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Calipari visits RJ Hampton, will have in-home visit with Oscar Tshiebwe next week

Calipari visits RJ Hampton, will have in-home visit with Oscar Tshiebwe next week

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:

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:

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.


Hardly Committed E8: In-Home Visits and Todd Packer

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.


Rivals’ basketball recruiting predictions aren’t pretty for UK

Rivals’ basketball recruiting predictions aren’t pretty for UK

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.

Eric Bossi and Corey Evans think Kentucky will earn a commitment from Oscar Tshiebwe.

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.

You can read all their predictions HERE.

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.

You can see the rankings HERE.


Insider Notes: Recapping James Wiseman’s visit and looking at a busy September

IG: bigticket_j13

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.

James Wiseman:

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.

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.

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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.

USA Today

Vernon Carey:

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