Basketball Recruiting News
John Calipari has eyed a new point guard target in the 2019 recruiting class.
Last week, Nico Mannion officially reclassified from the 2020 to the 2019 class. Not long after he made the move, Mannion told reporters in Las Vegas that Kentucky and North Carolina “got into the mix” in his recruitment. He’s talked to Calipari, but has not yet received a scholarship offer.
Already considered the No. 1 point guard in the 2019 class by 247 Sports, the 6’3″ Pinnacle, Arizona native was expected to release a top five this week, but the emergence of Kentucky and North Carolina delayed that decision. The other frontrunners in his recruitment are Duke, Villanova and Arizona. If the home-state school can’t keep Mannion, the Wildcat fans are not going to be happy.
Kentucky already has one committed combo guard in the 2019 class, Tyrese Maxey, but after watching Mannion’s highlights, you’ll understand why he’s piqued Coach Cal’s interest.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©July 25th, 2018 @ 10:00pm
Are you going to be up late tonight? If not, let me give you a reason to.
Starting at 12:20 ET, the No. 1 Nike and Adidas teams in the nation will be playing to decide the best AAU program in the country.
Adidas’ Compton Magic will play Nike’s Team Takeover, featuring two very important Kentucky recruits, Armando Bacot (2019) and Hunter Dickinson (2020).
Bacot is considered the No. 21 player in the class of 2019, while Dickinson is ranked No. 17 in the class of 2020
Evan Mobley, the nation’s No. 2 recruit in the class of 2020 will also be participating.
End. All. Doubt
?: Wednesday, 7/25 9:20 PST
— BallerTV (@BallerTV) July 24, 2018
The event is extremely rare, but you’ll have the opportunity to watch the game tonight on BallerTV.com, if you feel so inclined.
In the same event last year, LaMelo Ball went heads up with Zion Williamson, creating one of the craziest basketball environments we’ve seen in years.
There were so many people in attendance that it caused a fire hazard:
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) July 27, 2017
Regardless, we’ll have content tomorrow on the matchup between Dickinson and Bacot. Until then, catch up on some of the UK updates with each of them:
“I’ve been talking to Joel Justus a lot, the assistant coach,” said Bacot. “I’m pretty sure Coach (John) Calipari will be reaching out soon. They just want to see me play hard and they like what I’m doing.”
Joel Justus has been in contact with the 7-foot-2 Dickinson, as well.
By TJ Walker on ©July 24th, 2018 @ 9:00pm
It’s time to start looking ahead to the class of 2022 and LeBron James Jr. Just kidding. I’m having a tough time handicapping the class of 2019, let alone trying to predict where someone born in 2004 will go to college.
But the fine folks at Bookmaker.eu are up for the challenge. They have started taking bets on where LeBron James’ son will attend college. The Cats are the second-favorite just behind Duke, who’s already received a visit from James Jr. (and the rest of his AAU team).
I’m all for bringing gambling to Kentucky, but this just seems odd. LeBron James Jr. probably still watches cartoons and is just starting to enjoy the perks of hitting puberty. Can we all agree to not bet on where a 13-year-old kid is going to go to college?
Coach K could be in a home by that time, and John Calipari could be on a beach enjoying retirement. But there’s a clear jump from Duke and UK before the third-betting favorite, “other”.
The NBA will likely have abolished the one-and-done rule by the time LeBron James Jr. is considering colleges, so he could just as easily follow in his dad’s footsteps and skip college entirely. Plus, it seems like other is the smart bet for the reasons I stated above but also because Ohio State, USC and Arizona are not listed. LeBron James Jr. has reportedly committed to playing his high school basketball out west at Sierra Canyon.
LBJJ playing at UK would be cool, but let’s circle back. Someone remind me about this in three years.
By KSR on ©July 24th, 2018 @ 7:30pm
The KSR family of podcasts is growing. This is the debut of Hardly Committed.
KSR basketball insider and recruiting analyst T.J. Walker will take you behind the scenes to paint a clearer picture of the Kentucky basketball recruiting world. The 30-minute episodes will air once a week, and you’ll receive a treat at the end of each episode with a podcast within a podcast.
The first episode of Hardly Committed is one you will surely enjoy, featuring…
— Kahlil Whitney’s game and how UK got involved.
— Why you should “Break the bank for this (UK basketball) season.”
— Who UK commit Tyrese Maxey is currently recruiting the hardest.
— The UK freshman that will improve the most from now until the NBA Draft.
— Five good minutes of conversation about a television show every listener loves.
