With only a couple days remaining in the spring recruiting period, we update John Calipari’s big board for the 2019 high school basketball class. It’s been a wild couple of weeks for Calipari, who’s out to reclaim his throne, so get caught up on the prospects he has targeted in the spring before the AAU circuit gets rolling.
— COMMITTED —
Forward| 6-7 | 185 lbs.
Olive Branch, MS | Olive Branch
AAU: Team Penny
|ESPN||No. 17 | 4 SF||Top247||No. 27 | 8 SF|
|Rivals||No. 47 | 16 PF||247 Comp.||No. 26 | 8 SF|
DJ Jeffries became the first member of Kentucky’s 2019 class when he pledged his commitment on March 12, picking the Cats over Alabama and Mississippi State.
Jeffries is from the Memphis area and has admitted to being a lifelong fan of John Calipari, going back to Calipari’s time as the Memphis head coach.
Though verbally committed to Kentucky going into the summer before his senior season, the four-star forward could still consider signing with Memphis now that Penny Hardaway, his former AAU coach, is the new head coach of the Tigers. His AAU teammate, James Wiseman, could also pick Memphis over UK in the end, which would be devastating to Calipari’s recruiting efforts in West Tennessee.
Point Guard| 6-4 | 185 lbs.
Covington, GA | Newton
AAU: Georgia Stars
|ESPN||No. 18 | 3 PG||Top247||No. 6 | 1 PG|
|Rivals||No. 6 | 2 PG||247 Comp.||No. 8 | 1 PG|
Ashton Hagans received a visit from John Calipari on the first day of the April recruiting period, and gave his commitment before Calipari left town. A former Georgia commit, the five-star point guard announced his intentions of becoming a Kentucky Wildcat to the public on April 10.
However, Hagans is expected to reclassify and skip his senior year of high school to join the Cats next fall. He’s taking the necessary classes to make the jump, but will likely wait until the end of the summer before making anything official. One reason for the delay, it’s believed, is Hagans wants to play AAU this spring and summer. He will probably be a late-summer addition to the 2018-19 roster, should he ultimately go the reclassifying route.
— TOP TARGETS —
Guard | 6-3 | 185 lbs.
Garland, Tx. | South Garland
AAU: RM5 Elite
|ESPN||No. 14 | 3 SG||Top247||No. 17 | 2 PG|
|Rivals||No. 11 | 3 SG||247 Comp.||No. 13 | 2 PG|
Tyrese Maxey is ranked behind Ashton Hagans as the No. 2 point guard in the class, and he could follow Hagans’ path to college. Maxey is considered a heavy Kentucky lean and Calipari made two visits to see him in the April period, in hopes of securing a commitment before the summer.
Calipari’s pitch to Maxey is the same as his pitch to Hagans: commit now, reclassify, and join UK’s backcourt next fall to form something special. Maxey is considering Cal’s plan, but it’s unclear how serious he actually is about foregoing his senior year to play for UK next season.
Power Forward/Center | 6-11 | 210 lbs.
Memphis, TN | Memphis East
AAU: Team Penny
|ESPN||No. 1 | 1 PF||Top247||No. 1 | 1 C|
|Rivals||No. 2 | 2 PF||247 Comp.||No. 1 | 1 C|
James Wiseman is Kentucky’s top target in the 2019 class and it’s long been the belief that Wiseman would eventually commit and sign. But with the recent hire of his former AAU coach, Penny Hardaway, at Memphis, it’s going to be a fight for Calipari to keep his position as the heavy favorite to land Wiseman’s services.
Wiseman’s mother recently told SEC Country that her son would remain in high school for one more year, despite rumors he could reclassify into the 2018 class. She also said Memphis entered the mix when Hardaway extended a scholarship offer on Wiseman’s 17th birthday earlier this month.
It would be in Kentucky’s best interests for Wiseman to transfer out of Memphis and into prep school next year to get him farther away from Hardaway’s recruiting.
Small Forward | 6-5 | 177 lbs.
Eatontown, NJ | Ranney School
AAU: Team Rio
|ESPN||No. 8 | 1 SF||Top247||No. 9 | 2 SF|
|Rivals||No. 9 | 2 SG||247 Comp.||No. 6 | 1 SF|
Scottie Lewis picked up his scholarship offer from Kentucky last fall and has hosted the UK staff on multiple visits, most recently this past weekend.
He is a high school teammate of Bryan Antoine, another UK target, whose timeline of events is almost identical in regards to contact with the Kentucky staff, considering they’re always in the same place.
Shooting Guard | 6-5 | 175 lbs.
Eatontown, NJ | Ranney School
AAU: Team Rio
|ESPN||No. 7 | 1 SG||Top247||No. 8 | 1 SG|
|Rivals||No. 7 | 1 SG||247 Comp.||No. 7 | 1 SG|
Bryan Antoine is one of the top shooters in the class and he is ranked as the top shooting guard by all the major recruiting services. Like Scottie Lewis, his high school and AAU teammate, Antoine received his UK offer last fall and has hosted the staff on multiple visits, most recently this past weekend.
Power Forward | 6-9 | 200 lbs.
Rochester, MN | John Marshall
AAU: D1 Minnesota
|ESPN||No. 5 | 2 PF||Top247||No. 4 | 2 PF|
|Rivals||No. 5 | 3 PF||247 Comp.||No. 4 | 2 PF|
Matthew Hurt is a highly-touted big man who can extend the defense with his outside shot, which makes him unique to Calipari’s typical brand of post players. However, Hurt said Calipari told him he has changed his ways and will only recruit shooters, which is a major change in philosophy for Calipari. A commitment from Hurt could be a big sign of Cal changing his ways.
Forward | 6-8 | 185 lbs.
Fort Wayne, IN | North Side
AAU: Spiece Indy Heat
|ESPN||No. 30 | 9 PF||Top247||No. 16 | 5 SF|
|Rivals||No. 36 | 13 PF||247 Comp.||No. 22 | 6 SF|
Keion Brooks was one of the early targets in the class last fall and the interest hasn’t changed this spring. Calipari visited the versatile forward on the second day of the April recruiting period, and though Brooks is mostly considering Big Ten schools, Kentucky is in the hunt.
Power Forward/Center | 6-10 | 245 lbs.
Fort Lauderdale, FL | University School
AAU: Nike Team Florida
|ESPN||No. 2 | 1 C||Top247||No. 2 | 1 PF|
|Rivals||No. 1 | 1 PF||247 Comp.||No. 2 | 1 PF|
The son of the former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman of the same name, Vernon Carey Jr. is the second-ranked big man behind Wiseman, and the early speculation is he prefers Duke at this stage. John Calipari isn’t going down without a fight, though; he visited Carey last week and will follow up this week with a second trip to make his pitch for the Wildcats. (UPDATE: Monday’s follow-up trip put on hold.)