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Zion Williamson to announce decision at 8 p.m. Saturday

We’ve known for a few weeks that Zion Williamson will announce his decision on Saturday, January 20. Now, we know what time. According to The State, Zion will announce his decision at 8 p.m. ET Saturday night at Spartanburg Day School, 15 minutes before tip of Kentucky’s game vs. Florida. The public is invited to attend. There’s still no word on whether or not the announcement will be televised, although with ESPN’s College GameDay leading into the game, it’s certainly a possibility. Talk about a giant mood swing one way or the other at Rupp.

Saturday is his mother’s birthday. A public announcement at his high school in South Carolina certainly suggests he’ll make her happy and stay home and play for Clemson, his stepfather’s alma mater. What should we read into the fact that it’s happening 15 minutes before Kentucky vs. Florida? Just that the live blog will start earlier and KSR’s servers will most definitely crash.

Thankfully, we’ll know soon enough.

Immanuel Quickley remains hopeful Zion Williamson commits to Kentucky


UK signee Keldon Johnson scores 21 points on ESPNU, turns heads nationally

Kentucky signee Immanuel Quickley impressed in the Hoophall Classic earlier today, dropping 19 points and five rebounds in a tough loss.

Immediately after, five-star Oak Hill forward and Kentucky signee Keldon Johnson managed to also put on a show, finishing with 21 points, seven rebounds, and three assists on the day. With his team’s victory, No. 2 Oak Hill moves to 25-0 on the year, with Johnson being a massive reason for that.

Though his performance was stellar, the national attention Johnson received after the game was even more impressive. Scrolling through Twitter after the game, countless media members and basketball analysts raved about Johnson’s game, saying his competitiveness and will to win is second to none.

During a halftime interview, Johnson was asked what separates his game from the rest of the nation.

His response? “I’m a dog. I do whatever it takes for my team to win.”

In an interview with Tom Westerholm of MassLive.com, Johnson said things are starting to click for him, and when he gets going, it’s going to be a problem for the rest of the nation.

“I think the sky’s the limit for my game generally, because once I get going, everything gets going,” Johnson said. “My shot, getting to the basket, getting to the free-throw line, getting my teammates involved. Once I get going, it’s really a problem.”

Johnson’s jump shot has always been the biggest knock on his game, but now, he has developed into a consistent threat from both mid-range and beyond the arc. He said if he continues to work on that and build up muscle, he’ll be ready to be a big contributor for the Wildcats next season.

“I hit the mid-range pretty consistently when I shoot it,” Johnson said. “I just think spot-up threes, I really improved on that this year. I’m just working. Keep working hard on my body, and I think I’ll be ready for that.”

Check out his game highlights, and his sit-down interview with ESPN’s Paul Biancardi where he talked about his work ethic and how excited he is to play for John Calipari at Kentucky:

Not enough highlights for you? Check out Johnson’s MVP performance at the Chic-Fil-A Classic two weeks ago:

This kid is going to be good.

Go Big Blue.


Immanuel Quickley remains hopeful Zion Williamson commits to Kentucky

Photo by adidas

This afternoon, Kentucky signee Immanuel Quickley finished with 19 points and five rebounds in his team’s 71-58 loss at the Hoophall Classic in Springfield, MA. It was an impressive showing, especially considering Ohio State commitment and defensive specialist Luther Muhammad guarded him from start to finish.

But the questions he was asked after the game had nothing to do with him or his game.

They were all about Quickley’s friend, five-star forward Zion Williamson, and his thoughts on his decision going into the final week of his recruitment.

Though there are rumors Williamson has already made his decision, Quickley doesn’t think his mind is 100% made up, and Kentucky still has a great shot.

“I honestly 100 percent do not know if he made up his mind,” he told Adam Zagoria. “I think he has a couple of schools that are really favored but I don’t know if he’s 100 percent made up his mind. Kentucky is definitely in there.”

If Williamson joined him at Kentucky, Quickley believes the Wildcats would win a national title.

“I think we could win a national championship,” he said. “With him, he’s a monster on offense and defense so that just makes it easier for everybody else.”

And if he ends up staying home, specifically at Clemson?

