Basketball Recruiting News
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 20th, 2019 @ 11:00pm
The high school All-American circuit continues today with the Jordan Brand Classic live in Las Vegas, and once again, the Kentucky Wildcats are represented well.
Kentucky signees Tyrese Maxey and Keion Brooks Jr., along with forward commit Kahlil Whitney, are all competing in the event. Kentucky matches Duke for the most competitors in the event with three representatives.
Over the course of each of their recruitments and after their commitments, we’ve broken down their games extensively here on KSR. We’ve also gotten player breakdowns from some of the top recruiting and draft analysts in the game.
Instead of getting the same ole recycled analysis, though, I decided to ask some of the individuals that know their games the best to give a fresh scouting report on each of the future Wildcats.
At Jordan Brand Classic Media Day on Friday afternoon, I talked to some of their opponents and fellow five-star peers to break down their games with some of their biggest strengths and weaknesses.
The participants? Five-star point guard Cole Anthony, Georgia signee Anthony Edwards, and Indiana signee Trayce Jackson-Davis.
On Tyrese Maxey…
Tyrese Maxey is an extremely versatile two-way player, can score on all three levels. I’d say his weakness is that he’s erratic at times, but I’ve got nothing but positive things to say about him. It’s always a battle when we play against each other. To stop him, I’d have to try and make him feel uncomfortable without the ball and just pressure him.
On Keion Brooks Jr…
Keion Brooks, I’d say one of his weaknesses is that he can be erratic at times too. But he can really score the ball, can really shoot it, freak athlete. Nothing but positive things to say about him either.
On Kahlil Whitney…
Kahlil Whitney, I think his weakness is that his motor, at times, is questionable. Just whether or not he wants to play sometimes. But he can shoot it, freak, freak athlete. When he competes, he’s really, really good.
On Tyrese Maxey…
Tyrese Maxey, he’s cold. I mean to me, every dude that’s committed to Kentucky is really good. But Tyrese can really shoot, and his floater is unstoppable. He’s hard to stay in front of.
On Keion Brooks Jr…
Keion Brooks is like a big guard, nice pull-up jumper, athletic. I mean, he’s taller than me, but I’m stronger than him, so I’d have to impose my will against him.
On Kahlil Whitney…
Kahlil Whitney is so strong, he’s just a dog. He wants to score at will, so it’s hard to stop him. I’d have to just not let him post me up, can’t let him body me. I mean he’s so strong and physical.
On Tyrese Maxey…
Tyrese is an explosive guard, can shoot up to like 40 feet. He’s just crazy. Stopping him, you’re going to have to jam him, make him drive. He can come at you both ways, so it’s going to be hard to stop him regardless. He’s got a nice floater, so you’ve got to try to take that away from him. You’ve got to meet him at the rim, time it just right. His biggest strength is definitely his jump shot, he can shoot it anywhere on the floor. As far as a weakness, I’m not really sure, but I’d guess I’d say his passing ability.
On Keion Brooks Jr…
He can be a bang inside, bang outside player. He’s worked on his shot so much this year, so it’s gotten a lot better. If anything, I’d say he needs to work on his handle a little bit, tighten that up. But that’s about it, he’s really good.
On Kahlil Whitney…
Kahlil is an explosive guard, 6-foot-6, 6-foot-7, probably has a 38 or 39-inch vertical. He’s crazy high. His skillset is that he can come off the wing, pull-up jumper, bang with you down low. He needs to keep working on his 3-point shot, just keep it consistent, but that’s not even bad either.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 20th, 2019 @ 10:15pm
The Jordan Brand Classic took place this evening in Las Vegas, where future Kentucky Wildcats Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney, and Keion Brooks Jr. all competed in the event.
In a 132-125 victory, the Home team featuring all three Wildcats defeated the Away squad, with the future UK players combining for 36 points and 13 rebounds.
Brooks finished with 15 points on 5-9 shooting, six rebounds, one assist, one block, and two steals in the victory.
Maxey wasn’t far behind, finishing with 13 points, five rebounds, four assists, and two steals.
Whitney also added eight points on 3-6 shooting and two rebounds.
Here are all of the highlights from Brooks and Maxey (Kentucky can only comment on signed prospects as of right now):
We like our team.
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) April 21, 2019
With the Jordan Brand Classic now over, Whitney and Brooks will compete in the Iverson Classic in Philadelphia on April 24, while Maxey will look ahead to the BallIsLife All-American Game in Long Beach, CA next weekend.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 20th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
Kentucky basketball season might be over, but tonight, you have the opportunity to see three future Wildcats in action.
Starting right NOW, Kentucky commits/signees Tyrese Maxey, Kahil Whitney, and Keion Brooks Jr. are competing in the Jordan Brand Classic in Las Vegas.
The game is not televised, but you can stream the event right here:
? the best in the nation.
Click below to get a reminder for the start of the Jordan Brand Classic on Saturday. https://t.co/XmymchiE4b
— Jordan Brand Classic (@JordanClassic) April 18, 2019
I am in Vegas covering the event, where I’ll be talking to all three Wildcats afterward.
We’ll have plenty of analysis/interviews here on the site in a bit.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 20th, 2019 @ 4:00pm
At one point, Kentucky’s 2019 recruiting class was shaping up to look completely different than what eventually became reality. John Calipari and the UK coaching staff had landed a commitment from four-star small forward DJ Jeffries and were the runaway favorite for the No. 1 prospect in the class, James Wiseman.
