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A Recap of Tyrese Maxey’s Interview with KSR’s The Aaron Torres Sports Podcast

It’s been a busy week for the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast. In case you missed it, two-time national champion and the only coach to ever lead three separate programs to the Final Four (yes, I’m being sarcastic) Rick Pitino joined the show on Monday.

And earlier today, I followed it up with an interview with future Kentucky point guard Tyrese Maxey.

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock the last six months, you know that Maxey was the first player in the class of 2019 to commit to Kentucky and will be taking an official visit to the school this weekend, along with local product Dontaie Allen. And oh boy was it a fun interview, where Maxey lived up to his reputation as one of the biggest personalities in all of high school basketball.  I have little doubt he will grow into a fan favorite once he arrives in Lexington.

Speaking of “arriving in Lexington,” Maxey will be there Friday (even if it’s only for a few days). As he gets set for his visit, here are some highlights of his interview with the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast (you can download the whole show for free, right here).

The reason he is visiting Kentucky this weekend is because he wanted to experience a football game

One of the biggest things I wanted to ask Maxey was why he is visiting Kentucky this weekend. Especially considering that he is coming back in a few weeks for Big Blue Madness. After all, it’s not often that a player who is already committed to a school takes an official visit, then pays for his own trip a few weeks later.

His answer was surprising. He wanted to experience a Kentucky football game in person.

Maxey added that he actually played football when he was a kid (then again, doesn’t everyone in Texas?), saying that his primary position was quarterback. According to Maxey, the position was perfect for him because he is a natural born leader.

He chose Kentucky because of John Calipari’s honesty

When I asked Maxey why he chose Kentucky, his answer was similar to a number of players who I’ve spoken with through the years. He loved Calipari’s honesty.

“I feel like he never lies to me,” Maxey said, describing John Calipari. “He always tells me the truth. He spit straight facts to me, he never spit any fluff. He came in, he told me I need to get better, he told me I’m not where I need to be right now to be an NBA player and that’s my end goal.”

Maxey also added that another thing that drew him to Kentucky was that he would be surrounded by other good players. He admitted to being a competitive kid, and looks forward to competing with great players every day in practice.

tyresemaxey | Ig

Maxey is already tight with Kentucky basketball royalty

It’s no secret that one of the big draws for any high school player to Kentucky is the number of future NBA stars who’ve come through the school under John Calipari’s watch. It stood out to Maxey, who admitted that he knows quite a few of them. He said that De’Aaron Fox texted him the day he committed, and he’s spoken to Jamal Murray, Devin Booker, DeMarcus Cousins and John Wall among others.

Not bad. Not bad at all.

As I told Maxey during the interview: He better not lose his phone. That is a heck of a rolodex for an 18-year-old to have.

Fun fact: Maxey loves Spiderman

When I asked Maxey to share something that not many folks knew about him, he said that he was a big Spiderman fan. He said that he likes Spiderman’s super-powers, his speed, agility and ability to get from Point A to Point B quickly.

Ironically (or maybe not), that also very accurately describes Maxey’s game on the court.

Not to mention that it seems like one fan is especially fired up about this development.

He has never played against fellow Kentucky commit Dontaie Allen, but knows Kahlil Whitney well

This one was shocker to me, but Maxey said that – as best as he knows – he’s never played against fellow Kentucky commit Dontaie Allen, who will also be on campus this weekend. I know that Allen came onto the scene as a big-time recruit a bit later in the process than most kids, but considering that most of the top players know each other from an early age, that was stunning.

On the other hand, Maxey also said that he’s known the third member of this recruiting class, Kahlil Whitney for years. Maxey described his future teammate’s game similar to his. “He’s a dog,” Maxey said. “That’s one of the reasons Coach Cal likes him. He competes defensively. He competes offensively.”

He is actively recruiting other players

Maxey was surprisingly open while discussing the other players he’s recruiting to Kentucky.

It sounds like he has the closest relationship with Scottie Lewis, and admitted that he talks to him “almost every day.” Considering that Lewis is down to just Florida and Kentucky that has to be a great sign for the Wildcats.