“Clemson’s about an hour from his home, you can’t be mad at somebody going to college an hour away.”

To read the rest of Quickley’s interview with Adam Zagoria, head on over to ZagsBlog.com.


Immanuel Quickley playing on ESPNU

Immanuel Quickley playing on ESPNU

Looking for something to watch while sitting around the house on your day off?

Flip over to ESPNU right now to get a look at Immanuel Quickley in action on national TV.

John Calipari’s first commit in his 2018 recruiting class is playing in the Hoophall Classic up in Massachusetts. He and his John Carrol teammates are playing Hudson Catholic, which features five-star prospect Louis King, who was recruited by Kentucky before committing to Oregon last fall.

Then later this evening, UK signee Keldon Johnson will play in the 3 pm game with Oak Hill, also on ESPNU.

Blue appears to have gotten in.


2018 five-star center Moses Brown ready to announce ‘real soon’

After five-star center Moses Brown finished with 21 points and six rebounds with John Calipari in attendance this afternoon, the 2018 prospect told Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com that he was about ready to make a final decision.

“I’m going to make a decision real soon,” he said.

The Kentucky coaching staff has been going back and forth on offering Brown a scholarship, and he said that was a big reason for him delaying his decision for so long.

“That really was my whole purpose in waiting it out, I just wanted to see how they played,” he said of the late decision. Now I’m pretty certain on what I’m about to do.”

When asked if the Wildcats were still in contention, Brown seemed hesitant, and then flat out said Kentucky wasn’t involved.

“I still have yet to take a visit to Kentucky and they haven’t offered me yet so,” he said.

Asked if they weren’t really involved, Brown said, “No.”

When is a decision expected?

“Maybe by the end of next month I should have committed,” he said.

With Coach Cal on hand, maybe he makes one last run at him to sway his decision by offering a scholarship. If not, is he that confident in Nick Richards and/or PJ Washington returning? Could he be banking on James Wiseman reclassifying to 2018?

Regardless, it sounds like Brown never quite showed enough to seal the deal for Calipari and the Kentucky coaching staff.

Next man up.


John Calipari currently watching five-stars Moses Brown, Scottie Lewis, and Bryan Antoine

@BadGalAlPal

After pulling out a victory against Vanderbilt in Nashville last night, John Calipari hit the recruiting trail to check in on some popular five-star prospects.

Evan Daniels reports John Calipari was in attendance to watch 2018 five-star center Moses Brown, where he finished the day with 21 points.

With Zion Williamson set to make a decision, and Clemson considered the favorite, Brown’s situation is very interesting. He has yet to receive an offer from Kentucky, despite publicly pleading for one. The coaching staff reportedly sees him as an extremely raw project player, and may be waiting to see who leaves from the current team before making a decision on him.

If Williamson heads elsewhere, and options remain limited, their hand may be forced to offer and accept a potential Brown commitment. If they wait too long, Brown could grow tired of waiting and head elsewhere, leaving Kentucky with even fewer options.

If news breaks that Calipari extended an offer to Brown this weekend, be prepared for another addition to Kentucky’s 2018 class.

Jeff Borzello reports Calipari will also watch 2019 five-stars Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine, two top-ten talents, this afternoon.

Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader says the UK coaching staff will stick around to watch 2018 signees Immanuel Quickley and Keldon Johnson, along with 2019 No. 1 prospect Vernon Carey.

Pretty big weekend for finishing up the class of 2018 and laying the foundation for the 2019 recruiting class.

Go Cats.


Zion Williamson has yet to make a final decision

© Jeff Blake | USATSI

Zion Williamson, the biggest star in this year’s basketball recruiting class, is set to make his college decision on January 20th.

Williamson spoke with Evan Daniels of 247 Sports about the big day.

“I’m very excited for that day because it’s my mom’s birthday and it’s just a big thank you to her for all the sacrifices she’s made for me,” Williamson said.

With only six days until the press conference, Willamson has yet to make his final decision.

I’ll probably make it in the middle of this week coming up,” he said.

The press conference will be held at Williamson’s high school, Spartanburg Day School in Spartanburg, SC.

