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Insider Notes: We may know UK’s future frontcourt sooner than expected


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The USA Basketball Junior Minicamp concluded over the weekend and there was unsurprisingly plenty to talk about. UK commits Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney were there and did some much needed recruiting for the Cats, plus we have interesting news from some of Kentucky’s biggest targets in the class of 2019.

Let’s get to the notes.

Bigs:

Carey: He talked in Colorado about wanting to play with Isaiah Stewart or James Wiseman in college. He also said that he would like to decide in 2018 after initially planning to decide in the spring. We heard a few other players mention they may be announcing earlier than anticipated, but while Carey had mentioned the spring as his timetable he never seemed adamant about it. Both of these things are incredibly interesting and seem like positives for UK, especially wanting to play with Wiseman and Stewart.

What I found to be most interesting is that he said some pitches involve him being the guy on the frontcourt and others involve him playing with another star like he will be doing in the NBA. He admitted he liked the former pitch. Again, also great news for UK.

Wiseman: The five-star center seems almost certain he will make his college decision by the end of January at the latest, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he decides in November. The biggest news from this weekend with Wiseman is how he continues to say it’s not just between Memphis and Kentucky. He still has visits planned to Memphis along with Florida State and Vanderbilt, but I still think the Cats are the team to beat. I don’t blame Wiseman for reiterating that all five schools have a chance and I wouldn’t really expect him to say anything different, but people behind the scenes that know Wiseman’s recruitment have told me that UK has put in the most work and Wiseman and his family have a stronger connection to UK’s staff than any other. Then you mix in UK’s platform and available playing time, I think the Cats are in a great spot.

Stewart: There wasn’t a great deal of tell when it came to Stewart’s recruitment over the weekend, but the sooner we hear of a decision date the better for UK. He currently hasn’t set any other official visits and if that is still the case in a month than Stewart will likely either already be committed to Kentucky or the Cats will be the clear favorites when he does announce a decision. But, I’m hearing at least one other official is likely and probably two. That will change things for Stewart but I like where things stand as of today. One analyst that was in Colorado told me he was the best big.

Hurt: As we get surprised by new timetables for other recruits, Hurt doesn’t appear to be in any sort of rush. I love Hurt’s game and I think UK has done a good job in his recruitment, so nothing would surprise me, but I’m told there’s a lot of Kansas buzz after this weekend. Again, it doesn’t seem like there will be a decision anytime soon, and that’s good for UK and Hurt, but the connection Hurt and Bill Self made this summer being together for USA Basketball may be too tough to overcome.

So, how does it shakeout?:

I don’t know. If UK doesn’t currently lead for Carey, Wiseman and Stewart I think the Cats are easily in second. Second doesn’t mean anything in recruiting, but it shows the Cats are right there. Without using an inside source for this take- it seems like the odds would indicate that two of those guys end up at Kentucky. UK will be losing its entire frontcourt, a couple of those players have mentioned playing together and it would come as a surprise if UK misses on three out of the four.

Carey and Hurt will be on campus this weekend for Big Blue Madness. I know UK jokingly, but also serious, extended the invite to Stewart and Wiseman to also come and check it out, but Wiseman will be in Nashville checking out Vandy and it seems unlikely that Stewart returns to UK so suddenly when he’s still debating on taking other official visits.

This is a big weekend for UK’s chances with Carey and Hurt. I think the Cats can make up a lot of ground on Hurt and maybe extend its lead with Carey.

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Tshiebwe:

He visited West Virginia this weekend and sadly I won’t hear more of the visit from folks close to Tshiebwe, including his coach, until later this evening or tomorrow. I’ll be sure to make a post based on what I’ve heard. Tshiebwe won’t return home until later this afternoon, so we don’t have much information at this point.

I was told the visit went well (drink) and that WVU was really pushing how long they have been recruiting him and how they have considered him part of their family for years. Of course Tshiebwe’s host parents are pushing WVU. They made the trip with him to Morgantown but skipped the trip to Lexington.

If Calipari can pull this one out it would be something special from a recruiting standpoint because the odds were stacked against UK from the beginning. I still think UK has a chance but I need to hear more from the official to WVU.

Whitney:

I was told by someone out in Colorado that Kahlil Whitney could go down as John Calipari’s best wing player. Ever. Better than Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who was the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft. Whitney’s growth over the last few months is incredibly promising and while we figure out the big situation in 2019 it should make Kentucky fans feel better knowing the backcourt and wing will be elite in 2019-2020.

