Basketball Recruiting News
By TJ Walker on ©August 08th, 2018 @ 3:50pm
The third UK commit for the class of 2019 spoke with ESPN about his commitment to Kentucky. Kahlil Whitney pledged for the Cats on Wednesday just a few days after his official visit over the weekend.
“After they offered, Coach Cal or one of his assistants were always at one of my games. Kentucky was my dream school,” Whitney told ESPN. “Growing up in Chicago, I remember watching John Wall, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Tyler Ulis. Coach Cal is a great person and a great coach.”
While on his visit Whitney met and spoke with former UK guard Isaiah Briscoe. Whitney attends Roselle Catholic in New Jersey where Briscoe played before enrolling at Kentucky. Sources close to the program say the two talked about Roselle and what it takes to play at Kentucky.
The 6-foot-6, 185-pound guard from Chicago picked UK over Oregon, Illinois and Georgetown, but had just previously cut his list that included Louisville, SMU, Miami and Florida State. Ranked No. 19 in the 247 Sports rankings, Whitney’s involvement with UK moved quickly.
Kentucky started watching Whitney’s games during the second evaluation period in July, offered in mid-July, he scheduled a visit shortly after and pulled the trigger just days after returning home. We should have possibly seen this coming after reading some of Whitney’s quotes when he was a freshman in high school.
“I want to go to Kentucky,” Whitney said back in 2016. “I hope to get an offer from them if I blow up [summer of 2016]. I like Coach Calipari. He’s a great coach. You can display your talent at the highest level and I just love the atmosphere there for games.”
It may have taken Whitney a bit longer to get UK’s attention, but it happened and he didn’t wait long to jump on the offer. He becomes the second UK commitment in a week, following Kentuckian Dontaie Allen, who visited UK just days before Whitney and committed six days ago.
The two have similar games. Both are gifted offensively and can shoot from deep, but Whitney is more athletic and the better defender as of today. Whitney is more battled tested on the AAU circuit, too. Allen’s squad didn’t play a cupcake schedule but it wasn’t the Nike EYBL. He averaged 21.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game on the circuit this summer while shooting 38 percent from deep and averaging over two made threes per game.
Calipari has coined “position-less” basketball, so there’s no doubt that Allen and Whitney can play together.
Both commitments come shortly after the decommitment of D.J. Jeffries. Jeffries picked UK back in March but backed off the pledge on July 30th. Jeffries’ dad mentioned that UK didn’t watch Jeffries last AAU game although the Cats were present for nearly every other game during the circuit. KSR was told that Jeffries’ family wasn’t thrilled UK would be hosting two other wings in Allen and Whitney and that was the actual driving force behind the decommitment.
Jeffries’ game doesn’t compare to Whitney or Allen’s. Jeffries is more defensively oriented and is more adjusted to contact inside, but Whitney and Allen are significantly better offensive players. All three can run the floor well and aren’t afraid to attack the glass. UK is happy with how things played out over the last two weeks.
Where Jeffries may have shied away from competition, Whitney is ready to embrace it.
“I knew when I left Kentucky that it was the place for me,” he told ESPN. “It felt like family. I had other visits planned, but this is where I wanted to be. When I watched the players work out, they were focused and intense. I can see myself playing there — playing with some of the best players in the country and against high-level competition. It will prepare me for my goal to make it to the next level.”
It’s unclear if we should consider Whitney a bonafide one-and-done player. He certainly has the potential to bolt to the NBA after one season, but he will need to polish his game. If I had to guess today I would say he most likely will only spend one year in Lexington, but you never know.
Whitney and Allen join top 10 player Tyrese Maxey as Wildcats in 2019 and John Calipari is far from finished.
For the second time in less than a week, Kentucky has received a commitment from a highly-touted wing.
Kahlil Whitney told ESPN’s Paul Biancardi he will be a Kentucky Wildcat. ESPN’s second-ranked small forward and No. 14 player overall, Whitney’s decision comes just days after an unofficial visit to Lexington. Whitney joins five-star point guard Tyrese Maxey and Pendleton County sharpshooter Dontaie Allen in the Cats’ 2019 recruiting class.
The University of Kentucky unofficially celebrated the commitment with an ode to Anthony Davis, another Chicago native whose dreams came true in Kentucky blue. Whitney currently attends Roselle Catholic in New Jersey, the alma mater of Isaiah Briscoe, who was on UK’s campus during Whitney’s unofficial visit.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) August 8, 2018
Stay tuned for more on Whitney’s decision and what it means for the Wildcats.
By TJ Walker on ©August 08th, 2018 @ 1:53pm
Let’s talk recruiting, rules, recruiting rules, and how Kentucky will continue to rule recruiting AND KAHLIL WHITNEY’S COMMITMENT TO KENTUCKY!