Williamson final six schools include Kentucky, Clemson, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina and South Carolina.

Williamson said Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina all visited him within the last week.

The decision will be around five or six right before Kentucky tips off against Florida. This has the potential to be a great day for the Big Blue Nation.

 


Zion Williamson scores 31 points in first game back from injury

© Jeff Blake | USATSI

With just over one week until his announcement, Zion Williamson returned to the basketball court last night, putting up 31 points in his first game back after suffering a foot injury on November 21.

Zion has been battling a foot bruise the last two months but showed little rust in Spartanburg Day’s win last night, playing 28 of 32 minutes. Even though he told The State that he’s only playing at about 80-85%, he looked like his usual self, dazzling the crowd with powerful dunks and throwing alley-oops to his teammates. Some highlights from our pals at The Overtime:

After the game, Zion claimed that with one week left to go until his announcement on January 20, his recruitment is still wide open despite reports that he was down to Clemson, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina, and South Carolina.

“I’m going to be honest with y’all, I don’t know who released those six schools,” he told The State’s Matt Connolly. “The last time I checked my recruitment was still wide open, but I’m still considering everybody, just listening to their final messages and what they have to tell me.”

Clemson has all the momentum right now, with 76% of the predictions in 247 Sports’ Crystal Ball; however, most recruiting analysts insist they don’t know for certain.

You can watch Zion for yourself on ESPN tomorrow night at 8 p.m. as Spartanburg Day takes on Chino Hills.


Calipari watched Immanuel Quickley last night

Calipari watched Immanuel Quickley last night

Not one to sit at home and watch TV on a Wednesday night, John Calipari took the private jet to Baltimore last night to see Immanuel Quickley, Kentucky’s point guard in the 2018 class.

After being named to the watch list for the Naismith award for the nation’s best high school player earlier in the day, Quickley put up 15 points in John Carroll’s 71-61 loss to St. Frances Academy, the top-ranked team in the Baltimore Catholic League. He missed part of this season with mono but is on the mend, putting up a triple double last week with 30 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists.

Quickley was Kentucky’s first commitment and signee in the 2018 class, which also includes Keldon Johnson and Tyler Herro.


Left: Jobby Howard; Right: Zion Harmon. (Photo: @its_zionharmon)

Zion Harmon part of record-setting game in Columbia last night

Left: Jobby Howard; Right: Zion Harmon. (Photo: @its_zionharmon)

You’re looking at Jobby Howard and Zion Harmon, who combined for 119 points last night in one of the highest-scoring games in Kentucky high school basketball history.

Howard, a 2018 shooting guard, scored 65 points in Caverna’s loss 119-103 to Adair County, which was led by Harmon, who scored 54. Howard’s 65 points came off 21-39 shooting and are the most scored in a single game in Kentucky this season and 16th in KHSSA history. Meanwhile, Harmon, a 2021 UK target who already has offers from Tennessee and Vanderbilt, scored 54 (“and he coulda gone for more”) off 19-32 from the floor and 11-12 from the free-throw line. He also had 12 assists. Highlights from the game are below:

Individually, Howard and Harmon’s performances are impressive; together, they’re astounding. The 222 combined points between both teams are tied for the ninth most in KHSAA history and are the most in a Kentucky high school game this century (!). Afterwards, the two posed for a picture:

Harmon is already well on UK’s radar for the 2021 class, having taken several unofficial visits; is there any chance we can get Howard on the roster as a walk-on next season? We could use some Kentucky boys.


Zion Williamson’s decision is a game changer for the program

Last week, five-star sensation Zion Williamson announced he would be making a decision on January 20, setting the basketball recruiting world on fire.

This summer, Williamson told KSR he wanted to team up with Immanuel Quickley in college, and rumors of Kentucky being the heavy favorite spread rapidly. The Wildcats eventually received commitments from Quickley, Keldon Johnson, and Tyler Herro, and all three of them have told reporters they continue to reach out to Williamson in an attempt to reel him in. He played along, saying he would love to play with each of them.

