By Nick Roush on ©June 12th, 2018 @ 11:30pm
Entering Mark Stoops’ sixth season at the University of Kentucky, the expectations have been raised. After consecutive seven-win seasons, to take the next step UK’s defense must improve in 2018.
That sentiment is unanimously shared throughout the Big Blue Nation. Mark Stoops echoed that this afternoon when asked about program expectations in an appearance on “3 Man Front,” a program co-hosted by Cole Cubelic on 95.5 Jox-FM in Birmingham.
“We have some very good football players with some experience coming back defensively,” Stoops said. “We need to make a big jump there because we have the personnel to do that and I feel like we have some experience. Now we’re getting some decent depth, so I feel like defensively we need to make a big jump as far as being more consistent. I think we’ve shown some flashes and done some really good things at times, but across the board I’d like to see the consistency there.”
In 2017 Kentucky finished 12th in the SEC in total defense (426.9 yards per game) and 13th in passing defense (251.6 yards per game). There are a few reasons why Stoops believes Kentucky’s numbers will be better in 2018, starting up front on the defensive line.
“I feel like we’re in a better position than we have been in some years. Quinton Bohanna at nose is a guy who was just a true freshman a year ago and did some really good things. He’s a big, strong guy in the middle there that I like. I feel like with Josh Paschal — we moved him from an outside linebacker to an inside position playing with his hand in the dirt every snap — he’s a very athletic guy and looks really good inside.
“Another guy, Adrian Middleton, has played a lot football for us, but battling with him is Phil Hoskins. He’s a junior college transfer that was a three-for-three (years of eligibility) a year ago who was coming off a couple shoulders (injuries). He did a couple things good a year ago, but now you’re starting to see him with an offseason getting stronger, more athletic. I like the presence he brings us inside as well, along with T.J. Carter getting another year and another offseason under his belt. So I feel like we have some options inside.”
Not far behind the deeper defensive line is a playmaker that could be a first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Josh Allen. Stoops said Allen has used the offseason to build muscle, something I can confirm after spotting Allen at Saturday night’s football camp. All the way up to 260 pounds, Allen is doing all of the right things before a big year.
“I expect him to be if not the top, one of the top outside backers in the country. He’s a difference-maker. He’s a guy that does a lot of things well,” Stoops said. “Josh really is the whole package and we’re really excited about his senior year.”
Mark Stoops talked about more than his defense during the 11-minute interview that you can find here. Highlights:
Who’s the Starting Quarterback? Naturally, Stoops responded with a chuckle and a “we’ll see.”
“We’ll see where it goes. Gunnar and Terry both have some very good qualities, look calm back there and make good decisions. They’re getting better with every opportunity so I don’t feel the need to rush that decision.”
Will Ahmad Wagner Play? The former Iowa basketball player and current 6’7″ UK wide receiver has all the athleticism in the world to become a playmaker on UK’s offense, but Stoops preached patience as he explained how Wagner got to UK.
“We knew Ahmad out of high school recruiting him to play football, and he was a dual-sport guy and decided to go play basketball. When he reached out to us and felt like he wanted to give football a shot, it was worth the scholarship to us because we knew how athletic he was coming out of high school.
“Visiting with him when he came here to see us face-to-face, I just liked what he had to say and the direction he wanted to go. He’s a very, very athletic big man. We’re excited about him and the options we have. We know he’s going to take some time, it’s going to take some work for a while, but we feel like he has big upside.”
Is Rose Ready? After a big spring and a promising summer, Stoops is anxious to see what A.J. Rose brings to the table this fall.
“A.J. was a guy that we felt like has an awful lot of talent. He’s been working hard, but he needed to be more productive. He did that in the spring. He really stepped up and had a great spring. He’s working hard right now this summer, so we’re excited about getting back into camp and seeing what he can do.”
During the 11-minute interview, Stoops also talked about Dorian Baker, Benny Snell and shared some old stories about Frank Gore. Check it out.
By Nick Roush on ©June 12th, 2018 @ 8:59pm
Jared Casey will be on Kentucky’s campus tomorrow. The four-star linebacker from Louisville Ballard told KSR he will make the trip to Lexington to work with defensive coordinator Matt House during the Cats’ single-day camp.
