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Kentucky offers Jalen Green, the No. 1 prospect in class of 2020

PHOTO: Team USA

John Calipari has offered the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2020.

According to Corey Evans of Rivals.com, Kentucky extended a scholarship offer to Jalen Green, a 6-foot-4 five-star shooting guard out of Fresno, California.

Green, who holds offers from 18 different schools, has focused his recruitment mainly on Memphis, Arizona, Kansas, Oregon, UCLA, and Florida State, with Penny Hardaway and the Tigers rumored as the leader.

With his latest offer from Kentucky, the Cats are expected to jump right into the mix as one of the favorites to land the five-star prospect.

John Calipari watched the elite guard on the Adidas Gauntlet circuit this summer, and then followed it up with a visit just last week.

In an interview with Eric Bossi of Rivals back in April, Green said both Kentucky and Duke were “really interested” and keeping in regular contact.

“I’ve talked to Kentucky and Duke and they both said they’re really interested,” said Green. “I would say Kansas is making me a priority since they offered last month. I talked to one of the coaches at Duke and they said that I’m a main priority in the 2020 class. They haven’t offered but they’re watching me closely. I hear from UCLA and USC a lot and they’re also saying they want to keep me a main priority and keep me on the West Coast.”

Green joins just five other five-star prospects with early offers from the Cats, with the others being center N’Faly Dante, wing Scottie Barnes, forward Jalen Johnson, guard Jeremy Roach, and guard Shariffe Cooper.

Watch him work below:

Bring him on home, Coach Cal.


Insider Notes: Updates on Oscar Tshiebwe, Isaiah Stewart, and Scottie Lewis

Insider Notes: Updates on Oscar Tshiebwe, Isaiah Stewart, and Scottie Lewis

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s officially October and if we thought this past weekend was a big recruiting weekend this will be a monster of a month. The Cats will host nearly a dozen targets over the next month, maybe more, and it leads into the early signing period in November when the Cats will hope to sign at least five players. Plus, the premier recruiting event of the year takes place this month- Big Blue Madness. But we’ll have all month to speculate and talk about recruiting happenings in October.

For now we need to discuss Isaiah Stewart and Oscar Tshiebwe’s visit to Lexington this weekend.

Stewart:

Kentucky has more momentum with Stewart than any other player in 2018. For a player that Kentucky started recruiting just a few months ago it appears the Cats lead and it’s somewhat unbelievable. Stewart’s visit to Kentucky went great and it’s because of that visit that you’re starting to see more and more Crystal Ball picks come in for Stewart, including Evan Daniels of 247 Sports who’s just missed on two recruitments in the class of 2019. Two out of nearly 50 he’s made predictions on this year. Plus, Daniels spoke with Stewart after the visit, so he obviously knows what he’s talking about.

People I’ve spoken with close to Kentucky feel solid, but it seems like the “pro-Kentucky” sentiment is coming from those closer to Stewart, and that’s good news. UK generally feels good about recruitments. They’ve finished with the No. 1 or No. 2 class every year since 2009 and they’ve sent dozens of guys to the NBA, I understand why they rarely feel bad about a recruitment. But this piece of information is important. With it being folks close to Stewart that are most confident about UK’s chances that may mean this recruitment is close to being over. People close to Kentucky believe he is announcing in the fall. That’s not saying that people close to UK are definitively saying that Stewart will pick UK in the fall, they’re not, but instead their interpretation is that this recruitment will be over in the fall.  Stewart told Daniels he’s undecided on a timetable (fall or spring), which may surprise some. I would be shocked if Stewart waited until the spring to make a decision, but maybe he will decide in December or January and wait until the spring to sign. That’s always a possibility.

Another reason why folks should feel good about UK’s chances with Stewart- he has no other official visits planned. I was told last night that people close to UK expected him to take one other official visit, but Stewart told Daniels that he’s unsure if he will take any other official visits and he’s running out of weekends. He will head to Colorado Springs this weekend for USA Basketball workouts and then mentioned how the season is close to starting and he needs to spend more time with family and his team. I don’t need inside sources to tell me that looks positive for UK. He’s unsure if he will take any other visits coming off a weekend in Lexington when the Cats had plenty of momentum heading into the visit.

