Basketball Recruiting News
Basketball Recruiting Q and A: Let’s have some fun with UK basketball recruiting, past, present and future
By TJ Walker on ©November 13th, 2018 @ 8:00pm
Good evening KSR! This was a popular feature I did during my days at Rivals where subscribers would ask questions and I would answer them to the best of my ability. Certainly you all know how mailbags work, right? I’m bringing that same energy to the KSR Basketball Recruiting Q&A, except this time no one has to pay for it! Let’s have some fun and if your question wasn’t answered tweet me or send me an email. I gotcha.
How many recruits have you gotten wrong? Prediction for the 2019 class, including potential reclassifications?
— Cody Lockhart (@lockhart_uk) November 13, 2018
Cody starting off with a banger! I have gotten many recruitments wrong. I did tell Cody that the stipulation would be that I’m only including UK recruits and I’m only counting at the time of their decisions or shortly before (I explain below). But for example, I was told that Tyler Herro wasn’t going to be a UK target by someone close to UK’s staff and a couple weeks later he was hot and heavy with Kentucky and it was clear that I was told wrong and the kid was going to UK. So, I’m going by decision day to make myself look smarter.
Let’s start when I started
2013– Andrew Wiggins (I thought FSU would be the choice but no one had any clue. Even Bill Self said he was surprised when Wiggins picked KU. I bet Bill. I bet you were $urprised.)
That seems to be it in 2013. We did break the Harrison’s to UK story at CI (shoutout to Corey Albertson)
2014– This was another strange class. Probably the strangest since this year. At times Emmanuel Mudiay and Stanley Johnson seemed like locks for Kentucky. The Cats made a strong push for Kelly Oubre but more parent drama there. At times I thought all three would end up at UK but before their decisions it was clear the Cats weren’t the leaders.
Trey Lyles (One of my few misses where a kid actually picked UK. I thought he was going to Louisville until a couple hours before the decision)
James Blackmon (Everyone in the morning thought he was going to UK, but the Cats landed Devin Booker instead and Blackmon had a change of heart. Whoops)
2015– Jaylen Brown (I thought he’d be at Kentucky but on Oaks Day in 2015 he picked California)
Cheick Diallo (I wasn’t confident in his recruitment. Weird, weird recruitment. The Kansas pick wasn’t a major shocker, but the timing was strange)
Jamal Murray (I had no clue. Hours before the decision I guessed Kentucky but it was just a guess, so not really wrong but I didn’t have the in here)
Carlton Bragg (The timing surprised me and UK seemed to be in a great spot for a long time, but things quieted down when he randomly announced for KU)
2016– Markelle Fultz (I didn’t think it would be UK but I was surprised by the Washington pick and the timing)
Bam Adebayo (The night before/the morning of it was clear it was going to be UK, but a week before that would NOT have been my prediction. So, again I wasn’t technically wrong by the time of the decision but it was tough to follow before he announced)
2017– Marvin Bagley III (I didn’t think it would be UK but I thought he’d stay in L.A.)
DeAndre Ayton (I didn’t think it would be UK but I wasn’t 100 percent sure it wasn’t Kentucky the day of the announcement)
Mohamed Bamba (I still don’t know how UK lost out on Bamba)
Kevin Knox (I didn’t confidently say he would end up at Kentucky, but I gave UK a much better chance than the majority of other analysts. Still an L for me)
R.J. Barrett (I didn’t think it would be UK, but my guess was Oregon)
Zion Williamson (See above, except I thought it would be Clemson. Duke, man)
So far so good. There was a time I thought UK led for Oscar Tshiebwe and Scottie Lewis, but as decision day neared it was clear neither would be Cats, as we talked about on KSR.
15 surprising commitments and more to come! Weird thing is I remember where I was when finding out/watching every single one of these commitments. This job.
As for my prediction on the 2019 class?
Grad-Transfer to be named later
Just remember to ask me a day or two before these guys commit.
What prank of Jim to Dwight do you most want to do to Nick?
— Bobby Reagan (@BarstoolReags) November 13, 2018
Easily the best prank. I love the detail, the time it took for Jim and the shock from Dwight and Erin. Nick is gullible enough to believe a prank like this and I’m going to get him one of these days.
Is McDaniels our best bet for a big guy? Looks like we busted on Wiseman and Carey.
— New Party (@RDSUK) November 13, 2018
I think as of today that’s what I’d go with. Hurt or McDaniels. I’m still not giving up on Wiseman or Carey, but there’s no denying the Cats don’t have the momentum as of today. Obviously the Wiseman stuff is well documented, but the Carey recruitment is head scratching. Kentucky at one point had the momentum and looked like the team to beat (folks close to UK who are usually optimistic said this but it was also verified on by EYBL sources) then after the Duke visit that UK was momentum was gone. The weirder part was there’s still a chance he doesn’t even pick Duke and ends up at Michigan State! So, what happened at Duke that made Carey cool on Kentucky? Again, don’t count out Calipari but I’ll need some positive news in those recruitments before believe UK is the leader again.
What is preventing Coach O from coming back?
— Slone Alley (@BClions7_alley) November 13, 2018
Well, the easy and obnoxious answer is that UK’s staff is full and Orlando Antigua has a nice job at Illinois. I kid, Slone. I understand the question and there is some truth in the obvious answers. Antigua will not be an option for John Calipari until a spot opens up on his staff and as of right now there isn’t a spot available. If a spot opens up I would expect UK to at least reach out to Antigua, but that’s a lot of ifs. I also don’t expect Calipari to fire anyone.
Something a lot of people don’t know is that Calipari didn’t give a complete blessing for Antigua to take the South Florida job. Cal didn’t hate the job, but he didn’t think USF would commit to its basketball program and that’s a big thing supposedly when Calipari considers head coaching jobs for his assistants. He feels like Tony Barbee was given a raw deal at Auburn, a place that has neglected basketball for most of its history. Supposedly Calipari wasn’t mad at Antigua and didn’t blame him, but he wasn’t 100 percent convinced it was the best spot for Antigua and it’s my opinion that Calipari wanted Antigua to be a little more selective. But there is no bad blood. It certainly explains why Kenny Payne hasn’t wasted his time interviewing at bad jobs. I don’t get the sense that Antigua leaving Cal once would eliminate a possible reunion, but interesting all the same.