They landed five-star guard Tyrese Maxey, and beyond that, Wiseman was talking about teaming up with fellow elite big man Vernon Carey Jr. and becoming the next Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins at whichever school they decided to attend.
When Penny Hardaway became the head coach at Memphis that spring, he immediately began recruiting Wiseman, his star center with his former AAU squad, the Bluff City Legends. And there were rumors Jeffries was interested in teaming up with each of them in Memphis.
Just a few months later, Jeffries became the first player under John Calipari to decommit from Kentucky and eventually pledged his commitment in October to Hardaway’s Tigers. Wiseman soon followed in November.
For Jeffries, he says it wasn’t an easy process and that he realized the magnitude of his decision, he just felt it was the best decision for him.
“Making the adjustment from Kentucky was kind of hard, you know?” he said. “I mean, it’s Kentucky, right? Not too many kids leave Kentucky. When I did that, it just felt like it was right for me, felt like it was the best thing.”
So why was it the best thing for Jeffries and his future? Hardaway helped him realize that he wanted to represent the city of Memphis at the next level.
“Penny (Hardaway), of course, and my teammates,” he said. “I played AAU ball with most of the guys already there, and James (Wiseman) is a big part of it. I just wanted to do something for the city (of Memphis), you know?”
Though he did become the first player to decommit under Calipari at Kentucky, he said that he has nothing but love for the UK coaching staff and the time and effort they put into recruiting him.
“But Coach Cal, he’s still a really great guy,” Jeffries said. “I don’t have anything (against) him, Tony Barbee, none of them. They have a great coaching staff.”
After Jeffries decommitted, Kentucky was able to put the full-court press on five-star small forward Kahlil Whitney, who ended up committing to the school just a week later. Fast forward to March of this year, and five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr. also decided to make Lexington his new basketball home.
In Jeffries’ eyes, both Memphis and Kentucky ended up better off in the long run with how things played out.
“(Kentucky has) two great players in Keion Brooks and Kahlil Whitney (at the wing) now, so there’s no bad blood,” he said. “I really just had to do what was best for me.”
On Thursday, the SEC announced that they had formed a scheduling alliance in basketball with the American Athletic conference going forward.
As of now, the idea is that the top four AAC schools would face off against the four SEC schools who do not currently participate in the SEC/Big 12 challenge, meaning that does not include Kentucky for now. That being said, the partnership could lead to increased dialogue between both parties and a potential matchup between UK and Memphis could come about that way.
With the dust settled a bit, Jeffries said he would be all for a friendly rivalry with head-to-head matchups while he is at Memphis.
“I hope for it,” he said. “That’d be really fun. It’d be fun, because, you know, the fans gave me so much backlash. But I still love them, I ain’t got no problem with them. I’d just love to have a game against Kentucky.”
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 19th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
2019 five-star power forward Jaden McDaniels has never been one to eat up attention or go out of his way to make headlines for anything outside of basketball. Even when it comes to basketball, he doesn’t like talking about his recruitment, he doesn’t goof off around his teammates, and he really doesn’t try to be flashy.
He goes about his business, makes as much of an impact on the court as he can, and moves on. Nothing more, nothing less.
At the Jordan Brand Classic Media Day, reporters huddled around McDaniels to ask the ever-popular question about his recruitment: When is a decision coming and where will that be?
Even with the signing period opening on April 17, the 6-foot-11 forward is still more than willing to push it all the way to the May 15 deadline in a little less than a month.
“I’m still just taking my time and taking it slow,” he told KSR this afternoon.
Other than the obvious required signing deadline in May, is there any personal deadline or or specific timetable on the table to make a final decision?
“No, I really don’t…” he said.
A man of many words, he is not.
When asked if he had an update on his final five schools or wanted to cut his list even further before making a decision, McDaniels said he didn’t and that he was pretty content with those five.
The final schools in contention? Kentucky, Washington, San Diego State, Texas, and UCLA.
“Coach Cal, he’s a real good dude,” McDaniels said of his significant interest in Kentucky. “He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear, he just keeps it real.”
As for the hometown Washington Huskies, the perceived co-favorite with the Wildcats, the five-star forward said that playing in front of his friends and family is definitely a positive for him.
“With Washington, there’s nothing better than being at home,” he said. “I have a really good relationship with (assistant coach Will) Conroy, love the staff there.”
For Texas, the draw there is to play for head coach Shaka Smart.
“Texas, I had a real good time there on my visit,” he said. “(Shaka) Smart, he’s not going to tell you what you want to hear, he’s going to get on you too.”
With his brother, Jalen, playing for San Diego the last two years, he said that he’s very comfortable with the Aztecs because he has visited there so many times.
“San Diego State, it’s like a big family because my brother went there,” he said. “I always go down there to visit and stuff. I feel like I’m comfortable there too.”
While the first four schools McDaniels rattled off each seemed to be in solid position, his thoughts on UCLA really didn’t seem to indicate they had much of a shot at all.
“And then UCLA, I had a good relationship with Steve Alford, but he’s not there anymore unfortunately…” he said. “But they’re still in my five.”
After competing in the Jordan Brand Classic tomorrow, McDaniels will then head to Philadelphia next weekend to compete in the Iverson Classic, his final high school event of his career.