Maxey also said that he speaks with James Wiseman, Vernon Carey and Matthew Hurt regularly. He said that Wiseman is “hard to get a feel” for but that Carey has opened up to him more recently.

Maxey was also in the dark about Jaden McDaniels, who John Calipari recently had an in-home visit with.

Other odds and ends:

There are other odds and ends, but the most important one is this: He has Kentucky beating Mississippi State 31-28 on Saturday night at Kroger Field.

To listen to the full interview with Maxey, subscribe to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.  You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  Don’t forget to follow the show Instagram too.


A brief look at the 2020 class with an asinine prediction

Photo by USA Basketball

It’s unclear how UK’s 2019 class will all shake out but it’s never too early to look ahead. Here’s a brief look at Kentucky’s 2020 targets and where things stand.

Top Targets:

Jalen Green: 6-foot-5, 170-pound guard from Fresno, Calif. Location won’t be UK’s friend for Green, but he’s their dream guard target in 2020. He’s an elite scorer and ranked No. 1 in the Rivals 2020 rankings. UK watched him this summer when he represented team USA in Argentina.

Scottie Barnes (offered): The 6-foot-8, 200-pound wing has one of the most impressive bodies I’ve seen from a high school player. I’m guessing he weighs more than 200 pounds, but he’s as long as a Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and is more attracted to contact in the paint. He’s ranked No. 4 in the Rivals150 and he’s one of two players to receive an offer from the Cats. Interestingly enough, he really wants to play with UK target Jeremy Roach.

R.J. Hampton: The No. 5 player in the Rivals150 will visit Kentucky for Big Blue Madness. He made news earlier this month by announcing he won’t reclassify to 2019. Memphis and Duke are the perceived leaders but don’t count out UK for the 6-foot-4, 180-pound point guard from Little Elm, Texas.

Jalen Johnson: Johnson actually visited UK for Big Blue Madness last season and the Cats would love to have him back on campus soon. UK appears to have struck gold with Wisconsin native Tyler Herro and they hope to do the same with Johnson. The 6-foot-7, 210-pound wing is ranked No. 6 in the Rivals150 and will almost certainly land an offer from the Cats.

N’Faly Dante (offered): If I had to guess a player that would reclassify to 2019 Dante would be my guess, although that seems far from the lock. The Mali native, now living in Kansas, is the second player in the class of 2020 that has an offer from Kentucky. The 6-foot-10, 225-pound center already has an NBA ready body and he will only become stronger and bigger. The Cats really like his game.

Jeremy Roach: Roach has already been on UK’s campus and will be back soon, but the Cats love Roach’s game. The 6-foot, 170-pound guard from Virginia is ranked No. 17 in the class of 2020 is a little smaller than normal Calipari guards, but he can score and dish.

Jalen Suggs: Kentucky is going to have to beat out all your typical college basketball bluebloods for the 6-foot-3, 180-pound guard from Minnesota, but also traditional football powers, too. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the class of 2020. Will he play football? Basketball? Calipari hopes the latter. He’s ranked No. 18 in the class.

Isaiah Todd: The No. 16 ranked big from North Carolina doesn’t hold an offer from the Cats, but UK did visit the 6-foot-9, 190-pound power forward earlier this week. Kentucky hopes to have him on campus soon but no visit has officially been planned.

Keep an eye on:

Josh Christopher: I don’t know too much about the 6-foot-4, 200-pound shooting guard but it’s another west coast player that may be hard to bring across the country. He’s ranked No. 13 in the class of 2020 and has a body type that Calipari generally likes from his guards.

Hunter Dickinson: I believe UK visited Dickinson earlier this week (although I can’t confirm) and the Cats watched a lot of Dickinson this summer. A 7-foot-1 and 220-pounds Dickinson did more than hold his own against Vernon Carey and James Wiseman and played on the best AAU team on the Nike EYBL circuit. He was a big reason why. He reminds me a little of Stephen Zimmerman.

Cade Cunningham: UK has watched plenty of Cunningham and that won’t change over the next year. Cunningham is from Texas but plays for Montverde in Florida. The 6-foot-7, 215-pound wing will likely become a major UK target at some point.

