Basketball Recruiting News
By Nick Roush on ©May 14th, 2019 @ 12:00pm
Monday night 247 Sports basketball recruiting analyst Evan Daniels flipped his 247 Crystal Ball prediction from UK to “undecided.” This morning he explained his decision in a couple of interviews.
“New information would probably be the best way to put it,” he told Matt Jones on KSR.
“It’s fluid. I think this time last week Jaden McDaniels would have headed to Kentucky. The recruitment, however, wasn’t done. I have reason not believe that’s changed some. I think it’s a battle between Kentucky and Washington right now and I really don’t know where he’s headed.”
McDaniels’ mind has changed often throughout the recruiting process. Even though right now Daniels isn’t bullish on UK’s chances, there still is a chance he becomes a Wildcat.
“Here’s the thing, he could announce tonight. If he announced tonight, I would probably expect that it’s going to be Washington. I don’t know for sure. He could announce in two weeks. Like I said, he’s been very different about this process, definitely not in any kind of hurry and as I mentioned, there’s a lot of fluidity in recruiting. When you’re dealing with 17 and 18-year old kids, minds change.”
In an earlier interview with Kentucky Roll Call, when asked if he believes there’s a leader in McDaniels’ recruitment, Daniels said, “I don’t know if I could pick one right now, to be honest.”
As of now, there’s no commitment date or a time-table on his recruitment. “Let’s see how it plays out.”
To understand why there’s been so much volatility in his recruitment, it’s worth knowing how McDaniels became a top ten player in the 2019 recruiting class.
“He kind of blew up late in his high school career,” said Daniels. “It really happened last spring. He rose in our rankings into the top five and it happened quickly. I think there’s an adjustment period sometimes. We certainly can be more aggressive, but he also had a lot coming at him in a quick timeframe. I think you gotta be patient with a guy like him. He needs to get stronger. He doesn’t necessarily have a slight build and I think that sometimes factors into a lack of aggression. With strength usually comes confidence in those type of kids. I think he’s really talented, but there’s obviously areas for him to get better at too.”
In each discussion he touched on more than just McDaniels’ recruitment. On KRC Daniels revealed he believes R.J. Hampton will commit to Kansas. He also described the wild game between future phenom Emoni Bates and Bronny James. On KSR Daniels picked Ashton Hagans to be UK’s 2019-20 MVP, although Tyrese Maxey will be the team’s leading scorer.
By Nick Roush on ©May 14th, 2019 @ 11:00am
As Jaden McDaniels’ fluid recruitment takes one unexpected turn after another, Kerry Blackshear Jr.’s camp has remained quiet.
The Virginia Tech forward has multiple options to consider. The top-ranked transfer on the college basketball market according to ESPN, Blackshear Jr. could attend any school he wants. He also could keep his name in the NBA Draft. Blackshear Jr. was not one of 66 players invited to the NBA Combine, but Rivals’ Corey Evans believes the All-ACC forward is leaning toward staying in the draft.
“Sources have told Rivals.com that Blackshear seems to be leaning toward keeping his name in the NBA Draft. While he may go undrafted, the feeling is that he would be OK spending a year in the G-League instead of spending next year at a new college program.”
If you recall, Evans was the first person to report Blackshear’s camp contacted John Calipari. The Cats would likely be the team to beat, followed by Florida, Gonzaga, Michigan State, Tennessee and Texas A&M.
Blackshear Jr. has until May 29 at 11:59 p.m. ET to withdraw his name from the NBA Draft.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 13th, 2019 @ 10:45pm
Over the last several days, Kentucky has picked up nearly all of the momentum when it comes to 2019 five-star forward Jaden McDaniels. There were even some rumors on Twitter that the UK coaching staff had received his National Letter of Intent and an announcement was imminent.
Tonight, though, recruiting guru Evan Daniels decided to jump off the Kentucky hype train… at least temporarily.
After submitting a prediction in favor of the Wildcats last week, Daniels, who has an all-time prediction success rate of 93.51%, changed his Crystal Ball pick on 247 Sports to “undecided.”
Recruiting analyst Josh Gershon, who also has an all-time success rate of over 90%, changed his pick to “undecided,” as well.
In other brief recruiting news, 2019 four-star guard and Duke decommit Boogie Ellis announced his commitment to Memphis this afternoon, all but taking the Tigers out of the running for five-star combo guard RJ Hampton.
With Texas Tech having little-to-no momentum right now for the Little Elm, TX native, one would think it’s down to Kansas and Kentucky, right?
Possibly, but according to Daniels, that doesn’t mean the Cats have a serious shot to land Hampton.
This evening on Twitter, Daniels said he “(doesn’t) think he’s going to Kentucky.”