By TJ Walker on ©August 07th, 2018 @ 10:00pm
The Ball ‘n Beer Show takes your calls and they love talking everything Chicago and Illinois. A fun podcast for fun people. If you’re a fan of the Bears, Bulls, Cubs or the Fighting Illini- this is your podcast.
So, when the boys made a poll asking which school could show Kahlil Whitney the most love, it seemed like a slam-dunk Illinois fans would rock the vote and maybe show Whitney that Illinois fans want him.
But it was doomed from the start.
For starters the poll misspelled Whitney’s name. Khalil Whitney isn’t the five-star wing from Chicago. That would be Kahlil Whitney. They aren’t the first ones to make that mistake and they won’t be the last, but this was foreshadowing.
The Ball ‘n Beer Twitter account is a fan of polls. Asking about a potential Cubs’ trade, they received 16 votes. 26 votes when polling about LeBron. One poll about the NBA Playoffs pulled in 15 votes. They take advantage of the Twitter poll features and I can’t blame them. It’s fun and it’s significantly better than the “Like if you’re for X, RT if you’re for Y” polls.
Their poll about Whitney landed 8,137 votes. That’s wild. But never underestimate UK fans on a Twitter poll.
Khalil Whitney’s too 4 schools just dropped. Let’s see what fan base shows him the most love. Where should he go? @KahlilWhitney
— The Ball 'n Beer Show (@BallAndBeerShow) August 6, 2018
It didn’t work the way the Illinois folks wanted, but it’s probably best to just let it be. That may not be the case.
— The Ball 'n Beer Show (@BallAndBeerShow) August 7, 2018
I was talking with a buddy today and expressed my dislike for meaningless polls, but also said how I want UK to win all the meaningless polls. It’s a real catch-22. That being said let’s check in on some other meaningless Twitter polls.
Midwest Elite 8:
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) August 7, 2018
We need UK sports back on TV ASAP. Thank goodness there’s basketball tomorrow.
By TJ Walker on ©August 07th, 2018 @ 6:00pm
UK target James Wiseman is currently enrolled at Memphis East High School where he attended school his junior season.
You may wonder why this is a big deal, and I’m not so sure it is at this point, but Wiseman had been rumored all summer as potentially transferring to a prep school for his senior year.
James Wiseman, the No. 1 player in the country, is enrolled at East High School, his mother just told me.
— John Martin (@JohnMartin929) August 7, 2018
We’ve been saying at KSR that odds are Wiseman would stay in Memphis for his senior season, and we still expect that to happen, but just because he’s enrolled does not mean that a prep school is completely out of the picture. If he were still unsure of his plans the logical thing to do would be to enroll at Memphis East. There would be no punishment if he decided to leave and head to a prep school.
But if he were unsure and didn’t enroll for his senior season at Memphis East it would be a headache for him to return and make up the classes he missed depending how long it took him to make that decision. Memphis East started classes this week.
Currently Wiseman is playing in the SC30 Camp in the Bay Area with other 2019 UK targets like Cole Anthony, Scottie Lewis and Jaemyn Brakefield in 2020.
— Memphis East BB (@MemEastBB) August 7, 2018
It would be a pretty big blow to Memphis if Wiseman did leave town for his senior year of high school, but if you remember his mom shot down reclassifying rumors because she wanted her son to be with her longer and enjoy the perks of being a senior. Let’s hope longer doesn’t also include a year in college at Memphis.
It’s obviously not great news for the Cats that he will be surrounded by Memphis fans for another eight months. Memphis has plenty of momentum and if Wiseman does indeed turn down the prep school option this won’t slow down the Memphis hype.
UK and John Calipari will have to pull out all the stops to try and secure a commitment.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©August 07th, 2018 @ 12:30pm
DJ Jeffries decommitted from Kentucky last week; even though Memphis is the heavy favorite for his services, he’s going to visit three other schools, all in the SEC. According to Jonah Jordan, Jeffries will visit Ole Miss September 14-16, Mississippi State September 28-29, and Alabama October 12-14. He’s also planning a visit to Memphis, but hasn’t set a date yet.
In case you’ve been in a hole the last week, Jeffries cut ties with Kentucky on July 30, reportedly due to concerns the staff wasn’t making him a priority. We’ve gone in depth about the decommitment since then, but if you need to catch up, I suggest you read TJ’s Monday Insider Notes and the latest Hardly Committed podcast:
If you believe Jeffries ends up anywhere other than Memphis, I’ve got some oceanfront property in Arizona to sell you.
