Basketball Recruiting News
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 22nd, 2019 @ 12:30pm
The main focus for Kentucky has been on closing out the 2019 recruiting class, but the Wildcat coaching staff is laying the ground work for the elite prospects in the class of 2020.
In fact, several of those big-name prospects will be making their way to Lexington for visits in the coming weeks.
Let’s take a look.
|Hunter Dickinson (2020)
Center | 7-2 | 255 lbs.
Hyattsville, MD |DeMatha Catholic
AAU: Team Takeover
|ESPN||No. 20 | 2 C||Top247||No. 23 | 4 C|
|Rivals||No. 18 | 3 C||247 Comp.||No. 19 | 4 C|
Hunter Dickinson, a 7-foot-2 center out of Hyattsville, MD will head to Lexington this Saturday for Kentucky’s matchup with Kansas.
After some back-and-forth on whether or not it would be an official or unofficial visit for the five-star big man, KSR sources have confirmed it will be unofficial.
Back in December, the elite center told Jake Weingarten of Stockrisers.com that Kentucky is one of the schools recruiting him the hardest and he’s certainly open to John Calipari’s pitch.
“Kentucky has one of the best coaches in the country and Coach Cal probably has the best recent track record of getting players in the league,” he said.
In an interview with Irish Sports Daily yesterday, Dickinson said he would likely decide next fall.
“Final decision will probably be around next fall, hopefully. That would probably be a good decision for me. I don’t really want to rush it. I just want to make sure I’m making the best decision possible.”
Check out his highlights:
|B.J. Boston (2020)
Shooting Guard | 6-7 | 183 lbs.
Norcross, GA | Norcross HS
AAU: Athletes of Tomorrow (AOT)
|ESPN||No. 15 | 4 SF||Top247||No. 12 | 3 SG|
|Rivals||No. 8 | 2 SF||247 Comp.||No. 10 | 3 SG|
After a busy recruiting weekend when Kansas comes to town, things will slow down for a few weeks with 2020 prospects until five-star shooting guard B.J. Boston comes to town for Kentucky’s highly-anticipated matchup with Tennessee on February 16.
During his time at the Hoophall Classic this past weekend, Boston said the schools recruiting him the hardest right now are Duke, Auburn, Kentucky, Alabama, and Florida.
His most recent highlight tape:
|Sharife Cooper (2020)
Point Guard | 6-0 | 160 lbs.
Marietta, GA | McEachern
AAU: Athletes of Tomorrow (AOT)
|ESPN||No. 23 | 4 PG||Top247||No. 19 | 2 PG|
|Rivals||No. 24 | 4 PG||247 Comp.||No. 21 | 2 PG|
Just one week after Boston heads to Lexington, five-star point guard Sharife Cooper will unofficially visit Lexington when Auburn comes to town.
In an interview with Adam Zagoria of FloHoops, Cooper said he’ll be in town on February 23.
“I’m visiting Duke soon,” he said. “I think I’m going to go to the Kentucky-Auburn game later in the season [Feb 23].”
In fact, Cooper said the Kentucky coaching staff is actually pushing for a commitment from the 6-foot guard out of Marietta, GA.
“They kind of want to do it now, but I’m just trying to take my time,” he said.
Cooper’s interest in Kentucky really depends on what happens over the course of the next season. He likes the Cats, but he also doesn’t want to join an overly crowded backcourt.
“I really can’t think that far,” he said. “I’m just trying to finish the high school season. Anybody could commit to Kentucky. I don’t want to go somewhere where there’s three point guards, so I’m just really trying to take my time and see what they do.”
Watch him work:
Keion Brooks Jr.
Forward | 6-8 | 185 lbs.
Fort Wayne, IN | North Side
AAU: Spiece Indy Heat
|ESPN||No. 30 | 9 PF||Top247||No. 16 | 5 SF|
|Rivals||No. 35 | 13 PF||247 Comp.||No. 22 | 6 SF|
Beyond 2020 prospects, we also got a small bit of news on 2019 five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr. this morning.
With UCLA firing head coach Steve Alford and the school’s next coach in question, Brooks has decided to remove them from his final list.
The final four schools in contention? Indiana, Kentucky, North Carolina, and Michigan State.
Zagoria was the first to break the news:
.@KeionB_12 said yesterday he's effectively down to 4 schools – Indiana, Kentucky, UNC and Michigan State. Said it would be 'difficult' to start a new relationship with the new UCLA coach. @FloHoops https://t.co/ZueE4sXQ1R
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) January 22, 2019
Brooks has said a decision is coming soon, with Indiana maintaining the majority of momentum right now and Michigan State also picking up steam…
More to come
Sources tell KSR there are more prominent visitors expected for the Kansas game this weekend, and I’m working on getting that official list to you guys in the next day or so.
I’ll also follow up on five-star point guard Anthony Edwards’ official visit to Kentucky, as well.
See you then.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 21st, 2019 @ 10:45pm
Good evening and happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, BBN! Another week has passed, which means it’s time for another edition of Pilgrim’s Monday Insider Notes.
For as “quiet” as things were two weeks ago, we’re reached complete chaos over the course of the last few days.
Let’s dive right in.
Before we get into anything else, we have to discuss the biggest storyline of the day:
Kentucky is hosting the No. 1 player in the class of 2019 in point guard Anthony Edwards on an official visit starting today, with sources telling KSR the 6-foot-6 athlete arrived on campus earlier this afternoon and he will stay through the Mississippi State game tomorrow evening.
Evan Daniels of 247 Sports originally broke the news on Saturday about Edwards visiting Kentucky this week and then Kansas on Feb. 9.
The timing of the visit is interesting, but it’s absolutely massive for the program for obvious reasons. As one of the best scorers and complete players in all of high school basketball, Edwards has a chance to dominate the college basketball scene and end up as the No. 1 overall pick when the 2020 NBA Draft rolls around. Getting him on campus automatically improves Kentucky’s chances of reeling him in, even when the Wildcats’ chances seemed slim when he originally reclassified from the class of 2020.