You can easily listen on the KSR App, available on iTunes and Google Play. Streaming online is simple through Pod Paradise. You can also get it directly to your phone by subscribing to Kentucky Sports Radio on iTunes or via Android’s Podcast Addict app.
By TJ Walker on ©July 24th, 2018 @ 6:00pm
During the summer evaluation period the Cats have shown new interest in five-star target Armando Bacot, but a recent quote from Bacot may have some questioning just how interested.
The No. 21 player in the class of 2019 has one the most impressive resumes in high school basketball. He won a state championship in Virginia. He won a gold medal this summer for the USA U18 team. His team won Peach Jam earlier this month and he was named MVP of the event. The kid is a winner, so it’s not surprising UK is interested.
The bad news- UK is way behind. Other schools, including a handful of bluebloods, have made Bacot a priority. 6-foot-10, 235-pound center just transferred to IMG Academy, and his stock has never been higher.
But, he still hasn’t heard from John Calipari. Bacot told Rivals.com Dan McDonald that he’s only heard from UK assistant Joel Justus.
“I’ve been talking to Joel Justus a lot, the assistant coach. I’m pretty sure Coach (John) Calipari will be reaching out soon. They just want to see me play hard and they like what I’m doing.”
The Cats have only offered three bigs in the class of 2019, so it didn’t come as a surprise to see UK reach out to other bigs, but the fact Calipari hasn’t called is somewhat surprising.
UK will lose Reid Travis after this season and odds are P.J. Washington and E.J. Montgomery leave, too. UK will need to add at least two bigs in the class of 2019, but most likely three. A dream class of James Wiseman, Vernon Carey Jr., and Matthew Hurt would be swell, but it seems unlikely.
UK’s staff knows what its doing, but if Kentucky wants to be a serious contender for Bacot they will need to hurry. Bacot is planning on cutting his list to five in the next few weeks. UNC is considered the leader.
ESPN’s Paul Biancardi is reporting Kahlil Whitney will visit the University of Kentucky next week.
According to Biancardi, who spoke to Whitney’s father, the five-star small forward will be in Lexington on Friday, August 3 and will stay through Sunday, August 5.
The visit will come after another small forward prospect from the class, Dontaie Allen, checks out campus on Wednesday, August 1.
Learn more about Whitney here.
By Drew Franklin on ©July 24th, 2018 @ 2:54pm
It’s a Kahlil Whitney overload today as the five-star prospect’s connection to Kentucky picks up.
Whitney received his official scholarship offer from the Cats last week, and now his recruitment is trending toward UK in his Crystal Ball predictions. There are several new picks for the Cats, including national recruiting analysts Evan Daniels and Jerry Meyer, who are two of the best in the business.
Adding to the Whitney-Kentucky drama, he tweeted this Tuesday afternoon:
The end is near!!
— #MyMommaTheReason?? (@KahlilWhitney) July 24, 2018
I have no idea if “the end” is the end of his recruitment, but it’s worth sharing as we keep a close eye on his relationship with Calipari and UK.
Cryptic tweets from 17-year-olds are a basketball recruiting tradition around here, you know.
There is a new name high atop Kentucky’s basketball recruiting board and the word on the street is Coach Cal and his staff are completely enamored by his game.
Kahlil Whitney is his name and he has played well enough this summer to earn a scholarship offer from the University of Kentucky.
A rising Class of 2019 prospect, Whitney is one of only a few small forward targets on UK’s radar. So let’s get to know him as he enters the picture as a legitimate candidate to join Tyrese Maxey in the Cats’ next great crop of incoming talent.
Small Forward| 6-6 | 190 lbs.
Roselle, NJ | Roselle Catholic
AAU: Mac Irvin Fire
|ESPN||No. 14 | 2 SF||Top247||No. 14 | 4 SF|
|Rivals||No. 23 | 3 SF||247 Comp.||No. 19 | 5 SF|
He’s from Chicago, but now plays in New Jersey.
After one season at Solorio Academy in Chicago, in which he averaged almost 30 points per game as a high school freshman, Whitney’s family packed up and moved to New Jersey to put him in a better position for basketball success. He now plays for Roselle Catholic, one of the most dominant programs in the area — and Isaiah Briscoe’s old high school.
He currently holds offers from over 20 schools.
In addition to his Kentucky offer, he holds offers from the likes of Kansas, Louisville, Georgetown, Syracuse, Connecticut, Virginia and Oregon, among many others.
He plans to visit Lexington soon.
According to ESPN, Whitney will visit campus August 3-5.
He once said, “I want to go to Kentucky.”