People close to UK may be playing coy, but it seems like Stewart will be the first big to pop for UK and that would be a dream way to start the bigs dominoes in 2019.

 

Oscar:

Oscar Tshiebwe also visited this weekend and this recruitment may be more confusing after the visit. The visit went great. I said last week that I thought UK led for Tshiebwe and I still think that UK leads for Tshiebwe. Supposedly Tshiebwe was blown away by UK’s facilities and he loves the idea of being one of the next great John Calipari bigs. A few months ago Tshiebwe was thrilled with having West Virginia, Baylor and Illinois recruiting him and he was happy thinking he would have a shot at the NBA after a few seasons in college, but now he sees a path to the NBA even earlier and it all started once UK became involved in his recruitment.

Also, he made it in town in time for the football game on Saturday and I’m told he thought the atmosphere was wild. UK recognized the basketball team and I’m sure that was a cool feeling for a high school senior to see well over 60,000 people going nuts for a basketball team. He left Lexington around 1 p.m. on Monday and I can’t say enough how well the visit supposedly went. All great things.

But next weekend Tshiebwe will take his last official visit to West Virginia, the perceived leader in his recruitment. He was basically a lock for WVU until the Cats came into the picture and now it’s turned into a battle. And I hate that I’m about to type this sentence but everything I’ve heard is that there are different people pulling Tshiebwe in different directions. Some folks desperately want him to go to WVU. There are other people close to him that think UK will be the best for his longterm future, but what I was told is that the pro-WVU people in his life are being a lot more aggressive in trying to get him to WVU. I did have one source I trust tell me that Tshiebwe himself prefers UK, but he still hasn’t taken his official visit to WVU and I’m curious to see if that source says the same thing this time next week.

I hate the “well, the kid likes one school but other people are pushing him in another direction” recruitments. They’re not fun to cover and you can’t help but feel for the kid in these situations, especially for a native of the Congo who didn’t grow-up watching college basketball and knowing how these recruitments generally go.

So, I still like UK’s chances but I think this visit to WVU this weekend has some folks nervous and for good reason. WVU has been on Tshiebwe forever and they will be pulling at the heartstrings over the weekend.

@Scott_Lewis_23

Scottie Lewis:

This is tough. I’m not sure who leads for Lewis and while UK is proud of the work they have put into Lewis’ recruitment, I’m starting to get worried that the shine of the official visit is gone and the previous relationship with Florida may win out. There are two directions this recruitment may go and one I think is great for Florida and the other is great for Kentucky:

Option One: Lewis announces his decision this week. If Lewis announces this week I think the decision will be for Florida because he will want to get it out of the way before heading to Colorado Springs. Lewis will be hounded by media about Kentucky if he remains uncommitted and he could avoid that headache and have a pretty quiet weekend if he were to commit to Florida. I don’t think he would commit to Florida just to avoid having to talk to the media, but if he knows he wants to go there he may just get it out of the way.

Option Two: Lewis’ AAU coach said he may commit this week, but if he goes to Colorado Springs uncommitted he will talk with other big time targets to get a better feel for where things stand in other recruitments. If that’s the case that would seem positive for Kentucky. Maxey, Whitney, Wiseman, Stewart and other UK targets will be there and maybe Lewis will feel intrigued to join what could be a monster class in Lexington.

I asked Klatsky (his AAU coach) if he thought he’d commit this week or wait until after the Colorado Springs weekend, he joked “It will be one or the other”.

Kentucky likes their spot, but they don’t know exactly where Lewis is leaning. I don’t either, but I think if you hear of a decision this week it may be bad news for UK. If Lewis goes into the weekend uncommitted that would be good news in my opinion.

Nnaji eliminates UK:

I was told that if UK wanted Nnaji they would have a great chance at landing him. We also heard that Nnaji was going to take an unofficial visit in September to Kentucky and possibly an official in October. Maybe two visits in two months? It was clear that Nnaji was feeling UK but those visits never happened and were never officially planned. No dates were set. So, what happened?