As far as those chances specifically and why the timing is so interesting, I heard a bit of information from a source a few weeks ago that we needed to watch Ashton Hagans’ situation and his development as an NBA prospect in relation to Edwards’ recruitment. And that exact scenario is playing out.
Hagans quickly becomes a menace on both ends of the floor for the Wildcats, starts finding his way onto NBA mock drafts, and Kentucky gets Edwards in on an official visit out of the blue. I just don’t think that’s a coincidence. In short, I believe the UK staff knows Hagans is trending toward the NBA and they are looking for the No. 1 prospect in the nation to replace him next season (not too shabby of a replacement candidate, I might add).
I have been told that Edwards likes Kentucky “a whole lot, probably more than the general public realizes” and the UK coaching staff is extremely excited for the opportunity to sell him on being a Wildcat. The narrative out there is that Florida State is the team to beat with Georgia knocking on the door, but the staff feels they can swing major momentum their way while Edwards is on campus.
In an interview with Eric Bossi of Rivals.com, Edwards said he’s looking to build relationships and chemistry with the coaching staff during his visit.
“I’m looking at bonding, the relationship with the coach and staying there and seeing if I have chemistry with them,” he said. “They say come to UK and get a national championship.”
Memphis made some buzz with Edwards this last week, specifically with former Kentucky target James Wiseman reaching out to him, but I’m under the impression the elite point guard prospect is officially down to Florida State, Georgia, Kentucky, Kansas, and North Carolina, with the first four schools being the most likely options.
He’ll likely make a decision after the McDonald’s All-American Game in late March.
I will have an update on the site on how things went/specifics when Edwards’ visit concludes.
Last night, five-star power forward Isaiah Stewart committed to Washington over Duke, Michigan State, Kentucky, and Syracuse, a decision that really shocked no one in the recruiting circles.
If you’ve been following along with the notes over the past few weeks, you’d know Stewart has been leaning toward the Huskies and Kentucky was most likely out of the running. Sources told KSR that Kentucky was running fourth behind Washington, Duke, and Michigan State (in that order), and yesterday Stewart himself confirmed that.
The elite prospect out of La Porte, IN told Evan Daniels of 247 Sports that he actually decided on Washington two weeks ago, with the Blue Devils and Spartans also receiving consideration during the home stretch of his recruitment.
“I really decided that I wanted to go to Washington two weeks ago,” Stewart said. “I was bouncing around from school to school. I was strong with Duke at one point and Michigan State at one point.”
The fact of the matter is that while we usually hear of butterflies and rainbows after visits, I’ve been told Stewart’s official visit to Kentucky just didn’t click with the five-star power forward. The Wildcat coaching staff emphasized how difficult things would be in Lexington, how hard he’d have to work, minutes and shots aren’t guaranteed or promised, etc., and Stewart was more interested in going to a school where he could be the superstar in the frontcourt.
In Daniels’ interview with the elite big man, Stewart confirmed that he was looking to be “the guy” in college.
“Come out here and be the guy,” Stewart said. “39 or 36 touches is what Noah Dickerson got one game. Just getting the ball. I’m an unselfish player and I know how to play with other guys. I want to change the culture out there. When I went out there they were just bursting for someone and I just felt it.”
He’s a talented prospect, and I genuinely feel that he would have been a fantastic player in Lexington, but things just didn’t work out. While I’ve gotten optimistic feedback on the other remaining available frontcourt prospects for Kentucky, the responses I got on Stewart during the home stretch of his recruitment were mixed (at best).
On to the next…
Over the course of the last week or so, rumors have been floating around that once Isaiah Stewart officially committed to Washington, five-star forward Jaden McDaniels would soon spurn his hometown Huskies and commit to Kentucky. I don’t know where they came from or why they’re out there, but I can say with 100 percent certainty they are not true.
In fact, it’s just the opposite. Sources tell KSR that Stewart’s commitment to Washington only strengthened the team’s chances of securing a commitment from McDaniels, not force his hand to look elsewhere.
After Stewart committed to Washington on Sunday evening, he told 247 Sports his first job as a Husky will be to convince McDaniels to join him in Seattle.
“I feel like I’m special and I feel like I deserve to go out there and I feel like they deserve a top recruit,” he said. “I’m going after Jaden McDaniels and we are trying to build something out there.”
Adam Zagoria of FloHoops interviewed McDaniels at the Hoophall Classic this afternoon, asking him of his thoughts on Stewart’s pitch and the Huskies in general.
“When [Stewart] recruits me, everything sounds good,” he said. “I feel like it would be crazy because they have Quade [Green] too, so I feel it would be something people haven’t seen before.
“[I’d be] super comfortable there,” he added. “Because everybody there I know. I’m just around them all the time so I feel that would be a good situation.”
As for Kentucky, the perceived co-favorite in his recruitment, McDaniels says he’s in contact with the Wildcat coaching staff “all the time.”
“Yeah, I talk to the all the time,” he said. “They’re shooting me texts like ‘we’re watching’ and ‘we’d love to have you,’ and stuff like that. They just tell me if you come it’s not going to be given to you, you just gotta work for everything.”
As far as a decision and his overall recruitment goes, McDaniels says he’s going to wait until the end of his season to make a decision, as KSR reported last week.
“I haven’t really been paying attention to [recruiting], honestly,” he said. “I’m just worred about my high school team and doing what we’re doing. I don’t even know [when I’ll make a decision] right now, probably toward the end of our season.”
I believe that while Kentucky feels great about their position, Washington is a legitimate threat to land the 6-foot-11 forward. The fact that McDaniels is in no rush to make a decision plays in Kentucky’s favor.
