Basketball Recruiting News
By TJ Walker on ©September 14th, 2018 @ 4:15pm
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.
Nice view of Mt. Rainier!! pic.twitter.com/VW1hYo4pfl
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 13, 2018
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.
We reported earlier this week that Kentucky was going to conduct an in-home (in-school) visit with five-star wing Keion Brooks, but while John Calipari is at La Lumiere he’s going to touch base with one of the top bigs in America, Isaiah Stewart.
Kentucky’s John Calipari is at La Lumiere to see five-star recruits Isaiah Stewart and Keion Brooks, per a source.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) September 14, 2018
That name may be familiar, or maybe it’s new, but Stewart was briefly a target of Kentucky’s earlier this summer but when he cut his list to 10 in May the Cats weren’t included. He also cut his list to six in August and guess what- no UK. Stewart is currently only considering Duke, Syracuse, Michigan State, Indiana, Villanova and Washington. Will Calipari be able to do enough to get back on Stewart’s list? Could he get the 6-foot-9, 245-pound center from Rochester, N.Y. on campus for an official visit?
I’d never count out John Calipari but this is another sign of the Cats reaching out to any elite big in the class of 2019. UK will lose Reid Travis and it’d be a shock if P.J. Washington or E.J. Montgomery return for the 2019-2020 seasons and with how many bigs Kentucky has reached out to in 2019 it seems the Cats are also anticipating losing Nick Ricahrds, too. So, if you’re a big in 2019 the Cats are probably interested and there’s a plethora of playing time.
I’ll have a post on UK’s recruiting of Jaden McDaniels and Brooks a little later today, but I’m not sure I can ever remember UK casting a wider net for a specific position. The Cats want them some bigs in 2019.
By TJ Walker on ©September 14th, 2018 @ 1:30pm
2019 shooting guard target Scottie Lewis starts his official visit to Kentucky and it’s likely a make or break weekend for the Cats. Lewis’ teammate and former UK target Bryan Antoine just recently committed to Villanova and it appears the Florida Gators have all the momentum in Lewis’ recruitment.
Or does it?
Earlier this week Evan Daniels of 247 Sports made a prediction that Lewis would end up at Florida, but just recently switched to “foggy”. Daniels isn’t one to flip and flop on his predictions, so it was rare to see him make a switch just days later after pegging Lewis to Florida.
“I just think the recruitment may be much more of a toss up with Florida and Kentucky than I originally thought,” Daniels told KSR. “It will be a huge weekend for the Wildcats.”
Currently 88 percent of picks on Lewis’ Crystal Ball are for the Gators, 6 percent goes to the Cats and 6 percent goes to “foggy”. It was impossible to ignore the Florida momentum this week with Lewis officially visiting Gainesville last weekend (wonder what he though about the football game) and one of Lewis’ teammates, Alex Klatsky, committing to the Gators, but people close to Kentucky have always felt like they have a decent chance in this recruitment.
It’s rare when Daniels is wrong, so the fact he now thinks it’s a toss up is good news for UK. Daniels is certainly not wrong about it being a huge weekend for Kentucky.
We haven’t heard the name Jaden McDaniels in a while, which is why it’s so curious that John Calipari just tweeted a picture of Mt. Ranier, which is near the five-star power forward’s hometown of Federal Way, Washington:
Nice view of Mt. Rainier!! pic.twitter.com/VW1hYo4pfl
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 13, 2018
McDaniels is considered the fourth best player in the 2019 class by 247 Sports Composite, but it appeared communication between him and Kentucky slowed down over the past few months. Does tonight’s visit indicate that changing?
Once upon a time, he did say Kentucky was his dream school…
By TJ Walker on ©September 13th, 2018 @ 2:00pm
We haven’t heard about Keion Brooks in weeks, and I’m partially to blame. He hasn’t been included in the Monday Insider Notes for over a month and we haven’t written about him much after Kahlil Whitney and Dontaie Allen committed to the Cats.
It seemed like Brooks was warming up to other schools and the Cats were loaded at the wing position. A mutual split made sense but that’s not the case. Kentucky has always liked Brooks’ game and the Cats still want him as a member of the 2019 class. UK will meet with Brooks tomorrow for an in-home visit.
The visit comes at a good time as the 6-foot-6, 186-pound wing plans on cutting his list to six in the coming days.
Top 6 coming soon?????
— Keion Brooks Jr. (@KeionB_12) September 9, 2018
I would expect UK to make that cut along with Indiana, UNC, Louisville, Michigan and Michigan State. That’s my guess although I still don’t know if the Cats can do enough to have Brooks end up in Lexington, but you never know. Let’s take all the wings.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 12th, 2018 @ 9:00pm
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:
— 14 (@RjHampton14) September 12, 2018
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:
Kentucky will have an in-home visit with 2019 five-star Oscar Tshiebwe on Monday, he tells Stockrisers.
Has become big target for the Wildcats.
— Jake (@jakeweingarten) September 12, 2018
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.
By KSR on ©September 12th, 2018 @ 2:30pm
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.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 12th, 2018 @ 1:00pm
Tyrese Maxey won’t be a Kentucky Wildcat until next year, but he’s already drawing praise from the pros. Boston Celtics sixth man Marcus Smart recently worked out with Maxey, a fellow Texas native, and gave him kudos on Twitter afterwards:
— marcus smart (@smart_MS3) September 12, 2018
Last month, Maxey got some advice from another pro: Kevin Durant. Durant looked over Maxey’s tape with him and gave him his secrets on how to make it at the next level:
Maxey will be on Kentucky’s campus next weekend for his official visit. To be a fly on the wall for those pickup games in the Craft Center…
By TJ Walker on ©September 11th, 2018 @ 7:30pm
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.
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.
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.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 11th, 2018 @ 12:00pm
Kentucky’s point guard of the future has scheduled his official visit to Lexington, and he picked a very fun weekend to come. Tyrese Maxey announced on Twitter last night he will visit Kentucky next weekend, September 21-23, during which he will presumably enjoy the Mississippi State game festivities.
— Tyrese Maxey (@TyreseMaxey) September 11, 2018
Maxey’s visit makes a busy recruiting month even busier. Here’s who the staff will be visiting and who will be visiting campus in the foreseeable future:
9/11 – In-home visit: Vernon Carey Jr.
9/12 – In-home visit: James Wiseman
9/15 – Official visit: Scottie Lewis
9/22 – Official visit: Tyrese Maxey
9/29 – Official visit: Oscar Tshiebwe
10/12 – Visits: R.J. Hampton, Vernon Carey, Dontaie Allen, Khristian Lander, Matthew Hurt
Yesterday, the staff conducted in-home visits with Scottie Lewis and Aidan Igiehon, the latter of which posted this picture with Tony Barbee in his socks and John Calipari on his tippy-toes:
Igiehorn told Adam Zagoria the visit went so well he and his family are planning to take an official visit to Kentucky, the date of which is still to be determined.
For more on Kentucky’s chances with Igiehorn and the rest of the 2019 prospects, check out TJ’s Insider Notes from yesterday.