Hello, Wildcat fans.
It’s a lovely fall Tuesday night and all of the group text and water cooler talk is about what’s brewing over at the UK Football Training Facility, but why don’t we take a brief moment to skim over some of the basketball recruiting news that is keeping John Calipari and his staff busy while the basketball team is on summer break.
There has been some news over the course of the last week or so, and many of you may have missed out on it while listening to your Benny Snell rap CDs or setting fire to the USA Today College Football Preview.
We’ll lead off with the latest on the player who is the most likely to become Calipari’s first commitment in Kentucky’s next great class…
Quickley-to-Kentucky remains the safest bet you can make in the 2018 class. The five-star point guard still plans to announce his decision prior to the start of his senior season of high school basketball and Kentucky is still the overwhelming favorite to land his services when he does.
Point Guard | 6-3 | 175 lbs.
Bel Air, MD | John Carroll School
AAU: Team BBC
|ESPN||No. 14 | 2 PG||Top247||No. 16 | 5 PG|
|Rivals||No. 15 | 4 PG||Scout||No. 10 | 3 PG|
He has three official visits scheduled in the coming weeks:
Kansas, Sept. 1
Miami, Sept. 8
Kentucky, Sept. 15
The decision should come not long after taking those trips and likely another, an official to nearby Maryland.
And now for the biggest piece of recruiting news this week: some “experts” now predict Kansas, not Kentucky, for five-star forward Zion Williamson.
Believed to be a Kentucky lean by many, 247Sports.com’s Andrew Slater threw us a curveball by flipping his Crystal Ball pick to Kansas on Tuesday, and two other Crystal Ball pickers followed suit. Slater did not explain his reasoning for the flip, but he recently had a one-on-one interview with Williamson, so maybe he knows something.
Forward | 6-7 | 220 lbs.
Spartanburg, SC | Spartanburg
AAU: SC Supreme
|ESPN||No. 2 | 2 PF||Top247||No. 1 | 1 SF|
|Rivals||No. 2 | 1 SF||Scout||No. 2 | 2 PF|
If Williamson were to commit to Kansas, Bill Self would likely have Devon Dotson to thank. Dotson, a five-star point guard in the class, looks to be the next Jayhawk commitment and Williamson has enjoyed playing with him on the adidas circuit this summer.
You may be thinking, “Wait a minute, I thought Williamson wanted to play with Quickley in college,” which has been said in the past. But Williamson has taken a liking to Dotson since meeting him last year, and the package deal scenario took a hit when Williamson shot it down in an interview with USA Today. His exact quote was: “We’re not a package deal,” so there’s that.
His name is Bryan Penn-Johnson. He’s new on Kentucky’s radar. And, like most of you, I had never heard of him until this week.
Center | 7-0 | 215 lbs.
Heber City, UT | Wasatch
AAU: Dream Vision
|ESPN||NR | 10 C||Top247||No. 40 | 3 C|
|Rivals||No. 83 | 4 C||Scout||No. 98 | 4 C|
We’re a long way from the Penn-Johnson train picking up any steam toward Lexington, but it’s worth noting that Kentucky recently reached out to him to get a feel for what he’s like.
As you can see in his rankings, Penn-Johnson doesn’t have the star power Calipari usually pursues — not yet, at least — so UK’s contact with him probably says more about how UK feels about its chances with Bol Bol and Marvin Bagley, the only two bigs in the class with offers.
I wouldn’t expect Penn-Johnson to get an offer anytime soon, but he is a prospect to keep watching, because Calipari will be doing the same.
For what it’s worth, Kansas offered him last month, joining the likes of Arizona, California, Washington Oregon, Utah, Florida State and West Virginia, among others.
And now for another new name on the 2018 recruiting board: Canadian superstar R.J. Barrett, who recently reclassified from the Class of 2019, where he was the No. 1 overall player.
Small Forward | 6-7 | 185 lbs.
Mississauga, Ont., CAN | Montverde
AAU: Team BBC
|ESPN||No. 3 | 1 SF||Top247||No. 3 | 2 SF|
|Rivals||No. 2 | 1 SF||Scout||No. 2 | 1 SF|
Barrett shook up the rankings when he jumped up to the Class of 2018 and immediately moved everyone (with the exception of Marvin Bagley, and Zion Williamson in some cases) down a spot. He is a consensus top-three overall player across the board and one of the hottest names out there after leading Canada to a FIBA U19 gold medal over Calipari’s Team USA last month.
Arizona, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Oregon, Texas and UCLA are the schools showing him the most interest right now, he says. Kentucky was already in a good spot recruiting him for the 2019 class, but his switch to 2018 will accelerate the process and will likely shake up Calipari’s plan of attack in building Kentucky’s 2018-19 roster.
Expect a ton of more Barrett talk coming your way now that his reclassification is official and he begins to narrow his list.
For more basketball and basketball recruiting in your life, you can always tune in to ESPNU later tonight to watch three of UK’s top high school targets.