Quick Hitters:

Cole Anthony: He will being visiting Oregon this weekend. Notre Dame, UNC and Oregon have landed visits from the best point guard in the class. Two left for Anthony. If UK doesn’t land a visit there’s no chance, but I think it’s a longshot regardless if he checks out Lexington. It’s a bummer because he’s that good, but UK should be fine in the backcourt next season.

Keion Brooks: He will officially visit UK on 10/20 and I think I made a mistake somewhat moving on from this recruitment. Since UK missed on Scottie Lewis I’m told that Brooks is the next option for UK. They want to use him like a Kevin Knox (I don’t think it’s an amazing comparison FWIW, Knox was a much better scorer at this level) but both were incredibly long and Brooks is still versatile. I don’t think he ends up at UK, but the Cats have convinced him it would work.

Jaden McDaniels: He will visit San Diego State officially this weekend, where his brother plays. It’s his first announced official visit. A little piece of me is wondering if McDaniels will make all five official visits. Obviously he will have to officially visit UK for the Cats to have a chance. I don’t think he ends up at UK but they are giving him the same pitch they are giving Brooks and he’s receiving more attention after Lewis picked Florida.

Jeremy Roach: He will officially visit Duke (remember, 2020 kids and a few 2019 kids get more official visits). UK has had the lead in this recruitment for months and I don’t think that changes just because he officially visits Duke. Often UK has to make up ground in recruitments but this is one where the Cats have the lead. Great player in 2020 that’s worth getting to know.

Article written by TJ Walker

11 responses to “Insider Notes: We may know UK’s future frontcourt sooner than expected”

  1. a21CATSfan

    There are only 10 scholarship players on the team this year. As of now, Reid Travis is the only for sure departure. But, as a Kentucky fan, I know better than that. PJ was so close to leaving last year that it is almost certain he is gone. Keldon is a fringe lottery pick, and Tyler, Ashton, EJ and Sophomore Nick Richards have the potential. Quade could start to have deja vu next year and Jemarl could get homesick. I could see IQ, hopefully Herro and at least Montgomery welcoming a brand new squad to Lex.

  2. a21CATSfan

    With 3 commitments (Maxey, Whitney, Allen) and only 6 offers out currently (Wiseman, Carey, Stewart, Hurt, Brooks, Tshiebwe), Cal is running out of options. Cole Anthony, Jaden McDaniels, Aidan Igiehon, Lester Quinones and KyKy Tandy are the only other recruits left on the board that have had contact (the latter 3 may or may not still currently) with Kentucky. The only upside to losing Scottie Lewis is holding out hope for Anthony or McDaniels on the wing. Other than that, UK is in desperate need for bigs.

  3. DelrayCat

    It is strange to have such a stacked roster and not knowing for sure who is leaving and staying. I don’t see Quickly, Green, or Baker leaving….and Hagans is a stretch…but all the bigs will go. Herro is a wildcard…could go either way. Regardless, I see 5-6 gone at a minimum…With Maxey coming in it could be a crowded backcourt…and Whitney and Allen replace Herro and Johnson. Now we need bigs!!

  4. DelrayCat

    Any chance Richards stays? I see EJ taking that center spot when we go big. I know Nick wants to be a pro ASAP…but he just fits the mold of a really good player that stays 3-4 years and still gets drafted in the late first round. He was just so far behind coming into college with his limited experience at the lower levels.

  5. versaillescorey

    Good read TJ!

  6. UKLugo

    Okay. Good read. But wouldnt that be “the latter”?

  7. binarysolo

    Good stuff man.

    But now how do you pronounce Tshiebwe again?

    1. KYFAN4LYFE

      I’m guessing we would just call him “The Big O”, “OT” , “Oz” or just Oscar.

  8. Just saying

    Old news TJ. Save some text and simply say you don’t know!

  9. Dustin Rumbaugh

    Great post. I’m at the point that I think the difference between a good Cal team and a great Cal team comes down to one thing: an above average wing. Not shooting guard. A Swiss Army knife wing that can score when needed to but otherwise does all the small things. Logging even brought that and made his team incredibly better as a whole.

  10. StuckinLville

    I wouldn’t be so sure about Hurt to Kansas. Bill Self and Kansas are right in the thick of the FBI investigation so this may have him thinking twice about them. Is it a stretch to think we could get 3 of the 5 bigs? I think anything is possible with Cal.