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.