Jaden Springer: The 6-foot-4, 184-pound shooting guard is from North Carolina but plays for IMG Academy in Florida. Springer has spoken highly about the Cats in the past but we’ll see if he ever becomes a top target for the Cats. He’s ranked No. 11 in the class of 2020.

 

 

Seems Unlikely:

Ace Baldwin: Baldwin is a really fun player and the Cats like his game, but he’s a little undersized and his competition is only gaining on him. He’s dropped in the rankings but it’s not impossible the Cats keep tabs on him. The 6-foot-1, 155-pound Baltimore native is currently ranked outside the top 100.

Jaemyn Brakefield: Brakefield has checked out UK’s campus several times and I think the Cats could land the 6-foot-8, 205-pound wing that plays for Huntington Prep but it appears UK prefers other wings in 2020. It’s strange how picky UK can be but right now Brakefield seems like a backup option.

Walker Kessler: Is Georgia the team to beat for Kessler? Tom Crean has already gone all out for the 7-foot, 220-pound center and he’s a legacy. Three members of his family played for the Bulldogs and it will be hard to get him out of the Peach State. He’s a top 10 player in 2020.

Xavier Foster: I don’t know too much and haven’t seen much of Foster, but I know nearly every Big Ten school is making the 6-foot-10, 210-pound forward a priority. The four-star target lives in Iowa and it seems unlikely he ends up in the SEC, although the Cats are interested.

My outlandish, almost certain to be wrong prediction:

Jalen Johnson

Jeremy Roach

Scottie Barnes

Isaiah Todd

Hutner Dickinson


Aaron Torres Sports Podcast Ep. 80: Future UK Point Guard Tyrese Maxey

After reaching No. 1 on the iTunes charts earlier this week (thanks to an appearance from Rick Pitino) the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast is back with special guest Tyrese Maxey, who joins the show just days before the point guard officially visits Kentucky. But first, Aaron welcomes his buddy Nick Coffey to discuss:
Who Should Be the Next Coach at Kentucky and Duke? On Wednesday, CBS Sports put out a list on who should be the next coach at Kentucky, and Aaron disagreed, so he put out his own list on KSR. Nick and Aaron go through the candidates – why Will Wade could be shaping up as a great hire down the road, and is Fred Hoiberg a better option in the NBA than Billy Donovan or Brad Stevens? Also Duke can’t possibly “keep it in the family” when Coach K retires, can they?
A Week 4 College Football Preview: Next, the guys review the biggest games of the college football weekend – Can Texas A&M keep things close against Alabama and can Mississippi State pull the upset against Kentucky? Also, Aaron and Nick give out their surprise picks of the weekend.
Next up, Aaron welcomes on Kentucky commit Tyrese Maxey to the show. Maxey is headed on his official visit to Kentucky this weekend and discusses the following with Aaron.
What He Is Expecting on His Visit to Lexington: Maxey discusses his plans for the trip down to Lexington this weekend. What does he hope to see, what is his relationship with fellow commits Kahlil Whitney and Dontaie Allen and what is his prediction for the Kentucky-Mississippi State football game?
Who is He Recruiting with Him To Kentucky: Maxey discusses the players he hopes will join him in Lexington. How would he fit in with Scottie Lewis in the backcourt? How he got Vernon Carey to open up recently? And what is his relationship with James Wiseman?
Finally, Maxey discusses his relationship with Kentucky’s NBA players like John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins, and how Celtics guard Marcus Smart has helped him train this summer.

Get the podcast delivered directly to your phone by subscribing to the Aaron Torres Sports Podcast feed on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.  You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise.  Don’t forget to follow the show Instagram too.


Hardly Committed E9: Scottie Lewis, Ben Roberts and Office Olympics

T.J. Walker is back for another exciting edition of Hardly Committed.  This week he’s joined by Ben Roberts from the Herald-Leader to talk about the various recruits that are visiting campus and hosting Kentucky’s coaching staff.  After taking your questions, Nick Roush joins T.J. in The Annex to talk about a classic episode of The Office, Office Olympics.  Highlights:

— Isaiah Todd, not a baseball player.