From there, McDaniels will head home and come up with a plan moving forward over the next few weeks. As much as he’s wanting to wait it out and make a decision at the last possible minute, the clock is ticking.
As expected, five-star power forward Matthew Hurt has committed to Duke.
The Rochester, Minnesota native announced the news at a ceremony at his school this afternoon, picking the Blue Devils over Kentucky, Kansas, and North Carolina. Whereas it seemed Kentucky might have a shot with him a few weeks ago, when his family canceled an in-home visit with John Calipari over the weekend, the writing was on the wall.
Kentucky’s 2019 class stands as such: combo guard Tyrese Maxey, small forward Keion Brooks, small forward Kahlil Whitney, and small forward Dontaie Allen. Maxey, Brooks, and Whitney will all be in action at the Jordan Brand Classic tomorrow night in Vegas. Jack Pilgrim’s out there to cover it for us and will have highlights from today’s practices in just a bit.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 19th, 2019 @ 3:51pm
John Calipari and his staff went out west to visit 2020 five-star wing Johnny Juzang, and they liked him so much they offered him a scholarship. Compton Magic, Juzang’s adidas squad, shared the news on Twitter minutes ago:
— Compton Magic (@Compton_Magic) April 19, 2019
Juzang, a 6-foot-7 shooting guard/small forward out of Studio City, CA, is considered a consensus top-25 prospect in the class of 2020. ESPN lists him as the No. 19 overall prospect in the class, while Rivals has him at No. 22 and 247 Sports lists him at No. 24 overall. He already holds offers from Kansas, Virginia, UCLA, USC, and others.
Here’s what 247 Sports has to say about Juzang’s game:
“Scoring wing with good size and long arms,” the scouting report says. “Shoot-first but much improved efficiency. Big time threat off the dribble as a shooter from both midrange and three. Can knock down threes in bunches from perimeter and also has a strong one- and two-dribble pull-up game. Can get to the basket but is most comfortable scoring with his jumper. Size, length and athleticism give him upside as versatile defender. Can improve shot selection and handle. Projects as productive high major wing with NBA upside due to his shot making ability at his size.”
Kentucky has now offered eleven prospects in the 2020 class:
- PG: Jeremy Roach, Sharife Cooper
- SG: Jalen Green, BJ Boston
- CG: RJ Hampton
- SF: Jalen Johnson, Scottie Barnes, Johnny Juzang
- PF: Isaiah Todd
- C: Cliff Omoruyi, N’Faly Dante
Check out Juzang’s highlights below:
Episode one of his MarsReel documentary dropped earlier this week as well:
Kentucky added a pair of new Wildcats to the 2019-20 roster this morning. Keion Brooks and Nate Sestina signed and submitted their paperwork, making their commitments official.
John Calipari is still actively recruiting a few other players to add to the class. One player has committed, but not yet signed.
McDonald’s All-American Kahlil Whitney will not join Sestina, Brooks and the rest of the class until May 3. Whitney plays prep school ball at New Jersey’s Roselle Catholic. He’s waiting to sign in front of friends, family and his community at an elementary school near his Chicago home.
“My ultimate goal by doing that is to give them something inspiring to witness, hopefully,” he told Mass Live.
Typically, a delayed signing draws causes to concern. Whitney’s decision should encourage fans. Even at a young age, he is using his talent to make a difference in his community.
This weekend Whitney will be spending time with Brooks, Tyrese Maxey and Jaden McDaniels at the Jordan Brand Classic. Jack Pilgrim will be bringing you coverage all weekend from Las Vegas. Until then, enjoy the trailer for a documentary following Whitney’s senior season titled, “Year of the Dragon.”
Subscribe to @freshfocusports YouTube channel for more content on the way ?
— Fresh Focus Sports (@freshfocusports) April 18, 2019
It’s official: Keion Brooks is a Kentucky Wildcat.
The five-star forward signed his letter of intent this morning, his father confirmed to Chris Fisher. On Twitter, Brooks commemorated the occasion by sharing a picture from his announcement back in March:
— Keion Brooks (@keion_brooks) April 18, 2019
The 6’7″ 185 lbs. wing out from Fort Wayne, Indiana will participate in the Jordan Brand Classic in Las Vegas this weekend along with fellow future Cats Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney. Maxey signed his letter of intent in November, while Whitney has a signing ceremony planned for May 3 in his hometown of Chicago.
Our own Jack Pilgrim will be in Vegas to bring you all the highlights and quotes you could dream of, but until then, enjoy Brooks’ latest mixtape:
UPDATE: UK just sent out this quote from John Calipari on Brooks’ signing.
“Keion is such a unique player because he has guard play-making ability in a 6-7, physical frame,” Calipari said. “In the last year at La Lumiere, he has physically improved leaps and bounds and is going to continue to get stronger. He helped his team to a 29-1 record, which shows you he’s a winner. We expect him to have a major impact on this program just like he did at La Lumiere. He’s a great kid from a great family and I can’t wait to get him here.”
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 17th, 2019 @ 6:30pm
As the 2019-20 roster is starting to take shape, the Kentucky coaching staff is slowly ramping up its recruiting efforts for the class of 2020.