Other schools were showing Nnaji more love. I’m told that Nnaji felt like UK clearly had other big targets and that he was a backup plan, so he went with five schools that were showing him more love. UK didn’t stop recruiting him completely, but they never made him a priority, so easy come easy go situation. UK liked Nnaji and they didn’t offer him just because they wanted Matthew Hurt, but the two points aren’t mutually exclusive. They liked Nnaji but if that also helped with Hurt then great. But these two have never used the word package deal together so the Cats are still in the hunt for Hurt, who will visit for Big Blue Madness.

Kansas is the only school that Hurt is strongly considering that made Nnaji’s final five (UCLA, Arizona, Purdue, Baylor and Kansas). Again, odds are against Hurt and Nnaji playing together in college, but if they do it would be at Kansas, so maybe root for Nnaji to go elsewhere.

(Photo: Lopez/Nike)

Quick Hitters:

Keion Brooks: He will visit UK on October 20th for an official visit. I still don’t think he ends up in Lexington, but stranger things have happened.

Cole Anthony: He visited UNC over the weekend and I think the Tar Heels extended their lead in this recruitment. The plan has always been for Anthony to decide in the spring, but UNC has all the momentum here. I still think there’s a chance he visits UK, but I still haven’t been told a date.

Sharife Cooper: UK offered the 2020 guard over the weekend. He visited and there won’t be any decisions anytime soon, but Cooper is an elite scorer. I’m a sucker for guards that are great scorers so I’m a fan of Cooper’s game and despite being on the smaller size I think he could shine at UK.

James Wiseman: He officially visited Kansas over the weekend. I’ve always said that there will be some smoke to take attention away from UK and Memphis, and that is currently happening. It’s still going to come down to those schools but Wiseman supposedly had a blast in Lawrence.


Kentucky offers 2020 guard Sharife Cooper

Kentucky offers 2020 guard Sharife Cooper

John Calipari pulled the trigger on an offer for one of the top scoring guards in the class of 2020.

Sharife Cooper, a 6-foot-1 point guard out of Powder Springs, Georgia, announced on Twitter tonight that Coach Cal offered him a scholarship during his unofficial visit today.

Kentucky joins an offer list of Auburn, Tennessee, Florida and UCLA for the elite junior prospect. Cooper is a consensus top-25 player, with every major recruiting service listing him as a five-star.

This summer, Cooper averaged 28.2 points, 5.6 rebounds, 8.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game at Peach Jam for Athletes of Tomorrow.

Watch him work:

Come on down, young fella.


Keion Brooks will officially visit Kentucky in October

(Photo: Lopez/Nike)

Add another to the long list of big names headed to Lexington…

Kentucky will get an official visit from another five-star prospect, this time with 2019 top-15 small forward Keion Brooks.

According to his mother Sarita Brooks (via 247 Sports), Brooks will head to Lexington in three weeks.

Keion will be visiting Kentucky officially on October 20,” said the highly-touted prospect’s mother in an interview with Brian Snow of 247.

A 6-foot-6 small forward out of La Lumiere School in Indiana, Brooks is considered a consensus five-star product, ranked as high as No. 12 on 247 Sports.

This past week, Brooks cut his final list to six, with Kentucky, Indiana, UCLA, Purdue, North Carolina and Michigan State making the cut.

He has already officially visited UCLA, and he is scheduled to head to Indiana this weekend for their Hoosier Hysteria event. The following weekend he will be in Colorado Springs to participate in the USA Basketball training camp.

Brooks also has a visit scheduled with North Carolina in November, meaning his fifth official will come down to Purdue and Michigan State, with the Spartans expected to get the final visit.

As for other prospects expected in Lexington in the near future, Kentucky will host five-star big men Isaiah Stewart and Oscar Tshiebwe on official visits this week, with Stewart arriving today and Tshiebwe coming in tomorrow evening. The Cats will also host 2020 point guard Sharife Cooper for an unofficial visit.

An already-busy recruiting schedule for John Calipari and company just got a whole lot busier.