Don’t think he’s going to Kentucky
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) May 13, 2019
We’ll talk about it all tomorrow on Pilgrim’s Insider Notes.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 13th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
While Coach Cal is off gallivanting around Italy, someone back stateside is having fun on Twitter with the official UK men’s basketball account. The account sent out a very swaggy tweet on Monday:
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) May 13, 2019
Calipari was too busy taking pictures of fountains in the Piazza Navona for it to be him behind the confident tweet, but it is probably a very accurate representation of Calipari’s mood after landing Johnny Juzang to move up to the top-ranked class. It could also be a hint toward more to come this week with Jaden McDaniels nearing his announcement and internet whispers that McDaniels already submitted his LOI to UK.
Whatever the case, Calipari and his assistant coaches are feeling confident again as next year’s roster is getting finalized. More big news is hopefully on the way too.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©May 11th, 2019 @ 10:30pm
John Calipari and the Kentucky coaching staff have been working hard to stabilize the future of their favorite position – the point guard.
The target they’re currently locked in on? 2020 point guard Sharife Cooper.
Cooper is participating in the Nike EYBL in Indianapolis this weekend and I got a chance to meet up with him after he posted 29 points, five rebounds, and 11 assists for his squad, the AOT Running Rebels, based out of Georgia.
The five-star guard and 19th overall prospect according to ESPN said that Kentucky has been in constant contact with him.
“They’ve [Kentucky] been coming a lot. They show their face a lot,” Cooper said. “They’ve been to all the games. It’s really picking up with them. They show a lot of interest.”
Along with the Cats, a familiar face is also chasing the sought after lead guard – Bruce Pearl. Cooper described Kentucky and the Auburn Tigers as the two teams who have been on him the most.
There had been some chatter that Cooper was considering reclassifying to 2019 in order to replace Tigers guard Jared Harper, who left for the NBA, but that has been disproved.
Cooper noted that a couple of blue bloods – North Carolina and Duke – haven’t had much, if any, contact with him directly. Which should be noteworthy considering Cooper said he and his AOT teammate B.J. Boston have had discussions about potentially joining forces at the next level.
“We talk about that [teaming up] all the time,” Cooper said. “It’s really the best fit. You know, he’s gotta make the best decision for himself. And if that’s playing where I go, then I feel like we’re gonna be good.”
Boston is considered the sixth best player in the 2020 class according to ESPN and has been widely considered a Duke lean.
Bringing in Cooper alone would be a massive get. Packaging him and Boston together would be unfair.
Cooper even said that he is willing to play alongside other stars, even ones that play the same position as him.
“It doesn’t matter,” Cooper said about playing next to another high profile guard. “If we have chemistry and we play together, we’ll all be good.”
*Check out this 37-point performance from his trip to Atlanta.*
Standing at an even 6-feet, Cooper isn’t as big as a typical Calipari point guard, but he has the quickness and vision to make up for that.
He might already be one of the best instinctual passers in his class but he can also score on anyone. And when I say anyone, I mean anyone. Through six EYBL games (two in Indianapolis and four in Atlanta), Cooper is averaging over 28 points along with right at eight assists per game. He led the EYBL in scoring after the four games in Atlanta a couple of weeks ago with over 31 points per game.
His defense shouldn’t be ignored, either. He’s been a brick wall in Indianapolis whenever he digs deep into his stance.
But he’s a playmaker first and foremost, although you wouldn’t know from talking to him. He constantly repeated the phrase “make the right play” and he takes that to heart. It’s how he styles his game.
“Just naturally wanting to make the right play,” Cooper said. “Whatever is open, that’s what you take.”
Come on down.
Saturday night the eyes of the basketball world were on a 15U Nike EYBL game. The prep circuit circus wasn’t there for the next Ball brother. All of the commotion was for Bronny James and Emoni Bates.
With security guards controlling the crowd completely around the court, the next great basketball phenom scored 43 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, all while his opponent’s famous father, LeBron James, looked on from the sideline. Evan Daniels set the scene from Emoni Bates’ incredible performance:
With arguably the best player of all time cheering on his son on one end of the court, you couldn’t help but wonder if Bates is the best prospect to come through the high school ranks since LeBron played at Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent St. Mary.
Perhaps that’s a lot to put on a 15-year old’s shoulder, but it’s not farfetched. There’s been some terrific freshman since LeBron that went on to stardom. DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley come to mind. OJ Mayo was as dominant a freshman I’ve seen. Kevin Durant and Jayson Tatum were phenoms at the same age.
Normally I’d be cautious with a player this early, but Bates is that good.
Daniels’ present-day description isn’t much different than what he told Kyle Tucker a year ago.