After the linebacker earned MVP honors at a Rivals Camp in Nashville, Casey received a scholarship offer from Kentucky. Tomorrow’s trip to Lexington will be Casey’s third unofficial visit since UK extended an offer on May 21.
Casey will not be the only local talent in attendance. Sources tell KSR that two other prospects from Louisville, Moore defensive end J.J. Weaver and Butler wide receiver TaeTae Crumes, will be in Lexington for unofficial visits. Weaver and Crumes hold UK offers, and along with Casey, are considered top ten players in the state of Kentucky by the 247 Composite Rankings.
The players from the state of Kentucky will not be alone. UK is hosting four-star Michigan defensive end Michael Fletcher and three-star Georgia outside linebacker Tra Wilkins on official visits. There’s also another big name on UK’s board that may join the recruiting party tomorrow in Lexington.
By TJ Walker on ©June 12th, 2018 @ 7:43pm
Well, I won’t be remembering this basketball game in the years to come. The United States blitzed out to a 27 point halftime lead but took its foot off the gas in the third quarter until a final surge in the last five minutes of the game. It was still a blowout 115-71 win.
UK commit Tyrese Maxey only played two minutes in the second half before leaving the game and not returning. He had an awkward fall but it didn’t appear from my vantage point to be serious. There are reports he turned his ankle.
— Daniele Franceschi (@Daniele_Media) June 12, 2018
1. UK should make Matthew Hurt a priority: It’s clear that James Wiseman will be UK’s top big priority and that’s the smart decision by the staff, but if the staff doesn’t feel confident about Vernon Carey they may need to cut bait and make Hurt the second option to go along with Wiseman.
There’s no indication that UK feels pessimistic about its chances with Carey, so keep that in mind, but Hurt has really impressed me this week. His versatility and ability to guard multiple positions is what John Calipari loves. Many will try to compare him to Kyle Wiltjer because his shooting ability but I think he’s a better defender today than Wiltjer was his freshman year at UK.
He finished with 14 points and one rebound, but he played more outside tonight than he did on Monday.
2. Maxey can score in bunches: Maxey didn’t play too much in the second quarter and exited the game for good early in the third, but his first quarter was impressive. He can score from anywhere and the Puerto Rico defenders had a tough time guarding him. His shooting ability makes defenders pick him up a few feet from the perimeter, but he’s so quick and good with the ball in his hands that he was blowing by guys left and right.
But he’s not just a scorer, Maxey finished with three assists in just 13 minutes of play and it could have been more. He’s good at finding the open man.
Let’s hope the ankle injury isn’t serious and he can continue to play this tournament.
3. Cole Anthony: What’s most impressive about Cole Anthony is how easy the game comes to him. You don’t always notice him making these jaw-dropping plays but then you look at his stats and realize just how much he did/does.. He had 14 points, five assists and three rebounds. I’m convinced that Anthony and Maxey could play with one another at the next level because Maxey is just as good off the ball as he is with the ball in his hands.
I actually think UK is a major player in Anthony’s recruitment and maybe the favorite.
4. Moving Forward: Pool play ends with the Americans undefeated with three blowout wins. Pool play begins on Thursday where the USA will play the last place team in the opposite pool. That will be another bloodbath.
Only the Canadian team could possibly give the Americans a game, but I’d be surprised if that potential gold medal game was within 15 points. Bill Self did a great job constructing this team and remember, this is just the FIBA Americas, not the entire world. The talent level from the other countries just isn’t there for the U18.
By TJ Walker on ©June 12th, 2018 @ 12:00pm
There’s no denying that Bill Self has an advantage coaching the USA U18 team in Canada this week, but that advantage doesn’t apply to UK commit Tyrese Maxey.
Maxey is already committed to the Cats, but admitted he’s building a relationship with the Kansas head coach. Self had nothing but great things to say about Maxey after the USA’s 118-26 win over Panama on Monday.
“He’s been great,” Self said. “He’s probably been as good of a player as we’ve had in our first two games. He’s unselfish, but he can score. I’m impressed with him because he can really score the ball, but he really has played as a controlled guard. He hasn’t taken bad shots. He’s looked to make the extra pass when possible. He’s going to be a really, really good player. He’s going to play a long time.”