(247 Sports)


Hardly Committed E10: Isaiah Stewart, Jaden McDaniels and The Fire

In the almost three-month history of Hardly Committed, there’s never been more Kentucky basketball recruiting news to cover in one episode.  Last week, Isaiah Stewart was just a name that had re-emerged from the ashes.  Now he’s visiting UK this weekend and the Cats have a chance to land the No. 5 player in America.

T.J. Walker talks about what Stewart brings to the table and has a conversation with Jaden McDaniels’ trainer, Clint Parks.  After recruiting talk, T.J. and Nick Roush discuss the fire Ryan started on The Office. Highlights:

— An early, significant Stewart prediction.

— Scottie Lewis was spotted wearing UK shorts, that means he’s a Cat, right?

—  Is there any rhyme or reason to scholarship offers for underclassmen?

— Which post player does T.J. want most?

— Pam can’t stop teasing Jim.

— In honor of The Fire, Nick and T.J. play their own version of desert island.

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.


Insider Notes: Scottie Lewis is close to a decision and Oscar Tshiebwe visits this weekend

@Scott_Lewis_23

I hope everyone enjoyed the weekend! Another five-star recruit on campus and another football win. Rinse and repeat. It’s been a busy stretch for UK basketball recruiting and it will be a few more weeks before things slow down slightly. Even after Big Blue Madness the Cats are hoping to get all of their current commitments signed in the fall (it would be surprising if that didn’t happen) and ideally two or three players that aren’t currently committed.

Things will be busy until November but we’ll know about the recruitments of Scottie Lewis and Oscar Tshiebwe before then. Here’s the latest:

Scottie Lewis:

He put on Instagram the above picture with the caption “I think it’s about that time!” and it’s seems obvious that Lewis is nearing a decision. Last week he returned from his official visit from Kentucky and announced he was down to a final two of Kentucky and Florida. The Gators visited Lewis the day after he returned from UK and I have reason to believe that the Cats went up and saw Lewis later in the week.

His AAU coach, Brian Klatsky, told me that a decision will not happen this week, so I’m going to believe that a decision won’t happen this week. Of course plans can change and Lewis could wake up tomorrow and say he wants to get it over with and that would be that, but Klatsky said the plan isn’t for a decision this week so we will likely be talking about Lewis’ recruitment this time next week.

I’m not sure if that’s good or bad news for UK. It probably doesn’t matter. If Lewis decided this time last week I would think the Cats would be the pick because he was riding high from the official visit, but he’s taking everything in and clearly won’t be making an emotional decision. He’s heard the pitches from both schools and I still ultimately think it’s a head/heart decision (similar to Tshiebwe). Florida has been recruiting him for five years (which is a crazy amount of time to recruit someone and is extra wild considering Mike White didn’t get to Florida until the spring of 2015, so I’m not sure how that adds up). UK hasn’t been recruiting him nearly that long but it’s clear that Lewis is impressed by UK’s track record with five-star players.

Here’s a few pros and cons for Lewis’ recruitment:

Pros:

  • Things changed days before he officially visited UK. Florida’s staff was pushing for a commitment and that didn’t happen. That doesn’t mean Lewis is a lock for UK, but he was at least able to tell Florida no once. Surely he can do it again.
  • Did UK suggest to Lewis not to play in exhibition games in Ireland with Aidan Igiehon this summer because of potential eligibility concerns down the road? Klatsky said that’s not the case but if it’s true it would speak highly of Kentucky’s chances since Lewis would be listening to people close to UK before even committing. Again, probably not much here.
  • Lewis’ quotes to Adam Zagoria were awfully positive for the Cats, plus he’s in a group message with other UK commits. You can read those quotes here.
  • UK really hasn’t reached out to any other guards in 2019. The Cats are still holding out hope for Cole Anthony, but that’s it. There’s also a chance there will be several returning guards, so there isn’t as much pressure for more guards in 2019.
  • This picture, which probably isn’t a huge deal but who knows. He at least likes UK enough to wear a Cats jersey to the beach (with socks):

Cons:

  • Florida has been recruiting him longer.
  • The Gators are still the heavy favorites in Lewis’ Crystal Ball. That doesn’t mean everything, but it’s a sign there aren’t many “pro-UK” rumblings at this point.
  • His friend and teammate will play for Florida, Alex Klatsky. That’s the son of his AAU coach, too. The Klatsky’s are fans of Florida and while they are allowing Lewis to make his own decision, I’m sure Lewis knows it would make them happy if he ended up in Gainesville.