Several months later, Kentucky continued to be the favorite according to national recruiting analysts, but slight whispers of Clemson being a threat to the Wildcats were growing louder. Williamson’s stepfather played basketball for the Tigers, and his passion for the state of South Carolina is well-known. He stayed at home to play in high school and AAU ball, while most star prospects opt to play at prep schools or national powerhouse AAU programs.

Still, though, the opportunity to team up with other high-profile athletes with an opportunity to win a National Championship at Kentucky seemed too good to pass up.

Now, nearly every recruiting insider is reporting Clemson as the runaway favorite for Williamson when he decides on the 20th.

Matt Jones is hearing the same thing, along with several other local Kentucky writers.

So what happened?

Clemson’s recent success and Trae Young happened. KSR’s Jay Winkler wrote a post earlier about the season the Tigers are having, ranked in the top-25 and improving by the game. They likely return three of five starters next season on a team that will almost certainly make a splash in the big dance. Williamson would be able to join a solid team with a strong foundation, yet still be considered “the guy” and put up inflated numbers.

Oklahoma’s Trae Young went against the grain and stayed at home to play for the Sooners, shooting down schools like Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, and Arizona. He wanted the bulk of shots this season, and he’s now the National Player of the Year favorite as a result. Obviously Williamson isn’t a point guard and the Tigers can’t set up offenses around him like the Sooners can do with Young, but he’d still be the focal point on the team.

Though the tide is turning toward Clemson, John Calipari and the Kentucky coaching staff have to finish these last two weeks of his recruitment strong.

When RJ Barrett committed to Duke back in, the general consensus was that the future addition of Zion Williamson would more than make up for the loss. It made losing Cam Reddish, Bol Bol, Romeo Langford, and Simi Shittu, among others, understandable. When Calipari zeroes in on a star to headline the class, he usually pulls it off.

Without Williamson, there’s a massive chance the Cats finish the 2018 class without a superstar, and would only be able to make that happen by convincing 2019 No. 1 prospect James Wiseman to reclassify. Wiseman will likely be a Wildcat whenever he plays college basketball, but he has recently said a reclassification isn’t an option.

As we’ve seen this season, things are extremely difficult when a Calipari one-and-done team doesn’t have a go-to superstar. John Wall, Brandon Knight, Anthony Davis, Julius Randle, Karl-Anthony Towns, etc., all came in as sure things, and they each provided go-to options for the Cats throughout their respective seasons. In a few of those years, not having multiple superstars, let alone one, even limited production. This year, Kevin Knox has shown signs of being that guy, but his confidence and field goal percentage have plummeted in recent weeks. Hamidou Diallo certainly wants to be a superstar, but inconsistency with his jump shot and forcing the issue is limiting that, as well.

There’s still time for things to turn around, and I expect them to, but this season is a perfect reason why getting Williamson is so crucial.

If several key pieces return as expected, Williamson would likely be the difference between a great season and a special season. His ability to take games over and score at will is something you rarely see at his age. I watched him play in-person several times during the AAU circuit this summer, and there was never a player that matched his motor and pure dominance. He asserted himself and made a point of outplaying the opponent every time he touched the ball, no matter how big or talented they were. He had the “it” factor that can win you games by himself no matter how big or bright the stage. He had Final Four MOP potential.

I don’t care if Calipari has to get desperate with Williamson. Light his phone up. Have a different staff member visit his home every day. Make promises for playing time and superstar status, I don’t care. We’re not talking Louisville-level desperation, but the Kentucky staff has to have a sense of urgency in this home stretch. Calipari has taken a backseat to Coach K and Duke in the recruiting department the past several years, and turning momentum in this recruitment would be a massive step in the right direction. Coach Cal has to unleash Swaggy Cal.

Get Zion Williamson in blue and white. The Cats need a superstar next season, and Williamson is that guy.


Clemson’s Team Play Might be Drawing Zion In

As much as it pains me to say, based on the latest swath of predictions from national recruiting analysts, I don’t think we’ll get to see Zion Williamson suit up in blue next year. The common sentiment I’ve seen get tossed around among fans about Zion’s decision seems to be utter disbelief that a player as elite as him would attend a school that hasn’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2011.

But don’t look now: Clemson is actually playing really good basketball at the moment.