“It probably sounds insane that we’re even talking about a kid who just finished eighth grade,” says Evan Daniels, scouting director for 247Sports. “I never get interviewed about anyone that young. In fact, I have a rule that I won’t even watch players who aren’t in high school yet. But he’s different. I think he’s special. I saw that the first time I laid eyes on him. He’s the best freshman prospect I’ve ever seen.”
For those who have a subscription to The Athletic, you’ll learn why Bates could be the first player to jump straight into the NBA if the league drops its age restriction by 2022. Bates has not played much basketball, but the 6’7″ wing already has the tools of a future superstar. See for yourself:
If Emoni Bates cannot make the leap straight into the NBA, Michigan, Michigan State and Kentucky are already giving Bates their best pitch.
By Zack Geoghegan on ©May 11th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
The second session of the Nike EYBL kicked off in Indianapolis this weekend and the eight-court gym ran by the Indiana Pacers was maxed out with the top talent across the country.
I got the opportunity to speak with a few of Kentucky’s top prospects and gauge their interest in the Wildcats along with some other interesting tidbits about themselves. Here’s what we learned from the early morning games on Saturday.
Sharife Cooper says Kentucky is showing “a lot of interest”
Starting with the 2020 point guard from Georgia, Sharife Cooper, who has been torching the EYBL circuit through six played games.
Cooper said that Kentucky is showing “a lot of interest” in the five-star guard. He also references that he and his EYBL teammate, B.J. Boston, have been talking about teaming up together at the next level.
You can read more on Cooper here.
Terrence Clarke wants to play like R.J. Barrett
Terrence Clarke had some high praise for Kentucky following his offer but also snuck in some kinds words for Duke.
“Getting a Kentucky offer is a really big thing,” Clarke said. “Just showing that my work is obviously paying off. Ever since I was younger… Duke and Kentucky, all those schools, you know, I always looked up to because of the top talent. So getting that offer is huge.”
Clarke is currently the No. 3 overall rated prospect in the class of 2021 and a bonafide five-star recruit. At 6-foot-6, he’s following a common trend among taller wing players where they shift to the lead guard role.
“I don’t wanna be known as a wing,” Clarke said. “I wanna be known as a guard.”
He later said that he wants to play similarly to how R.J. Barrett played at Duke last season. Barrett is slightly taller and heavier than Clarke, but they both have similar play styles.
The Boston, Massachusets native said that Kentucky, specifically assistant coach Tony Barbee, have stayed on him.
“Tony Barbee has been to a lot of my games. Coach Cal is there, too,” Clarke said. “Those guys are always there talking to my coaches. Talking about me. Trying to stay on me.”
Scottie Barnes wants to be a 6-foot-8 point guard
Scottie Barnes is the epitome of positionless basketball.
Standing at 6-foot-8 and weighing around 210 pounds, he has the body of a prototypical small-ball four. However, he has the mind of a guard.
“I’m a point guard,” Barnes said at the EYBL.
He said that college coaches have discussed playing him at the point and moving him around to other spots, such as the four, when necessary.
Unlike most players at this event, who will openly state who they model their game after, Barnes is different. He says he doesn’t follow the mold of any current or former player.
While guys will often mimic the style of future Hall-of-Famers such as LeBron James or Giannis Antetokounmpo, Barnes is his own type of player.
He said it’s his passion that drives him to make plays and win games.
“My passion just comes to the game when I’m on the floor,” Barnes said. “When I’m talking and getting people involved that’s really my game. If I’m not doing that I know I played bad. I have to come to the court energized and ready to go.”
He truly is an interesting basketball specimen. He already has an NBA-ready body as a junior in high school. Think Keldon Johnson type of frame.
Cade Cunningham’s recruitment is picking up fast
Cade Cunningham has been a hot commodity ever since he was named the MVP at the Nike EYBL in Atlanta two weeks ago.
“After Atlanta, it [his recuitment] just completely blew up,” Cunningham said.
However, Kentucky still remains determined to get him.
“I’ve been talking to them [Kentucky] a lot, especially after Atlanta,” Cunningham said. “It started to pick up a lot. They texted me right before the weekend. But I’ve been on the phone with them a lot, talked to Coach Cal a lot.”
Cunningham said that following his appearance in Atlanta, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski paid him a visit at his high school. He even had a phone call conversation with North Carolina head coach Roy Williams before this weekend’s event on Friday.
That being said, Cunningham stressed that he isn’t trying to rush things.
He said that he is comfortable with where he is right now with his recruiting process and doesn’t plan on taking visits to any schools until the fall. His recruitment is wide open, he said.
Cunningham is another player who has the size of a wing but plays like a point guard.
He’s a couple of inches shorter than Barnes (6-foot-6 compared to 6-foot-8), but they both have the ball handling skills required to command the ball at their size. Cunningham said he tries to model his game after LeBron James because “you can’t go wrong”.