Maxey says he jokes to Self about UK and Kansas, but it’s clear he thinks highly of Self.
“It’s great,” Maxey said. “I mess with him all the time about it. He’s really cool. He really pushed us today and gave us a long speech just talking about playing for USA and how he would be happy everyday. I think that’s one reason why we came out here so strong and started so fast today.”
We’re still a year away from Maxey playing for John Calipari (who was in attendance on Monday) but not too many players can say they played for Self and Calipari.
By Nick Roush on ©June 12th, 2018 @ 10:00am
The state of Kentucky is not well-known for producing top high school football talent, but the class of 2019 features five consensus Top 300 players. It’s not a top-heavy class either. Two of the next six players in the 247 Composite Rankings are considered four-star prospects by at least one recruiting service.
Over the last two months, Mark Stoops reassigned Vince Marrow to recruit the state of Kentucky. Marrow’s addition gave Kentucky quite a bit of momentum entering the summer. Here’s where UK currently stands for the state’s top
ten eleven football prospects according to the 247 Composite Rankings.
Defensive End | 6-4 | 235 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | Trinity
Committed to: Michigan
|ESPN||No. 137| 14 DE||Top 247||No. 140 | 9 DE|
|Rivals||No. 51| 4 DE||247 Comp.||No. 83 WR | 6 DE|
The top-ranked player in the state visited Kentucky multiple times before committing to Michigan 11 months ago.
Defensive Tackle | 6-2 | 300 lbs.
Bowling Green, Ky. | South Warren
Committed to: Notre Dame
|ESPN||No. 116| 14 DT||Top 247||No. 119 | 7 DT|
|Rivals||18 DT| 2 KY||247 Comp.||No. 142 | 9 DT|
Lacey had a scholarship offer from Kentucky, but the Cats were never really in the picture. He committed to Notre Dame on the same day Herron committed to Michigan, July 29, 2017.
Athlete | 6-3 | 190 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | Christian Academy of Louisville
Committed to: Undecided
|ESPN||No. 274 | 44 WR||Top 247||No. 54 | 3 ATH|
|Rivals||No. 188 | 33 WR||247 Comp.||No. 149 | 12 ATH|
The No. 3 player in the state has kept his recruitment close to the vest. We know his top five — Ohio State, Alabama, Purdue, Kentucky and Louisville — but everything else remains a mystery. A receiver at the next level, Wright could pick any of the five schools and it would not be a surprise.
Offensive Lineman | 6-4 | 295 lbs.
Georgetown, Ky. | Scott County
Committed to: Virginia Tech
|ESPN||No. 250 | 13 OG||Top 247||No. 184 | 8 OG|
|Rivals||No. 242 | 25 OT||247 Comp.||No. 214 | 10 OG|
Kentucky extended the three-sport star a scholarship offer during his freshman season, but Hudson was set on attending college outside of the Commonwealth, ultimately choosing Virginia Tech in April.
Offensive Tackle | 6-5 | 280 lbs.
Glasgow, Ky. | Glasgow
Committed to: Alabama
|ESPN||No. 217 | 23 OT||Top 247||No. 146 | 19 OT|
|Rivals||53 OT| 6 KY||247 Comp.||No. 250 | 27 OT|
Kentucky was Bowles’ first offer, but that didn’t matter after he attended Alabama’s Spring Game. Bowles committed the day after unofficially visiting Tuscaloosa for A-Day.
Inside Linebacker | 6-3 | 220 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | Ballard
Committed to: Undecided
|ESPN||— | —||Top 247||20 ILB | 8 KY|
|Rivals||— | —||247 Comp.||18 ILB | 6 KY|
After an injury forced him to miss his junior season, Casey surged onto the recruiting season at Rivals’ Nashville Three Stripes Camp. After earning MVP honors, he picked up scholarship offers from anybody and everybody. He’s visited Kentucky twice since Vince Marrow extended a scholarship offer, but Louisville, his favorite team as a child, appears to be in the lead.
