five-star prospect in the new update. Herro climbed two spots from No. 27 to No. 25 overall, but remained the fourth-best shooting guard of the group.

Keldon Johnson is the highest ranked recruit in Kentucky’s class, coming in at No. 6 in the rankings; while Immanuel Quickley climbed from No. 19 to No. 17 and is considered the third-best point guard.

Duke’s R.J. Barrett, Zion Willamson and Cameron Reddish are the top three players in the class.

RK PLAYER POS GRADE SCHOOL

1

R.J. Barrett

SF

96

DUKE

2

Zion Williamson

PF

96

DUKE

3

Cam Reddish

SF

96

DUKE

4

Bol Bol

C

95

OREGON

5

Romeo Langford

SG

95

Uncommitted

6

Keldon Johnson

SF

94

KENTUCKY

7

Anfernee Simons

SG

94

Uncommitted

8

Quentin Grimes

SG

93

KANSAS

9

Darius Bazley

PF

93

SYRACUSE

10

Nassir Little

SF

93

NORTH CAROLINA

See the entire list here.


Kentucky wasn’t even on Zion Williamson’s list of final four schools

Remember when recruiting analysts felt it was neck-and-neck between Kentucky and Clemson going into the home stretch of Zion Williamson’s recruitment?

Turns out, Kentucky wasn’t really in the running at all.

In an interview with Nikki Hood of TigerNet.com, Lee Anderson, Williamson’s step-father, said the big decision came down to four schools.

And Kentucky wasn’t one of them.

“As of last night, he still didn’t know where he wanted to go,” Anderson said. “Clemson, South Carolina, Duke, North Carolina, those are all schools that he seriously considered. He just had a hard time deciphering where he wanted to go.”

In fact, the decision came down to a flip of a coin between the final four schools.

“Zion woke up and he made a decision. That was all there was to it,” said Anderson. “Zion actually told me last night that he was going to flip a coin and go through four schools.”

Despite Williamson’s relationship with Drake, his best friend signed on to be Kentucky’s star point guard, and John Calipari making him a priority for almost two years, the Cats weren’t even seriously considered.

Unreal.


Zion Williamson picks DUKE

Zion Williamson committed to Duke tonight, shocking just about everyone. He picked the Blue Devils over Clemson, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina and Kansas.

I’m not going to lie, losing Zion to Duke stings. If he had chosen Clemson, the decision would be easy to understand — staying at home, following in his stepfather’s footsteps, and representing his home state; however, now that he’s going to Duke, it sets up the Blue Devils for a huge run next season. Dangit.

Man…anyone but Duke.


The Latest on Zion Williamson’s Decision

As the countdown clock to Zion Williamson’s decision ticks toward a conclusion, the announcement is still clouded in mystery.

Two weeks of momentum have cleared the way for Clemson to take a commanding lead in the 247 Crystal Ball.  88 percent of the picks are for Clemson, with the final 12 percent split between Kentucky, South Carolina and North Carolina.  Most of the picks are for Clemson, but few of the predictions carry much confidence.

There are two slight developments Matt Jones learned today.

Kentucky was the only school who reportedly did not make an in-home visit this week.  That was not the case.  Coach Cal paid Zion a visit Sunday after the Vanderbilt game.  The other surprise is from North Carolina.  A team few talked about at all down the stretch, Roy Williams could pull off a surprise, comparable to what Bill Self did with Andrew Wiggins.

The dunking phenom will finally make his decision around 8:15 on ESPN2.  If you are worried you will miss some of the Kentucky-Florida game on ESPN, fear not.  The Worldwide Leader expects Williamson’s decision to be done prior to tip-off at Rupp Arena.


Zion Williamson’s announcement will go head-to-head with UK/Florida

The timing of Zion Williamson’s announcement is a big source of speculation, and after a little digging, I’ve discovered that it will go head-to-head with Kentucky’s game vs. Florida on ESPN’s networks.

An ESPN representative tells me Zion’s announcement will be televised at 8:15 p.m. on SportsCenter on ESPN2. Previously, it was scheduled for 8 p.m., leaving open the possibility that it would be shown on the 15-minute College GameDay lead in to Kentucky vs. Florida on ESPN, but that will not be the case. The announcement will take place at Zion’s high school, Spartanburg Day School, and will be followed by a breakdown of the decision by ESPN recruiting insider Jeff Borzello and SportsCenter anchors Zubin Mehenti and Kevin Connors.

What does this mean? The fact that the announcement is taking place at the SAME time as tip off of Kentucky/Florida on a different network rather than 15 minutes before tip on the same network feels like bad news to me; however, perhaps ESPN didn’t want to sandwich the announcement into such a small time frame, especially when they can eat up time on SportsCenter with analysis, etc.

Also of note: Kentucky is the only team on Zion’s list whose schedule conflicts with the announcement. North Carolina plays at 2 p.m.; Duke and Clemson at 4 p.m.; and Kansas and South Carolina at 6 p.m. With almost every recruiting analyst predicting Zion to pick Clemson — although none guaranteeing it — this certainly doesn’t seem like good news for Kentucky.