Speaking of LeBron…
LeBron James was in Indy to watch his son, LeBron “Bronny” James Jr., take a crack at the EYBL.
And it was a spectacle.
Bronny is only 14 (although roughly 6-feet in height) and had an entire arena filled with over 1,000 people focusing all of their attention on his court.
What’s crazy (and understandable) about the EYBL is that almost everyone participating in the games stands over 6-feet tall. But not by an inch or two. I’ve never seen more people that were at least 6-foot-10 in one place in my entire life. Add on the fact that most of their parents are also massive human beings and you’ll understand why I was on the tip of my toes trying to sneak even a glimpse of the action.
I’m a bit over 6-feet tall myself, but you would have thought I was a middle schooler. And honestly, I felt like one. I managed to find a couple of “secret” spots (bleachers) where I could stand tall enough to watch this game go down.
None of this has anything to do with Kentucky, but I just wanted to let you all know how shook I was as a first timer attending this event. When you’re casually walking past guys such as Bradley Beal and Juwan Howard, who you’ve watched on TV for years, it’s easy to get spaced out with awe. Then throw in LeBron James – the best to ever do it – and I’m the literal image of Ricky Bobby trying to figure out what to do with his hands.
John Calipari may be in Italy, but he just added another impressive recruit to his roster for next season. Four-star wing Johnny Juzang just announced he’s committed to the University of Kentucky. He’s listed as the No. 30 overall player in the class, according to 24/7 Sports’ final rankings.
The Studio City, California native just posted the news on his Instagram, saying “Big Blue Nation, stand up.” He chose the Cats over Virginia, Kansas and Oregon.
View this post on Instagram
After reclassifying into the 2019 class just weeks ago, Juzang was thrust into the spotlight, quickly moving onto Kentucky’s radar, especially after news broke of Jemarl Baker’s pending transfer. He’s listed at 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds. In high school, he averaged 22.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game throughout 26 appearances. Juzang shot 43 percent from the floor, 35 percent from the three-point line and 85 percent from the charity stripe.
With the commitment, the Cats currently have the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation, followed by Arizona then Duke. Before Juzang’s commitment, UK was in third place, but the addition of the four-star player pushed the Cats back to the top. This isn’t necessarily finalized, as Memphis could make a move for the No. 1 spot if they land RJ Hampton and Boogie Ellis. However, if Coach Calipari is able to land Jaden McDaniels, Kentucky could still snag one of the top spots.
Regardless, Juzang’s commitment is great news for next season’s Wildcats. Welcome to the BBN!
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 10th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
Editor’s Note: This piece from Jack Pilgrim originally ran after Johnny Juzang announced he would make the leap into the 2019 class. Now that he’s a Cat, allow KSR’s insider the chance to break down Juzang’s game, his background and how he will fit at Kentucky.
This evening, 2020 five-star wing Johnny Juzang announced he would be making a jump to the class of 2019, with many recruiting analysts submitting predictions in favor of the Wildcats not long after.
The 6-foot-7 prospect out of Studio City, CA is set to officially visit Kentucky starting on Monday, April 29, and there are rumblings that the Wildcats could receive a commitment on or soon after the trip.
So what do we need to know about Juzang and the likelihood that he ends up in Lexington next season?
Let’s take a look.
Who is Johnny Juzang?
In terms of basic information and measurables, Juzang is a 6-foot-7, 210-pound shooting guard/small forward out of Studio City, CA. Holding offers from Kentucky, Kansas, Virginia, UCLA, and USC, among others, Juzang is considered a consensus top-25 prospect in the class of 2020. ESPN lists him as the No. 19 overall prospect in the class, while Rivals has him at No. 22 and 247 Sports lists him at No. 24 overall.
On the offensive end, Juzang is one of the most gifted shooters in all of high school basketball. He’s got fluid mechanics, muscle memory down to a science, midrange, can hit shots from all three levels, catch-and-shoot, off the dribble, etc. With a nickname of “J-Silk,” it’s no surprise that he’s an incredibly smooth player. Last season for Harvard Westlake, Juzang averaged 22.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 2.8 assists per game, including a 35% clip from three. Solid, but not the best. Looking back to his time with the Compton Magic on the Adidas Gauntlet last season, however, the Kentucky target shot an impressive 43.4% from three, which is the number most believe closely shows his true shooting abilities.
Some recruiting analysts are comparing his game to that of a 6-foot-7 version of Doron Lamb, which would certainly provide a massive boost to Kentucky’s 3-point shooting next season.
Defensively, Juzang’s length is there, but he needs to improve on his lateral mobility and quickness to stay in front of smaller, faster guards. Kentucky is recruiting him to play at the two and three next season, so that will need to improve over time.