After visiting several big-name five-star prospects over the last few weeks, Kentucky is now set to visit with 2020 five-star guard Johnny Juzang over the next few days, per Evan Daniels of 247 Sports.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) April 17, 2019
Juzang, a 6-foot-7 shooting guard out of Studio City, CA, is considered a consensus top-25 prospect in the class of 2020. ESPN lists him as the No. 19 overall prospect in the class, while Rivals has him at No. 22 and 247 Sports lists him at No. 24 overall.
While Kentucky has not extended a scholarship offer yet, Juzang holds offers from Kansas, Virginia, UCLA, and USC, among several others.
247 Sports’ scouting analysis likes what the 6-foot-7 prospect has to offer, highlighting his length and shooting ability.
“Scoring wing with good size and long arms,” the report says. “Shoot-first but much improved efficiency. Big time threat off the dribble as a shooter from both midrange and three. Can knock down threes in bunches from perimeter and also has a strong one- and two-dribble pull-up game. Can get to the basket but is most comfortable scoring with his jumper. Size, length and athleticism give him upside as versatile defender. Can improve shot selection and handle. Projects as productive high major wing with NBA upside due to his shot making ability at his size.”
Kentucky has offered ten prospects in 2020, with each of them ranked by their respective positions below:
PG: Jeremy Roach, Sharife Cooper
SG: Jalen Green, BJ Boston
CG: RJ Hampton
SF: Jalen Johnson, Scottie Barnes
PF: Isaiah Todd
C: Cliff Omoruyi, N’Faly Dante
Check out Juzang’s highlights below:
Episode one of his MarsReel documentary released yesterday afternoon, as well:
Pilgrim’s Insider Notes: Kentucky reaches out to graduate transfers, NBA Draft decisions, and Matthew Hurt
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 17th, 2019 @ 12:30pm
Welcome back for another edition of Pilgrim’s Insider Notes, where we’ll be breaking down all of the chaos we’ve seen in the world of Kentucky basketball and recruiting over the last week or so. We’ve got some new graduate transfer options to take a close look at, NBA Draft decision updates, and a big announcement coming up on Friday.
Let’s dive right in.
The most significant development we have over the last 24 hours is Kentucky’s interest in Virginia Tech graduate transfer Kerry Blackshear Jr. Reports surfaced late last night that the UK coaching staff had serious interest in the Hokie power forward, with KSR confirming those reports.
Blackshear, a 6-foot-10 junior out of Orlando, FL, averaged 15 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.4 assists for Virginia Tech last season. He also finished in double figures in 28 of his 35 total games, including nine double-doubles on the year. Two of his biggest performances actually came against Duke, when the Hokie forward finished with 23 points and ten rebounds in their regular season matchup, and 18 points and 16 rebounds in their NCAA Tournament matchup.
While I don’t believe a commitment is imminent in the slightest, I can confirm that there is mutual interest and the expectation is that Kentucky will receive a visit. There is also a chance Blackshear tests the NBA Draft waters, though the expectation is that he will not receive the feedback he’s hoping for and will transfer elsewhere to play next season.
This morning, Kyle Tucker of The Athletic tweeted that Blackshear’s father had not heard specifically from John Calipari or the Kentucky coaching staff, which may certainly be the case. The Virginia Tech forward only put his name in the transfer portal just a day ago, so we’re still extremely early in the process. That being said, sources tell KSR that Kentucky has absolutely sent out feelers to Blackshear’s camp and has let them know they are interested. That interest was returned.
Outside of the Blackshear news, I reported last night that Kentucky also reached out to another prominent name on the transfer market. While I can’t reveal who that player is quite yet (it’s a name you guys would know), sources tell KSR that this would be in ADDITION to Blackshear joining the fold. When I am allowed to reveal the name, you guys will be the first to know.
Source tells KSR that Kentucky has reached out to not only Blackshear, but another very interesting available player on the transfer market. In fact, UK is interested in bringing in BOTH. https://t.co/CoVj1dm56T
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) April 17, 2019
While I can’t say who the mystery transfer is quite yet, I can tell you that it is not VMI guard and Rupp Arena legend Bubba Parham. I talked with Bubba’s mother last night, and she said that while he would likely have interest in the Cats if the opportunity presented itself, Kentucky has not reached out yet.
Parham is only a junior and will have to sit out a year no matter where he goes. While they certainly have respect for Parham’s game and believe he’s a solid player, Kentucky isn’t certain what the guard rotation will look like a year from now. They feel very confident about their position with several elite backcourt prospects in the class of 2020, and using another scholarship in this situation would be a bit of a risk.
Blackshear is the name to watch out for in the immediate future, while the other player in question is expected to take a little bit longer before narrowing down schools officially and taking visits. Whenever that may be, Kentucky will be in the conversation.
NBA Draft Decisions
This morning, Kentucky forward Keldon Johnson announced he would be keeping his name in the NBA Draft, following in the footsteps of both Tyler Herro (yesterday) and PJ Washington (last week).
When they both announced they were going to go through the process last week, they each specifically added in their press releases that they intended to keep their names in the draft if they liked the feedback they received. In fact, Johnson said specifically that he was hoping to become a lottery pick, giving fans some hope that he would slip outside that range and return to school for a sophomore season.
After realizing how much people were dissecting every word of the release, Herro was a bit more vague with his announcement, saying he was just hoping to be a “high draft pick.”
Over the weekend, they spent their time communicating with NBA teams and figuring out what pick range they would likely be falling in. Herro said this morning on KSR that teams told him he would fall in the 10-25 range, while Johnson said teams said he had a great chance of landing in the lottery.