— The latest developments in Scottie Lewis’ recruitment are good for UK.

— Another Isaiah is in the picture, Isaiah Stewart.

— Will Coach Cal try to steal one from Chris Mack?

— Should Mark Stoops be given credit for an assist in the Scottie Lewis recruitment?

— A weird Google search.

— A new segment in The Annex: “Would this get you fired?”

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.


Change of plans for UK recruiting

Change of plans for UK recruiting

KSR reported yesterday that Kentucky would visit UK commit Dontaie Allen today in Pendleton County, but there was a change of plans. UK was planning to see Isaiah Todd last week, but because of Hurricane Florence that in-home visit was moved to today and sources close to Allen tell KSR that the Cats will likely be by Thursday.

We haven’t heard too much about Todd, the 6-foot-9, 190-pound forward from Raleigh, N.C. He’s ranked as the No. 16 player in the class of 2020 and while he doesn’t yet have an offer from Kentucky, he does hold a plethora of offers including offers from Kansas, Baylor, Miami (Fla.), NC State, UCLA and Villanova.

UK has offered just Scottie Barnes and N’Faly Dante in the class of 2020. Generally John Calipari won’t offer players until the end of their junior seasons and sometimes not until their senior year, of course there are always a few exceptions.

We still have no idea what UK’s frontcourt in 2019-2020 will look like, so it’s impossible to predict the 2020-2021 frontcourt, but Todd seems like he would be a fun piece for the coach that lands him.


Insider Notes: Scottie Lewis visits and Calipari’s busy week

@Scott_Lewis_23

I’m convinced September is the busiest recruiting month of the year for Kentucky. June and July make for plenty of news and actual games on different circuits. November is the start of the high school season and the fall signing period. The all-star circuit in the spring produces plenty of content and long recruitments come to a close, but nothing tops September. Kentucky coaches travel the country and UK has hosted/will continue to host some of their top targets this month.

And that included Scottie Lewis, who is actually still in Lexington. He didn’t arrive to Lexington until Saturday and the official officially ended around noon this afternoon.

Let’s get to the notes.

Scottie Lewis:

It’s funny how the perception of a recruitment can change in just a week. Lewis seemed like a Florida lock. He was coming off an official visit to Gainesville, his teammate and good friend committed to the Gators and nearly every expert was predicting Lewis would end up playing for Mike White. But something during the middle of the week happened and Evan Daniels led the charge in taking a step back. Rivals’ Corey Evans did the same. Florida still is in a solid spot, but it was clear that Lewis remained open and followed through on his official visit to Lexington (UK never believed he may cancel that visit FWIW).

One thing that I don’t like to do is contact kids/parents/coaches while still on campus going through a visit. So, I don’t have much besides a text message that the visit went well. However, I was able to find out what changed last week and why folks backed off the Florida predictions.

The Gators’ staff thought they were in a great spot for Lewis. The official went so well they thought it was virtually a done deal, and they did push for a commitment (which really isn’t uncommon). I was led to believe Lewis was going to go home and think about it, but decided that he wasn’t ready to pull the trigger. That’s not what Florida’s staff wanted. UK’s staff has stayed even-keeled, knowing they have had a chance but unsure if they were the leader.

This could come down to a head/heart decision for Lewis. He has a great relationship with Florida’s staff, he could play with his buddy (Alex Klatsky) and the Gators have been recruiting him for a long time. However, it’s tough to pass up what UK can offer.

We’ll have an update later today or tomorrow with more insight into Lewis’ visit, but Kentucky started gaining momentum heading INTO the official visit. That’s always exciting because assuming the visit went well (like we’ve briefly been told) then maybe the Cats can do enough to jump into the lead.