From a training perspective, Juzang has seen a spike in development over the last year or so not just with his basketball skillset, but his body. Over the course of his junior season, the forward prospect has put on 20 pounds of muscle, with those close to him calling him a “gym rat” who now lives in the weight room. He’s always been a gifted shooter, but now, he’s building up the strength necessary to be a force when driving the paint and finding separation against elite defenders. He’s also become a phenomenal rebounder, certainly a plus.
With Kentucky losing Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson, and Jemarl Baker on the perimeter, Juzang would be the perfect addition to rotate in with Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey, and Immanuel Quickley, especially from a shooting perspective. Maxey is considered arguably the best shooter in the class of 2019, and Juzang has long been considered one of the best in the class of 2020. Bringing both of them in at the same time will bring back memories of Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb in the 2010-11 backcourt.
This evening, Juzang announced to the world that he would be making the jump to the class of 2019, a move that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise.
“First off, I want to thank everyone who’s helped me and been there for me up to this point,” he said. “I’ve had an amazing experience in high school, and wouldn’t have had it any other way. I’d like to thank Harvard Westlake: the coaches, the trainers, the teachers, and the staff for making my 3 years so special. I also want to thank Compton Magic for all they’ve done for me in my journey thus far. And of course, I want to say thank you to my family and friends who support me no matter what. With that being said, I will be reclassifying to the class of 2019 and attending college this fall.”
There was a quiet buzz about it being a possibility over the last several months, but they seriously grew louder over the last week or so. Once Kentucky traveled out to California and offered him a scholarship face-to-face, the buzz soon became that not only is it likely that he made the jump to 2019, it would be a shock if he didn’t.
Now that he has shared the news with the world, it’s also important to factor in that Harvard Westlake, Juzang’s high school, does not have an early graduation program for students, so he will need to get his final academic credits in order elsewhere. His family believes they have a path in place that should make this transition relatively easy.
Already 18 years old, Juzang is both physically and mentally ready to make the jump. Tonight, he made that official.
Also in his reclassification announcement, Juzang said that he would be making a decision “in the next few weeks,” and I think that might even be generous.
Immediately after his in-home visit concluded with Kentucky, rumors leaked out that the Wildcats had done enough to jump out in front as the favorite to land the wing prospect. They offered him a scholarship for both 2019 and 2020, telling him that he’d be welcome whenever he wanted to end up in Lexington.
That being said, they pushed for Juzang to join Kentucky’s class of 2019 and pointed out his specific role on the roster for next season. From there, they convinced him to take an official visit to Lexington starting on April 29, where sources tell KSR that the staff believes they can seal the deal on a commitment before he leaves campus. If not, the expectation is that an announcement comes not long after that.
Outside of Kentucky, Juzang holds offers from Kansas, Virginia, Oregon, USC, Washington, California, and Arizona State, among others. Though Kentucky is still considered the favorite, Virginia is seen as the team running No. 2 in the race, with Villanova (who doesn’t have a confirmed offer) also making a recent push.
Before John Calipari and Joel Justus visited and offered on April 19, Juzang also visited Virginia last October and Kansas in February of 2018.
As of right now, Kentucky holds 83% of all predictions on 247 Sports, including picks from recruiting insiders Evan Daniels, Jerry Meyer, and Andrew Slater, three of the best in the business.
In fact, the only person who doesn’t predict Kentucky to land Juzang is 247’s Dain Ervin, who made a prediction in favor of Stanford back in October of 2018. Since then, Kentucky, Virginia, and Villanova have all surpassed the Cardinal on his list, and I would be shocked if they are even in the running at this point.
Not only do I believe Kentucky lands the 6-foot-7 sharpshooter out of Studio City, CA, I believe they get it done during (or not long after) his official visit to Lexington next week.
And the documentary he released last week:
Come on down.
By Maggie Davis on ©May 10th, 2019 @ 6:30pm
The state of Kentucky may be known for its flagship basketball program, but it’s not necessarily known for producing in-state talent. This year, however, the Bluegrass produced a strong class, and four of top players are continuing their basketball careers in the Commonwealth.
These four young men are all heading to different programs come next fall, but all of them will have the hometown advantage when they get to their respective college campus. The fifth – KyKy Tandy – is the second-best Kentuckian in the class, and he’ll be staying close to home, as well.
Here’s a look at Kentucky’s top-five players. All rankings are according to 24/7 Sports final national rankings for the 2019 class.
David Johnson – Louisville, No. 64
The Trinity star is staying home to play for Chris Mack and the University of Louisville. He’s a four-star prospect and is considered Kentucky’s best player in the class.
KyKy Tandy – Xavier, No. 76
After some speculation Tandy could become a Wildcat, the Hopkinsville native wound up signing with Xavier University, just over the river in Cincinnati, Ohio. He’s listed as a four-star combo guard.