They always wanted to leave for the NBA, and once they both got solid first round grades, it was a guarantee. As a reward, they went out and purchased an Audi RS 5 (Johnson) and a Maserati (Herro) and said goodbye to the Big Blue Nation.
Now, the only players left to decide are EJ Montgomery, Nick Richards, and Jemarl Baker (transfer).
While I do find it odd that we haven’t heard anything on those three quite yet, I do believe the most likely scenario is that all three return next year. I still think it’s possible one or both of Montgomery and Richards declare for the NBA Draft and see what they need to improve next year, but I just don’t anticipate them keeping it in there. As for a transfer, there have been rumblings about Montgomery looking at his options, but I don’t see him sitting out a year before playing elsewhere. He wants to get to the NBA as soon as possible, so I believe his two options right now are returning to school and improving with hopes of entering the draft next year, or taking a chance on himself and going the G-League league route. I like Kentucky’s chances of getting Richards back regardless.
With Baker, I heard last week that transferring to be closer to home wasn’t on his radar and that he enjoyed Lexington, but the fact that we haven’t heard a definitive announcement as of yet makes me think he’s definitely keeping his options open. If the roster stays at it is in the backcourt and he feels he can carve out a role as the go-to shooter off the bench, I think there’s a decent chance he returns. If Kentucky adds another guard via reclassification or transfer and it looks like the playing time he’s hoping for won’t be available, then I think a transfer is on the table.
According to several reports this afternoon, Baker has put his name in the transfer portal and will look to play basketball somewhere closer to home moving forward.
He said on multiple occasions throughout the season that as a California native, he’s homesick, and that certainly played a big part in his decision. Like I said above, I have heard that he genuinely enjoyed his time in Lexington and would’ve loved to stick around if his role on the team was more clear/significant going into next season. With Ashton Hagans, Tyrese Maxey, and Immanuel Quickley all set to play significant minutes, along with Kentucky also being interested in five-star combo guard RJ Hampton for 2019 (or if another solid graduate transfer opportunity presented itself), Baker saw the writing on the wall for next season. Combine that with the distance factor, and it makes sense.
Last week on the Insider Notes, I said that I felt pretty confident that Kentucky was out for 2019 five-star forward Matthew Hurt and that Duke was the likely landing spot. Then, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports came on KSR a few days later and said that while he felt good about the Blue Devils coming out on top, the Wildcats were likely No. 2 on his list and could make a push.
I have to be honest, that threw me off a bit. Admittedly, Daniels is the best in the business and his track record proves that. For him to say Kentucky still had a shot was significant to me.
After doing some more digging, I was told that Kentucky was working to put together one final visit before the decision and that they felt they could make up some ground. That visit did come together and was scheduled for Sunday, but was eventually cancelled because Hurt’s father, Rich, said they couldn’t fit in visits from all the schools trying to get one last shot at talking to his son. Instead, Hurt shut down his recruitment and will be making a decision on Friday based on what he already knows about all schools involved.
Some people have compared this situation to Kevin Knox’s recruitment a few years back. Knox was a quiet player and truly didn’t tell anyone where he was leaning, but analysts went with the buzz around Duke and North Carolina and assumed it was down to those two schools. The former five-star small forward shocked the world and chose Kentucky, telling people that no one had any idea where he was leaning and the rumors out there were false the entire time.
With this situation, though, I don’t think we’ll see a similar situation play out. In fact, I’d be shocked if Hurt’s decision is anything other than Duke. I’m told that Kansas – a longtime leader for the five-star forward – does not believe they will be the choice. North Carolina has some confidence and there has been a bit of growing buzz about the Tar Heels, but that decision would shock me, as well. Daniels thinks Kentucky is sitting at No. 2, but without them getting that final visit on Sunday, I just don’t see them jumping the consensus favorite.
I’m holding firm on my Duke pick.
Jordan Brand Classic
I will be flying out to Las Vegas tomorrow morning to see future Kentucky Wildcats Tyrese Maxey, Kahlil Whitney, and Keion Brooks Jr. in action at the Jordan Brand Classic. The big practice is scheduled for Friday morning, with Media Day festivities coming right after. If you have any questions you want me to ask them or specific recruiting updates you’re looking for while I’m out there, leave them in the comment section and I’ll make sure to get them addressed in the coming days.
While you’re at it, give me a follow on Twitter at @JackPilgrimKSR and feel free to reach out to me there about whatever questions you may have.
See you then.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 14th, 2019 @ 10:30pm
After being forced to re-route from Minneapolis for Matthew Hurt this afternoon, Kentucky head coach John Calipari made a trip to California to see 2020 five-star forward Matur Maker.
He tweeted out the news this evening:
Really blessed to have @UKCoachCalipari and Coach Kenny Payne, for an in home visit today. Looking forward to having them watch us @DreamVisionBall in Dallas. #MakerMob #BBN pic.twitter.com/Dh1xQSqaWV
— Makur Maker (@MakurMaker) April 15, 2019
Maker, a 6-foot-11, 235-pound prospect out of Orange Lutheran (CA), is considered a top-15 prospect on both 247 Sports and Rivals.com.
Cousin of Detroit Pistons forward and former Kentucky target Thon Maker, Maker holds offers from Oregon, USC, and UCLA, with interest coming from Kentucky, Kansas, and Auburn.