My guess is that UK leads but it’s just a guess. I think Lewis knows where he wants to go but hasn’t told anyone or the staffs of a final decision and it appears that won’t happen until next week at the earliest.

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tshiebwe visits this weekend:

This is a huge weekend for UK because the Cats will host five-star center Oscar Tshiebwe. Kentucky hasn’t recruited Tshiebwe (shoob-way) as long as James Wiseman or Vernon Carey, but I’m told they think he can be as good of a college player as those two. Those two are better today, and may have a higher-ceiling professionally, but Tshiebwe’s physicality and hustle could make him elite at the college level. Kentucky really, really likes Tshiebwe.

He picked up an offer like we expected last week and Tshiebwe has known he’s been a take for UK long before the official offer. I’m a little surprised that nearly all the national media still has Tshiebwe pegged to WVU because people around UK feel great about where things stand heading into his official visit to Lexington. I think the Cats land Tshiebwe and I feel more confident about Kentucky’s chances with Tshiebwe than I do Lewis.

This visit should go great this weekend and UK’s campus will be bonkers with USC  in town, but it will be the visit to WVU the following week that is the only thing that can derail UK’s momentum. It’s more head/heart for Tshiebwe but supposedly he’s always enjoyed UK basketball since coming to the states, that’s why I think he ends up in Lexington.

UK is in the picture with Stewart:

Kentucky has done enough to get back in the hunt with Isaiah Stewart. Someone that knows his recruitment better than I do told me that Stewart is thinking about his professional career when making a college decision so “of course he’s considering UK because he could come in and start” and I agree with that take. I didn’t know if Stewart would be willing to put UK back on his list after cutting the Cats back in the spring, but whatever Calipari said over the last few weeks worked because Stewart is fully considering Kentucky and I would expect we hear of a visit in the future.

It would be fitting that we’ve talked about Wiseman, Carey and Matthew Hurt for months and months the Cats end up with Stewart, Tshiebwe and Nnaji. I don’t know exactly how UK’s finishes the frontcourt but UK has plenty of options and is in a decent spot in all six of those recruitments. I don’t think UK leads for Stewart but Stewart won’t be announcing until the spring so there is plenty of time for the Cats to jump ahead.

tyresemaxey | Ig

Maxey is going to be a star:

Maxey’s official visit to UK went well (drink) but it is good news for the Cats that he will return for Big Blue Madness. We know that UK will host Carey and Hurt, two major targets in 2019, that weekend, so it will help to have as many UK commitments in their ear all weekend. Dontaie Allen will also be there. There are going to be other underclassmen that will be at Rupp Arena for BBM (R.J. Hampton and Khristian Lander to name a couple) but having Maxey and Allen on campus will help with the 2019 targets.

I was also reminded that UK believes they have the best scoring guard in 2019. Maxey is going to be a star player on the court for UK in 2019-2020, but he also has recruiting responsibilities. The kid already looks like a Wildcat… hey wait a minute….

Jon Lopez/Nike

Igiehon:

Still no UK visit date set for Igiehon, who also put out a message on social media hinting he may commit somewhere soon. I don’t think UK is a realistic option at this point, but I’ve been saying that for weeks/months. Until we hear of a date for a visit I won’t be changing my mind.

I did hear that UofL is the leader for Igiehon. Chris Mack is doing a solid job on the recruiting trail. Four top 100 commits already in 2019. None are in the top 40, but it’s still the start to a solid class but Igiehon would only help UofL’s momentum. Mack’s plan is to recruit like Villanova. Get top 100 players that will be around for three or four years and every so often land a top 10 or 15 guy. UofL is still actively going after Cole Anthony, who I think ends up at UNC.