Defensive End | 6-6 | 235 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | Moore Traditional
Committed to: Undecided
|ESPN||52 DE| 7 KY||Top 247||21 DE | 6 KY|
|Rivals||— | 8 KY||247 Comp.||35 DE | 7 KY|
Weaver gave rave reviews after he visited Kentucky for the first time last month, but he’s since visited Louisville and taken an official visit to Purdue. Those trips have put Kentucky back behind the 8-ball for the Louisville athlete that grew up in Florida.
Outside Linebacker | 6-4 | 215 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | Doss
Committed to: Undecided
|ESPN||54 DE| 11 KY||Top 247||47 DE | 9 KY|
|Rivals||33 DE | 5 KY||247 Comp.||44 DE | 8 KY|
Knight-Goff committed to Kentucky on May 18, only to reopen his recruitment less than two weeks later on May 31. Kentucky is still an option as Louisville tries to steal the Cats’ former commit.
|Demontae “TaeTae” Crumes
Wide Receiver | 6-1 | 165 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | Butler Traditional
Committed to: Undecided
|ESPN||–| —||Top 247||93 WR | 11 KY|
|Rivals||–| —||247 Comp.||79 WR | 9 KY|
Crumes pulled a reverse-Knight-Goff. After committing to UofL in February, he de-committed in April. Crumes made the move after UK, Oregon, Michigan State and Michigan extended scholarship offers.
All-Purpose Back | 5-9 | 180 lbs.
Frankfort, Ky. | Western Hills
Committed to: Undecided
|ESPN||35 ATH| 6 KY||Top 247||5 APB | 7 KY|
|Rivals||— | 9 KY||247 Comp.||5 APB | 10 KY|
Robinson is at the top of UK’s recruiting board for in-state prospects. After an unofficial visit last month, it appeared that UK made a move to the top as Robinson neared a decision. Then Ohio State offered. The Buckeyes’ move, and an official visit to Purdue, completely opened up Robinson’s recruitment and pushed Kentucky back with the rest of the pack.
Running Back/Linebacker | 6-3 | 225 lbs.
Louisville, Ky. | DuPont Manual
Committed to: Undecided
|ESPN||40 ATH| 8 KY||Top 247||47 RB | 10 KY|
|Rivals||— | 10 KY||247 Comp.||51 RB | 11 KY|
Once considered a lock at Vanderbilt, Vince Marrow changed the game by pitching Robbins the opportunity to play either running back or linebacker. He scheduled an official visit to Kentucky for June 22, after official visits to Purdue and Missouri. A day after returning from Mizzou, Robbins announced he will commit Wednesday afternoon. That’s not a good omen for Kentucky.
Kentucky stuck with the early offer strategy that’s worked before for in-state recruits. When that did not work, Vince Marrow entered the picture and moved the needle in recruiting battles with Louisville. After temporary gains, Purdue and Ohio State have emerged as the most-credible foreign threats to Kentucky’s in-state recruiting success.
By TJ Walker on ©June 12th, 2018 @ 8:00am
Tyrese Maxey spoke with the media after Monday’s game. The USA thumped Panama 118-26 and Maxey finished with 14 points, three assists and three steals.
Maxey was asked about playing for Bill Self (his USA coach), his relationship with John Calipari, playing with Cole Anthony and plenty more.
On what Bill Self said at halftime when leading 70-8: Coach was just telling us to work on our stuff, work on our half court defense and stuff that we’re going to have to do down the road.
On college coaches watching: They’re just showing their face. They have to show some interest in guys they need to see.
On recruiting Cole Anthony and Matthew Hurt: I always talk to them. I joke with them about Kentucky but it comes down to their decision.
On not having to worry about his recruitment: I’m happy. I’m probably the most happy person in the world. I know when I committed I was at peace with my decision. I know that’s where I wanted to go. I’m at peace.
On possibly reclassifying: I talked with my family a lot about it. A lot of long nights, and we just came to the conclusion that it would be best for me to keep progression of my game and get a little bit stronger before I head out to college.
On playing with other good guards on team USA: It helped a lot because of course Coach Cal likes to be guard heavy, which is also really good. If you have a lot of guards on the floor, a lot of good guards that can make good decisions that’s always good. Just playing with these guys helps me a lot.