By KSR on ©August 06th, 2018 @ 7:30pm
A lot has happened since the last time T.J. Walker picked up the Hardly Committed microphone. D.J. Jeffries’ Dad burned bridges, Dontaie Allen committed to Kentucky and Kahlil Whitney visited campus. Walker touched on it all and had a candid conversation with Chris Williams, Ashton Hagans’ AAU coach, who broke down the UK point guard’s game and more. Highlights:
— Calipari only wants players who want to be at Kentucky.
— How Allen’s commitment went down and what you can expect to see from him at UK.
— Whitney news breaks mid-podcast.
— Williams has an interesting take on a recent decommittment.
— A cameo by Nick’s dogs.
— Health conditions not covered by Dunder Mifflin.
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.
Kentucky Sports Radio will preview every player heading into UK’s Bahamas trip starting on August 8th. The complete schedule can be found here and all games are on SEC Network.
Basics: Ashton Hagans is a 6-foot-3, 190-pound point guard from Cartersville, Ga. He played high school basketball at Newton and reclassified from the class of 2019 to 2018. He’s cousin of former Auburn NFL running back Ronnie Brown. He will wear No.2 this season.
2017-2018: Remember, this past year was Hagans’ junior season, which makes his accomplishments even more impressive. He was named Gatorade Georgia Player of the Year and Mr. Georgia Basketball, defeating his new teammate E.J. Montgomery. He also defeated Montgomery in a dramatic quarterfinal game. He averaged 20.2 points, 10.7 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 3.6 steals during last season. He was originally committed to Georgia but backed off his pledge when Mark Fox was fired. He picked UK over offers from Kansas, Louisville, Florida and UNC.
Bahamas Expectations: Hagans was one of the most impressive players during the open practice last week and in my opinion has the highest ceiling of any player on the team. Hagans still needs to adjust to the speed of the college game, but he has all the tools to be another great John Calipari point guard. He’s athletic, fast, physical and a selfless teammate. I’m curious to see if Hagans gets caught up in the moment. He will be playing grown men in front of a rowdy crowd in the Bahamas. He should be a few weeks away from starting his senior year of high school and now he could be leading the UK offense. Offensively he’ll likely be able to get inside and dish, but I want him to showcase himself as an elite defender.
Highlights (some of the highlight videos in this series may have language NSFW. Some won’t. Follow your heart):
T.J.’s Player Preview Schedule (click the player’s name to read previous posts):
July 24th: Reid Travis
July 25th: P.J. Washington
July 26th: Jemarl Baker
July 27th: Nick Richards
July 30th: Quade Green
July 31st: E.J. Montgomery
August 1st: Tyler Herro
August 2nd: Immanuel Quickley
August 3rd: Keldon Johnson
August: 6th: Ashton Hagans
August 7th: Walk-ons
Fresh off his official visit to Lexington, five-star small forward Kahlil Whitney narrowed his list of schools to four; as expected, Kentucky made the cut. Louisville, SMU, Miami, and Florida State did not.
Final 4?? pic.twitter.com/QZdlPysj9U
— #MyMommaTheReason?? (@KahlilWhitney) August 6, 2018
The 6’6″ wing from Roselle Catholic (Isaiah Briscoe’s alma mater) plans to make his decision in the next few weeks, and it’s looking more and more like he’ll be a Cat. He earned an offer from Kentucky after putting up 23 points and eight rebounds in front of John Calipari at the Peach Jam last month.
For more on Whitney, scroll down to the post directly below this one and read TJ’s latest comments. And then watch these highlights:
By TJ Walker on ©August 06th, 2018 @ 12:00pm
It’s basketball week in the Bluegrass! Thank goodness we’ll have a week of basketball to help drag us into football season at the end of this month. The UK coaches have turned their attention (briefly) away from recruiting to basketball prep this week, but we still have much to discuss from a wild week. Kentucky lost a commitment, gained a commitment and hosted a five-star wing on a visit.
Let’s talk about it.
Dontaie Allen: He committed just days after D.J. Jeffries decommitted. He unofficially visited (his second) and I think the story of that visit is fascinating. As we said on the MIN last week, UK expected a commitment from one of Allen/Whitney shortly after the visits this weekend (I had predicted Whitney), but folks close to UK didn’t expect it to go down like it did with Allen. It was a two-day visit that consisted of watching practices, seeing the campus and all that jazz, but then John Calipari spoke with Allen and his family about an offer. This should make UK fans fall in love with Allen.
Calipari spoke with Allen about if he feels like he’s up to the challenge of being at Kentucky. Calipari says this to most of his recruits, but in my mind I thought it may be in response to Jeffries’ decommitment. Allen’s dad clarified that it was about the practice that they had just witnessed, which was the open practice to select media members. It was the most physical practice I’ve ever watched at Kentucky. Allen said yes and Calipari extended the offer.
