I hope everyone had a good weekend. UK football is still going to do some amazing things this season and I can’t wait to see it, but I’m also equally thrilled for the start of basketball season. The Cats take on Duke and all the pent up frustration these staffs feel with one another on the recruiting trail comes to a head when they actually get to play one another. This game by itself won’t have a major impact on recruiting, but I promise you that recruits will be watching tomorrow night. James Wiseman, Vernon Carey, Matthew Hurt, Isaiah Stewart and all of UK’s other targets in 2019 and 2020 will be up late watching the Cats and Duke. If UK can win it certainly won’t hurt its recruiting efforts with those player.
Let’s get to the notes.
Memphis has more momentum at this moment than any team has during the two-year recruitment. It was another huge weekend for the Tigers regarding their chances with Wiseman. After Wiseman officially visited Memphis during Halloween weekend he returned this weekend for the Tigers exhibition game on Friday. Then Wiseman went and watched Tigers’ commit D.J. Jeffries on Saturday. Supposedly during the exhibition game on Friday Wiseman was hanging out in the concourse and chatting it up with fans, takings pictures and looking like he was having a great time. He also had a conversation with Jeffries’ dad on Saturday (strangely enough, Jeffries’ game was called in the third quarter because of fighting). People in Memphis, and supposedly the Tigers’ staff, feel that he’s a done deal for the Tigers and it’s just a matter of time. One Memphis source told me they expect a decision date set this week and by the end of the month Wiseman will officially be a Tiger. We’ll see if that happens.
I don’t have too much new from UK’s side of things. I wasn’t able to get a comment on Wiseman’s active weekend in Memphis. I will say that if Wiseman ends up at Kentucky I will understand some of the frustration from Memphis fans. It’s somewhat similar to the Damien Harris recruitment. I didn’t blame Harris for constantly visiting UK and saying all the right things, and I don’t blame Wiseman for going and checking out a college basketball game close to his house, but all the writing on the wall from Memphis’ side of things indicates that Wiseman will be a Tiger. If that doesn’t happen Memphis fans will be livid. I still need to hear from UK before I officially flip, but it’s tough to ignore all the positive momentum and recent happenings.
A story I wrote last week detailed Memphis’ momentum and a Wiseman family member reached out to me and said that my Memphis sources were unreliable and that there was “still so much to see before he decides.” So, that may be a positive, although I doubt she would say that “Yup, it’s over. He’s going to Memphis.” But she clearly searched Wiseman’s name on Twitter and felt strongly enough to comment on the article. Make of that what you will.
I would say if my Memphis source is right and this week he sets a date for his decision, I really won’t feel good about UK’s chances.
Vernon Carey Jr.:
He officially visited North Carolina over the weekend and I’m not concerned about the Tar Heels. The only thing that slightly worries about UNC is how Carey wants to play with another elite big and maybe he feels that Bacot will be the best for his game. I don’t think that happens and I think UNC isn’t in the top three, but if UNC were to surge it would be because of Bacot. Plus, for a team to not be surging after an official visit is usually pretty telling.
Everything I hear still has the Cats right there with Duke and Michigan State. He will finish his official visits after this weekend’s (return) visit to Michigan State. Carey Jr., is taking advantage of the new NCAA official visit rules because he already officially visited MSU in February. But because he’s now a senior MSU can pay for another visit. It’s also a clear indication that he thinks highly of the Spartans, but we knew that.
I still have people telling me to not count out UK. For the last few weeks Duke has had the majority of the momentum and many analysts think MSU may be the favorite, but don’t count out John Calipari in this recruitment.
I’m still expecting a decision this month or next for Carey Jr.
I was told by one source familiar with UK’s recruiting efforts in 2019 that one of UK’s big commits for the 2019 class is currently in the class of 2020. Supposedly UK feels good about a target in that class but I can’t say who the target is because I don’t know. UK has offered Scottie Barnes, N’Faly Dante and Jalen Johnson in the class of 2020. Those are the only three “big targets” and that’s a stretch to call Johnson and Barnes bigs. They’re wings. I’m not sure Johnson could play the four. Barnes could be would be undersized. Dante is already physically ready to play college basketball so there would be no issues there.
I never enjoy reclassification talk. An SEC assistant coach once told me that every elite kid thinks about reclassification, half try to make it happen and only a small percentage of that half will have a realistic chance of making it happen. I doubt those numbers factually add up, but the overall premise is what’s important. It’s really tough to determine who can actually do it. So, I’m not sure who the player is, but I would definitely keep an eye on 2020 targets making the jump. There’s a few guards that I think will go 2020 to 2019, but supposedly it’s a big that will ultimately join UK.
Another reason I don’t like reclassification talk is because in nine months we could be having this same conversation. There’s no timetable. No deadline. So, I wish I had more information but I’ll officially be on “reclassification watch” for the foreseeable future.
He also officially visited UNC this weekend with Carey. I heard the classic “the visit went well” (drink!) but I’m not overly concerned about the Tar Heels stealing Brooks. I’ve always said that IU is the team to beat for Brooks, and I still feel that way, but someone I trust on the Nike EYBL circuit told me that he thinks UK leads. For the record, I don’t feel that way, but I do know that Brooks and his family love UK’s staff and Kentucky has done a great job building a relationship.
UK’s biggest draw here besides relationships is Cal’s track record getting guys drafted and ready to roll in the NBA. I said after Brooks’ official visit to UK that if “getting to the next level” becomes his top priority in his recruitment/decision making process then he will be a Cat. I still don’t know if that’s his deciding factor, and I’m not sure if we will truthfully ever know, but like Matthew Hurt’s family they will look at this as a business decision. That’s good news. I still lean IU but I feel better about UK’s chances than I have in a long time.
He officially visited Texas over the weekend. I haven’t heard anything about that visit and we’re still trying to figure out when he will check out Lexington, so I wish I had more but my update is I don’t have a McDaniels update. I do know that UK is trying to have a HUGE guest list for the Kansas game, but it’s difficult to have so many elite targets because of the high school basketball schedule. Maybe McDaniels waits until then to check out Lexington, but that’s a ways away. My guess is he checks out UK before the end of the year.