In an interview with NBC Sports Chicago following his freshman season, Whitney said, “I want to go to Kentucky. I hope to get an offer from them if I blow up.”
“I like Coach Calipari,” he explained. “He’s a great coach. You can display your talent at the highest level and I just love the atmosphere there for games.”
John Calipari “absolutely loves” him.
According to the well-connected Adam Zagoria, Coach Cal “absolutely loves” Whitney right now.
Cal was in attendance to watch him play this past weekend.
— NJ Basketball (@NJHoopRecruit) July 23, 2018
He is looking for a coach that believes in him.
What will be a major factor in his recruitment? He told NJHoopRecruit.com, “A school that plays a style of play that I like and a coach that has the best interests in mind for me always. I’m not caught up in the hype of a school, I need a coach that believes in me and will help me grow.
His father was a star at Seton Hall.
His dad, Kelly Whitney, was a consensus First Team All-Metropolitan player in 2004 and 2006 for the Pirates. He is also one of the all-time leading scorers in Seton Hall history.
Watch him work:
Freshman Kahlil Whitney was all about Kentucky. Whitney did an interview with NBC Sports Chicago back in 2016 where he spoke highly of John Calipari and the Wildcats.
“I want to go to Kentucky,” Whitney said. “I hope to get an offer from them if I blow up [summer of 2016].
“I like Coach Calipari. He’s a great coach. You can display your talent at the highest level and I just love the atmosphere there for games.”
That offer never came for Whitney in 2016 and it would take two full years before John Calipari finally recruited and watched Whitney. It didn’t take Calipari but a few games before offering the five-star wing.
Let’s hope Whitney still feels the same way. I’m guessing we’ll get a quote from Whitney somewhere down the road where he says he’s wide-open and doesn’t have a favorite anymore, but people don’t forget.
Whitney recently said he will visit UK in the next month or two.
By TJ Walker on ©July 23rd, 2018 @ 11:00pm
Whew. There’s a lot to get to today after a busy weekend. I hope you weren’t impacted by the nasty weather on Friday, but if you were hopefully the damage wasn’t too substantial and you’re safe. I’ve been without power since Friday evening and it’s been a struggle. Luckily no property damage, but a job that relies on internet and electricity becomes tough when it’s out for a few days. However, basketball recruiting never stops and it was an eventful weekend for UK’s staff. The Cats checked out over a dozen players and even extended a new offer.
Let’s get to the notes.
Kahlil Whitney: Per Whitney, the Cats offered the Chicago native who now plays for Isaiah Briscoe’s old high school in New Jersey (Roselle Catholic). Whitney is a long 6-foot-6, 185-pound wing player that is incredibly gifted offensively and was one of the better scorers on the Nike EYBL circuit. You can read more about Whitney here. It’s clear that UK is going to lose Keldon Johnson after this season. There has been a great deal of hype surrounding Johnson, but he’s always wanted to be a one-and-done player and the Cats are going to need to replace his production on the wing.
Initially it was just Keion Brooks in 2019 for UK. That’s now far from the case. KSR is told that Calipari is readjusting his approach for wings in this class. I’m not saying the Cats are completely unsold on Brooks. I don’t know if they think they’ve fallen behind on Brooks, but I know UK isn’t Brooks or Bust anymore. UK really likes Whitney. Kentucky’s staff is intrigued by Kentuckian Dontaie Allen. The Cats have offered Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis and are now showing more interest in Josh Green. Those last three players are more of guards than true wings, but obviously UK has shown they can roll with three guards just fine.
The new approach is putting some of the pressure back on the players. UK will take two wings tops in 2018-2019 and there’s a chance Kentucky ends up with just one. Who wants to be at UK? Who wants to claim that spot? Whitney plans on visiting soon. Brooks will visit this fall. Allen is visiting next week. All the guards will visit in the fall, too (although we can’t confirm Green’s visit at this time). By UK looking at more wings it’s a safer approach than putting all its eggs in one basket, and it could allow the Cats to go into the spring already having a wing player or a swing guard locked up for 2019.
I’m told that Whitney was “flattered” by UK’s interest over the weekend. Kentucky watched just about everyone of his games and he would be brought into Lexington as a scorer but I’m told there’s a lot to like about his defensive potential. Maxey is a great scorer, too, and most of UK’s 2019 targets are known for their offensive game. We are such a long way from knowing what the 2019-2020 team will look like, but it appears Calipari wants it to be an offensive juggernaut.
One thing to watch in Whitney’s recruitment- he’s going to visit in the next month or two. If it’s an unofficial visit that would be great news for Kentucky because it will likely mean Whitney would return for an official. If his first visit is an official that’s clearly not a bad thing, but I’ll be anxious to see if his first trip is on his dime.