On wanting to play in all-star games as another reason to stay in high school: Of course. You work so hard all your life to play in certain games and certain all-star games and have certain experiences. That’s one thing I wanted to do.
On playing for Self, who will be a rival when he’s in college: It’s great. I mess with him all the time about it. He’s really cool. He really pushed us today and gave us a long speech just talking about playing for USA and how he would be happy everyday. I think that’s one reason why we came out here so strong and started so fast today.
On how often he talks with Calipari: He just tries to help me get better always. He tells me little things I need to work on and he checks in and says hello all the time. He asks me how I’m doing.
On if he thought it was going to be a shutout: We were just trying to get better honestly. I was just trying to work on my stuff. The real competition starts tomorrow. We have Puerto Rico and they’re 2-0 as well, so we’re trying to win this pool.
On his relationship with Cole Anthony: We see each other a lot at camps. All of us actually see each other a lot at camps but I first talked to him at NextGen USA and down at the Final Four we talked a lot then. He’s really cool. He’s high energy. He’s very high energy and he’s always up. He’s a good friend to be around.
On if they text: We talk sometimes.
On if he’s looking ahead to playing Canada: No sir, I’m looking ahead to playing Puerto Rico tomorrow.
On if he was surprised to see P.J. Washington return to UK: A little bit. I was kinda surprised. I’m glad he came back and did what was best for him and I think he’s going to have a great year this year.
On if he looks ahead to what the roster could look like when he gets to UK: It’s just pretty much who’s there is there. I like to compete, but either way I hope we have a lot of really good players to make me better and we can win a national championship.
On UK fans: Kentucky fans keep going. They mean business. That’s one thing I really like. I like when the fan base is behind you and it brings the best out of me.
On Calipari’s personality when he’s not talking recruiting: He’s not gonna tell you no bluff. I call it bluff. If someone comes in tells you they like you and you’re gonna do this and do that with the ball in your hands. If he says it he means it. He’s gonna tell you what you need to get better at. That’s one reason I wanted to go to Kentucky. I feel like he’s gonna push me to get better and help me get to the next level.
On if he’d be able to reclassify if UK asked: Yes sir, I would. I think I have to take a certain class. Maybe two classes, but I haven’t thought about it so far.
By TJ Walker on ©June 12th, 2018 @ 12:26am
We may have a bromance on our hands, boys and girls. UK commit Tyrese Maxey and UK recruiting target Cole Anthony are boys and after USA’s 118-26 blowout win over Panama on Monday they talked about playing together.
While Maxey was talking to media after the game Anthony walked behind him and gave him a big slap on the butt, but buttslapping aside, the two seem very open to the idea of playing together.
“Man, I love Tyrese,” Anthony said. “He’s a high-energy guy. He’s always smiling. I love Tyrese. That’s my dude, I’d love to play with him at the next level.”
Start the Full House music because the feeling is mutual.
“… Down at the Final Four we talked a lot then,” Maxey said. “He’s really cool. He’s high energy. He’s very high energy and he’s always up. He’s a good friend to be around.”
Anthony is thought to be a Duke lean, but there’s no denying that UK will be a major player. John Calipari and Tony Barbee were on hand to watch Anthony and Maxey play, and the pair has talked recruiting.
However, Maxey doesn’t annoy Anthony with UK recruiting talk.
“He doesn’t mention it that often,” Anthony said. “He’s brought it up a couple times. We’ve talked about it, obviously. My recruitment, I’m wide open. I’m not really even worried about that. I just tell him I’m just going to keep getting better.”
Maxey said he jokes with Anthony about Kentucky but knows Anthony will have to make the best decision for him and his family.
A Maxey/Anthony backcourt in 2019-2020 would be in the conversation as one of Calipari’s best.
ST. CATHARINES- The United States beat the snot out of Panama. The final was 118-26 and it should have been much worse. USA led 43-0 after the first quarter and 70-8 at halftime. I’m not kidding that they probably could have won by 200 points if they pressed the entire game.
It was tough to take too much away regarding individual play in such a lopsided matchup, but a few things stood out when watching Tyrese Maxey and UK targets Matthew Hurt and Cole Anthony.