Currently ranked 25th in the nation, and set to move up after an overtime win against Louisville yesterday, the Tigers are poised to make their return to the Big Dance in 2018. Even with a relatively weak schedule thus far, a 14-1 record at this point in the season is impressive, and we’ll get to see just how effective Clemson can be when they face Miami at home and UNC in Chapel Hill before Zion’s January 20th commitment.

The Tigers have 5 players who average double figures in scoring, including a pair of redshirt junior guards, Shelton Mitchell and Marcquise Reed, who score 12.4 and 15.9 points per game, respectively. They also lead the team in assists, combining for 110 thus far this season.

Clemson will return 3 of their starting 5 next season, with Mitchell and Reed being joined by 6’9″, 237 lb. forward Elijah Thomas, who averages 11.6 points and 8.3 rebounds on the year. One slot that will be coming available is that of 6’8″ senior forward Donte Grantham, a position ripe for a flexible forward like Zion.

So while the idea of Williamson playing with the potential trio of Quade Green, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Immanuel Quickley is salivating for Kentucky fans, it shouldn’t be overlooked that Clemson actually has a stable core of experienced contributors who would likely be happy to have such an elite talent stay home and join the team. And while I’d like to think a decision this monumental wouldn’t be swayed by just a few games, Kentucky has lost 2 of their last 5, while Clemson has won 10 straight, and for all we know, Zion could be looking for any reason to stay in South Carolina.

Regardless of the current situation, Coach Cal is still Coach Cal, the de facto NCAA ambassador to the NBA, and you can never count him out. But should Zion decide on Clemson… well, I guess I can kind of understand.

I’ll still be livid.

@JayWinkKSR


Buzz continues to be Zion Williamson to Clemson

© Jeff Blake | USATSI

Kevin Knox proved that recruiting experts can be way off with their predictions; however, buzz continues to suggest Zion Williamson will pick Clemson on January 20. 

All four of 247 Sports’ recruiting experts — including Evan Daniels — say they’re hearing Zion will choose to stay home and play for Clemson, his stepfather’s alma mater.

“Since the news broke Wednesday evening that Williamson will announce on January 20th, nearly every recruiting call has yielded a conversation about the 6-foot-6, 275-pounder,” Daniels wrote. “In terms of where he might land, nearly all of the talk has centered on Clemson. I can’t say that I think he’s definitively going to Clemson, but they are certainly getting all of the buzz.”

Jerry Meyer has Kentucky as his Crystal Ball pick, but is inching closer to changing it.

“Even when talking with reliable sources, I hear a variety of combination of schools who might land Williamson. Only one school has been a constant among my sources and that is Clemson.”

How are the folks in Lexington feeling? According to Matt, not great.

Ugh. Please pull a Knox and make us all look back at this and laugh, Zion.

[247 Sports]


Zion Williamson sets announcement date

Breaking news in the recruiting world: Zion Williamson will announce his college decision on January 20. He just shared the news on Twitter:

The five-star forward is down to Clemson, Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, and South Carolina, although most believe he’s down to the Cats and the Tigers. Last week, he said he was closing in on a decision, but recent intel from recruiting experts suggests home state Clemson has all of the momentum; based on that, the fact that his announcement is coming up in a few weeks doesn’t bode well for Kentucky.

Or, is he just trying to make Tyler Herro’s birthday extra special?

We’ll find out soon enough.

Clemson reportedly still leading for Zion Williamson


Tyler Herro out 2-3 weeks with injury

Kentucky commit Tyler Herro has had an amazing start to his senior season, but after suffering a calf injury, he’s now out two to three weeks to recover. 

Herro strained his left calf Wednesday night in Whitnall’s 54-33 loss to Waunakee. Thankfully, the injury isn’t as bad as first anticipated. His dad told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel they thought Tyler tore his Achilles from the way he went down, but thankfully, it’s just a strained calf muscle. He’ll be in a boot for a week and then start rehabbing.

So far this season, Herro has scored 30+ points in five of his team’s nine games and is averaging 26.9 points. Here’s hoping he gets healthy and gives us more highlights like this soon:

[JSOnline.com]

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