Another thing on Brooks instead of making a new bold point- UK still likes Brooks, but they’re looking at other options now. I still wouldn’t be shocked to see Brooks end up in Lexington, but it’s not my predicted landing spot anymore.
Scottie Lewis & Bryan Antoine: The Monday Insider Notes haven’t touched much on Lewis and Antoine over the last few weeks because we hadn’t heard too much about either player. But both earned offers from UK early in the process and both are planning on visiting UK this fall. Lewis will visit UK on Sept. 29th and Antoine will see Lexington the week before. UK will have home football games for both those weekends (MSU-22, USC-29) so they should be exciting visits.
Remember when Lewis said that he would only go to UK if he were a “basketball only” type of guy? Well, KSR reported that he didn’t mean that as a slight to UK or John Calipari, but since that comment we’re told that Calipari has talked with Lewis as much as any other coach. A bond has been established between those two and it’s my opinion that the only coach Lewis is closer with is Jay Wright, who’s been recruiting Lewis longer.
I have never had the best feel on the Lewis & Antoine’s recruitments, and the two are not a package deal, but I think UK is still firmly in play for both players. Many thought Lewis was a Duke lock, but I actually think the Cats have a better chance with Lewis than Antoine, but again, not a recruitment that I have a great grasp on at this time.
Cole Anthony: Anthony’s AAU team ran a combined combine with another AAU team and John Calipari wasn’t in attendance. GASP. Several other coaches didn’t show either, and Calipari has never really loved AAU combines. But let’s not freakout. UK watched Anthony in games earlier in the weekend and have watched him in nearly every game he’s played in this summer (for the games coaches are allowed to watch, of course). Also, Anthony won’t be making a final decision until April or May of 2019. We have forever in this recruitment and Anthony won’t cut the Cats, or Duke, or Kansas, because they didn’t attend a combine that’s built more for less-heralded players.
Things will be ever changing in this recruitment, but I can say with 100 percent confidence that the Cats will always be in picture. As I’ve said in other MIN, UK’s roster (and other rosters) will play a role in Anthony’s final decision. He’s the type of guard that could, can and wants to play 40 minutes per game. Obviously that probably won’t happen consistently, but he won’t want to share playing time if he doesn’t have to and he shouldn’t have to because he will be the best true point guard in college basketball in 2019-2020. If the Cats have Quade Green, Immanuel Quickley and other guards in the backcourt then Anthony likely won’t end up in Lexington. If it’s just Tyrese Maxey and maybe another guard then my guess is Anthony picks UK.
The Cats are in such a great spot but we’ll have to look at how the roster will shakeout before knowing exactly where Anthony lands.
James Wiseman: The good news is Wiseman is planning another visit to UK next month. Wiseman has already been on Kentucky’s campus, but the more familiar he becomes with UK’s campus, staff and players, the better for the Cats. The bad news is I still haven’t heard great things as of late with Kentucky’s chances with Wiseman. Again, it’s not to say that UK won’t land Wiseman and it’s not to say Memphis is the clear leader. I had previously thought UK was the clear leader and I now think it’s about 50/50. I’d be a major shock to KSR to learn of Wiseman reclassifying (and obviously that’d eliminate UK) but I’m more curious to see if he decides to opt for a prep-school. For the first time in a long time I think that decision could make a big difference in his recruitment. If Wiseman leaves Memphis for his senior year of high school that will be great news for UK. Usually I have said that but added if he stays at Memphis East it’s not a positive for UK but it’s not a major negative. I now think it will be a negative. Wiseman has dozens and dozens of people in his ear telling him to stay home. Possibly eight more months of that won’t be ideal for UK’s chances. My guess is he stays in Memphis for his senior season and it becomes somewhat of an uphill climb for UK. We shall see.
Dontaie Allen: Allen will visit UK on August 1st and Louisville on August 13th. KSR will have more on this visit, but I still expect Allen to land an offer from Calipari. Remember, UK usually likes to extend offers in person and there’s a reason why the Cats waited after his dominant performances two weeks ago. An offer alone won’t lock Allen into a Kentucky commitment. The Cats will still need to recruit and make him somewhat of a priority. I expect that to happen and for Allen to ultimately end up in Lexington, but keep an eye on Chris Mack and Louisville. The new Cards’ coach is trying to make a splash and if the Cards could land Allen AFTER UK offers that would be a big deal.
However, it would also be funny to see UofL make Allen a priority and the Cats still land him. I’m all for some Mack and Calipari head-to-head battles.