Dontaie Allen – UK, No. 91
After winning Kentucky’s Mr. Basketball award, Pendleton County’s own Dontaie Allen will join the Wildcats next season. He’s a 4-star small forward.
Michael Moreno – Eastern, No. 274
The Georgetown native is listed as a 3-star recruit and the No. 46 power forward in the nation. After graduating from Scott County High School, he’ll join the Eastern Kentucky Colonels next season. Moreno was the final player from this list to sign on the dotted line – he just committed to EKU Thursday.
Isaiah Cozart – Western, No. 347
Cozart is a 3-star small forward from Richmond, Kentucky. Cozart will graduate from Madison Central before joining the Hilltoppers next fall. He’ll play alongside fellow Kentuckian (and Dunbar High School graduate) Taveion Hollingsworth.
By Nick Roush on ©May 10th, 2019 @ 12:09pm
One of Kentucky’s top uncommitted targets in the class of 2019 will announce his college decision next week.
After months of crickets from the Jaden McDaniels camp, Scorebook Live Washington reports the five-star forward will announce his college decision Wednesday, May 15.
A McDonald’s All-American and a top ten player in the 2019 class, McDaniels is the second-highest ranked uncommitted recruit, behind only the recently reclassified R.J. Hampton. From the Seattle suburb of Federal Way, many believed for quite some time the hometown school, Washington, was the favorite. That’s all changed in the last week. Now UK holds 85% of the 247 Crystal Ball predictions, including one from Evan Daniels.
Along with Johnny Juzang’s Friday night announcement, it could be a nice week for the Big Blue Nation on the west coast.
Apparently, the report from Scorebook Live Washington doesn’t follow what’s happening in McDaniels’ camp. His trainer debunked the decision date a few hours after it was released:
There’s no commitment date, don’t believe what you read on this app, that’s all folks have a great day ??
— Cartiea French-Toney (@MrYeahIKnow) May 10, 2019
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©May 10th, 2019 @ 11:32am
When will we find out which school Johnny Juzang’s headed to? Tonight at 7 p.m. ET. The four-star wing just tweeted that he’ll share his college decision live on Instagram:
I’ll be announcing my commitment at 4pm PST live on my instagram https://t.co/fgZOAaWceH
— Johnny Juzang (@JohnnyJuzang) May 10, 2019
In case you’ve been under a rock (or on vacation like me), Juzang is down to Kentucky, Virginia, Kansas, and Oregon. He recently reclassified to 2019 and is considered the No. 30 prospect in the country. If he does choose the Cats, he’ll make Kentucky’s 2019 class the best in the country. Currently, Kentucky leads his 247 Sports Crystal Ball with 91 percent of the predictions.
Come on down, Johnny.
It’s been a rough 48 hours at the KSR compound. After Drew started the fire, he promptly passed the torch to me. Naturally, the next move was to pour gasoline on the fire. If you thought the blog was reduced to ashes, don’t you worry. It’s time to rebuild Rome in a day.
If anybody can make it happen, it’s Johnny Juzang. The five-star sharpshooting wing from Studio City, California recently reclassified to the 2019 class. If the No. 30 player in America picks UK, as 91% of the 247 Crystal Ball selections predict, John Calipari will once again have the top-ranked class in the country. Not too shabby.
Juzang will choose between UK, Virginia, Kansas and Oregon. There’s no set time, but Evan Daniels anticipates it to happen in the afternoon/early evening. Juzang’s announcement isn’t the only big news of the day.
The Nike EYBL Resumes
The nation’s top prep basketball circuit is back in action tonight. John Calipari’s coaching staff is expected to be in Indianapolis to watch the best of the best on the hardwood. We’ll let you know exactly who they’re following throughout the weekend.
While the assistants are hard at work, Coach Cal is galavanting across the Italian countryside. Look who he ran into in Capri!
NFL Rookie Mini-Camps Begin
Former Wildcats will wear NFL uniforms for the first time when they take the field across the country for three-day NFL rookie mini-camps. Big George already got a crack at it last weekend. Chris Westry, Lonnie Johnson and Josh Allen are just a few who will be on the field this weekend.
First day of work ? pic.twitter.com/EDPC5Z99Ib
— #DUUUVAL (@Jaguars) May 10, 2019
UK Softball’s SEC Tournament Opener
A rain delay forced the Kentucky softball team to wait until Friday to open SEC Tournament play in College Station, Texas. The fourth-seeded Wildcats will take on the fifth-seeded Ole Miss Rebels at 11:00 a.m. ET on the SEC Network.
UK Baseball Fights for the SEC Tournament
Not every team makes the SEC Baseball Tournament. The Bat Cats are currently tied with Alabama for the 12th and final spot in the tourney. This weekend they’re on the road for a three-game series with South Carolina, who is just one game behind UK in the SEC standings. To secure a spot they’ll need to take care of the Gamecocks in Columbia beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET.