Keion Brooks Jr.
Last week in the notes, I wrote about five-star forward Keion Brooks coming close to a decision, with sources telling KSR that it would likely come down to Indiana and Kentucky in the end.
Over the last few days, however, two prominent recruiting analysts reported Brooks’ decision would likely come down to two schools, but they each had different finalists (with neither including Kentucky).
“[North Carolina’s] best chances lay with Keion Brooks and Matthew Hurt,” he said. “Brooks is much closer to his decision, and it looks to be a battle between Indiana and UNC for him.”
Brian Snow of 247 Sports, however, wrote in a recent post that he felt the decision was between Indiana and Michigan State for Brooks.
— Matt Charboneau (@mattcharboneau) January 21, 2019
Indiana has been the go-to pick for most recruiting analysts, as he has openly discussed his satisfaction with staying home and playing in front of friends and family every night. There’s no doubt the Hoosiers will be in the conversation right up until the final announcement.
Though I have been told the Kentucky coaching staff feels good about their chances with the versatile forward, the fact that there might not be a clear-cut team up there with the Hoosiers makes me think Archie Miller and the IU coaching staff will win out in the end.
Brooks participated in the Hoophall Classic this afternoon, so quotes from his postgame interview should begin to trickle out in just a bit. He has said he is nearing a decision, and I was told that with his teammate Isaiah Stewart committing on ESPN at the event this weekend, fans should watch out for him pulling the trigger, as well.
Obviously that hasn’t happened, but we’ll see if we get a decision date sooner rather than later.
Five-star forward Matthew Hurt completed his official visit to Duke this weekend, the third of his five anticipated officials before making a decision this spring. He started with Kentucky at the beginning of December and followed it up with a trip to North Carolina on December 14.
He’s also scheduled to visit Kansas in February and take a fifth to either Memphis or Minnesota to close things out, though nothing has been determined as of yet.
As far as his visit to Duke goes, 2019 five-star Blue Devil commit Wendell Moore joined him, where he tried to sell the elite scorer on joining him in Durham throughout the weekend.
I’ve been told that Hurt is the last target on the board (barring a reclassification) for Duke, so they sold him on being the final piece to the puzzle to close out their recruiting class that includes five-star center Vernon Carey, Moore, and four-star combo guard Boogie Ellis. Things unsurprisingly went well, though I will add that his trip didn’t change his mindset on his recruitment (i.e. he didn’t want to jump on a commitment, cut list, etc.). That’s obviously good news for Kentucky, who still feels great about their chances.
Like I said last week, this thing is going to go the distance, so nothing monumental was expected during this visit. Hurt wants to close out his senior season before focusing on cutting his list and making a final decision.
I’ll be back with more when Anthony Edwards’ visit concludes.
One of the top high school basketball targets in America will begin his official visit to the University of Kentucky on Monday.
Anthony Edwards, the top-ranked shooting guard in the Class of 2019, will land at Blue Grass Airport this afternoon to spend the next couple of days on UK’s campus. He is ranked fourth in the 247Sports Composite Rankings, but 247Sports considers him the No. 1 overall player in the country, regardless of position.
Shooting Guard | 6-5 | 215 lbs.
Atlanta, GA | Holy Spirit Preparatory School
|ESPN||No. 4 | 1 SG||Top247||No. 1 | 1 SG|
|Rivals||No. 3 | 1 SG||247 Comp.||No. 4 | 1 SG|
Edwards took over 247Sports’s top spot from former UK target James Wiseman when he reclassified from the 2020 class back in November. Kentucky’s main competition for his commitment is Florida State, but the next couple of days could change that if things go well. (It’d be nice if Lexington wasn’t covered in snow.)
Edwards will of course take in the sights and sounds of Rupp Arena tomorrow night when UK hosts No. 22 Mississippi State.
By Maggie Davis on ©January 20th, 2019 @ 8:48pm
Isaiah Stewart, a consensus five-star, top-six prospect in the class of 2019, has verbally committed to play basketball at Washington. He announced his decision on ESPN during halftime of a Hoophall Classic game. The news comes after weeks of speculation, including a crystal ball report that heavily favored the Huskies. Here’s a video of the announcement:
Five-star center Isaiah Stewart announces he’s heading to #Washington
— Lars Hanson (@LarsHanson) January 21, 2019
In his interview with 247 sports, Stewart said Washington coach Mike Hopkins was a big factor in his decision.
“At first, I wasn’t leaning towards them, but the more Coach Hopkins and I continued to talk, he’s a guy like me and different and works hard. He wants to start his own legacy and that’s what I want to do,” Stewart said. “He’s a coach I trust to push me harder and help me accomplish my goals.”
But his commitment doesn’t stop there. Like most recruits, Stewart plans on helping his new school continue to bring in elite talent.
“I’m going after Jaden McDaniels now,” Stewart said. “We’re trying to build something out there… If we get him, man, game-changer.”
Jaden McDaniels, if you’ll remember, is the No. 5 overall player in the Rivals rankings, and another top target for the Wildcats. He’s already been offered a scholarship and taken an official visit, but the Washington native hasn’t yet committed. National analyst Corey Evans believes UK and Washington are the two most likely landing spots for McDaniels. That’d be a huge miss for Kentucky at this point.
Throughout the recruitment process, Stewart took official visits to Kentucky, Duke, Michigan State and Syracuse before ultimately picking the Huskies. Over the last week or so, KSR sources have thought Washington would most likely be Stewart’s final destination, and today’s news finally confirms that. KSR’s Jack Pilgrim will have plenty of additional information in his “Monday Insider Notes” post tomorrow afternoon.
After missing out on Vernon Carey (who is committed to Duke) and now Isaiah Stewart, John Calipari and the Cats are back in the market for a big man.
Assuming you aren’t completely burned out by all of the sports happening this weekend, you can look ahead to a couple potential future Cats tomorrow.