Like Thon, Makur is just under seven feet tall, but maintains an impressive face-up game and guard skills. He can run the floor, handle the ball, and consistently knock down jump shots, but still possesses solid post moves, along with strong defensive and rebounding instincts like a true big man.
His name carried weight to start his high school career, and now, his talent is starting to match that hype.
Take a look at some of his recent highlights:
By Maggie Davis on ©April 14th, 2019 @ 9:30pm
There’s some seemingly-bad news on the recruiting grounds: Matthew Hurt has cancelled his in-home visits, including John Calipari and Kentucky’s, which was originally scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Hurt’s father, Richard, told a local news station his son has shut down his recruitment – no colleges will make visits ahead of Sunday’s midnight recruiting deadline.
Hurt is set to make his decision this coming Friday, so this news certainly doesn’t bode well for Kentucky’s chances. Hurt is also being recruited by Duke, North Carolina and Kansas, but this announcement all-but-solidifies Coach K and the Blue Devils’ chances at landing the 5-star recruit. Both UK and the Jayhawks had in-home visits scheduled for today, but both were cancelled.
According to reporter Mark Poulose of KTTC-TV in Hurt’s home state of Minnesota, Hurt’s father believed it would be “too much” to host multiple schools and coaches so close to Sunday’s recruiting deadline.
Maybe the 6-foot-9 forward really wanted to spend the day watching Tiger Woods and Game of Thrones… Otherwise, it doesn’t look like we’ll see Matthew Hurt in the blue and white come next season.
By Sam Gormley on ©April 14th, 2019 @ 11:00am
Jake Weingarten, of Stockrisers, is reporting that head coach John Calipari will have an in-home visit today with five star prospect Matthew Hurt.
Kentucky’s John Calipari will conduct an in-home visit today with major five-star senior target Matthew Hurt, a source told @Stockrisers. Once again, a major target for UK.
— Jake (@jakeweingarten) April 14, 2019
Hurt is a 6’8 forward from Rochester, Minnesota. The almost 19 year old is a consensus top ten player in the class of 2019 and is rated as the #2 PF.
It is widely speculated that the decision is down to either Duke, Kentucky or Kansas. Currently, his Crystal Ball has Duke as the favorite with 64% of the guesses.
When on KSR earlier this week, Evan Daniels said that his pick of Duke was not because he had heard something that “guaranteed” it to happen and was strictly a guess. Most experts seem to be taking the same mentality with the Minnesota native.
If Kentucky is the choice when he makes his college decision in a few days, the Cats will pick up only the second player in program history from the state of Minnesota. Obviously the first is Reid Travis, but who knew the state of Minnesota was turning into a feeding ground of college basketball stars.
Hurt would fill a massive need on next season’s team. While the guard play has a potential to be really good, the front court is not as deep and will rely heavily on the advancement in the game of both EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards.
You can watch Hurt work below:
Be sure to follow KSR’s recruiting expert Jack Pilgrim on Twitter. He has been following this recruitment closely and routinely will post both site and social media updates.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 13th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
Last night, Kentucky signee Tyrese Maxey continued his play on the All-Star circuit with an impressive showing in the Nike Hoop Summit out in Portland, Oregon.
Representing Team USA, Maxey finished with eight points on 3-9 shooting, three rebounds, two assists, and one steal in his team’s come-from-behind victory over the World Team.
Check out his highlights below:
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) April 13, 2019
Tyrese Maxey drive and soft finish off glass. pic.twitter.com/zxUvkUd91a
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) April 13, 2019
Outside of Maxey, 2019 Kentucky target Matthew Hurt also played for Team USA, finishing with seven points on 3-6 shooting, four rebounds, and an assist.
For the World squad, 2020 UK target and potential reclassification candidate N’Faly Dante finished with two points on 1-2 shooting, two rebounds, one assist, and one steal in the loss.
Maxey will also participate in the Jordan Brand Classic next weekend in Las Vegas, with Kentucky commitments Kahlil Whitney and Keion Brooks Jr. set to join him.
KSR will be there to provide all the coverage you need starting on Thursday afternoon.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 13th, 2019 @ 5:00pm
Where in the world is Kentucky head coach John Calipari today?
We have our answer.
According to Corey Evans of Rivals.com, 2020 five-star shooting guard BJ Boston hosted Calipari on an in-home visit in Norcross, GA.
— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) April 13, 2019
Boston, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard and a consensus top-10 junior, is one of just ten prospects in the class of 2020 with an offer from Kentucky.
Calipari also offered four-star center Cliff Omoruyi while in New Jersey yesterday afternoon.
Outside of UK, the Norcross native also holds scholarships from Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Auburn, Alabama, Florida, and Memphis, among others.
As of today, Duke holds the lead on his Crystal Ball on 247 Sports with all four picks, including predictions from recruiting insiders Jerry Meyer and Andrew Slater.
247 Sports’ official prospect analysis lists Boston as a “long” athlete with “good athleticism and a natural feel for the game.”
“A long athlete who is still growing,” the analysis says. “Has good athleticism and a natural feel for the game. Lack of strength needs to improve, especially to be effective long term on the defensive end. Terrific scorer who is effective at all three levels. Has a nose for the ball and the length to be a dangerous rebounder. Has tremendous upside, which makes him a potential lottery pick.”