De’Aaron Fox Cashes In
He’s the featured player in the latest bit for Head and Shoulders. I will personally go out of my way to purchase every product endorsed by Wildcats, except this. Maybe if he started with Rogaine, I could get behind this ad, but what do I say to the god of hair? Not today.
— De'Aaron Fox (@swipathefox) May 9, 2019
Take a Chill Pill
Aaron Rodgers is set to make a cameo in the next episode of Game of Thrones and I’m afraid T.J. Walker’s head might explode. My KTR partner and I were a little late, so we went over 90 minutes in the latest episode to talk about ‘The Last of the Starks’ and preview the big battle at King’s Landing. Were we a little frustrated by some of the things from the episode? Sure, but I believe the best is yet to come Sunday night.
Best News Ever?
Yesterday I arrived at the dentist’s office at 10:30 expecting to receive a root canal. I walked out of the office 30 minutes later without one needle in my mouth. Does it get any better? I think not. That’s what happens when you don’t schedule your dental appointment for 2:30.
KSR is on the Road
Matt Jones and Ryan Lemond are at the State Dock Marina in Jamestown for this morning’s edition of Kentucky Sports Radio. There’s no better way to kick off lake season than with KSR at Lake Cumberland beginning at 10:00 a.m.
By Drew Franklin on ©May 09th, 2019 @ 12:30pm
John Calipari may spend his weekend celebrating the No. 1 recruiting class in America. Because if Johnny Juzang picks Kentucky when he makes his announcement on Friday, Kentucky will jump both Duke and Arizona for the top spot in the 247 Composite Team Rankings.
According to 247’s fancy class calculator, Juzang will raise UK’s projected score from 68.59 with four commits to 69.87 with five. It would give the Cats the edge over Duke, which is currently ranked second, and Arizona, currently the top class:
1. Arizona, 69.40
2. Duke, 69.32
3. Kentucky, 68.59
Kentucky with Juzang, 69.87
If those numbers hold, it will be Calipari’s first top-ranked class (according to 247) since the Skal Labissiere-led group in 2015.
You can also get real crazy and throw in Jaden McDaniels, a very likely possibility at this point, and the score jumps to 70.21, just barely shy of where last year’s UK and Duke classes scored (70.29 and 71.06).
(One quick party-pooping note: If Memphis adds RJ Hampton and Boogie Ellis, Penny Hardaway will earn the top spot for the first time in his program’s history with a 70.30.)
One of the three remaining prospects Kentucky is pursuing from the 2019 recruiting class has finalized the timeline for his decision.
Johnny Juzang, the small forward out of California, will make his announcement this coming Friday, May 10. He has a final four of Kentucky, Virginia, Oregon and Kansas.
Juzang is new to the 2019 class after reclassifying from 2020 last month. He is considered a four-star prospect ranked 32nd in the country in the 247 Sports Composite Rankings.
The last eight picks in his Crystal Ball are for Kentucky, including predictions from trusted sources Evan Daniels and Jerry Meyer.
It sounds like Kentucky may add a fifth freshmen to the incoming class.
When it comes to college basketball recruiting (and slim fit three-piece suits), no one on the planet knows more than Evan Daniels. He is the one to trust in the recruiting game, which is why you will be very thrilled to know he logged a pick for Kentucky in Jaden McDaniels’ Crystal Ball predictions early this morning.
Daniels called it a gut feeling about the five-star power forward, who has been extremely quiet and reserved throughout the whole process.
“We are coming down the stretch in Jaden McDaniels’ recruitment,” Daniels explained to KSR. “Kentucky and Washington have been getting a lot of play lately, but my gut says Kentucky is in the best position to land him.”
The timetable for the decision is uncertain, much like everything else in McDaniels’ recruitment.
John Calipari and his coaching staff may not be done recruiting the 2019 class, but that doesn’t mean they’re not already working on the foundation of the 2020 and 2021 recruiting classes.
Kentucky has now extended a scholarship offer to a second high school sophomore, Terrence Clarke, a 6-6 shooting guard out of Brewster Academy in New Hampshire. Clarke is the top-ranked guard and second overall player in the 2021 class, according to the current 247 Composite Rankings.
Take a look at his YouTube highlights and you will see why Kentucky was quick to get in the mix:
Jonathan Kuminga, a small forward out of New York, is the only sophomore with a confirmed offer from Kentucky.
Fresh Focus Sports, creators of “Year of the Dragon,” a feature-length documentary chronicling Kahlil Whitney’s final season at Roselle Catholic in New Jersey, released unseen footage of Whitney’s signing ceremony in Chicago last week.