Do you know what happened between EJ Montgomery and the Duke guys that made him come to Kentucky?
— T.J. Pierce (@TJPIERCE14) November 13, 2018
This has been slightly overblown over the months, but Montgomery didn’t want to play with R.J. Barrett. It seems clear that Montgomery wasn’t in love with how things went down when Barrett joined Montverde Academy and he didn’t want to be teammates with Barrett again. I have never heard that Montgomery had a bad experience with Williamson or Reddish. I think there was some friendly trash talk at the McDonalds All-American game, but maybe it was more personal to Montgomery? The knock on Barrett is that he’s the shit and he knows it. He expects all the touches and is extremely critical to teammates. Those were the AAU/high school rumors, but so far so good at Duke with him playing selflessly with Williamson and Reddish.
I did hear that when Barrett committed to Duke that the Blue Devils staff had to call/meet Reddish and tell him everything would be OK and he would still be featured. Supposedly Capel smoothed everything over.
What happened in the Jaylen Brown recruitment? Seemed like a lock to UK and randomly picks Cal.
— Chad Boyd (@CBoydlife) November 13, 2018
That one was really bizarre. Kentucky thought they were landing Brown. He committed to California during his senior season award ceremony or banquet ceremony where there were no media members and it came out of left field. From what I’ve gathered from folks close to UK is that he wanted to do something different and he wanted to create his own path. A rebel, if you will. Everyone thought he was going to go to UK where he would be another five-star player and a one-and-done. He curved everyone by picking Cal, even UK’s staff. Every so often you’re going to get a kid that’s going to spurn the bluebloods because they don’t like people telling them what they have to do to be successful. To be young again.
Do you think Cal needs to change his way he recruits kids. Like a Jay Wright kind of recruiting method. Like focus on 3 top elite recuits and fill the rest with role players that stay 4 years. Because what UK has going on now doesn't work no more.
— DavidWood (@DavidWo69869849) November 13, 2018
I wrote a column last February after Williamson picked Duke saying that Calipari needed to do this, but it’s not that easy. Kentucky’s sell right now is to get to the NBA early and if you’re being recruited by UK then that tells kids they have an avenue to the NBA sooner than later. That’s why so many people (myself included) think UK leads after they offer a kid because the kid is so flattered. For the five-star, top 10 kids it’s not such a big deal, but for sophomores or juniors that land an offer it’s really a big deal for the kid or family. I’m not sure how Calipari offers a kid but says “Well, now kid, you’re gonna be here a little longer than others.” Cal never promises anyone a one-year path to the NBA, but instead talks about working hard and following the plan and they may be able to get there. But kids hear that and think NBA and I don’t blame them.
So, I’m not sure how Calipari changes his pitch. I think every year he needs to go after a four-star target they like that is ranked 40-60 and they do need to be honest with the kid and his family. The NBA will be on the table, but if he has to stay a few years he will be successful, too. There are so many talented bigs UK has overlooked because they were worried about the impact they would make their freshmen year. Thomas Bryant, Udoka Azubuike, and Moses Brown just to name a few (there are several more).
I think the bigger issue is the culture that if you don’t leave after a year you’re a failure. UK’s trying to change that but there’s only so much they can do. Peer pressure goes into seeing good friends sign with agents while you’re still walking to biology class and living in a dorm. I’m not sure how UK makes it cool to stay behind while your roommate chases a dream you’ve had for 12-15 years. Sure, the G-League life sucks and being the big man on campus seems cooler to you and me, but money talks.
TJ I’m your favorite so please answer. If we miss on all top 5 recruits, do we make changes in coaching? What are the chances of Carey and Wiseman? And do you still think we get Mcdaniels and Hurt? (From your favorite MIN drinker)
— Jason ? (@Darezay) November 13, 2018
I’d be shocked if Calipari were to fire Joel Justus or Tony Barbee. Cal loves both those guys and both do a lot of really good things for Kentucky, both in recruiting and with the team. Calipari is incredibly loyal and he’s not going to give up on a friend who’s working hard. Now, if Justus or Barbee were just sitting around not recruiting that would be a different story. Justus has done a great job in Wiseman and Hurt’s recruitment, but these kids can only pick one school.
Now, if an assistant coach takes a head coaching job position that could open up an assistant spot. Maybe that happens after this season, but no one is getting fired. The Slice experiment didn’t really work for the Cats and he wasn’t fired, but did end up going back home for another assistant spot…
Do you think Coach Cal will make any adjustments to his recruiting pitch in the near future?
— Suzanne Smith (@KentuckySuzanne) November 13, 2018
Hey, Calipari doesn’t need advice from someone who’s missed like 15 recruitments in seven years, but here’s some questionable advice from your favorite basketball recruiting analyst at KSR:
- Stop with the Kentucky isn’t for everyone pitch. Kids who have never been told and parents who think they have the next LeBron rarely find that attractive. Cal’s pitch isn’t a lie, but maybe he should play the game a little more?
- Start recruiting/offer kids earlier. Only once has UK offered a kid super early and he committed and fell in the rankings. Charles Matthews. He’s doing just fine for Michigan and will be drafted this June. Building relationships earlier goes a long way and I’m not sure having “offers mean something” is as impactful as the staff thinks.
- Negatively recruit. UK’s doing more of this over the years but it used to be a zero tolerance policy. Penny’s never been to the NCAA Tournament, had a draft pick or won a conference game. UK should let the Wiseman family know the risks involved in first year head coaches.
- Grad-transfers. UK landed Reid Travis but Cal needs to cool it on his grad-transfer take. Go scoop up the best player you can regardless if it hurts another coach. I expect this to happen more frequently for Kentucky.
First of all, how dare you?
What type of impact do you expect Dontaie Allen to have at UK?
— Hunter Baize (@baize13) November 13, 2018
I expect Allen to follow the Darius Miller path. I know that’s lazy since both are wings and are Kentuckians, but I wouldn’t expect too much from Allen in year one, but I love his potential and what he can be later in his career. He must get better defensively and he needs to try and shoot 40 percent or higher from deep. If he works on those two things than the sky is truly the limit. I do really love his versatility offensively and think as long as he’s patient and works hard he will be a fan favorite.
How bad was Bolden’s mom?
— Adam Coleman (@AdamColemanKy) November 13, 2018
I love these questions. I had a few questions like this but next time I’m going to answer more because I think the answers are more entertaining than me guessing UK’s class or trying to figure out what an 17-year-old kid will do in five months. I know that’s my job and I have educated guesses, but recruiting is wild and changes constantly.
And the reason I didn’t answer more of these types of questions today… well, that’s what we in the biz call a tease. Let’s do this again soon.
Bolden’s mom lived up to her billing. She truly did want the best for her son, so I can’t fault her too much, but she did NOT think highly of the academic side of UK. I remember once I called her for an interview and here’s how the gist of the conversation went:
“Mrs. Bolden, this is TJ with Rivals. I was wondering if you had a minute to talk about your son?”
“Yes, UK’s Rivals site.”
“Oh, UK? Kentucky?”
“How’d you get this number?”
“Marques actually texted it to me.”
“Did you try his dad?”
“Melvin actually said to talk with you.”
“Well you’ll need to talk to Marques about UK. I haven’t spoken with them.”
He had already officially visited UK and the Cats had been in several times to speak with Bolden and the family. The mom just wasn’t feeling UK and couldn’t be convinced otherwise by Kentucky’s coaches. It happens. I’m told eventually UK’s staff stopped trying to convince here and specifically pitched Melvin and Marques. Wild stuff.
Thanks for the questions and remember to tweet me if I didn’t answer your question: @TJWalkerKSR. We’ll do another one soon.
By TJ Walker on ©November 13th, 2018 @ 7:00pm
Kentucky commit Kahlil Whitney won’t sign in the fall signing period, his mother Chanel Tillmon tells KSR.
“It won’t be within the next week but he will be signing in one of the periods,” she said via text.
The next signing period isn’t until April 17 and goes to May 15. But don’t panic. He isn’t having second thoughts or thinking of backing off his commitment, but going to school in New Jersey and his family being in Chicago the plan is to wait to sign until a later date.
And if the family changes their mind he has until Nov. 21 to send his papers to UK.
Signing a national letter of intent is a binding agreement between the player and the school, making their commitment officially official.
Fellow UK commits Dontaie Allen and Tyrese Maxey will sign this week, allowing John Calipari to talk about both publicly. Maxey will sign tomorrow at 10 a.m. CT at his school and Allen will sign on Friday afternoon.
UK has several other offers out in the class of 2019 but as of today there are no set plans for any of those players to sign. It appears that James Wiseman and Vernon Carey Jr. are nearing decisions, but no dates have been set. Oregon’s Bol Bol committed five days after the fall signing period but secretly signed his papers before announcing his decision so Oregon was able to include him as part of the fall class. There’s always a chance that happens.
There’s no date set for Isaiah Stewart or Jaden McDaniels and Matthew Hurt and Keion Brooks appear to be leaning towards announcing in the spring.
By TJ Walker on ©November 12th, 2018 @ 11:00pm
Hey, folks. I hope everyone had a good weekend. There have been better sports weeks for Kentucky fans, but the basketball team is still going to be a contender come March and the football team is still having a great season despite a bad month. The Cats will have two five-star players sign in the coming days for next season’s basketball team and another incredibly talented four-star in-state wing will sign on Friday. It’s not all bad news despite things seemingly not going UK’s way as of late.
Five-star wing/forward Jaden McDaniels visited UK on Friday and there’s more smoke in the Wiseman recruitment. Let’s get to the notes.
The visit was GREAT (drink, drink, drink!). Despite Kentucky struggling against Southern Illinois I’m told that McDaniels and his family really enjoyed Lexington and they thought the atmosphere at Rupp Arena was impressive. Yes, really. I did hear from a friend that the second half atmosphere was solid, so while we always joke about the lower level at Rupp supposedly they did their job on Friday for the final 15-20 minutes. In that first half I was worried McDaniels may pull a Lonnie Walker and fall asleep.
I’m not sure if I’m ready to say UK leads for McDaniels, but all that I’ve heard throughout his recruitment is that his dad is the one that actively involved in the decision making process and after this weekend the biggest piece of information I have is that the dad prefers UK. Is that Jaden’s choice? I have no clue, but the relationship between UK’s staff and McDaniels’ dad is strong enough to land a commitment. Also, I don’t have confirmation from anyone I trust that the dad is pulling the strings in this recruitment, but that’s the scuttlebutt among recruiting experts. But, I do trust that the dad prefers UK. I’m told if not UK then he’d like McDaniels to stay home at Washington.
Now the big question is when will McDaniels decide? Two trusted sources told me they don’t think he signs in the fall, but one thought he would commit in the next few weeks. The other thought he would wait until January or February. He has one official left on the table and could go to UCLA, but there are currently no plans. His final five includes UK, Texas, Washington, San Diego State and UCLA. He’s officially visited the first four schools. Both guys I spoke with said they like UK’s chances regardless (one thought Washington was right there, too), but if we hear of a decision in the next week or two then UK would be the landing spot. People close to UK are unsure when he plans on committing.
Supposedly it wasn’t just the visit that pushed UK to the top, but instead all the work Kentucky’s staff has put in behind the scenes for the last two months. John Calipari visited twice and the Cats have been in constant contact. One source said this was like the Kevin Knox recruitment where no one gave UK a great chance at landing him, but in reality the Cats were putting in more work than anyone.
So, as of today (and I’m surprised typing this), UK seems to be in a great spot. I’m not sure McDaniels would be the frontcourt piece people were expecting/hoping for, but it’d give UK plenty of options for next season. Rebounding may be an issue but scoring wouldn’t.
Did you all see all the reports about how Memphis’ staff is telling boosters and media members that Wiseman is a lock to stay home? Well, it’s what we said last week. Memphis’ coaching staff is talking and talking a lot. Sometimes we’ve seen some staffs spread misinformation to try and have the public momentum push the kid in a certain direction, but I’m told this is 100 percent genuine. Memphis’ staff has reason to believe that Wiseman is staying home and playing for Memphis, per people close to Memphis’ staff.
Wiseman’s family has told me that it’s not true. They have told other reporters that it’s not true. They’re telling anyone that can listen that he’s not committed anywhere and he’s still undecided. Maybe they’re telling the truth. They probably are being honest when they say that no final decision has been made, but what else are they supposed to say? “Yup, James is going to Memphis, we’re just figuring out a commitment date?” “Yup, something crazy would have to happen for him to go elsewhere.” “Stop paying attention because this thing is over.” I did find it interesting that Wiseman’s sister went out of her way to reach out to me to tell me that a decision hasn’t been made.
I think Wiseman ends up at Memphis but the family aspect is interesting and UK doesn’t feel they have lost. They don’t think there’s been a silent commitment and they still feel like they have a chance to land Wiseman. So, if you’re looking for some optimism, there you go. Also, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports spoke directly with Wiseman’s mom about the Memphis buzz and he is still currently predicting UK.
So, I lean towards Memphis but never say never.
He officially visited Michigan State and I have no new updates on that official visit, but I did speak with someone on Friday that told me it will be Duke, Michigan State or UK. I feel like I’ve been saying that for a few weeks, but here we are. Again, like Wiseman, there’s not much of a UK buzz in this recruitment but people close to UK haven’t conceded.
In those two recruitments the Cats don’t have a lot of momentum, so if you want to give up on them no one would blame you. Obviously there’s not a great deal of information on Carey’s recruitment and I’m hoping to learn more after touching base after the MSU visit. Let’s touch back with Carey later this week.
I’ve had a few people ask me if a beatdown like that can hurt recruiting. It doesn’t help, but it doesn’t hurt. What will hurt more is that Duke will be the college basketball sweethearts all season and constantly featured on ESPN. That won’t really hurt UK until maybe next year but more likely 2021 and later, but Wiseman isn’t picking Memphis because UK was smacked by Duke. Carey isn’t picking Duke over UK because the Blue Devils beat them in Indy. If those players go elsewhere that game had nothing to do with it.
Duke is the cool school again, and that will plant a seed in younger kids, but that stuff constantly changes. The Cats are still licking their wounds from Tuesday but it won’t hurt UK on the recruiting trail.
If UK were to miss on Wiseman, Carey and Stewart (I don’t see him ending up at Kentucky but I don’t have a great feel/connection to this recruitment) you’re probably wondering where Kentucky goes from there. Last week I mentioned that there would either be a grad-transfer or a 2020 reclassification (one UK fan Twitter follower mentioned/suggested Hunter Dickinson in 2020. He’d be physically ready) and I’m very confident in one of those two things happening. I’ve been asked if UK will get involved with Precious Achiuwa, C.J. Walker or Kofi Cockburn. I don’t believe that happens. Maybe Kentucky will send out a feeler to one of the three, or reconnect with Walker, but I doubt the Cats will be able to do enough to get into the picture.
Walker waiting until the spring was somewhat of a surprise, so maybe that means a shift in the recruitment, but the Cats were never heavily involved and my guess is that doesn’t change.
I still think UK gets Hurt. If you get Hurt along with McDaniels then you would need to find a bruising grad-transfer big and you’d be ready to roll. I’m not sure you could find a better offensive frontcourt, but there clearly would be some questions rebounding and defensively.
In the intermediate be on the lookout for commitment decisions. The sky isn’t falling just yet and never count out Calipari.
College basketball’s early signing period begins Wednesday and one of UK’s three commits has already announced his plans.
In-state star Dontaie Allen will sign his official Letter of Intent on Friday in a ceremony at Pendleton County High School. The event is not open to the public. Sorry.
Allen’s fellow commits, Tyrese Maxay and Khalil Whitney, are expected to sign this week too.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©November 11th, 2018 @ 6:00pm
By reading the tea leaves alone, one would assume a decision for 2019 five-star big man James Wiseman is right around the corner.
And it would be a decision the Big Blue Nation would not be happy with.
Wiseman, the No. 1 overall recruit in the class of 2019, is down to Memphis, Kentucky, Florida State, Vanderbilt, and Kansas, but all of the momentum has been with the Tigers over the last few weeks. Some outlets believe it’s all over but the waiting before Wiseman pulls the trigger for Memphis.
Sources told Adam Zagoria of FloHoops that Wiseman to Memphis is “done.”
The 7-foot Wiseman has yet to set an announcement date for his college choice, but multiple sources told FloHoops.com that Memphis is optimistic it will land the big man from Memphis (TN) East who played high school and AAU ball for Hardaway. Hardaway maintains a close relationship with Wiseman’s family and one source said the Memphis staff has already told some boosters it’s “done.”
KSR’s TJ Walker shared similar pessimism on Wiseman’s recruitment last week.
People in Memphis, and supposedly the Tigers’ staff, feel that he’s a done deal for the Tigers and it’s just a matter of time. One Memphis source told me they expect a decision date set this week and by the end of the month Wiseman will officially be a Tiger.
Corey Evans of Rivals.com says Memphis is the “team to beat” for Wiseman.
Wiseman surprised some last month by speeding up his commitment date and stating that he was leaning towards an early signing. Memphis is the team to beat now and while Kentucky would love to make him the face of its program, the Tigers could be on the precipice of a top-five class nationally thanks to the signing of Wiseman next week.
If you ask the seven-foot center’s mother, however, she’d tell you those rumblings are absolutely not true.
According to Evan Daniels of 247 Sports, Donzaleigh Artis says there is not an announcement scheduled nor does her son know where he will be attending school next season.
James Wiseman, No. 1 in the 247Sports Composite, currently does not have an announcement date, nor has he settled on his college choice, his mother Donzaleigh Artis tells @247Sports.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) November 11, 2018
Regardless, a decision is likely coming soon, and it doesn’t look good for Kentucky.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©November 09th, 2018 @ 12:36pm
Remember LaMelo, the youngest Ball brother? After playing professionally in Lithuania, he’s back in the States and returning to high school. At his introductory press conference at Spire Institute in Ohio (because of course there was a press conference), Ball said he’s getting his high school degree in hopes of playing college ball at a high-profile program like Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, or Michigan State.
LaMelo Ball said he hopes to play college basketball at a top school. Mentioned North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, Kansas, Michigan State.
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) November 9, 2018
LaMelo averaged only 6.5 points in eight games in Lithuania, but that’s not stopping the LaVar Ball hype train.
LaVar Ball tells WKYC that LaMelo is the most special, most famous high school player ever. Noted that LeBron wasn’t known overseas in high school like LaMelo is.
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) November 9, 2018
A live look at John Calipari:
UPDATE: For those of you asking, it’s not clear whether LaMelo would be eligible to play in college. He played professionally in Lithuania and in the JBA, but his family claims he was never paid in order to maintain his eligibility in the US. Still, no thanks.
By TJ Walker on ©November 09th, 2018 @ 9:00am
Happy Friday, folks! Kentucky returns to the court tonight for the first time since the game no one wants to talk about, and thank goodness! The taste left in our mouth from Tuesday was sour and disgusting and I think nearly every UK fan was ready for the Cats to play another basketball game ASAP. But our wait is over and the Cats host Southern Illinois at 7 p.m. tonight.
Cal previewed the Salukis:
As you may expect, John Calipari said that Southern Illinois is good enough to beat the Cats, but his Thursday press conference focused as more of a followup on where things stand after Tuesday.
But getting away from tonight’s game and Tuesday’s loss, Cal was asked about Christian Dawkins’ emails, which mentioned potential payment plans to two UK players (one current and one former). Cal didn’t seem overly concerned about Ashton Hagans’ eligibility or the eligibility status of former Cat Jarred Vanderbilt:
“The best thing about coaching here is you coach basketball. What you’re talking about, our administration and compliance are so thorough, doubly thorough, that I trust everything is fine. They get parents involved. I mean, they go to a point where it’s uncomfortable for me, you shouldn’t be having to do this. But then this.. you say, ‘Hey, I’m glad you guys do that.’”
It was an informative presser from Cal. Read about the five most newsworthy things HERE.
Stoops talked, too:
Cal wasn’t the only UK head coach to speak to the media on Thursday. We heard from Mark Stoops for the last time until Saturday as the Cats take on Tennessee. Stoops said that Tennessee was low down, they dirty, they some snitches.
OK, he didn’t actually say that, but it would have been pretty cool if he did. Stoops’ most newsworthy tidbit from Thursday was talking about the kicker situation. The Cats are planning on using Chance Poore, which means he could only play in one game the rest of the season before having his red shirt taken away. In my opinion this is UK’s last possible loss in the regular season. Use Poore on Saturday and have him sit against Middle Tennessee and UofL. The Cats should be able to get by both those opponents without Poore, and then you use him one final time in the bowl game.
Heartbreak for Booker:
Former Kentucky great Devin Booker lost a heartbreaker in overtime to the Boston Celtics. Booker finished with a season-high 38 points and nine assists, but Marcus Morris’ three at the end of regulation forced overtime and the Celtics overtook Phoenix for a 116-109 win out west.
The Suns have fallen to 2-9.
In other UK in NBA news- SGA had a career high 19 points and it’s clear he’s going to shine just like he did at Kentucky.
Eric Bledsoe had 26 points in 26 minutes for the Bucks.
Marcus Morris buries the three to send the game to overtime against his former team, as the Boston Celtics COMEBACK from a 22-point deficit to defeat the Suns! ??? pic.twitter.com/y2Rmny3SQd
— NBA UK (@NBAUK) November 9, 2018
Not Phoenix’s only loss:
Phoenix Rising FC fell to Louisville City FC 1-0 at Lynn Stadium in Louisville last evening. LouCity’s captured the USL Cup for the second consecutive season becoming the first team to go back-to-back in the USL.
It had been an up-and-down year for LouCity as the club lost its head coach during the middle of the season, took weeks to hire a replacement and was spent after a long run in the US Open Cup. But patience paid. Once the club hired John Hackworth the team regrouped and went on a monster run to finish the season and coasted through the USL playoffs once again.
It was another special night for LouCity and only one more season until they open their new stadium in 2020.
Former Cat George Davis IV had a tremendous game for LouCity, but it was Luke Spencer who propelled the boys in purple to the lead.
— USL (@USL) November 9, 2018
Petrino’s swan song?:
The buzz around Louisville is that tonight’s game against Syracuse may be his last for the Cardinals. UofL is having an abysmal season and currently stand at 2-7 on the year. UofL fans have Jeff Brohm fever, but even if the Cards can’t land the Purdue head coach, they want something different than Petrino.
The Cardinals are 21-point underdogs and don’t be surprised to see AD Vince Tyra try and stop the bleeding if UofL is blown out once again. Louisville has lost several commitments in an already underwhelming 2019 class, and now many players are quitting the team or requesting transfers.
Things aren’t pretty in Louisville and Petrino is receiving all the blame. Of course I hate this move because I wanted to make sure the Cats beat Petrino at Cardinal Stadium to end the season.
If it turns out to be the end, adios Petrino. Don’t let the door hit ya.
Jaden McDaniels starts his official visit:
Five-star wing/word Jaden McDaniels will travel from Seattle to Lexington to start his official visit to UK. It’s McDaniels’ fourth official visit and an incredibly important one for the Cats.
KSR is live at The Ketch:
Check out the KSR crew at The Ketch in Lex. It’s a huge Kentucky sports weekend and nothing will get you ready for it like traveling to a KSR remote. It’s been a tough six days for UK sports, but things change this weekend starting tonight.
KSR Radio tomorrow is at The Ketch from 10-Noon. Come join the party at a great place to eat in Lexington
— Matt Jones (@KySportsRadio) November 9, 2018
By TJ Walker on ©November 08th, 2018 @ 11:00pm
Yesterday news broke via ESPN that former Kentucky player Jarred Vanderbilt and current Cat Ashton Hagans were two of 19 players mentioned in a business plan Christian Dawkins proposed to his partners back in September 2017.
“According to the email, Dawkins planned to give Vanderbilt’s family $30,000 in travel expenses to watch him play for the Wildcats last season, plus his father was going to get a $25,000 signing bonus when his son turned pro.
“Brother Jamal and dad will also be a part of the deal, and receive 25% of our income on all sides,” Dawkins wrote.
Dawkins proposed giving Vanderbilt a $100,000 line of credit and $25,000 advance on his marketing revenue if he was projected as a lottery pick at the end of the 2017-18 season.”
“Dawkins also planned to recruit 2019 point guard prospect Ashton Hagans of Cartersville, Georgia, who reclassified to the 2018 class and is a freshman at Kentucky. According to the email, Dawkins wanted to pay Hagans $2,000 per month from October 2017 to October 2018, then $3,000 monthly through April 2020.”
Hagans’ father told Jerry Tipton that the Hagans family doesn’t know Christian Dawkins and “we never met this fool a day in our life.” Read more about that HERE.
UK head coach John Calipari was asked about the emails on Thursday and here’s what he had to say:
“The best thing about coaching here is you coach basketball. What you’re talking about, our administration and compliance are so thorough, doubly thorough, that I trust everything is fine. They get parents involved. I mean, they go to a point where it’s uncomfortable for me, you shouldn’t be having to do this. But then this.. you say, ‘Hey, I’m glad you guys do that.’”
UK Athletics announced that at this time that the eligibility hasn’t changed for any current or former students at this time.
I spoke with Hagans’ AAU coach, Chris Williams. Williams knew about Hagans’ recruitment as well as anyone outside of the family. He said there is no reason for concern regarding Hagans’ eligibility.
“Not at all,” he said in a text to KSR on Thursday. “There were no dealings with him whatsoever. Ashton has two hard working parents, no need to accept cash from strangers fro the game of basketball. Something (Ashton) grew up loving and doing for free.”
Williams said UK also isn’t concerned.
In my opinion based on the few people I’ve spoken with about these claims there is next to nothing to worry about with Hagans. Maybe Dawkins did have a plan to try and pay Hagans, but there is zero evidence that Hagans’ family was open to the plan or accepted any cash. From my understanding there is no chance that evidence surfaces because Dawkins’ plans never reached Hagans or his family. Hagans played on the adidas AAU circuit and has always been a star recruit (although originally part of the 2019 recruiting class), so it would make sense for Dawkins to be interested in him, but that doesn’t mean Dawkins ever paid him or had a relationship with the family.
Vanderbilt is slightly more worrisome because of the complexity of the plan. Here’s what one AAU source regarding Vanderbilt’s situation:
“You don’t know how tight of a circle the family had. Someone close to (Jarred) could have been talking with Dawkins working all of this out without the family knowing.”
According to Dawkins’ claims, Vanderbilt’s dad and brother were going to be a part of the deal. Vanderbilt’s dad didn’t return text messages to KSR.
Vanderbilt’s situation seems more complicated and more thought out, but the thing to remember is even if it’s true and even if Vanderbilt’s dad and brother were communicating with Dawkins there’s currently no evidence of that being the case and there’s certainly no evidence of anyone receiving payments from Dawkins. Those two things would need to be proven before UK could be on the hook with the NCAA.
But if evidence was ever provided the worst thing that could happen is UK vacating game from last season and possibly the entire season. A mediocre Sweet 16 performance. I’m interested what the NCAA ruling would be since Vanderbilt only played in 14 games during his UK career. There’s a chance UK would have to just vacate those 14 games that Vanderbilt played. The Cats were 7-7 in those games.
Kentucky would avoid any major penalties unless the staff was in the payments or tried to cover up Vanderbilt/Hagans eligibility concerns. Knowing how UK Compliance operates and Sandy Bell’s reputation, that’s not happening.
I can say that people close to UK are not worried about Hagans in the slightest and they didn’t seem too concerned about Vanderbilt, either. Had Dawkins not been arrested and these plans came to fruition this may be a different story, but these were plans that were stymied.
It seems safe to say that there’s no reason to panic and you should expect to see Hagans playing tomorrow night.
By TJ Walker on ©November 08th, 2018 @ 9:00pm
Five-star wing/forward Jaden McDaniels starts his fourth official visit tomorrow when he flies across the country from Seattle to Lexington. The No. 4 player in the 247 Sports ranking has already officially visited San Diego State, Washington and Texas. Kentucky and UCLA are the other schools in his top five. There’s no current date set for McDaniels to visit UCLA.
The 6-foot-11, 185-pound Federal Way, Wa. star has the size of a forward but plays like a guard. He has great handles for his size and a versatile offensive game. Kentucky is running out of big targets in the class of 2019, but McDaniels would be an intriguing addition. McDaniels wouldn’t give the Cats a great deal of muscle on the frontline for the 2019-2020 season, but he would be a mismatch problem for college threes/fours. If McDaniels were to pick Kentucky the Cats would have one of the most intriguing offensive teams in the country for the 2019-2020 season.
John Calipari has visited McDaniels at least twice and this will be McDaniels’ first trip to Lexington. McDaniels has gone on record saying he grew up a Kentucky fan but over the summer he clarified that he no longer has a favorite college team.
Interestingly enough, Calipari has made sure to tweet when he’s traveled to Seattle. Maybe he’s throwing us recruiting analyst a bone, or he wants the country to know he’s making McDaniels a priority.
Am I in San Francisco or Seattle? Walked from the water UP! Down should be easier! pic.twitter.com/mDi0QlAcLy
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) October 10, 2018
Getting another view of Mt. Rainier from the sky! pic.twitter.com/sIosG3ICUX
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) October 10, 2018
Another view of Mt. Rainier!! pic.twitter.com/9TuYELBK9d
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 14, 2018
SDSU and Texas are leaders for McDaniels’ Crystal Ball, but things can always change after an official visit. Jaden McDaniels’ brother, Jalen McDaniels, currently plays for San Diego State but is projected to head to the NBA after this season. CBS projects him as a first rounder.
Five-star wing Jaden McDaniels will visit Kentucky this weekend, 247 Sports first reported and later confirmed by KSR.
McDaniels has already officially visited San Diego State, Washington and most recently Texas all in the last month. The visit to UK will be his fourth official and there’s no current date set for the 6-foot-11, 185-pound Federal Way, Wa. native to checkout UCLA.
Earlier today we wondered when McDaniels would see UK. The Cats are trying to get several top targets to visit for the Kansas game in January, but it seemed unlikely that McDaniels would wait that long to check out Lexington.
It turns out he won’t wait long at all and will see Lexington this weekend.
The Cats play Duke on Tuesday but will play their first official home game at Rupp Arena on Friday against Southern Illinois. The plan is for McDaniels to be at that game.
The versatile wing is unique. Despite being nearly 7-feet tall, McDaniels has guard-like handles and is more comfortable playing outside. He doesn’t blow you away with his speed or strength, but he’s incredibly skilled offensively and uses his length well defensively. He averaged nearly 19 points and over nine rebounds per game in the Nike EYBL this summer.
McDaniels wouldn’t be a bruising forward for the Cats or any college team, but with teams relying more on offense John Calipari could definitely play him as a stretch four. McDaniels’ brother plays for San Diego State and many consider the hometown Huskies also a major threat to land him.
But don’t count out Kentucky. John Caliapri has visited McDaniels twice this fall. It’s unclear when he will make a final decision, but there’s a chance it could be in the next few weeks. It seems unlikely he will sign in the fall, but may make a decision in November or December.
By TJ Walker on ©November 05th, 2018 @ 3:00pm
I hope everyone had a good weekend. UK football is still going to do some amazing things this season and I can’t wait to see it, but I’m also equally thrilled for the start of basketball season. The Cats take on Duke and all the pent up frustration these staffs feel with one another on the recruiting trail comes to a head when they actually get to play one another. This game by itself won’t have a major impact on recruiting, but I promise you that recruits will be watching tomorrow night. James Wiseman, Vernon Carey, Matthew Hurt, Isaiah Stewart and all of UK’s other targets in 2019 and 2020 will be up late watching the Cats and Duke. If UK can win it certainly won’t hurt its recruiting efforts with those player.
Let’s get to the notes.
Memphis has more momentum at this moment than any team has during the two-year recruitment. It was another huge weekend for the Tigers regarding their chances with Wiseman. After Wiseman officially visited Memphis during Halloween weekend he returned this weekend for the Tigers exhibition game on Friday. Then Wiseman went and watched Tigers’ commit D.J. Jeffries on Saturday. Supposedly during the exhibition game on Friday Wiseman was hanging out in the concourse and chatting it up with fans, takings pictures and looking like he was having a great time. He also had a conversation with Jeffries’ dad on Saturday (strangely enough, Jeffries’ game was called in the third quarter because of fighting). People in Memphis, and supposedly the Tigers’ staff, feel that he’s a done deal for the Tigers and it’s just a matter of time. One Memphis source told me they expect a decision date set this week and by the end of the month Wiseman will officially be a Tiger. We’ll see if that happens.
I don’t have too much new from UK’s side of things. I wasn’t able to get a comment on Wiseman’s active weekend in Memphis. I will say that if Wiseman ends up at Kentucky I will understand some of the frustration from Memphis fans. It’s somewhat similar to the Damien Harris recruitment. I didn’t blame Harris for constantly visiting UK and saying all the right things, and I don’t blame Wiseman for going and checking out a college basketball game close to his house, but all the writing on the wall from Memphis’ side of things indicates that Wiseman will be a Tiger. If that doesn’t happen Memphis fans will be livid. I still need to hear from UK before I officially flip, but it’s tough to ignore all the positive momentum and recent happenings.
A story I wrote last week detailed Memphis’ momentum and a Wiseman family member reached out to me and said that my Memphis sources were unreliable and that there was “still so much to see before he decides.” So, that may be a positive, although I doubt she would say that “Yup, it’s over. He’s going to Memphis.” But she clearly searched Wiseman’s name on Twitter and felt strongly enough to comment on the article. Make of that what you will.
I would say if my Memphis source is right and this week he sets a date for his decision, I really won’t feel good about UK’s chances.
Vernon Carey Jr.:
He officially visited North Carolina over the weekend and I’m not concerned about the Tar Heels. The only thing that slightly worries about UNC is how Carey wants to play with another elite big and maybe he feels that Bacot will be the best for his game. I don’t think that happens and I think UNC isn’t in the top three, but if UNC were to surge it would be because of Bacot. Plus, for a team to not be surging after an official visit is usually pretty telling.
Everything I hear still has the Cats right there with Duke and Michigan State. He will finish his official visits after this weekend’s (return) visit to Michigan State. Carey Jr., is taking advantage of the new NCAA official visit rules because he already officially visited MSU in February. But because he’s now a senior MSU can pay for another visit. It’s also a clear indication that he thinks highly of the Spartans, but we knew that.
I still have people telling me to not count out UK. For the last few weeks Duke has had the majority of the momentum and many analysts think MSU may be the favorite, but don’t count out John Calipari in this recruitment.
I’m still expecting a decision this month or next for Carey Jr.
I was told by one source familiar with UK’s recruiting efforts in 2019 that one of UK’s big commits for the 2019 class is currently in the class of 2020. Supposedly UK feels good about a target in that class but I can’t say who the target is because I don’t know. UK has offered Scottie Barnes, N’Faly Dante and Jalen Johnson in the class of 2020. Those are the only three “big targets” and that’s a stretch to call Johnson and Barnes bigs. They’re wings. I’m not sure Johnson could play the four. Barnes could be would be undersized. Dante is already physically ready to play college basketball so there would be no issues there.
I never enjoy reclassification talk. An SEC assistant coach once told me that every elite kid thinks about reclassification, half try to make it happen and only a small percentage of that half will have a realistic chance of making it happen. I doubt those numbers factually add up, but the overall premise is what’s important. It’s really tough to determine who can actually do it. So, I’m not sure who the player is, but I would definitely keep an eye on 2020 targets making the jump. There’s a few guards that I think will go 2020 to 2019, but supposedly it’s a big that will ultimately join UK.
Another reason I don’t like reclassification talk is because in nine months we could be having this same conversation. There’s no timetable. No deadline. So, I wish I had more information but I’ll officially be on “reclassification watch” for the foreseeable future.
He also officially visited UNC this weekend with Carey. I heard the classic “the visit went well” (drink!) but I’m not overly concerned about the Tar Heels stealing Brooks. I’ve always said that IU is the team to beat for Brooks, and I still feel that way, but someone I trust on the Nike EYBL circuit told me that he thinks UK leads. For the record, I don’t feel that way, but I do know that Brooks and his family love UK’s staff and Kentucky has done a great job building a relationship.
UK’s biggest draw here besides relationships is Cal’s track record getting guys drafted and ready to roll in the NBA. I said after Brooks’ official visit to UK that if “getting to the next level” becomes his top priority in his recruitment/decision making process then he will be a Cat. I still don’t know if that’s his deciding factor, and I’m not sure if we will truthfully ever know, but like Matthew Hurt’s family they will look at this as a business decision. That’s good news. I still lean IU but I feel better about UK’s chances than I have in a long time.
He officially visited Texas over the weekend. I haven’t heard anything about that visit and we’re still trying to figure out when he will check out Lexington, so I wish I had more but my update is I don’t have a McDaniels update. I do know that UK is trying to have a HUGE guest list for the Kansas game, but it’s difficult to have so many elite targets because of the high school basketball schedule. Maybe McDaniels waits until then to check out Lexington, but that’s a ways away. My guess is he checks out UK before the end of the year.
Five-star point guard Jeremy Roach is down to four and the Cats made the cut.
— TIPTON EDITS ? (@TiptonEdits) November 2, 2018
247 Sports ranks 6-foot-2, 165-pound guard as the No. 11 player in the class of 2020 and the No. 1 point guard in the class. The rankings peg R.J. Hampton as a comb-guard, but the Cats look to be in a solid spot for several 2020 players and none more than Roach. Kentucky currently leads the Crystal Ball with 80 percent of the picks. UK offered Roach in September but the Cats have been recruiting him for over a year. He visited Kentucky for an exhibition game last year and UK’s coaches have been talking with him even longer. Joel Justus is the primary recruiter.
Roach’s final four also includes Villanova, Duke and North Carolina. A real who’s who of a final four for the Paul VI Catholic in Fairfax, Va. stud.
Roach is a do-it-all point guard that can shoot it but is a great passer. He would be a fantastic replacement once Tyrese Maxey leaves and I think the Cats will have a great chance of landing Roach. Because of the new official visit rules expect Roach to take an official to UK in the near future, and maybe another this time next year if he’s still uncommitted.
He is one of seven players to earn an offer from the Cats in the class of 2020:
By KSR on ©October 31st, 2018 @ 2:30pm
Happy Halloween from Hardly Committed! T.J. Walker breaks down the latest in James Wiseman’s recruitment before Nick Roush tells a spooky Waverly Hills story to celebrate Halloween. Highlights:
— A date to circle for a potential Matthew Hurt visit.
— Where would T.J. send his son to play college basketball?
— Move-in day is the worst day EVER.
— Nick and T.J. draft a starting five from the 2015 and 2019 teams.
— Any buzz on C.J. Walker?
— A table read of the gruesome conference room scene of The Office’s “Spooked.”
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.
Five-star center Vernon Carey Jr. plans to officially visit Michigan State (again) and wants to announce his final decision around Thanksgiving.
He won’t sign in the fall, but after hinting that he may announce in November or December, Carey Jr., seems sure he will pick next month. In November he will also officially visit Michigan State. That may come as a surprise since he officially visited Michigan State in February, but Carey Jr., is one of the first I know in the 2019 class to take advantage of the NCAA’s new official visit rules. You can catch up on those rules HERE. The MSU visit will be his last and he’s set to see North Carolina this weekend.
He spoke with Evan Daniels from 247 Sports about his future plans and his recent in-home visit with Kentucky:
“It was good, we just talked about how their team is looking this year and how they would use me for next year if I end up going there.”
Carey also talk about how UK would use him if he played for Calipari at Kentucky.
“Pretty much similar to how P.J. (Washington) is playing this year. Pick and roll and pick and pop, mid-post and stuff like that.”
He gives more insight on other schools in his recruitment and other pitches so make sure you read the entire article HERE.
I feel confident that Carey ends up at either UK, Michigan State or Duke, but Duke has the momentum after he officially visited the Blue Devils earlier this month and it’s obviously a good sign for Michigan State that he’s officially visiting again.
This wild 2019 class stays confusing.