Minutes after the offer during that same conversation Allen told Calipari, Justus and his dad that he didn’t want to take other visits or carry on with his recruitment. He wanted to commit to Kentucky right then and there. UK’s staff and Allen’s dad were surprised. Yes, even Allen’s dad didn’t expect the commitment then and there. Allen grew up a fan of Kentucky and wanted to be a Wildcat. He didn’t need promises, he didn’t need to check out other schools and he didn’t need to be woo’d. He seems to be willing to work for minutes and knows how UK recruits. The Cats will bring in other talented players, other talented wings and they will do that during Allen’s career at Kentucky.
He’s up for the challenge. You gotta love that from the Kentuckian.
Jeffries: Although all this happened in the last week, it seems like it’s been months. You’re probably sick of reading about him and I’m somewhat tired of writing about him, but I figured I would share a few last thoughts on how things went down.
Supposedly Jeffries and his dad called UK to say they were disappointed Kentucky’s staff didn’t watch his last AAU game and that UK was hosting two other wings that week. An assistant from UK (it may have been Barbee but I can’t confirm) told them they were recruiting other players to try and make sure Jeffries played on a great team. They had watched Jeffries nearly every game during the summer (he does play with James Wiseman) and they missed his last game and it ticked off the Jeffries. I believe that Calipari eventually spoke with them and instead of trying to smooth things over I was told that UK wished Jeffries the best and that was that.
There wasn’t a moment of trying to convince him to stay. There wasn’t a last ditch effort from UK and they didn’t even tell Jeffries to sleep on the decision. It’s my opinion that UK felt Penny Hardaway had been in Jeffries’ ear for weeks and if Jeffries was unsure of his commitment over four months before signing day then it was likely bound to happen. It wasn’t sour grapes on UK’s end, but the Cats know they have other options on the wing.
So, I get asked a lot of what this means for James Wiseman. It doesn’t help, that’s for sure. But I don’t think it hurts a great deal. Wiseman wouldn’t have picked UK specifically because Jeffries was already committed. He’s going to make his own decision. Jeffries may have been a nice added bonus, but this doesn’t eliminate Kentucky. As I’ve said in previous weeks everyone in Memphis is trying to convince Wiseman to stay home, but there was no bigger Memphis advocates than his AAU team. It’s a good thing the AAU season is over and I’ll be curious to see how often UK reaches out to players that play for Bluff City Legends. I don’t get the vibe those guys like UK, and it’s my opinion that I’m not sure UK’s staff love those guys. Obviously Wiseman will still have a relationship with members of his AAU team (staff and players) but I’m sure UK isn’t heartbroken he’s no longer spending every weekend with them.
I still think UK has a solid chance with Wiseman. Don’t count out Calipari.
Kahlil Whitney: The visit went great. Whitney said when he was a freshman in high school that UK’s his dream school and it appears that is still the case. I’m told that Whitney is going to head home, think things over and could make a final decision in a”few” weeks. I’m not sure if that means there will be a commitment this month, or next month, but it seems like Whitney isn’t even sold on taking other visits.
I’m told that if he does decide to take other visits there’s a chance this could go until November, but my source doesn’t believe (as of today) that will happen.
It appears Whitney could be committing to Kentucky soon and that would put UK in a great spot for 2019:
UK would be fine in the backcourt in my opinion. If you could add a Scottie Lewis, Bryan Antoine or Cole Anthony that would be icing on the cake, but you wouldn’t have to add another piece. But then the Cats could turn their attention to the frontcourt. The Cats would HAVE to add at least two of:
Vernon Carey Jr.
Kofi Cockburn (no offer)
Oscar Tshiebwe (no offer)
I still think UK is in the top two for the first three names and it’s unclear just how interested the Cats are for the last two names. Obviously you couldn’t build a class around Cockburn or Tshiebwe, but they would be nice pieces to have to compliment Wiseman, Hurt or Carey. No disrespect to Sophomore Nick Richards, but after watching the open practice last week I’m slightly more convinced we could see Junior Nick Richards. He’s still just a little behind and the frontcourt will be loaded this year. It was just one practice and he will continue to improve, but that’s one guess to UK’s thinking for 2019-2020. If the Cats had Richards then you really only need two more bigs.
Keion Brooks: He will transfer to La Lumiere to play his final season of basketball. I would guess that adding Dontaie Allen and most likely Kahlil Whitney probably doesn’t mean great things for UK’s chances with Brooks. I like Brooks’ game, but it seems like he will most likely go somewhere else.