Or, it could mean nothing at all. Luckily, we’ll find out tomorrow.


Tyler Herro will be in Lexington tomorrow

Tomorrow is not only UK vs. Florida and Zion Williamson’s announcement, it’s Tyler Herro’s birthday and he’s choosing to spend it in Lexington. The UK signee just tweeted that he will be in Lexington tomorrow, presumably to take in the Florida game and College GameDay festivities:

After returning from a calf injury in late December, Herro picked up right where he left off. Last weekend, he scored 38 and 42 points in back-to-back games, bringing his total number of games this season with 30+ points to seven. Right now, he’s averaging 29.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 3.6 assists.

Yet, Herro was not named to the McDonald’s All-American Game earlier this week, a snub that clearly stung. As John Calipari predicted, Herro seems poised to use it as fuel to get better.

“Disappointed Tyler Herro wasn’t selected,” Cal tweeted earlier this week. “He’s certainly deserving, especially with the last year he’s had. I know he will use this as fuel!”

Enjoy your time in Lexington, Tyler. Hopefully you’ll bring us some good luck in more ways than one.


Immanuel Quickley gives one final pitch to Zion Williamson: “We can get this championship.”

Photo by adidas

The top uncommitted prospect in the nation makes his final decision on Saturday night, and Kentucky is reportedly neck and neck with Clemson for his services.

In an interview with USA Today’s Jason Jordan, Kentucky signee Immanuel Quickley gave one final word of advice to five-star forward Zion Williamson before his announcement.

“I know you want to go to the NBA, so come to UK,” said Quickley. We will be throwing lobs off the backboard, you feel me? Getting dunks, alley-oops, all that.”

His closing pitch? “Come to Kentucky so we can get this championship.”

Several other talented prospects gave final pitches for their respective teams, including representatives for North Carolina, Clemson, South Carolina, and Duke.

Clemson signee John Newman played the “be the man” card with Williamson, saying “If you go to one of the other big blue (bloods) you’re just going to be another hooper.”

Columbia, S.C., Mayor Steve Benjamin pitched the love he’ll receive from the local community at South Carolina, saying he’ll be appreciated both athletically and academically.

Duke signee Tre Jones said he could come play for the “best coach in history” by becoming a Blue Devil.

North Carolina’s Coby White said Williamson could “join a winner” by heading to Chapel Hill.

I may be biased, but catching lobs, winning a national championship, and going to the NBA sounds like the best pitch by a mile.

Come on down, Zion.

You can read Jordan’s article and check out the video interview with each pitch here.


The Aaron Torres Sports Podcast E12: A Preview of Zion Williamson’s Decision with Corey Evans

In this edition of the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast, Corey Evans from Rivals joins the program to talk about Zion Williamson’s upcoming college announcement.  But first, Nick Coffey and Aaron talk about a wild Tuesday of college basketball.  Highlights from the exciting episode:

—  The podcast receives a shoutout from Fran Fraschilla on National TV.

—  What went right for UofL at Notre Dame and what went wrong for UK at South Carolina.

—  Can anyone keep Zion from his home state school of Clemson?

—  How would Zion fit at Clemson and would he be able to have a major impact with minimal talent around him?

—  The the latest on Romeo Langford — is he headed to Indiana?

—  Recruits impacted by the FBI probe into college hoops.

You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play.  Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to the “Aaron Torres Sports Podcast” feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.


Why would anyone in their right mind go to Clemson?

Why would anyone in their right mind go to Clemson?

Earlier today I was sitting on a snow-covered bench in Triangle Park, looking up at the college basketball palace that is Rupp Arena, and I got to thinking: Why would anyone go anywhere else, if given the opportunity to play for John Calipari at Kentucky?

Let’s take a school like… oh… say Clemson for instance. I don’t mean any ill will toward Clemson; it’s just the first school that popped into my head while thinking about other places one could potentially go to play college basketball. I assure you there is no reasoning behind Clemson as my example, and I definitely don’t have a specific college basketball prospect in mind while having this internal debate — it is completely hypothetical and not related to any real life scenario at all.

But let’s say you’re a young star, maybe you play on the wing and can really fly, and have some crazy amount of Instagram followers, like 1.1 million or so. If that were the case, you’d definitely want to go to Kentucky, right? Going to Clemson — or even somewhere like South Carolina, another school with absolutely no relevance to this imaginary situation — shouldn’t be an option you would even fathom.

For instance, Clemson was 70th in the nation last season with an average attendance of 7,261 fans per game. Kentucky ranked first with more than triple that amount each game in Rupp Arena. Kentucky plays all of its games on national TV too, while I can count Clemson’s national TV appearances on one hand. If it were me, those numbers alone tell me Kentucky is the place to go if I want to build my brand and maximize my exposure for my one year of college basketball. What better place to do that than the school with the biggest fan base and strongest brand in the game?