At 11AM, 6’11” power forward Jaden McDaniels will suit up on ESPNU. McDaniels is the 5th ranked prospect by 247 Sports, and based on his highlights, he earned that spot more with finesse than power.
Sure looks like a fine alternative to James Wiseman to me.
Later in the day at 5PM, 5-star small forward Keion Brooks will squad up with his La Lumiere team, also on ESPNU. Indiana is considered the heavy favorite to land Brooks, but he has taken an official visit to UK and has yet to remove them from his list, so anything is possible. And I definitely wouldn’t mind having him.
By Nick Roush on ©January 19th, 2019 @ 2:39pm
The No. 1 player in America will be on Kentucky’s campus in just a few days.
Evan Daniels reports Anthony Edwards has scheduled an official visit to UK that will begin Monday, January 21. That means the top-ranked player in America will be at Rupp Arena Tuesday night to watch the Cats take on Mississippi State.
Following his trip to Kentucky, Edwards will officially visit Kansas February 9. His only prior official visit was to Georgia. His other finalists are North Carolina and Florida State, the perceived favorite.
The 6’5″ swingman was originally a member of the 2020 recruiting class. Upon reclassifying, he stole James Wiseman’s spot atop the recruiting class. You can understand why after watching the highlights below:
The No. 8 overall prospect in ESPN’s 2019 recruiting rankings and current Kentucky Wildcat commit, Tyrese Maxey, has been leading the recruiting trail for his new team despite missing out on James Wiseman in November.
Maxey, the second-highest rated shooting guard in his class, was pushing hard to land a commitment from Wiseman but didn’t get discouraged when the nation’s top recruit chose the Memphis Tigers instead.
“It’s like that sometimes,” said Maxey, who plays for South Garland High School out of Texas. “At the end of the day he [Wiseman] had to do what was right for him and I respect that. He’s still my man.”
Maxey headlines a Kentucky recruiting class currently ranked fifth overall by ESPN, joined by Khalil Whitney (No. 10) and Kentucky native Dontaie Allen (No. 91). But Maxey, following in his future head coaches footsteps, isn’t satisfied just yet.
According to an interview with USA Today, Maxey is still recruiting Keion Brooks (No. 34) and Isaiah Stewart (No. 5) – both teammates out of La Lumiere School in Indiana – along Jaden McDaniels (No. 6) out of Federal Way in Washington and Matthew Hurt (No. 7) out of John Marshall High School in Minnesota.
“I need those guys with me,” Maxey said. “I gave it my best shot with James and that’s all I can do. I pretty much knew that he was gonna go there, but I had to go hard at him anyway. Now I’m gonna focus on these guys and try and build a great team for the BBN fans next season.”
Stewart is expected to announce his decision on ESPN on Sunday with most projections pointing towards him selecting Washington. Brooks’ announcement could be made public sometime soon, as well.
As for McDaniels and Hurt, we are still hoping Maxey’s pitches can be enough to convince one (or both) of them to wear the blue and white next season in Lexington.
Even if his efforts prove to be all for nothing, Maxey buying into Kentucky 100 percent should be the most important takeaway from all of this. He’s clearly extremely committed to Kentucky and wants to build something special for what will likely be his only season as a Wildcat. If he can bring along a couple of five-star recruits with him, I’m all for it.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 18th, 2019 @ 11:35am
One of the big names in the class of 2019 is set to make his final decision this weekend.
Five-star power forward Isaiah Stewart out of La Porte, IN will make his announcement on Sunday evening at halftime of the Oak Hill vs. IMG game (7:30 p.m. ET) on ESPN.
The final five? Duke, Michigan State, Washington, Syracuse, and Kentucky.
ESPN’s Paul Biancardi was the first to report the news:
RECRUITING NEWS: Isaiah Stewart (@Dreamville_33) will make his college announcement Sunday night on ESPN during halftime of the Oak Hill vs. IMG game (7:30 p.m. ET).
Final Five Schools: @DukeMBB, @KentuckyMBB, @MSU_Basketball, @Cuse_MBB & @UW_MBB pic.twitter.com/CxM05ylnSL
— Paul Biancardi (@PaulBiancardi) January 18, 2019
Stewart himself also confirmed the news, adding the caption “The Time Has Come” on Twitter.
— IsaiahStewart.II (@Dreamville_33) January 18, 2019
As far as the timing of the announcement goes, I have been told that ESPN has been pushing both Stewart and Kentucky target Keion Brooks to commit this weekend during the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts. Both prospects have said publicly that their decisions were right around the corner, with Brooks actually expected to come before Stewart, and I’m under the assumption that both were very receptive to the idea of announcing on the big stage. Stewart officially made the jump, and I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if we hear of Brooks doing the same.
Though the elite big man’s final five includes Kentucky, it appears the decision will come down to Washington, Duke, and Michigan State, with the Huskies being the runaway favorite to land him at this point.
Evan Daniels of 247 Sports, one of the absolute best in the recruiting business, logged a Crystal Ball pick for Washington yesterday morning. He has hit on 97 percent of predictions in 2019 (87/90) and 95 percent all-time (159/168).
Adam Rowe, John Watson, and Chad Lykins, three Duke insiders, also made predictions for Washington within the span of just a few hours yesterday afternoon.
247 Sports’ Brian Snow, who has a 93 percent all-time (96 percent in 2019) prediction grade, picked Washington back in October and hasn’t backed away from that since.
The Huskies have also received four of Stewart’s last analyst predictions on Rivals.com, including one from Eric Bossi.
To say there’s significant momentum for Washington right now would be an understatement. I would be shocked if he ended up anywhere other than Seattle next season.
