Hey, folks. I hope everyone had a good weekend. There have been better sports weeks for Kentucky fans, but the basketball team is still going to be a contender come March and the football team is still having a great season despite a bad month. The Cats will have two five-star players sign in the coming days for next season’s basketball team and another incredibly talented four-star in-state wing will sign on Friday. It’s not all bad news despite things seemingly not going UK’s way as of late.
Five-star wing/forward Jaden McDaniels visited UK on Friday and there’s more smoke in the Wiseman recruitment. Let’s get to the notes.
The visit was GREAT (drink, drink, drink!). Despite Kentucky struggling against Southern Illinois I’m told that McDaniels and his family really enjoyed Lexington and they thought the atmosphere at Rupp Arena was impressive. Yes, really. I did hear from a friend that the second half atmosphere was solid, so while we always joke about the lower level at Rupp supposedly they did their job on Friday for the final 15-20 minutes. In that first half I was worried McDaniels may pull a Lonnie Walker and fall asleep.
I’m not sure if I’m ready to say UK leads for McDaniels, but all that I’ve heard throughout his recruitment is that his dad is the one that actively involved in the decision making process and after this weekend the biggest piece of information I have is that the dad prefers UK. Is that Jaden’s choice? I have no clue, but the relationship between UK’s staff and McDaniels’ dad is strong enough to land a commitment. Also, I don’t have confirmation from anyone I trust that the dad is pulling the strings in this recruitment, but that’s the scuttlebutt among recruiting experts. But, I do trust that the dad prefers UK. I’m told if not UK then he’d like McDaniels to stay home at Washington.
Now the big question is when will McDaniels decide? Two trusted sources told me they don’t think he signs in the fall, but one thought he would commit in the next few weeks. The other thought he would wait until January or February. He has one official left on the table and could go to UCLA, but there are currently no plans. His final five includes UK, Texas, Washington, San Diego State and UCLA. He’s officially visited the first four schools. Both guys I spoke with said they like UK’s chances regardless (one thought Washington was right there, too), but if we hear of a decision in the next week or two then UK would be the landing spot. People close to UK are unsure when he plans on committing.
Supposedly it wasn’t just the visit that pushed UK to the top, but instead all the work Kentucky’s staff has put in behind the scenes for the last two months. John Calipari visited twice and the Cats have been in constant contact. One source said this was like the Kevin Knox recruitment where no one gave UK a great chance at landing him, but in reality the Cats were putting in more work than anyone.
So, as of today (and I’m surprised typing this), UK seems to be in a great spot. I’m not sure McDaniels would be the frontcourt piece people were expecting/hoping for, but it’d give UK plenty of options for next season. Rebounding may be an issue but scoring wouldn’t.
Did you all see all the reports about how Memphis’ staff is telling boosters and media members that Wiseman is a lock to stay home? Well, it’s what we said last week. Memphis’ coaching staff is talking and talking a lot. Sometimes we’ve seen some staffs spread misinformation to try and have the public momentum push the kid in a certain direction, but I’m told this is 100 percent genuine. Memphis’ staff has reason to believe that Wiseman is staying home and playing for Memphis, per people close to Memphis’ staff.
Wiseman’s family has told me that it’s not true. They have told other reporters that it’s not true. They’re telling anyone that can listen that he’s not committed anywhere and he’s still undecided. Maybe they’re telling the truth. They probably are being honest when they say that no final decision has been made, but what else are they supposed to say? “Yup, James is going to Memphis, we’re just figuring out a commitment date?” “Yup, something crazy would have to happen for him to go elsewhere.” “Stop paying attention because this thing is over.” I did find it interesting that Wiseman’s sister went out of her way to reach out to me to tell me that a decision hasn’t been made.
I think Wiseman ends up at Memphis but the family aspect is interesting and UK doesn’t feel they have lost. They don’t think there’s been a silent commitment and they still feel like they have a chance to land Wiseman. So, if you’re looking for some optimism, there you go. Also, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports spoke directly with Wiseman’s mom about the Memphis buzz and he is still currently predicting UK.
So, I lean towards Memphis but never say never.
He officially visited Michigan State and I have no new updates on that official visit, but I did speak with someone on Friday that told me it will be Duke, Michigan State or UK. I feel like I’ve been saying that for a few weeks, but here we are. Again, like Wiseman, there’s not much of a UK buzz in this recruitment but people close to UK haven’t conceded.
In those two recruitments the Cats don’t have a lot of momentum, so if you want to give up on them no one would blame you. Obviously there’s not a great deal of information on Carey’s recruitment and I’m hoping to learn more after touching base after the MSU visit. Let’s touch back with Carey later this week.
I’ve had a few people ask me if a beatdown like that can hurt recruiting. It doesn’t help, but it doesn’t hurt. What will hurt more is that Duke will be the college basketball sweethearts all season and constantly featured on ESPN. That won’t really hurt UK until maybe next year but more likely 2021 and later, but Wiseman isn’t picking Memphis because UK was smacked by Duke. Carey isn’t picking Duke over UK because the Blue Devils beat them in Indy. If those players go elsewhere that game had nothing to do with it.
Duke is the cool school again, and that will plant a seed in younger kids, but that stuff constantly changes. The Cats are still licking their wounds from Tuesday but it won’t hurt UK on the recruiting trail.
If UK were to miss on Wiseman, Carey and Stewart (I don’t see him ending up at Kentucky but I don’t have a great feel/connection to this recruitment) you’re probably wondering where Kentucky goes from there. Last week I mentioned that there would either be a grad-transfer or a 2020 reclassification (one UK fan Twitter follower mentioned/suggested Hunter Dickinson in 2020. He’d be physically ready) and I’m very confident in one of those two things happening. I’ve been asked if UK will get involved with Precious Achiuwa, C.J. Walker or Kofi Cockburn. I don’t believe that happens. Maybe Kentucky will send out a feeler to one of the three, or reconnect with Walker, but I doubt the Cats will be able to do enough to get into the picture.
Walker waiting until the spring was somewhat of a surprise, so maybe that means a shift in the recruitment, but the Cats were never heavily involved and my guess is that doesn’t change.
I still think UK gets Hurt. If you get Hurt along with McDaniels then you would need to find a bruising grad-transfer big and you’d be ready to roll. I’m not sure you could find a better offensive frontcourt, but there clearly would be some questions rebounding and defensively.
In the intermediate be on the lookout for commitment decisions. The sky isn’t falling just yet and never count out Calipari.