Big Situation:

OK, things seem to be getting more confusing than becoming more clear. Kentucky has offered Zeke Nnaji, continues to recruit Aidan Igiehon and an offer is coming this week for Oscar Tshiebwe. Then of course there’s James Wiseman, Vernon Carey Jr., and Matthew Hurt. UK reached back out to Isaiah Stewart and the Cats also went to see Jaden McDaniels. So, allow me to do a sentence or two on each player:

James Wiseman: He unofficially visited Memphis last week. Folks close to Kentucky weren’t concerned and even said there will likely be more unofficial visits over the season. The Cats still feel confident in this recruitment.

Vernon Carey Jr.: Things will move slowly in this recruitment. His official visits don’t start until next month. Last week I said that MSU, UK and Duke’s staff felt the most confident in this recruitment. I had someone I trust tell me that I was correct about MSU and UK, but Duke’s staff isn’t as confident. We can save this for another day but the Blue Devils’ recruiting hasn’t been as strong since Jeff Capel left. I’m guessing they still finish with a top three or five class, but it’s a nice change of pace after their monster class last year.

Matthew Hurt: I don’t really have a great feel on this recruitment. UK likes where they stand but I couldn’t get any sense if they feel like they lead or were in third place. Hurt has always said the right things when talking about UK. Kentucky will have a much better idea of where things stand for his official visit for Big Blue Madness.

Zeke Nnaji: It’s my opinion that if UK wants Nnaji they will be able to land him. They’ll have to make him feel like a priority and continue to recruit him (duh) but I like where the Cats stand here.

Jaden McDaniels: I can confirm that UK has kept in contact with McDaniels over the last few months. In the summer I was told it was a text once or twice a month and I think that’s still the same case. He’s not one of UK’s top targets but the Cats are still in the hunt. I don’t think he ends up in Lexington.

Isaiah Stewart: The great news about this recruitment is that it’s likely heading into the spring. The more time, the better for UK and Stewart. Kentucky really thinks he could be a great player but they need more time, and it sounds like that will happen. If UK can get him on campus for a visit, watch out. Obviously UK doesn’t lead but I think the Cats are back in the picture.

Aidan Igiehon: I still don’t *think* he has an offer from Kentucky at this time. Calipari went with Tony Barbee for the in-home visit and they mentioned scheduling an official visit, but we still haven’t heard any dates. He just finished a visit to Oregon. I still don’t think he ends up in Lexington, but this has been a strange recruitment. So, I’m not too sure how this plays out.

Oscar Tshiebwe: UK will meet with Tshiebwe this week and I’d be pretty surprised if a formal offer isn’t extended. UK could wait until his official visit next weekend, but why? Anywho, some folks think WVU’s lead is too significant to overcome. Others have told me UK led the day they started recruiting him. I still think the Cats are going to need to blow him away on his official visit. He just finished checking out Baylor and unless something drastic happens I don’t think he ends up at Illinois or Baylor (the other two schools he’s considering).

The entire class has been somewhat head scratching, but it’s my opinion that UK is reaching out to so many players to try and put a little pressure on a few guys they really want. I expect the Cats to land two frontcourt players in the fall, and maybe two more in the spring.

USA Today

Cole Anthony:

I don’t have much regarding where things stand with UK or if we’ll hear of an official visit to Lexington (I still expect it to happen this fall) but North Carolina has all the momentum in this recruitment, and I was told this even after his visit to Notre Dame.

Since the NCAA botched the academic scandal UNC’s recruiting is back. Adding Anthony with Armando bacot and Jeremiah Francis would be scary good, plus maybe Josh Green and some other targets. The Tar Heels haven’t been on the same level a Duke or UK with one-and-done players, but that may be changing.


Kahlil Whitney: “Kentucky was always my dream school”

We still have one season to go before 2019 Kentucky commitment Kahlil Whitney arrives on campus, but you better believe he’s counting down the days for that special moment.

He committed to Kentucky back in August, though many considered his addition a near-guarantee when John Calipari offered him a scholarship a few weeks earlier in July. DJ Jeffries sealed the deal when he decommitted from the school, opening up a spot for Whitney on the wing.

And in the grand scheme of things, the Cats easily won out in the end. Whitney has since seen his stock rise significantly, shooting into the top-ten on every major recruiting service. His athleticism has always been there, but now that he’s developed into a knockdown shooter, there are little to no holes in his game.