I also may add that there have been rumors spreading that if Stewart announces for Washington (as expected), that five-star forward Jaden McDaniels would opt for Kentucky soon after. As great as that sounds for the Wildcats, I’m told there is no truth to those rumors and McDaniels would actually be open to teaming up with the elite power forward prospect under Mike Hopkins at Washington. To take it a step further, I’m under the firm belief McDaniels wants to finish up his senior year before making a final decision.
Regardless, it looks like Stewart will be teaming up with Quade Green in purple and gold next season.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 17th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
Right when we thought things were going to slow down a bit on the recruiting circuit, we have an afternoon where three interesting developments surface concerning three separate Kentucky basketball recruits.
The trio of individuals? 2019 five-star forward prospects Jaden McDaniels, Keion Brooks, and Isaiah Stewart.
For two of the prospects, the information/update is positive for the Wildcats, especially for one with a final decision expected in the coming weeks. With the other, there’s not as much reason for optimism as of today.
Let’s take a look:
Rivals’ basketball recruiting analyst Corey Evans released his regular “Three-Point Play” segment earlier today, where he included an interesting bit of information on Kentucky basketball target Jaden McDaniels and his expected timeline for a decision.
Evans reports McDaniels will focus on finishing out his senior season before making a final decision between Kentucky, San Diego State, Texas, UCLA, and Washington.
Sources have told Rivals.com that the current plan is for McDaniels to finish out his high school season first before making any sort of decision. This would bring us to possibly mid-March before a commitment might be made.
And when that decision does come, Evans expects it to come down to the Wildcats and the Huskies for McDaniels’ services.
I believe that McDaniels will end up at Kentucky or Washington. The Wildcats had gained some talk of late but either way, don’t look for anything new to come out of the McDaniels’ camp for several more weeks.
Earlier in the week, Rivals recruiting guru Eric Bossi also released a positive update on the five-star forward out of Federal Way, WA.
“Most seem to think he’ll stay out West but I’ve been feeling Kentucky on this one if I had to pick,” he said.
On Pilgrim’s Insider Notes this past Monday, I told you guys about Kentucky’s intrigue with the idea of updating their schemes to fit an NBA style of play where all five players on the court can run the floor and hit shots from the perimeter. In fact, I’ve been told that after years of going away from the Dribble Drive offense, Calipari would like to implement it again next season with McDaniels being a key piece of the four-out, one-in style of play.
Kentucky feels they have a convincing pitch in place for the 6-foot-11 forward and have a great shot in this recruitment.
Watch him work:
On Sunday afternoon, 6-foot-7 forward Keion Brooks hosted Kentucky and Indiana on in-home visits, the two schools I said on Monday will be the final two schools in serious consideration when a decision is made in the coming weeks.
Though Indiana is the local school and the “hometown hero” pitch the Hoosiers are selling is working, I’m under the impression the Kentucky coaching staff is confident they have a legitimate shot no matter when the La Porte, IN product makes a final decision.
This afternoon on Instagram, Brooks posted something pretty interesting on his story that only adds to that optimism for the Wildcats.
Joined in a graphic with potential future teammates Tyrese Maxey, Dontaie Allen, and Kahlil Whitney, Brooks posted a photoshopped image of him suited up in a Kentucky uniform:
To add even more intrigue to the situation, Kentucky was the only school included on Brooks’ story. Hmm…
Like I said on Monday, I believe Indiana may have a slight lead over Kentucky right now, but it’s close. Really close. When I brushed off the idea of Brooks coming a while back, especially after Whitney committed, I was quickly told I needed to take a closer peek into the situation and realize just how much the versatile forward likes the Cats.
Even with the Hoosiers deemed the favorite, I’ve been told the UK coaching staff has a quiet confidence they can close the gap to make it a true 50/50 toss-up when an announcement comes.
Here are his most recent highlights:
As optimistic as things seem for McDaniels and Brooks, the same cannot be said for five-star power forward Isaiah Stewart.
Stewart, a La Lumiere (IN) product and teammate of Brooks, recently said he wasn’t ready to make a commitment just yet, but it’s right around the corner. And when that time does come, it doesn’t appear Kentucky will be the landing spot.
Evan Daniels of 247 Sports, one of the absolute best in the business when it comes to insider knowledge, logged a Crystal Ball pick for Washington this morning.
Adam Rowe, John Watson, and Chad Lykins, three Duke insiders, also made predictions for Washington within the span of just a few hours this afternoon.
247 Sports’ Brian Snow, who has a 93 percent all-time (96 percent in 2019) prediction grade, picked Washington back in October and hasn’t backed away from that since.
The Huskies have also received four of Stewart’s last analyst predictions on Rivals.com, including one from Eric Bossi.
On Kentucky’s end of things, it is my understanding the Wildcats are running fourth behind Washington, Duke, and Michigan State (in that order) for Stewart, and it would be a shock for the five-star big man out of La Porte, IN to end up in Lexington.
Teaming up with former Kentucky guard Quade Green next year in Washington, though? That’s looking like the likely scenario with a decision coming sooner rather than later.
If you’ve been following along with the notes over the past two Mondays, you’d know none of these developments are major surprises, but they’re certainly interesting nonetheless.
Brooks is expected to make a decision in the coming weeks, followed by Stewart in late January/early February, McDaniels sometime in late March/early April, and then five-star forward Matthew Hurt to close things out late in April.
Things might seem slow now, but chaos is right around the corner. Be ready, BBN.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©January 17th, 2019 @ 10:30am
The LaVar Ball circus returns to the Bluegrass this weekend, but if you want to film any of LaMelo’s games, you’re going to have to fork over some major money.
LaMelo’s SPIRE Institute is participating in the “Big Baller Beatdown” showcase Saturday and Sunday in Marshall County and according to Adam Zagoria, the Big Baller Brand is requiring video outlets to pay $3,500 to film SPIRE’s games:
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) January 17, 2019
LaMelo’s chances of being eligible to play college basketball seemed shaky at best after his stint in Lithuania, but there’s no way it happens now that his dad is profiting directly off his games, right?