1. Maxey is the real deal: Again, Maxey didn’t have to do too much but his intensity and effort would indicate this was a nailbiter. He finished with 14 points and it should have been more. On three consecutive trips he missed open threes and yelled some words to himself I can’t type here. All the shots looked good, but just a little off during that stretch. He went 2-of-7 from deep.
Defensively he has potential to be a star. He had to be called back by Self a time or two because he wanted to pickup full court but the game was such a blowout Self didn’t want to run up the score. I’d like to see him guard some better players, but I think I do him a disservice only talking about his offense.
Also, it seemed like Maxey was always sitting next to Cole Anthony on the bench. Maybe nothing but I found that interesting.
2. Matthew Hurt will be a great college player: It would be smart for Hurt to go to a blueblood for his college basketball career because he could thrive if he has help around him. He will be a pick-and-pop nightmare for opponents and his ability to stretch the floor is impressive.
I was actually impressed with his versatility. Self played Hurt at the three, which I’m sure was a recruiting pitch, but Hurt guarded every position and did a good job defensively. He also is known for his offense but his aggressiveness on defense and rebounding will make him a great college player.
3. Cole Anthony is a pure point guard: It was a quiet game for Anthony, but he finished with 10 points, three rebounds and three assists. My biggest takeaway was how everyone pretty much deferred to him as the point guard. When he was in the game he was going to bring the ball up the court.
Him and Maxey had great chemistry and Anthony told me after the game he would like to play with him in college (I’ll have more on that later) but they really fed off one another.
4. Kansas and UNC will rely on two USA players: Coby White should start for UNC next year and Quentin Grimes likely will start for Kansas. The Cats will play Kansas and UNC next year, and for both of those teams to be title contenders White and Grimes will need to step up in a big way. Grimes was fine tonight and efficient, but White really didn’t impress me in a blowout win (meaning I wouldn’t put too much stock into his so-so performance). White was actually beaten defensively several times and this wasn’t the team that should be beating him off the dribble.
5. USA is good: Duh. But I’d be surprised if any team comes within 15 points of these guys during this tournament. Bill Self did a good job constructing this team and they have scorers at every position. They play tomorrow at 6 p.m.
By Mrs. Tyler Thompson on ©June 11th, 2018 @ 7:30pm
As you’ve surely seen by now, John Calipari was at the Belmont this weekend to cheer on Justify, resulting in this great photograph. Turns out Cal has a habit of photobombing iconic moments in sports…
Muhammed Ali vs. Sony Liston, 1965
The Miracle on Ice, 1980 Winter Olympics
The 1988 Slam Dunk Contest
Mike Tyson biting Evander Holyfield’s ear in 1997
Tiger Woods at the 2005 Masters
Usain Bolt in the 2016 Rio Olympics
Secretariat winning the 1973 Belmont Stakes
Okay, that last one might have been a little photoshopped.
By Nick Roush on ©June 11th, 2018 @ 4:55pm
A junior college edge rusher from the state of Georgia has committed to Kentucky. Marquez Bembry, a former Tennessee signee, announced he will join the Kentucky football team.
— Marquez Bembry (@Dont_worrycoach) June 11, 2018
A three-star prospect from Atlanta in the class of 2017, Bembry was committed to play at Tennessee for more than a year before signing with the Vols. After failing to academically qualify, Bembry enrolled at Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Miss. Bembry is expected to be a member of Kentucky’s 2019 recruiting class.
Check out highlights from his high school playing days.
Since his high school days, Bembry has transformed into a grown ass man. He’ll play Josh Allen’s role as an outside linebacker for the Cats.
The KSR crew actually watched Bembry’s team play last year. East Mississippi C.C. (of Last Chance U fame) hosted Jones County during KSR’s road trip to Southern Miss last fall. Jones County’s logo shares a striking resemblance to another area logo.
By TJ Walker on ©June 11th, 2018 @ 1:30pm
I hope everyone is having a great Monday afternoon. I’m coming live from the Regional Municipality of Niagara in Canada, eh. I’ll be covering Tyrese Maxey and UK targets Cole Anthony and Matthew Hurt over the next couple days as they represent team USA in the FIBA U18 Americas Championship. Bill Self is the coach and I’ve already spotted a dozen coaches/assistant coaches walking around the town. UK’s Tony Barbee is here and Joel Justus will come later in the week, so UK will be represented for every game.