Here are just a few of Boston’s most recent highlights:
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 13th, 2019 @ 11:00am
Kentucky head coach John Calipari is looking to add yet another commitment to his long list of past recruits out of New Jersey, and more specifically, Roselle Catholic High School.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Nick Richards all came from the the Garden State, while Isaiah Briscoe and current 2019 Kentucky commitment Kahlil Whitney both came from Roselle Catholic.
Yesterday, Calipari made the trip to offer yet another prospect out of New Jersey, this time being 2020 four-star center and Roselle Catholic product Clifford Omoruyi.
— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) April 12, 2019
Omoruyi, Whitney’s high school teammate, is considered a consensus top-60 prospect and one of the highest-risers in the class. At 6-foot-11, 235 pounds, Omoruyi has been compared to current NBA players Clint Capela and Mitchell Robinson due to his high motor and ridiculous length. While he currently holds a four-star rating, most recruiting analysts believe he will see a significant jump by the time his senior season rolls around.
The 2020 big man also holds offers from Florida, Auburn, Indiana, Ohio State, West Virginia, Syracuse, Virginia, and Georgia, among several others.
Omoruyi becomes the tenth player and just the second center (N’Faly Dante) in the class of 2020 to receive an offer from John Calipari.
Here are all of the scholarship offers Kentucky has extended for 2020:
PG: Jeremy Roach, Sharife Cooper
SG: Jalen Green, BJ Boston
CG: RJ Hampton
SF: Jalen Johnson, Scottie Barnes
PF: Isaiah Todd
C: Cliff Omoruyi, N’Faly Dante
Check out some of his most recent highlights:
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) March 6, 2019
Evan Daniels gives the latest recruiting updates on Matthew Hurt, Jaden McDaniels, and RJ Hampton on KSR
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 11th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
This morning, recruiting guru Evan Daniels joined KSR to provide the latest updates on some of the biggest names left in the class of 2019, along with his thoughts on who might be reclassifying from 2020 and whether or not Kentucky has a shot with them.
To kick things off, Daniels talked about 2019 five-star power forward Matthew Hurt and his upcoming decision set for April 19.
While he believes Duke is the leader and has a Crystal Ball pick submitted in favor of the Blue Devils for the 6-foot-9 forward, the 247 Sports insider said Kentucky is also in decent shape and could make up some ground when they visit him in Minnesota on Sunday.
“I think it comes down to Duke and Kentucky,” he said. “It could be either, I wouldn’t be surprised. But as of now, I haven’t been given any reason to change my Duke pick.”
When it came to the other big name remaining in the class of 2019, five-star forward Jaden McDaniels, Daniels seemed a bit more uneasy about his ultimate landing spot.
He mentioned the obvious connection with the hometown Washington Huskies, and also added that he’s comfortable with the coaching staff at San Diego State because his brother played basketball there over the last two years.
“Jaden is one of the more interesting recruitments of this 2019 cycle,” he said. “He doesn’t like talking about his recruitment, but you dont get much out of him when you do get to talk to him. I wouldn’t call Kentucky a leader. In situations like these, usually the kids stay closer to home. But who knows.”
Outside of Hurt and McDaniels, Daniels said that there is a pretty decent chance (but not set in stone) that 2020 combo guard RJ Hampton reclassifies to the class of 2019. As for a specific destination, Hampton himself said he was interested in playing with an elite point guard in college, leading some to believe that this helps Kentucky’s chances since both Tyrese Maxey and Ashton Hagans will be in the backcourt next season.
While there’s certainly truth to what Hampton had to say, the 247 Sports insider said that he likely won’t make his decision based specifically on who is playing point guard at any school alone.
“At this point, RJ Hampton is in the 2020 class,” he said. “There has been talk of him reclassifying to 2019 and it’s something they’re still considering. Certainly not definitive. But to go with Kentucky as an option, he’s looking at Duke pretty strongly. With Tre Jones coming back, I think that’s also where that comes from. I wouldn’t say it’s just Kentucky, I’d say it’s a couple schools with elite guards. I don’t think RJ Hampton is making his college choice because of Tyrese Maxey.”
With potential additions out of the way, Daniels moved on to discuss the players who are already committed and/or signed to play at Kentucky next season.
When it comes to UK’s newest commitment, 6-foot-8 graduate transfer Nate Sestina, Daniels believes he will come in and be a difference-maker right away, but cautioned fans to not assume that we’ll be seeing Reid Travis 2.0 next season.
“I think he gives them experience and shot-making and skill,” he said. “But don’t expect him to be Reid Travis.”
The first commitment in the class, five-star guard Tyrese Maxey, was easily the player Daniels was most excited about for Kentucky next season.
“I saw Tyrese Maxey at the McDonald’s All-American festivities,” he said. “And he was awesome. He showed up in tremendous shape, the best shape I’ve ever seen him in. He can really score, he’s versatile, and I think he’s really improved his jump shot. I think that’s going to be key, especially if Kentucky loses – which I expect them to – Tyler Herro. I think Tyrese can fill that void. I’m on the Tyrese Maxey train.”
As for UK commitment Kahlil Whitney, Daniels said that he’s impressed with the 6-foot-6 forward’s potential and his versatility, something that separates him from his peers in the class of 2019.
