Basketball Recruiting News
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©October 05th, 2018 @ 9:29am
As Drew told you in the post directly below this one, contrary to earlier reports, Drake and Justin Timberlake did NOT attend Memphis Madness last night. I’m not saying Kentucky assistant Joel Justus is tweeting about that this morning, but I’m pretty sure Kentucky assistant Joel Justus is tweeting about that this morning.
— Joel Justus (@UKCoachJustus) October 5, 2018
Excited for our weekend practices and NBA proday – these guys are working everyday and earning their success. #underpromiseoverproduce
— Joel Justus (@UKCoachJustus) October 5, 2018
Throw shade at Memphis? Check. Remind James Wiseman, who was in attendance last night, that the program is having its Pro Day on Sunday? Check. The only thing these tweets are missing is a picture of Drake in his Kentucky Dad sweatshirt.
Otherwise, A+ in subtweeting, Joel. Well done.
The Marshall County Hoop Fest released its 2018 weekend schedule on Thursday. We knew several star players would be in the event but we didn’t have a complete schedule, but now we do. The always loaded event didn’t disappoint for 2018 and may be shaping up for one of its best years yet. Fans will be able to see at least one UK commit and other big names.
Hoop Fest will run from Nov. 29th to Dec. 2nd.
Kentucky commit Dontaie Allen will play in Session 4 against Marshall County and Zion Harmon (assuming he’s eligible) at 8:30 p.m. CT. That follows a colossal matchup featuring UK’s top target James Wiseman taking on Chicago power Curie.
That’s not to mention two games featuring Prolific Prep and Aspire Academy, two prep schools that are loaded with talent.
Oh, and how could we forget, after D.J. Jeffries committed to Kentucky his Olive Branch, Miss., team agreed to play in the event. So the one-time Wildcat commit will lead his team against Scott County for a noon game on Saturday.
Some of the top teams boy and girl teams in the state will also be playing over the four-day span, so it should make for an exciting weekend in Benton.
Of course that Saturday will be the day of the SEC Championship game and the Cats will likely be taking on Alabama, but we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Five-star big man James Wiseman “narrowed” his list of schools to five today, and, not surprisingly, Kentucky made the cut, along with Memphis, Kansas, Vanderbilt, and Florida State. Previously, he was also considering Arizona, North Carolina, and Texas.
— James Wiseman (@BigTicket_JW) October 3, 2018
Wiseman, the top ranked player in the 2019 class, has already taken official visits to Kentucky and Kansas, and has trips to Vanderbilt (October 14), Memphis (October 19), and Florida State (October 25) still to come. No wonder they’re his top five. Wake me up when he finally tells everyone he’s down to Kentucky and Memphis.
That being said, Kentucky’s in the middle of that edit. What does it mean?!?!
By KSR on ©October 03rd, 2018 @ 12:45pm
Hardly Committed is back for another episode on the heels of Scottie Lewis’ commitment to Florida. T.J. Walker breaks down the move and where Isaiah Stewart and Oscar Tshiebwe stand after visiting Kentucky over the weekend. Highlights:
— What drove Lewis to Florida and what’s next for Kentucky at guard?
— We have another recruitment that mirrors Marques Bolden’s.
— T.J. shares his terrible food takes.
— Where Keion Brooks and Jaden McDaniels fit into the equation.
— How shopping the grad transfer market works.
— Don’t leave TJ all alone on Halloween.
— TPing gone wrong.
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.
Late Tuesday evening five-star guard Scottie Lewis ended his recruitment by picking Florida over Kentucky. After the Cats had some brief (and expected) momentum after Lewis officially visited UK in September, Florida visited Lewis and the reason why Florida was the leader for months eventually won out in Lewis’ recruitment.
Lewis always thought highly of Gainesville, Mike White recruited him as long as anyone, his AAU coach (Brian Klatsky) is a Florida fan and Klatsky’s son (Lewis’ AAU and high school teammate) is committed to the Gators. The signs for months seemed to indicate Lewis would end up at Florida.
But then the Florida official visit happened. And Lewis didn’t commit. The Gators pushed for a commitment on the visit. That didn’t happen. They wanted him to commit after he returned home but before his traveled to Lexington. That didn’t happen. He checked out UK’s campus and the visit went swell.
My opinion is after that UK visit the Cats led. It may have just been for a few days, maybe just a day, but the visit went so well that for a moment Kentucky was in the driver’s seat, at least people close to UK thought that was the case. But the week after the visit Lewis didn’t commit and had no plans on announcing. The pro-UK feelings mellowed out and Lewis went into the weekend still uncommitted with no immediate timetable.
It seems that Lewis realized that when he traveled to USA Basketball this upcoming weekend that he was going to be hounded by media members about UK and Florida. We said on the Monday Insider Notes that if Lewis committed this week it would be to the Gators. That happened.
Of course he also scrubbed pictures of him in UK gear from his social media, which appeared to be a giveaway in his recruitment.
What’s Next for UK:
I said on Twitter on Tuesday night this was a blow for Kentucky and several UK fans disagreed. This isn’t the end of the world. Kentucky still has a great chance to finish with the No. 1 class in 2019 and if the Cats didn’t sign another wing player or guard I think John Calipari would be fine for the 2019-2020 season.
But Kentucky really liked Lewis and wanted to land him. Bigs are more of a priority at this point but they viewed him as a role player on the 2019-2020 team and that would be a damn good role player to have on the roster. Lewis could have been the sixth man and that would speak to UK’s depth and talent level. It seemed like a great situation for Calipari and there’s no denying Kentucky’s eagerness to land Lewis.
The only uncommitted guard that currently is being recruited by Kentucky is Cole Anthony, and as of today he seems like a longshot. Anthony is a North Carolina lean, but has said he plans on waiting until the spring to make a final decision. Obviously that could change, but even if Anthony does wait it doesn’t look promising for him to end up in Lexington.
Maybe a 2020 player reclassifies, but most reclassification rumors surrounding guards were centered around UK target R.J. Hampton (who picked up an offer from UK on Tuesday) and he has already announced he’s staying in 2020.
Kentucky could also potentially play Kahlil Whitney or Dontaie Allen at the two position, and still sign Jaden McDaniels or Keion Brooks, who could play on the wing. Somewhat the inverse of what Calipari has done in previous season- ignore the wings and have three guards. Maybe he could ignore a true two-guard and just have a couple wings to go with Maxey. As long as the guards and wings can shoot, you can get creative.
But most likely UK will return a guard or two from this season’s team:
I wouldn’t have guessed six months ago that Herro would be the most likely to leave after one season, but here we are after his impressive showing in the Bahamas. The plan has always been for Hagans to leave after one season, but he may be most likely (sans Baker) to return after his showing in the Bahamas.
But without getting to high or low from Bahamas performances, Hagans and Herro could both leave and the Cats would be perfectly fine in 2019-2020 with Green, Quickley and Maxey. That’s just one scenario but there are several others.
I’d be shocked if Green, Hagans, Quickley and Herro all left, especially with a starting position left on the table.
Kentucky could also potentially add a gran-transfer guard (which are a dime a dozen compared to grad-transfer bigs). It’s obviously way too early to say names, but we would have a better idea come March.
So, recapping options for UK (in likelihood to happen):
- Returners from 2018-2019
- Play wings at the two
- 2020 reclassification
- Cole Anthony
Lewis to Florida is a bummer, but the Cats should be fine.
By TJ Walker on ©October 02nd, 2018 @ 11:00pm
KSR caught up with Tom Droney, Oscar Tshiebwe’s coach. Droney is the Kennedy Catholic co-director and the AAU coach of the ITPS Wildcats, Tshiebwe’s AAU team.
Tshiebwe is fresh off his Kentucky visit over the weekend that started on Saturday and ended on Monday afternoon. Tshiebwe has returned back to home to Hermitage, Pa., and will hit the road later this week to start his final official visit to West Virginia, the perceived favorite in his recruitment. Droney answers if that’s still the case.
Droney spoke with KSR about the the 6-foot-9, 250-pound center’s trip to Lexington and what’s next.
KSR: What did Oscar make of his visit to Kentucky and where do things stand?
Tom Droney: He thought it was a really good visit. He thought it was informative. Some of the questions he had going into the visit were answered and I think Cal did a good job of getting across to him that they really do want Oscar. It’s genuine and they think it could be a really good fit.
KSR: What questions did Oscar have that you referenced?
Tom Droney: I guess partly some of the questions about whether he was being prioritized, how serious was their interest level in him. What’s the deal with playing time and that sort of thing. I think Coach Cal did a good job getting across to Oscar and touching on all those subjects.
KSR: Did he get to play any pickup with the guys?
Tom Droney: No, they didn’t play any pickup but they watched a couple practices, he watched a couple practices.
KSR: Did anything standout to Oscar about the practices?
Tom Droney: He thought it was good intensity. He likes that they break the practices up. It keeps the guys focused rather than having a three-hour practice they break it up to two hour and 15 minute sessions. I think that’s a good thing. When you have a three-hour practice you probably don’t want to stay after and get shots up. I think it facilitates guys staying in the gym and being in the gym. UK isn’t trying to kill their guy’s legs or whatnot.
KSR: What did he think of the football game Saturday night?
Tom Droney: He said it was a great atmosphere and a ton of people. He had a really good time hanging out with the team.
KSR: Did UK push for a commitment?
Tom Droney: No. Not at all. They told him to be patient and they told him whenever he felt like he wanted to do it then do it. They said time is on his side and they weren’t pushy at all. He said that he really respects Cal because he’s super honest with everything, the situation, playing time and whatever. Cal was frank and honest, Oscar said.
KSR: When will we hear of a final decision from Oscar?
Tom Droney: I’d say a week or two, after this West Virginia visit. He definitely wants to get it done in the fall. So, I’d say in the next couple weeks we will know.
KSR: Should we read into WVU being the last visit?
Tom Droney: Not necessarily. That’s just how the chips fell. It is their homecoming weekend, so I think they wanted him down there for homecoming.
KSR: You had told me previously that WVU was the leader but he was opened to hearing other pitches, are the Mountaineers still the leader?
Tom Droney: I do think that Kentucky, he had a great visit there this past weekend. Other than that it’s hard to say right now. He’s processing a lot of stuff right now as far as Kentucky and he has West Virginia coming up. I don’t have a great read on it right now, but I do think after this West Virginia visit we’ll have a better picture for sure.
KSR: I know NBA is important to him, was that discussed on the visist?
Tom Droney: I think it was a really good visit and he had a great time. Everything was handled very professionally and he just said he really liked that fact that at the first practice there were six NBA scouts and the second there were four or five. It was constant exposure to NBA scouts and what not. That’s another thing he really liked.
Well crap. Kentucky lost out on one of its top targets Tuesday night when Scottie Lewis announced his commitment to Florida.
A five-star wing from New Jersey, Lewis had been on the Cats’ board for quite some time. He took his official visit to Lexington a couple of weeks ago and met with UK assistant Tony Barbee as recent as earlier today. But despite all the work the staff put in throughout Lewis’ recruitment, and the fact he was spotted in UK shorts just last week, it wasn’t enough to keep him from becoming a Gator.
— Scottie Lewis (@Scott_lewis_23) October 3, 2018
Oh well. Nice get for Mike White and the Gators.
Another day and that means Kentucky has extended another offer in the class of 2020. On Tuesday UK extended an offer to R.J. Hampton, one of the Cats top priorities in the class. Kentucky has visited Hampton a couple times and the 6-foot-4, 170-pound comb-guard from Little Elm, Texas will return the favor next week when he checks out Big Blue Madness.
He becomes the seventh player in the class of 2020 to land an offer from UK, joining these talented five-star players:
With the exception of Barnes and Dante, all the other 2020 players have been offered during this recruiting cycle. Although it seems like Calipari is handing out offers all willy-nilly, he’s actually just slightly above average for the timing/quantity of offers. This time last year he had extended six offers in the class of 2019 and more were soon to come in the winter months.
It appears UK is anticipating losing a good chunk of its 201-2020 backcourt because Hampton becomes the fourth guard to land an offer, and while Hampton is a combo-guard he’s perfectly capable of running point at the college level. He’s the third point guard to land an offer, along with Jeremy Roach and Sharife Cooper, who just visited.
UK also extended an offer to the No. 1 shooting guard in the class, Jalen Green, last night.
Duke has always been mentioned with Hampton but don’t sleep on Memphis. Hampton is Penny’s prized recruit in 2020 and the Tigers will be pulling out all the stops, but UK and Kansas need to also be mentioned as potential leaders. If Hampton sounds familiar it’s because last month he announced he would not be reclassifying to the class of 2019, which was something rumored surrounding his recruitment for months. He mentioned that Tyrese Maxey was pushing him to reclassify and join him at UK for the 2019-2020 season. That obviously won’t be happening, but the Cats hope Hampton is the next great Texan to lead UK’s team following Maxey’s likely one season at Kentucky in 2019-2020.
By TJ Walker on ©October 02nd, 2018 @ 1:00pm
The Crystal Ball is a magical thing. It allows fans a chance to get a look at expert predictions and it usually sends people into a tizzy. That’s exactly what happened when 247 Sports Basketball Recruiting Analyst Evan Daniels switched his Kentucky pick to “foggy”, indicating he’s unsure at this moment where Stewart will go to college.
The No. 5 player in the class of 2019 visited Kentucky over the weekend and spoke with Daniels after the visit. Read that entire article HERE.
There’s been some buzz that five-star guard Scottie Lewis is nearing a decision and the Florida Gators have the momentum. Kentucky is not going down without a fight. According to Adam Zagoria, Tony Barbee visited Lewis today at his school in New Jersey. Florida assistant Darris Nichols will visit him tomorrow.
As TJ said in his Insider Notes yesterday, Lewis will attend the USA Basketball Men’s Junior Minicamp in Colorado Springs this weekend. If Barbee can convince him to hold off on a decision this week, that’s good news for Kentucky, as Lewis will be surrounded by UK commits Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney, and fellow UK targets Isaiah Stewart, James Wiseman, etc. If he sets his announcement for before then, probably not a great sign for the Cats.
No need to rush, Scottie.