Let’s get to the notes.
Reid Travis: I understand the urgency for Travis news because he could be such a big piece for the Cats, but nothing has changed in the last week regarding his recruitment. He will visit UK in about a week and the plan is for him to also visit Villanova. Obviously UK would love it for him to visit UK and commit and not make the Villanova visit, but my guess is he takes both and potentially another school could join the mix.
Kentucky remains confident and until that changes there’s not much else left to say. UK has known this is a possibility for awhile and it’s pretty much just a waiting game until Travis wants to make it official.
Villanova’s frontcourt may look more appealing from a minutes perspective, but Travis wants to win a national championship. I’m shocked to see Villanova in so many top 10 and top 15 preseason rankings. I think (those) Wildcats will really struggle losing all those pieces from a title run. Winning will be one of the biggest factors for Reid and UK holds that advantage over Villanova.
Visitors: UK hosted Dontaie Allen and Kira Lewis Jr. over the weekend and please excuse my “the visit went well and both enjoyed themselves” recycled phrase. I really just want one time where the visit went horribly and a school is eliminated because of an unofficial visit. The closest one that comes to mind is when Patrick Patterson visited Duke and “wasn’t feeling those guys”, but it’s almost always a “nice” visit.
Lewis Jr. told KSR that the visit went well and he enjoyed the campus and talking with Joel Justus (Calipari was out of town).
Neither player received offers like we said last week, but the Cats will continue to recruit. While at this stage Lewis Jr. may be the better player, I think it’s more likely that Allen receives an offer, although both certainly could down the road. UK will have a plethora of guards next season and Tyrese Maxey will join, too. The Cats are already recruiting several elite guards to join Maxey.
UK really, really likes Lewis but they like other guards more and it’s a year the Cats can be picky because of the returning players.
However, the guard dilemma doesn’t apply to Allen. The Kentuckian is a scoring wing and with UK likely losing Keldon Johnson they will need wing players next year. I expect at some point Allen receives an offer but it may be a few more months. Allen’s recruitment is blowing up and he will continue to take visits this summer (WVU this weekend) so the Cats probably shouldn’t wait too long if they want a chance at landing him.
UK’s only other wing target is Keion Brooks, who recently cut his list to 10. UK was included and will be a major player. I expect MSU, UNC and UK to battle it out for Brooks, with the Spartans and Cats being the leaders.
USA Guys: This week I’ll be watching Tyrese Maxey, Matthew Hurt and Cole Anthony. Just being around town I’ve heard a few nuggets worth passing along on the three.
Tyrese Maxey: I had an assistant coach from a Big XII school tell me that Maxey was the best player in last night’s win. He said he thinks overall that Maxey is every bit as good as Anthony but it was clear those two were a step ahead of everyone else. Remember, Quentin Grimes is also playing on this team and he will lace them up for the Jayhawks next season. Anthony and Maxey will be waiting until 2019-2020 to play college basketball. I can’t say it enough- get on the Maxey hype train. UK may land James Wiseman and Vernon Carey in 2019-2020, but I honestly think Maxey will be the Cats best player, even with some the likely returners from this year.
(And no, I haven’t heard anything new on Wiseman or Carey)
Matthew Hurt: UK is going to continue to recruit Hurt, and he would be a nice piece for UK, but it seems like Kansas has a decent lead for the score-first forward. Hurt playing with Bill Self this week will only help Kansas’ chances. I don’t feel great about UK’s chances here.
Cole Anthony: One of the most mysterious recruitments I can remember. And the only reason it’s mysterious is because Anthony doesn’t want to talk about his recruitment. I respect the move, but it makes my job difficult. I actually think UK has a better chance than most people think, but I still don’t think the Cats are the leader as of today (if that makes sense). I was told that Anthony playing with Maxey this week will only help. Those two could find themselves wanting to play with each other at the next level and win a championship. Maxey has been on him for over a week and that’s not changing in Canada. Do your thing, Tyrese.
Stay plugged to KSR all week for USA coverage.