“What I like about him is he’s versatile,” he said. “He can guard threes, he can guard twos, and he’s strong enough and long enough to guard fours, which he did some at USA basketball camp. Whitney is really, really gifted athletically. He has more upside than anyone else in Kentucky’s recruiting class. The upside is pretty scary.”
With five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr., Kentucky’s most recent addition on the 2019 recruiting circuit, Daniels also raved about the Fort Wayne, IN native’s versatility.
“He’s a good defender, can make pull-up jump shots,” he said. “Great size for the position, he’s versatile as well. You can utilize him as a slashing three-man, a face-up four. I think he’s going to provide that scoring punch.”
When asked about his recruitment, Daniels said that Kentucky just weathered the storm and maintained a consistent approach, something that resonated well with both Brooks and his family.
“Kentucky did a great job recruiting him,” he said. “There were different points in that recruitment that I thought he’d go to Indiana, sometimes thought he’d go to Michigan State, North Carolina made a run, but Kentucky just hung in there tough. Obviously these kids pay attention to on-court success, but I wouldn’t say that that played as much of a factor in his recruitment as some people are saying.”
And last but not least, Daniels broke down Kentucky signee Dontaie Allen, saying he was a big fan of the Pendleton County forward’s ability to score the ball.
“A local kid, Pendleton County, it’s unfortunate he got hurt during his senior season, because he probably would’ve smashed the scoring record,” he said. “He was putting up ridiculous point numbers. But he can really score. He’s 6-foot-6, he’s got long arms, he can make jump shots, he’s able to go off the bounce and create. I wish he was a tad more athletic, but I think he’s the type of guy that Kentucky needs to recruit more often. A top-75 type player that sticks around for three or four years that can complement some of these other one and done guys and top tier targets.”
In fact, Daniels said that Allen is the kind of player Kentucky needs to have on their roster going forward for a chance to win a national championship in the near future.
“I don’t think the straight one and done model is the way to win a national title,” he said. “I know it’s hard to get guys that stick around for a couple years and play behind players, but I think Dontaie Allen can be one of those players.”
To close things out, Daniels also touched on whether or not we should be anticipating any potential staff changes for Kentucky in the near future.
While Tony Barbee was in the running for the Georgia State head coaching job and Joel Justus was considered for the Appalachian State job, Daniels doesn’t think we’ll see any staff changes this offseason.
“As of now, I don’t see any changes coming,” he said.
RJ Hampton says he wants to play with another elite point guard, confirms interest in a jump to 2019
By Jack Pilgrim on ©April 09th, 2019 @ 2:00pm
Reclassification rumors have surrounded 2020 five-star combo guard RJ Hampton for several months now, and today, the elite prospect out of Little Elm, TX confirmed they are absolutely legit.
“I’m considering reclassifying to 2019 at this point,” Hampton said in a blog post on USA Today.
Already 18 years old, the 6-foot-4 guard is in a similar situation to the one Kentucky point guard Ashton Hagans was in last year around this time. He’s old enough to be a freshman in college right now, and with dreams of getting to the NBA as fast as possible, it’d be silly not to make the jump if he’s ready both physically and academically.
While he says he will make a final decision here in the next few months, Hampton said he’s going to be looking at current NBA Draft decisions and how the rosters of his final four schools in contention fill out.
“I just wanted to see how the teams’ seasons ended and how the rosters were stacking up,” he said. “What I’ll really be looking at with this decision is who’s there and how I’ll fit in with next year’s squad. I just really want to know how I’d be used in the system.”
After cutting TCU from his list this weekend, Hampton’s final four teams include Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, and Memphis. For
As for his interest in the Wildcats, the elite guard prospect said he loves how Kentucky head coach John Calipari helps his players reach their dreams.
“What I like about Kentucky is that Coach (John) Calipari is really focused on putting players in position to be successful and reach their dreams and goals and that’s how he’s able to win,” he said.
While the narrative out there right now is that Hampton wants the ball in his hands as much as possible in college, the 6-foot-4 guard says he actually wants to play with another elite point guard at the next level.
“I actually think playing with another elite point guard is a more attractive option because either one of us can bring it down and I can do what I do best and score the ball,” he said. “I think that makes us a more dangerous team.”
Would friend and fellow Texas native Tyrese Maxey count as another elite point guard option?
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©April 08th, 2019 @ 11:00am
Things got real at the Paducah Sports Plex Saturday night, where a basketball coach was arrested for knocking a referee unconscious at an AAU event.
It all started when Kenyon Menifield, a 40-year-old AAU coach from Flint, Michigan, got into a disagreement with Kenny Culp, a 60-year-old referee. According to the McCracken County Sheriff’s Office, when Culp turned to walk away, Menifield allegedly punched him, knocking him unconscious. Menifield then fled the area and was taken into custody at a nearby hotel. He was charged with assault of a sports official, a Class A misdemeanor.
According to one of Culp’s friends, Amy Childers Cardwell, Culp made $20 for officiating the game, which he planned to use to help pay his family’s medical bills. Michael Bone, another friend of Culp’s, posted pictures of the injuries on Facebook:
Asking for all to pray for my friend Kenny. He and I officiate basketball together. Kenny was working a AAU game and was…
Nation of Blue shared a Facebook post by Menifield, who has since made his profile private, in which he claimed Culp used a racial slur but apologized for his actions.
How that’s only a misdemeanor is beyond me.