Then there is the coaching debate. John Calipari is the best of the best at putting guys in the league. I hate to pick on Clemson — which, again, is a completely random school for the sake of this conversation — but who even coaches Clemson? Is Oliver Purnell still there? I honestly don’t know. Clemson’s coach could walk up to me right now in a Clemson basketball t-shirt with a whistle around his neck and I wouldn’t know who he is.

And why go to Clemson where you could be the best player in the program’s history and still not half as popular as Dabo Swinney? Clemson is a football school that wouldn’t know the NCAA tournament if it was played in the middle of campus.

I guess one could argue Clemson has a proven track record with NBA guys like Tree Rollins, Larry Nance, Horace Grant and Dale Davis, all of whom were really good before today’s high school stars were even born, but there isn’t a program in America with the college-to-NBA results like Kentucky, especially not Clemson. Or South Carolina.

I grant you the Kentucky-Clemson debate is a weird thing to be on my mind lately, randomly, but I really felt compelled to share it with you today for no other reason than to spark a meaningless debate. Like I said, it’s completely irrelevant to any current event coming up this weekend or any real life scenario at all — it’s just something that popped in my head, because, seriously, who in their right mind would pick Clemson over Kentucky?

(If that were ever an actual situation.)

As you were.


Two Kentucky signees named McDonald’s All-Americans

Two Kentucky signees named McDonald’s All-Americans

Two Kentucky signees were named McDonald’s All-Americans this afternoon. Point guard Immanuel Quickley and shooting guard Keldon Johnson will represent Kentucky at the all-star game in Atlanta on March 28.

Quickley will be on the East team, along with Zion Williamson, who will announce his decision Saturday night at 8:00 p.m. Johnson will be on the West team. Unfortunately, Tyler Herro did not make the cut despite late consideration. Here are both rosters:

Kentucky’s two representatives bring John Calipari’s total number of McDonald’s All-Americans over ten recruiting classes to 32.

2009 DeMarcus Cousins 6-11 C Mobile, AL (LeFlore)
2010 Terrence Jones 6-9 F Portland, OR (Jefferson)
2010 Brandon Knight 6-3 G Fort Lauderdale, FL (Pine Crest)
2010 Doron Lamb 6-4 G New York, NY (Bishop Loughlin)
2011 Anthony Davis 6-10 F Chicago, IL (Perspectives Charter)
2011 Michael Kidd-Gilchrist 6-7 F Somerdale, NJ (St. Patrick)
2011 Marquis Teague 6-2 G Indianapolis, IN (Pike)
2011 Kyle Wiltjer 6-9 F Portland, OR (Jesuit)
2012 Archie Goodwin 6-5 G Little Rock, AR (Sylvan Hills)
2012 Alex Poythress 6-8 F Clarksville, TN (Northeast)
2013 Aaron Harrison 6-6 G Richmond, TX (Travis)
2013 Andrew Harrison 6-6 G Richmond, TX (Travis)
2013 Dakari Johnson 7-0 C Brooklyn, NY (Montverde Academy (Montverde, FL))
2013 Marcus Lee 6-9 F Antioch, CA (Deer Valley)
2013 Julius Randle 6-9 F Dallas, TX (Prestonwood Christian Academy)
2013 James Young 6-6 G-F Rochester Hills, MI (Rochester High)
2014 Devin Booker 6-6 G Grand Rapids, MI (Moss Point (High), MS)
2014 Trey Lyles 6-10 F Camby, IN (Arsenal Tech)
2014 Karl-Anthony Towns 6-11 C Metuchen, NJ (St. Joseph)
2014 Tyler Ulis 5-9 G Matteson, IL (Marian Catholic)
2015 Isaiah Briscoe 6-3 G Union, NJ (Roselle Catholic)
2016 Edrice Adebayo 6-9 C Little Washington, NC (High Point Christian)
2016 De’Aaron Fox 6-3 G Katy, TX (Cypress Lakes)
2016 Sacha Killeya-Jones 6-10 F Chapel Hill, NC (Woodberry Forest)
2016 Malik Monk 6-4 G Lepanto, AR (Bentonville High)
2017 Quade Green 6-0 G Philadelphia, PA (Neumann-Goretti)
2017 Kevin Knox 6-9 F Tampa, FL (Tampa Catholic)
2017 Nick Richards 6-11 C Kingston, JM (The Patrick School (HIllside, NJ))
2017 Jarred Vanderbilt 6-9 F Missouri City, TX (Victory Prep)
2017 P.J. Washington 6-7 F Frisco, TX (Findlay Prep)
2018 Keldon Johnson 6-6 G-F South Hill, VA (Oak Hill Academy)
2018 Immanuel Quickley 6-3 G Havre De Grace, MD (John Carroll)

This year’s McDonald’s All-American Game will take place on March 28 at Philips Arena in Atlanta. It will air at 7 p.m. EST on ESPN.