This weekend, Whitney released another episode in his YouTube series “My Reasons,” where he dives into his breakout summer, his longtime love for the Kentucky Wildcats, and where he’s going from here.

“Kentucky was always my dream school,” he said in the video. “When John Calipari walked in the gym, I knew what time it was.”

He added that his visit to Lexington sealed the deal in his recruitment. He knew where home was.

“I just wanted to get on campus and see what the environment was, see how the people treated me there. It was great. It was a dream come true,” he said.

You can watch it here:

If you missed episode one published back in April, you can check it out below:

Welcome home, young fella.


Recapping recent basketball recruiting developments

John Calipari tweeted a picture of Mt. Rainier on Thursday evening and unless he’s taking a vacation to the Pacific Northwest it likely means he was heading to an in-home visit with Jaden McDaniels. It also appears Kentucky will meet with Keion Brooks this weekend, too. These are two names that were close to fan favorites in the spring or the beginning of summer, but haven’t been discussed with UK’s 2019 recruiting efforts over the last couple months.

So, what’s going on?

This seems like a somewhat bizarre development for Kentucky’s staff. UK has added Kahlil Whitney and Dontaie Allen last month and that seemed like it would end Kentucky’s chances with Brooks and McDaniels. And yes, McDaniels is more of a four than any of the other players, but he’s going to translate to a three at the college level and UK already has two wings committed in the class.

Stranger things have happened in recruiting but I don’t see a scenario where McDaniels or Brooks end up in Lexington for college. There’s more of a mystery around McDaniels, and it’d be silly to tell UK’s staff they’re wasting time in a recruitment, but I can’t imagine UK can do enough to land either player.

McDaniels claims to be wide open in his recruitment, and he did say that UK was his dream school (he later clarified that he currently doesn’t have a dream school and that he liked UK when he was a kid. Really wanted to drive that point home at Peach Jam that Kentucky was no longer his dream school), but Washington is in a good spot in his recruitment and surprisingly San Diego State is right there, too. His brother plays for the Aztecs. Kansas and Arizona are other blueblood programs that are in the hunt. As of today he doesn’t hold an offer from UK, but maybe that changed during the meeting.

The biggest thing I’ll be looking for out of this in-home visit is if McDaniels schedules an official visit to Lexington. Obviously if McDaniels never visits Kentucky then that means he’s not going to Lexington, but if my opinion is correct that UK is behind, an official visit could change things. It doesn’t seem like McDaniels is rushing to make a decision anytime soon, so that could be good news for the Cats.

In the summer when things started to quiet down with McDaniels I was told that UK was still talking to him “once or twice a week”. I’m starting to think that never really changed, but with McDaniels on the west coast, and UK landing two other wing targets, there wasn’t as significant as a buzz around McDaniels. UK has recruited other bigs harder than McDaniels, but it’s probable that Kentucky has been in contact all along, but did a solid job of keeping things underwraps. Or recruiting folks just missed it. I’m guilty of this because I haven’t mentioned McDaniels or Brooks in weeks.

We all know how calculated John Calipari is, so it’s fair to ask why he tweeted the picture that shows him going to the Pacific Northwest? Was he throwing us media folks a bone? Did he want the nation to know that he still thinks he has a chance with McDaniels? I’m still trying to figure out why Calipari tweeted the picture, but maybe he just wanted to share a pretty picture of Mt. Rainier.

Again, I don’t think the Cats have a chance with Keion Brooks (he seems like a heavy Hoosier lean), and I think it’s a longshot with McDaniels, too. But I also didn’t see UK visiting either for in-home visits and potentially bringing them in for official visits. This recruiting cycle is starting to remind me of 2015. UK had their top targets but slowly started to cast a wider net. It was a weird class that resulted in several head-scratching recruiting decisions. I don’t know if we’ll have as many head-scratching decisions, but the Cats are casting a wider net.

Make of that what you will. My opinion is that UK still feels good about a few big targets in 2019, but is putting some pressure on some targets. The Cats would like one or two bigs signed in the fall.