Adding to the madness in Marshall County will be Zion Harmon’s debut for Bella Vista Prep. According to Larry Vaught, Harmon has been cleared to play for the Arizona prep school even though he’s still enrolled at Marshall County:
Just got it confirmed. Zion Harmon will be playing for Bella Vista Prep out of Arizona Friday night at Marshall County against Life Christian. Tipoff about 8:30 p.m. CST. Story to follow in a bit. @zion_harmon will remain in school at Marshall County@thegrindsession
— Vaughts' Views (@vaughtsviews) January 17, 2019
I’m not sure how that all works, but hey, at least the kid gets to play. If you want to see the Big Baller Beatdown in person, here’s the schedule:
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 14th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
Good afternoon, everyone! I hope everyone had great weekends and aren’t dreading this cold and cloudy Monday too much. If so, I may just have the cure to help push you through the home stretch at work or to get your relaxing evening started on a positive note.
We’re back for another edition of Pilgrim’s Basketball Insider Notes.
As I mentioned last week, Kentucky is in a holding pattern with the few remaining targets left on the board for 2019 due to high school basketball season in full-force and NBA Draft decisions still a ways away. As a result, I expected this version of the Insider Notes to be focused on updates with Kentucky’s current commitments/signees and some notes on 2020 prospects.
After hitting the phones and making my regular rounds, however, I actually came across quite a bit of interesting information we need to touch on regarding the recruitments of the available big names in 2019.
Let’s get right to it.
The biggest news of the last week in terms of recruiting news has to do with the in-home visits five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr. held with his family on Sunday afternoon.
Brooks, a 6-foot-7 forward playing at La Lumiere HS in Indiana, hosted just two schools on his final list of six: Kentucky and Indiana.
I’ve been told both in-home visits went extremely well for different reasons. On Kentucky’s end of things, John Calipari represented the school, and the Wildcat head coach sold his message of being a versatile playmaker on both ends of the floor with a solid shot at making it to the NBA after one season with relentless work and dedication to his craft. No other assistants made the trip with Coach Cal.
One interesting thing I learned is that while some recruits are getting turned off by the “Kentucky is not for everyone” pitch with zero promises on playing time, shots, etc., Brooks is absolutely in love with the mindset, and so is his family. Brooks’ father, Keion Sr., played basketball at Wright State and knows the grind that comes with being a college basketball player. The Kentucky target wants to be at a school where he can develop as a player and as a person, and he genuinely feels he can do just that en route to a successful NBA career by landing in Lexington. It’s a big reason why Brooks Jr. and his family are having such a hard time saying no to Calipari and company.
On Indiana’s end of things, however, the “hometown hero” pitch is working, and his close friends/people around the local area are only adding to that pressure of staying home. Brooks’ family also feels he can be successful and grow as a player in Bloomington and they respect Archie Miller as a head coach. The family is very much open to the schools in contention and want Brooks to make the decision best for him, but that’s not stopping others in the area from pushing the Hoosiers.
Evan Daniels of 247 Sports said in his latest mailbag that Michigan State and UNC also have shots with Brooks, but I stand by my prediction from last week that the final two schools in serious consideration when a decision is made in the coming weeks are the Wildcats and the Hoosiers.
Last week, I addressed his “inching toward a decision” comments, but I felt the sooner an announcement came for Brooks, the worse I felt about the Wildcats’ chances. Now, though, I’m under the impression the Kentucky coaching staff is confident no matter when the five-star forward makes it official. I’d probably put Indiana ever-so-slightly ahead of Kentucky for now, but I genuinely think they’ll have a shot in the end.
I have been told Brooks will absolutely be the first to make a decision of Kentucky’s four remaining major targets in the class of 2019, followed by Isaiah Stewart in February, Matthew Hurt in April, and Jaden McDaniels sometime during the regular signing period, as well.
Keep a close eye on Brooks…
On Saturday night, Isaiah Stewart told reporters he’s not going to make a final cut to two or three schools like most elite recruits do. Instead, the five-star power forward said he will just choose a school from his final five of Kentucky, Duke, Michigan State, Syracuse, and Washington.
Stewart also added that while he’s not ready to make a commitment quite yet, he acknowledged that it will be coming soon, with sources telling KSR that early February is the target timeframe.
Currently uncommitted top five Class of 2019 national recruit Isaiah Stewart @Dreamville_33 is not ready to make his commitment decision just yet, and he said today that he will not be whittling down his list of five schools further to a list of two or three. pic.twitter.com/RlADroTJ5o
— Matt Trabold (@TrabsMatt) January 13, 2019
Last week, I felt Duke was the favorite in his recruitment, followed by Michigan State, Kentucky, Washington, and Syracuse in that order. Since then, however, the Washington Huskies have garnered the most buzz for the talented prospect out of Indiana.
In fact, the Huskies have received four of Stewart’s last analyst predictions on Rivals.com, including one from recruiting guru Eric Bossi.
I can confirm Washington is right in the thick of things and have the majority of momentum right now, with two individuals actually telling me they are now the team to beat. Folks around the Kentucky program don’t believe they are out of the running yet, but I do get the sense they are much more confident in Matthew Hurt and Jaden McDaniels in the frontcourt. I’d probably put the Wildcats behind Washington, Duke, and Michigan State at this point.
I’ve been told one interesting dynamic regarding Stewart’s recruitment actually involves 2020 five-star center Walker Kessler. Duke had a significant amount of momentum with Stewart, but after a brief period of silence, they offered the 6-foot-10 star out of Fairburn, GA at the end of December. I’ve been told Kessler is a legitimate candidate to reclassify to 2019, and if he does, the Blue Devils may be the team to beat.