Whitney returned to Chicago to officially sign with Kentucky at his old elementary school, several months after his initial commitment, and to show the kids there they should chase their dreams. Whitney’s old neighborhood is littered with gun violence and he went back home to be a sign of hope for the community.
Watch the footage below:
— Fresh Focus Sports (@freshfocusports) May 7, 2019
Shortly after Whitney’s signing ceremony, John Calipari tweeted, “I’ve been waiting to talk about @KahlilWhitney for a long time but I know how much it meant to him to do this signing back where it all started for him. I’m proud of how he was able to take something that was about him and use it for the good of others in his community.”
By Drew Franklin on ©May 07th, 2019 @ 2:25pm
Rivals.com released its final basketball rankings for the Class of 2019 and each of the four members in Kentucky’s signing class saw a drop in their place on the list.
Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky’s only top 10 player, fell one place to No. 10 in the final update. Maxey dropped to the third-ranked point guard in the class, behind only Cole Anthony of North Carolina and the undecided RJ Hampton. Hampton, a Kentucky target and a friend of Maxey, reclassified last week and debuted ahead of Maxey in the rankings.
The newest signee in UK’s class, Kahlil Whitney, fell out of the top 10 in the final update. Still the top-ranked small forward among his peers, Whitney slid six places from No. 8 to No. 14.
Keion Brooks, UK’s only other five-star prospect, is still the fifth-ranked small forward in 2019; however, he moved down one spot to No. 28 in the Rivals150’s last class ranking.
Then there is Dontaie Allen, the in-state star from nearby Pendleton County, a four-star talent in the Rivals150. Allen saw the biggest decline of the Wildcats, falling from No. 55 to No. 67 in the class. Allen missed most of his senior season with a torn ACL he suffered back in December, so his drop in the class rankings was expected due to his time away from basketball.
Other notable prospects include current targets RJ Hampton, the sixth-ranked player in the class; Jaden McDaniels, the seventh-ranked player and No. 1 power forward; and small forward Johnny Juzang at No. 34.
Check out the before and after of the top 10 players in the final Rivals150:
|1. Vernon Carey||Duke||1. James Wiseman||Memphis|
|2. Anthony Edwards||Georgia||2. Isaiah Stewart||Washington|
|3. James Wiseman||Memphis||3. Anthony Edwards||Georgia|
|4. Cole Anthony||North Carolina||4. Cole Anthony||North Carolina|
|5. Isaiah Stewart||Washington||5. Vernon Carey||Duke|
|6. Jaden McDaniels||Undecided||6. R.J. Hampton||Undecided|
|7. Matthew Hurt||Duke||7. Jaden McDaniels||Undecided|
|8. Kahlil Whitney||Kentucky||8. Scottie Lewis||Florida|
|9. Tyrese Maxey||Kentucky||9. Matthew Hurt||Duke|
|10. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl||Villanova||10. Tyrese Maxey||Kentucky|
By Jack Pilgrim on ©May 06th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
The No. 3 player in the class of 2020 is one step closer to making his college decision, and the Kentucky Wildcats have a legitimate shot to land him.
Jalen Johnson, a 6-foot-8 small forward out of Milwaukee, WI, told recruiting outlet Tipton Edits that he will be making his decision “within the next couple months.”
— TIPTON EDITS ? (@TiptonEdits) May 6, 2019
The five-star forward prospect cut his list on Saturday down to four schools: Kentucky, Duke, Wisconsin, and Arizona.
Just last weekend, Johnson told reporters in Atlanta at the Nike EYBL event that he was thinking about making a decision as early as Peach Jam (July 10-14), which would seem to fit that timeline.
“I was thinking Peach Jam, but it just depends on when I get that feeling,” he said.
The Wisconsin native added that he wanted to get the process over with before is senior year so he can close out his high school career without the pressure of a college decision weighing on his mind.
“I just want to go into my senior year knowing where I’m going to go, get the weight off my shoulders.”
In terms of specific schools of interest, as we’ve written several times now, Johnson claims Kentucky was his “dream school” growing up.
“I really like Kentucky a lot, that’s been my dream school growing up,” Johnson said. “I liked watching John Wall when he was there, and that’s kind of when it started. … It’s crazy there, it’s like no other. The fans are crazy there, extremely loyal. They want what’s best for their players.”
Kentucky head coach John Calipari, who watched every one of Johnson’s games down in Atlanta for session one of EYBL, has been going all-in on the 6-foot-8 forward since he offered him a scholarship back in September of last year.
“Coach Cal, him coming to my school three times this year,” Johnson said. “It just shows that I’m a priority for him and they really want me. It really means a lot.”
Will it be enough to win out in the end? We’ll have to see.
Until then, check out his highlight tape below: