Basketball Recruiting News
We reported earlier this week that Kentucky was going to conduct an in-home (in-school) visit with five-star wing Keion Brooks, but while John Calipari is at La Lumiere he’s going to touch base with one of the top bigs in America, Isaiah Stewart.
Kentucky’s John Calipari is at La Lumiere to see five-star recruits Isaiah Stewart and Keion Brooks, per a source.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) September 14, 2018
That name may be familiar, or maybe it’s new, but Stewart was briefly a target of Kentucky’s earlier this summer but when he cut his list to 10 in May the Cats weren’t included. He also cut his list to six in August and guess what- no UK. Stewart is currently only considering Duke, Syracuse, Michigan State, Indiana, Villanova and Washington. Will Calipari be able to do enough to get back on Stewart’s list? Could he get the 6-foot-9, 245-pound center from Rochester, N.Y. on campus for an official visit?
I’d never count out John Calipari but this is another sign of the Cats reaching out to any elite big in the class of 2019. UK will lose Reid Travis and it’d be a shock if P.J. Washington or E.J. Montgomery return for the 2019-2020 seasons and with how many bigs Kentucky has reached out to in 2019 it seems the Cats are also anticipating losing Nick Ricahrds, too. So, if you’re a big in 2019 the Cats are probably interested and there’s a plethora of playing time.
I’ll have a post on UK’s recruiting of Jaden McDaniels and Brooks a little later today, but I’m not sure I can ever remember UK casting a wider net for a specific position. The Cats want them some bigs in 2019.
By TJ Walker on ©September 14th, 2018 @ 1:30pm
2019 shooting guard target Scottie Lewis starts his official visit to Kentucky and it’s likely a make or break weekend for the Cats. Lewis’ teammate and former UK target Bryan Antoine just recently committed to Villanova and it appears the Florida Gators have all the momentum in Lewis’ recruitment.
Or does it?
Earlier this week Evan Daniels of 247 Sports made a prediction that Lewis would end up at Florida, but just recently switched to “foggy”. Daniels isn’t one to flip and flop on his predictions, so it was rare to see him make a switch just days later after pegging Lewis to Florida.
“I just think the recruitment may be much more of a toss up with Florida and Kentucky than I originally thought,” Daniels told KSR. “It will be a huge weekend for the Wildcats.”
Currently 88 percent of picks on Lewis’ Crystal Ball are for the Gators, 6 percent goes to the Cats and 6 percent goes to “foggy”. It was impossible to ignore the Florida momentum this week with Lewis officially visiting Gainesville last weekend (wonder what he though about the football game) and one of Lewis’ teammates, Alex Klatsky, committing to the Gators, but people close to Kentucky have always felt like they have a decent chance in this recruitment.
It’s rare when Daniels is wrong, so the fact he now thinks it’s a toss up is good news for UK. Daniels is certainly not wrong about it being a huge weekend for Kentucky.
We haven’t heard the name Jaden McDaniels in a while, which is why it’s so curious that John Calipari just tweeted a picture of Mt. Ranier, which is near the five-star power forward’s hometown of Federal Way, Washington:
Nice view of Mt. Rainier!! pic.twitter.com/VW1hYo4pfl
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 13, 2018
McDaniels is considered the fourth best player in the 2019 class by 247 Sports Composite, but it appeared communication between him and Kentucky slowed down over the past few months. Does tonight’s visit indicate that changing?
Once upon a time, he did say Kentucky was his dream school…
By TJ Walker on ©September 13th, 2018 @ 2:00pm
We haven’t heard about Keion Brooks in weeks, and I’m partially to blame. He hasn’t been included in the Monday Insider Notes for over a month and we haven’t written about him much after Kahlil Whitney and Dontaie Allen committed to the Cats.
It seemed like Brooks was warming up to other schools and the Cats were loaded at the wing position. A mutual split made sense but that’s not the case. Kentucky has always liked Brooks’ game and the Cats still want him as a member of the 2019 class. UK will meet with Brooks tomorrow for an in-home visit.
The visit comes at a good time as the 6-foot-6, 186-pound wing plans on cutting his list to six in the coming days.
Top 6 coming soon?????
— Keion Brooks Jr. (@KeionB_12) September 9, 2018
I would expect UK to make that cut along with Indiana, UNC, Louisville, Michigan and Michigan State. That’s my guess although I still don’t know if the Cats can do enough to have Brooks end up in Lexington, but you never know. Let’s take all the wings.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©September 12th, 2018 @ 9:00pm
Kentucky head coach John Calipari is a busy, busy man right now.
He has already conducted in-home visits over the last week with James Wiseman, Vernon Carey Jr., Kahlil Whitney, Matthew Hurt, and Zeke Nnaji. He also hosted Wiseman for an official visit in Lexington this past weekend.
Today, he added to that list by meeting top-10 2020 prospect RJ Hampton at his home in Texas.
Hampton, a 6-foot-4 guard, tweeted out the following picture this afternoon:
— 14 (@RjHampton14) September 12, 2018
And it’s not slowing down anytime soon.
2019 five-star guard Scottie Lewis will head to Lexington on an official visit this weekend, and Calipari will follow it up with an in-home visit with five-star big man Oscar Tshiebwe on Monday.
Stockrisers’ Jake Weingarten was the first to report the news:
Kentucky will have an in-home visit with 2019 five-star Oscar Tshiebwe on Monday, he tells Stockrisers.
Has become big target for the Wildcats.
— Jake (@jakeweingarten) September 12, 2018
In an interview with Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader, Rivals.com’s Eric Bossi said he leans Kentucky in Tshiebwe’s recruitment.
“He’s a guy who prides himself on testing himself against the best of the best and not running from competition,” Bossi said. “And that’s the sale that Kentucky tries to make with the guys they recruit: ‘You’re going to come here and be pushed against the best.’ I think when he visits they have a chance to make that resonate with him. And, for that reason, I lean toward Kentucky with him.”
Many expect Tshiebwe to earn a scholarship offer from the Cats when he takes his official visit later this month. With Calipari coming to visit next week, however, he may feel it is time to extend the offer and try to push for a commitment.
For those keeping track at home, here are the remaining (announced) official visits for the coming weeks:
Scottie Lewis (Sept. 14)
Tyrese Maxey (Sept. 21)
Oscar Tshiebwe (Sept. 28)
Vernon Carey (Oct. 12)
Dontaie Allen (Oct. 12)
Just bring ’em all home, Coach Cal.
By KSR on ©September 12th, 2018 @ 2:30pm
During the week, Kentucky’s basketball coaches are visiting the nation’s top recruits. On the weekends, the Wildcats are hosting the best of the best on official visits. T.J. Walker is here to talk about it all on Hardly Committed.
This episode does not focus entirely on the 2019 class. T.J. is joined by Jeremy Grubbs, the man who trained Keldon Johnson and is an assistant coach at First Love Christian. Their conversation will prepare you for the impending battle between Johnson and R.J. Barrett. After that interview, T.J. takes your basketball recruiting questions and goes to The Annex with Nick Roush to talk about “Sexual Harassment.” Highlights:
— The sudden emergence of Zeke Nnaji.
— T.J.’s already preparing for his Halloween Costume.
— The latest on Scottie Lewis.
— How does Big Blue Madness directly impact recruitments?
— Our first introduction to Todd Packer, big William Hung fan.
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.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 12th, 2018 @ 1:00pm
Tyrese Maxey won’t be a Kentucky Wildcat until next year, but he’s already drawing praise from the pros. Boston Celtics sixth man Marcus Smart recently worked out with Maxey, a fellow Texas native, and gave him kudos on Twitter afterwards:
— marcus smart (@smart_MS3) September 12, 2018
Last month, Maxey got some advice from another pro: Kevin Durant. Durant looked over Maxey’s tape with him and gave him his secrets on how to make it at the next level:
Maxey will be on Kentucky’s campus next weekend for his official visit. To be a fly on the wall for those pickup games in the Craft Center…
By TJ Walker on ©September 11th, 2018 @ 7:30pm
Kentucky already has commitments from Tyrese Maxey, Dontaie Allen and Kahlil Whitney, but there may just be one or two players left for the Cats according to Rivals’ four national recruiting analysts.
Dan McDonald thinks UK will land Vernon Carey.
Krysten Peek thinks the Cats will land Matthew Hurt.
That’s it. That’s a wrap for five-star prospects in 2019 according to the Rivals’ staff.
No recruiting analyst picked UK to land two remaining five-stars and no one picked Kentucky targets James Wiseman, Cole Anthony or Scottie Lewis to UK.
That’s not good news, folks. But let’s remember a few things:
- It’s a guessing game. While these analysts may have inside information on some recruitments, they’re guessing on most.
- It didn’t include predictions for Aidan Igiehon or Zeke Nnaji, who aren’t five-star players but both are strongly considering UK.
- Half the analysts thinking UK will land Tshiebwe is great news.
- Let’s hope McDonald is correct about Carey, Peek about Hurt and Evans/Bossi about Tshiebwe. Boom. Dominant class.
In all seriousness, I wouldn’t get too worked up about these predictions. Wiseman, Anthony and Carey will all decide in the spring, and it’s unclear when exactly Hurt will pull the plug. They will certainly do a similar article like this in a few months and their predictions may change. All four do great work but you can’t be plugged in on every single recruitment.
I would put some stock in Evans picking UK for Tshiebwe. He’s been doing a great job covering that recruitment and seems to have solid feel on where things are going.
Also, the fine folks at Rivals updated their 2019 rankings. Kentucky has two players in the top 10 with Kahlil Whitney jumping up to No. 7.
Despite a 16 spot bump, Whitney isn’t satisfied. You have to love his confidence.
Dontaie Allen dropped eight spots to No. 55.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©September 11th, 2018 @ 12:00pm
Kentucky’s point guard of the future has scheduled his official visit to Lexington, and he picked a very fun weekend to come. Tyrese Maxey announced on Twitter last night he will visit Kentucky next weekend, September 21-23, during which he will presumably enjoy the Mississippi State game festivities.
— Tyrese Maxey (@TyreseMaxey) September 11, 2018
Maxey’s visit makes a busy recruiting month even busier. Here’s who the staff will be visiting and who will be visiting campus in the foreseeable future:
9/11 – In-home visit: Vernon Carey Jr.
9/12 – In-home visit: James Wiseman
9/15 – Official visit: Scottie Lewis
9/22 – Official visit: Tyrese Maxey
9/29 – Official visit: Oscar Tshiebwe
10/12 – Visits: R.J. Hampton, Vernon Carey, Dontaie Allen, Khristian Lander, Matthew Hurt
Yesterday, the staff conducted in-home visits with Scottie Lewis and Aidan Igiehon, the latter of which posted this picture with Tony Barbee in his socks and John Calipari on his tippy-toes:
Igiehorn told Adam Zagoria the visit went so well he and his family are planning to take an official visit to Kentucky, the date of which is still to be determined.
For more on Kentucky’s chances with Igiehorn and the rest of the 2019 prospects, check out TJ’s Insider Notes from yesterday.
By TJ Walker on ©September 10th, 2018 @ 2:00pm
Have we all calmed down from the weekend? No? That’s perfectly understandable. It was an unforgettable weekend for Kentucky football and one that we will be talking about for decades.
But, it was also a big weekend for Kentucky basketball recruiting and started what will be a busy month. UK hosted five-star center James Wiseman over the weekend for his first official visit and Kentucky’s staff visited several targets for in-home visits. Those visits will continue throughout the week and the Cats will have official visitors every weekend this month.
Let’s get to it.
So, how did his official visit go this weekend? John Calipari pulled out all the stops. He received a gift from Anthony Davis that wasn’t a coincidence. The team received a Call of Duty gift from Karl-Anthony Towns. If you were a teenager with NBA dreams wouldn’t it be cool to have a similar career as Towns or Davis? That was a smart move by Calipari and I’m told that Wiseman and his family thought both were very cool.
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 7, 2018
— John Calipari (@UKCoachCalipari) September 9, 2018
I’ve had a few fans tell me they have read that the visit didn’t go well and it didn’t push UK ahead or extend the Cats’ lead (depending on who you think is the current favorite). I looked into this because that’s a significant claim. It’s rare to hear visits not going well, especially with a prized recruit. I asked one person I spoke with if it ever appeared the family looked bored or wasn’t having a good time. I was told that was never case. I then asked if there was a way that they looked lax or disinterested? Again, nothing out of the ordinary.
The only thing my source could think of is that there is already such a strong relationship between UK’s staff and the Wiseman family that the entire visit was a little different than other official visits. They gave the Wiseman family a pitch but they wanted their family to get the experience as if their son was a student-athlete at UK. They allowed James to spend a lot of time with the team. The parents watched as much basketball/pickup games as they wanted. This recruitment is a different animal for UK because the relationship is already so strong. Maybe since there wasn’t a football game, charity game or because it wasn’t Big Blue Madness weekend some thought it lacked the bells and whistles, but it was a productive visit that only strengthened UK’s chances.
I think the Wiseman family is really trying to keep things as open as possible. They may have favorites in their mind but as a family are trying to give every school a fair chance and are willing to take their time on this recruitment. That being said, UK is in a great spot and I still believe the Cats have the momentum. They may be the leader and it would probably be my guess as of today, but things are going to change several more times (or at least appear to change) before he decides in the spring. I’m sure Memphis will get momentum back at some point and I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a surprise buzz from a Florida State or Vanderbilt. I don’t think those schools are serious players, but recruitments are weird and I’m sure we’ll hear positive things about those schools at some point.
This will be a long recruitment, so be prepared for the ebbs and flow. UK’s track record with bigs can’t be topped in this recruitment, but has UK done enough to have the strongest relationship? They’ve certainly done a great job up to this point.
Zeke Nnaji and Matthew Hurt:
Kentucky visited both prospects yesterday and Nnaji ended up with an offer from the Cats. Full disclosure, I haven’t heard too much about either recruitment. I’ll get to Matthew Hurt in a moment but what I was told about Nnaji is that UK just came in the picture about a week ago. They were able to get an in-home visit the first day coaches were allowed to see prospects. Nnaji plans on unofficially visiting this month and maybe coming back for an official visit next month. I don’t know where UK stands in his recruitment but my source alluded that obviously the Cats must be a player if they were able to make up this much ground in such a short amount of time. That’s good news and honestly probably pretty telling. Several schools have been on him for a very long time and the Cats are squarely in the thick of things.
As for what kind of player Nnaji is, I’ve been told he wasn’t offered just because he’s tight with Hurt. UK thinks Nnaji can play and would be a nice 2-3 year player. No, not an elite one-and-done player, but a good glue guy with a high ceiling. The Cats legitimately like him.
But UK would love to land both Hurt and Nnaji. Hurt is one of the most versatile players in the class and UK is recruiting him as hard as any other player in the class. I’ve been told UK likes where they stand but they don’t know if they lead, if they are in second, or third. It seems like the family likes what they’re hearing from UK, but it doesn’t seem like there’s a read on Hurt’s priority. Some may take that as negative news, and I understand why, but if the Hurt family is doing a good job keeping things close to the vest that doesn’t mean Kentucky is behind.
If I had to guess I wouldn’t say UK leads, but I would also guess that the family doesn’t know where Hurt will end up at this point. Hurt will visit for Big Blue Madness and it will be his first time checking out Lexington. That will be one of the most important official visits of this cycle.
Bigs in 2019:
So, what’s going on with UK’s big situation in 2019? UK has offered Wiseman, Hurt and Vernon Carey. Those three players could commit to UK tomorrow, or in May, and the Cats will make sure there’s a spot and plenty of playing time. That’s been the case for those three for nearly a year and that isn’t changing. All three are elite bigs that will have great college careers. UK knows that.
But the Cats just offered Nnaji and an offer is coming later this week for Oscar Tshiebwe (shoob-way). At least one assistant coach will meet with Aidan Igiehon today. Will an actual offer come to Igiehon? Time will tell. I still think UK likes Nnaji and Tshiebwe more than Igiehon, but if we hear of an offer and visit set for Igiehon that would make things interesting.
UK needs to add three bigs in 2019. You could maybe survive with two if someone returns and it would be special if the Cats could land four, but three seems to be the magic number.
Kentucky still thinks they can land two of Carey/Hurt/Wiseman. That’s important. I should say that UK expects to land two of Carey/Hurt/Wiseman. So, there may only be one other spot for the other tier. It’s strictly my opinion, but I think UK would take Nnaji and Tshiebwe in the fall and hope you can still get two of Carey/Hurt/Wiseman in the spring, but could survive with just one.
However, UK could also be telling Tshiebwe/Nnaji and maybe Igiehon (can we get a break with tough to pronounce last names) that it’s first come first serve. Kentucky putting some pressure on bigs would be a smart move because you don’t want to go into the spring with zero bigs committed.
UK really likes Tshiebwe and I think he’s the Cats’ first choice after Carey/Hurt/Wiseman, but they would glad take Nnaji, too.
He will visit UK for Big Blue Madness and the Cats will see him tomorrow for an in-home visit. I still think UK’s in a good spot (drink) but my only noteworthy update is that the coaches at MSU, Duke and UK feel the best about their chances. The coaching staffs at those places are confident where UNC and Miami (Fla.) aren’t as confident. Duke and UK are staffs that usually feel pretty good about their chances in nearly all recruitments, but MSU’s staff feels like they have put in the most work and they have the best relationship with Carey.
In my opinion this may be between UK and MSU, but like Wiseman, this is going to be a long recruitment. I’m excited to see where things stand after his official visit to UK next month. People close to UK are excited to have him on campus.
Here’s a look at the September/October schedule:
9/8- Official visit: James Wiseman.
9/9 In-home visit: Matthew Hurt, Zeke Nnaji, Kahlil Whintey.
9/10- In-home visit: Scottie Lewis, Aidan Igiehon
(UK will be in at some point this week to see Tshiebwe)
9/11- In-home visit: Vernon Carey Jr.
9/12- In-home visit: James Wiseman.
9/15- Official visit: Scottie Lewis.
9/29- Official visit: Oscar Tshiebwe.
10/12- Visits: R.J. Hampton, Vernon Carey, Dontaie Allen, Khristian Lander, Matthew Hurt.
It’s unclear when UK will see Cole Anthony and Tyrese Maxey