Duke may just want a backup option in place should Stewart land elsewhere, or they may just seriously want Kessler in the class of 2020. But I don’t think Duke’s interest in Kessler for 2019 and the tide shifting toward Washington for Stewart is a coincidence.
The Huskies are a legitimate player for the five-star power forward out of La Porte, IN.
Hurt will visit Duke for their game this weekend against Virginia for his third official visit out of five. He started with Kentucky in the first week of December and then followed it up with a trip to North Carolina on December 14. He’ll also take a trip to Kansas in February and again likely to either Memphis or Minnesota for his fifth and final official.
After my conversations last week, I came away feeling pretty confident in Kentucky’s chances. One individual flat-out told me they felt the Wildcats were in the driver’s seat, saying John Calipari and staff made up a great amount of ground in a short period of time with Hurt.
I felt Kentucky had a slight lead, with Kansas running close behind at No. 2 and Memphis making a push a little further behind at No. 3. Duke, North Carolina, and Minnesota are the other three schools with buzz.
Since then, however, I’ve had a few people follow up and tell me the Jayhawks are still very much in the running and they might actually be neck-and-neck with the Wildcats. Hurt has always loved the Kansas program and will give them serious consideration right until the very end.
One source told me the dynamic 6-foot-9 scorer is in no rush to make a decision and we’re really just getting started with his recruiting process.
“Hurt is expected to have an entire second recruitment this spring,” they said. “Things will really start to heat up after his senior season ends and spring rolls around.”
I’ll catch up after his visit to Duke this weekend to see if there are any updates, but expect this thing to go the distance.
Last week, I tried to touch on McDaniels’ recruitment from Kentucky’s side of things. This week, I tried to attack it from McDaniels’ side of things, which proved to be much more difficult.
To put it simply, trying to get information out of the 6-foot-11 star or his family regarding his recruitment is tough. Really tough. His family is an extremely close-knit group and they go about the recruiting process from within. They don’t talk to reporters much, and when they do, it’s usually nothing that sweeps the recruiting scene or makes major headlines.
That being said, Kentucky has made him a priority and they feel he can be an incredible addition to the class of 2019. As I mentioned last week, the staff feels his versatility can allow them to get back to playing a true Dribble Drive style, something they have gotten away from over the last several years. They could even update the offense to an entirely new system, something similar to what we’ve seen in the NBA where all players on the floor can stretch the floor and knock down shots. I said it before, but the idea of bringing in Hurt and McDaniels has those within the program extremely excited about the potential challenge.
If McDaniels leaves the west coast, and that’s not a sure thing, I’m under the assumption Kentucky will be the final destination. They’re a quiet bunch, but it’s well-known they love what Kentucky has to offer and could definitely see the elite forward fitting in with the program.
Top-three prospect Anthony Edwards made headlines this past week when he joked on Instagram Live that he would be committing to Florida State.
The video is no longer available, but he talked about the Seminoles in passing originally, and then later said, “I just told you where I am going to college but y’all don’t want to listen.”
At the time, FSU fans took to Twitter to celebrate the news, even if the timing was completely random and didn’t really make a whole lot of sense.
Dude just committed on IG live randomly lol
— Will White (@WRW_11) January 8, 2019
Hold up…Anthony Edwards committed to the good guys yesterday?
— GuruNole (@jbuch007) January 8, 2019
Anthony Edwards committed to FSU???????
— Lightskin Jimmy Butler (@callmehuie) January 8, 2019
Evan Daniels came out and said a decision has not been made and the No. 1 point guard in the class of 2019 didn’t mean anything by it:
Five-star guard Anthony Edwards has not made his college decision, per sources. Edwards was joking around about a commitment on an Instagram Live video & that has since circulated.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) January 8, 2019
Considering Florida State has been considered the favorite in his recruitment from the second he reclassified back in November, it’s interesting, nonetheless.
Beyond Florida State, James Wiseman also openly says he’s recruiting Edwards to Memphis, and the star point guard himself said he’s open to hearing the Tigers’ pitch:
2 of the nation’s top prospects, East HS C / Memphis signee James Wiseman & Holy Spirit (GA) SG Anthony Edwards, face each other tonight in the Memphis Hoopfest.
Wiseman is recruiting Edwards to join him at Memphis, & Edwards says the Tigers aren't out of it for his commitment. pic.twitter.com/sKfQhJVP2J
— Sudu Upadhyay (@SuduUpadhyay) January 4, 2019
I was told by someone on Kentucky’s end last week that Edwards has “a ton of interest” in the Wildcats, with the school’s ability to coach one-and-done talent being the key reason. Beyond Florida State, Kentucky, Memphis, and Georgia are generating the most buzz with the sure-fire 2020 NBA Draft lottery pick. North Carolina and Kansas are also on his final list.
That being said, when there’s smoke, there’s usually fire, and there has just been too much talk about the Seminoles for me to change my prediction.
Other options for 2019
Kentucky would like to finish with at least two of the five elite prospects left on the board in the class of 2019. If things go south with the four individuals listed above, where would they look next?
2020 prospects R.J. Hampton, Jalen Green, and Sharife Cooper have all been mentioned in reclassification talk, and though it’s not as much of a necessity with Kentucky’s potential backcourt depth next year, they will gauge potential interest and monitor each of their situations individually. As far as I know, there’s not any individual 2020 player they are actively recruiting for the class of 2019 like they did with Tyrese Maxey, Jalen Lecque, and Ashton Hagans this past year.
In the frontcourt, however, I’ve been told Kentucky will be watching closely for late bloomers with interest in making the jump, but they aren’t counting on it.
6-foot-11 center N’Faly Dante is really the only true frontcourt option that has been rumored to reclassify connected to the Cats, and though I’ve been told the Kentucky staff is interested in him as a player, I’m under the assumption they prefer him in the class of 2020 to allow him to develop a bit more.
I have also been told Kentucky would be open to bringing in another graduate transfer, but like we saw with Reid Travis, it would have to be the right situation with the right fit. They’re expected to lose PJ Washington to the NBA Draft and Travis to graduation, but they feel confident enough in their standing with the current available 2019 prospects and those potentially coming back from the current group that the graduate transfer route isn’t a focus right now.
Barring another hectic week of new developments, the plan is to break down Kahlil Whitney, Tyrese Maxey, and Dontaie Allen, along with some tidbits on the 2020 class in next week’s edition of the Monday Insider Notes.
We’ll see you then.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©January 12th, 2019 @ 4:30pm
Kentucky has turned their focus to three frontcourt targets to close out their 2019 recruiting class: Isaiah Stewart, Jaden McDaniels, and Matthew Hurt.
All three players have Kentucky listed in the final cuts of their recruitments, with each having various expected timelines for a decision and significantly different skillsets they bring to the table.
Stewart maintains a bully-ball style of play, while at 6-foot-11, McDaniels is considered one of the most versatile players in the nation. The former is expected to make a decision over the next month or so, while the latter will likely wait until the regular signing period in April.
As for Hurt, the 6-foot-9 forward out of Rochester, MN is considered one of the most gifted scorers in all of high school basketball, regardless of class.
And he proved it once again last night.
The John Marshall HS product exploded for 44 points, 23 rebounds, and four assists in his team’s 84-48 victory over Century High School. He has helped lead the Rockets to six victories over their last seven games.
Check out some of his highlights from the ridiculous performance below:
HIGHLIGHTS: @JMRocketsBBB wins for the 6th time in their last 7 games, they beat Century 84-48.
Matthew Hurt led all scorers 44 points, grabbed a game-high 23 rebounds, and added 4 assists. pic.twitter.com/Y8Gq0I1CkS
— Mark Poulose (@MarkPoulose) January 12, 2019
He doesn’t have a flashy game, but Hurt’s ability to score at all three levels has Kentucky coaches drooling over his style of play and the opportunity to shift their offense to an NBA-like system. With the opportunity for the Cats to sign both Hurt and McDaniels, Kentucky will have the opportunity to have five players on the court with the ability to hit shots from deep.
Kentucky was the first school to receive an official visit the first week of December, followed by North Carolina on December 14. He will then officially visit Duke on January 19 for their game against Virginia, and then Kansas sometime in February. He’ll take one more official visit to either Villanova, Minnesota, and Memphis before making a final decision in April.
As we mentioned in the first edition of Pilgrim’s Insider Notes this past Monday, Duke, UNC, Kansas, Villanova, Minnesota, and Kentucky are the six schools most analysts feel are the final schools in contention, but sources tell KSR there is mutual interest with the Memphis Tigers and they’ll have a solid shot when a decision is made.
In fact, he has said in interviews that his recruitment is wide open, but Kentucky, Kansas, and Memphis are the schools I have been told have the most momentum leading into home stretch.
We’ll have more on Hurt’s recruitment and what to expect in his upcoming visit to Duke on Monday’s Insider Notes.
In the mean time, check out some of his other highlights from yet another 40-plus point performance back in December:
Come on down, Mr. Hurt.
The epic saga of Kentucky high school basketball star Zion Harmon continues.
After a last-ditch effort to play for Marshall County this season, a judge has denied a preliminary injunction that would have made him eligible to participate immediately.
Following his transfer from Adair County to Marshall County that initially sparked his ineligibility, Judge Thomas Russell of U.S. District Court in Paducah, issued a final ruling on Friday that did not favor the 5-foot-10 point guard originally out of Bethesda, Maryland. In his ruling (via Jason Frakes of the Courier-Journal), Russell said it was a “close call” and declared the requested preliminary injunction “not warranted in this matter.”
After transferring to his fourth school in four years KHSAA ruled Harmon ineligble until March 5, the one-year anniversary of his final game as a varsity athlete at Adair County. The ruling, originally made on Oct. 16, was because it was determined Harmon was transferring for basketball reasons, not academic or anything of the sort.
If Marshall County can make a run to the Boys Sweet 16 (March 6-10) at Rupp Arena, Harmon will be eligible to participate for the first time this season.
The No. 1 point guard in the class of 2021 started his career at Antioch (Tennessee) Lighthouse Christian in seventh grade, won a state title at Bowling Green in eighth grade, moved to Adair County as a freshman, and is now attempting to suit up for Marshall County for the rest of his high school career.
By Drew Franklin on ©January 10th, 2019 @ 11:00am
When I woke up this morning, I did my usual routine of rolling over to pick up my phone and then staying in bed for another 30 minutes to scroll through Twitter and Instagram until I can’t possibly stay in bed another second. It was a regular morning for me. I saw tweets I missed last night, pictures of my friends’ babies, a story about a man dragging a dead raccoon into a San Francisco McDonald’s, and UK commit Khalil Whitney announcing the date he will sign his Letter of Intent to attend the University of Kentucky as a member of its men’s basketball program.
But when I went back to Twitter after drinking my morning pot of coffee and eating my morning avocado toast with two perfect over-easy eggs, the tweet from Whitney was no longer there. Was it all a dream? Did I make it up? I saw it (or thought I saw it) before I mentally joined the world for the day, so maybe it never really happened at all and I’m losing my mind.
Or perhaps he deleted it?
The way I remember it, Whitney announced he will sign with Kentucky in early May. On the third, I think? Or maybe it was the ninth.
Whatever the date, I’m pretty sure it happened, and even though it was deleted, it should give us a little more insight into his plans of making things official. As we told you on Monday, the staff has zero concern about Whitney’s commitment and the coaches fully expect him to ink the paperwork during the spring signing period.
Now get out there and vote for Whitney in USA Today High School Sports’ Super 25 Star poll.
And if you saw the tweet, please tell me so I don’t have to worry about my mental health.