I hope everyone had a great Mother’s Day weekend! The Nike EYBL made a stop in Atlanta and one thing is clear- Tyrese Maxey is good and he’s going to be a major recruiting piece for UK in the class of 2019.
In today’s Monday Insider Notes we’ll talk about the class of 2019, Maxey’s recruitment and recruiting, and we will have to discuss the latest “who stays and who goes” with the current Kentucky roster.
Maxey: Tyrese Maxey continues to show why he’s one of the best guards in the country and it starts with his scoring. He’s great with the ball in his hands, he can pull up from anywhere on the floor and his ability to hit from deep has defenders overplaying him, which makes it easy for him to get to the rim. If he plays point guard, which he may end up playing off the ball some, he will be UK’s best scoring point guard since Brandon Knight and I like Maxey over Knight, but there’s plenty of time to let the dust settle on that debate.
Landing Maxey was huge for Kentucky because it allows UK’s staff to spend more time recruiting other big pieces and it allows Maxey to be in the ears of his peers. That’s always an underrated part of getting early commitments, which is something that doesn’t frequently happen with John Calipari.
UK has some of the best recruiting coaches in the country. I’m not sure there’s a better head coach than John Calipari. Now that Jeff Capel is a head coach I think Kenny Payne is clearly the best assistant coach in the country. Joel Justus does an amazing job building relationships early in the recruiting process and is great at identifying talent. Tony Barbee is underrated as an assistant coach, too.
But those four guys don’t get as much access or time with elite recruits quite like Maxey does/will, and that’s why he will be so important to UK’s recruiting efforts. The reason this is most important is because opposing schools are going to use Maxey to negatively recruit against the Cats.
Maxey is a score first point guard and schools like Duke, Kansas, Memphis and other programs will sell recruits that they won’t get enough touches playing with Maxey. It’s obviously an easy argument to pick apart, but when grown men are telling this to kids the recruits may be more inclined to believe it.
But having Maxey playing with and against these kids, spending late nights traveling or being in the hotel will help UK’s chances. Maxey is a great scorer but he’s far from selfish as a player and it’s my opinion most recruits know that. You’ve already had some recruits say they would like to play with Maxey.
We’ll talk more about it but I think Kentucky will have a super class in 2019, and Maxey and D.J. Jeffries will lead the charge.
James Wiseman: I still think Kentucky remains in a great spot to land Wiseman and I think the Cats have a solid lead over Memphis the more I hear about this recruitment. But that’s where things are as of today. One thing I often hear is that “where things currently stand” or some version of that phrase, and it can be a little concerning because of the pressure on Wiseman to stay home.
UK would love to have Wiseman commit as soon as possible because the longer the recruitment drags on the more Wiseman will hear from Memphis fans, Penny, and the sense that he needs to stay home. But even if the recruitment drags out the Cats will continue to be in a great position.
I’ve said from the day Penny took the Memphis job this will be a heart versus head decision. Wiseman and his family love UK’s staff, but they know going to Kentucky is the smart choice for his future. However, it’s going to be hard to tell Penny no. Penny has been there for Wiseman for a long time and the two are friends. The only way the tide turns in this recruitment is if telling Penny becomes too hard. Maybe that happens but I’m told Wiseman understands some of the risks that could come if he decides to play at Memphis.
Penny has never coached an NBA Draft pick as a college coach, Memphis doesn’t get half the exposure that UK does, and Wiseman’s chances of making a tournament run at UK is far greater than at Memphis.
UK is still the leader here and I wouldn’t expect it to change anytime soon. He plans on taking all five official visits but I’d guess this recruitment ends in the fall.
Vernon Carey: There never has been a great deal of buzz between UK and Carey, but that needs to change. I’m not sure if UK is the leader as of today for Carey, but I think the Cats will have a great chance to position themselves at the top spot the longer this recruitment continues.
UK told Carey over the weekend that they’d love for him to commit ASAP, but that won’t be happening. This recruitment will end in the fall at the earliest, but it could last into 2019. Don’t expect a summer decision.
UK has been selling Carey and Wiseman playing together, which could certainly work with Carey living on the block and Wiseman spreading the floor. I would be completely shocked if UK didn’t land at least one of these two players and I think there’s a better chance UK lands both than none.
We’re still five months away but look for Carey to visit UK for Big Blue Madness.
Keion Brooks: UK will be strong at the guard position in 2019-2020 and the Cats should (assuming they land at least one of Wiseman/Carey) strong in the frontcourt, but Brooks will be the leading candidate to come in and replace Keldon Johnson on the wing for the 2019-2020 season.
Brooks would be the perfect player to add in the class of 2019 because he’s not going to scare away any other players (although maybe he should because of his talent level) but he’s good enough to make a major impact from day one.
Brooks at the wing almost seems to make too much sense for UK and while I wasn’t told a timeline I believe the Cats may currently lead.
Bryan Antoine: He cut his list to five schools and the Cats join Florida, Duke, Kansas and Villanova. UK will have a chance with Antoine but all signs point to Duke, which isn’t shocking. UK isn’t out of it for any other guards in 2019 but the players that have to have the ball in their hands to score may be a tough sell with Maxey locked up already.
UK will have a chance with Antoine and Lewis, but I’m thinking Maxey joins mostly returning guards in 2019-2020. Maybe Antoine falls in love on his visit to Kentucky but it’s going to be a long shot.
The NBA Draft Combine is this week and it should tell us more about the decisions of P.J. Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt and possibly even Wenyen Gabriel (who won’t be at the combine).
Washington: Washington won’t need to dominate for him to keep his name in the NBA Draft, and the great part about P.J.’s game is his consistency. In my opinion the only way Washington has to think more about this decision is if he goes to Chicago and completely stinks, which I don’t think happens.
Washington wants a guaranteed contract, which used to just be for first rounders. Now second round picks are frequently getting more guaranteed contract so the idea that Washington has to be a first rounder should have an asterisk next to it. As long as Washington is projected as a top 40 pick I believe you see him stay in the NBA Draft.
Vanderbilt: He will go through meetings and the topic of those meeting will likely be his health. Surprisingly there’s actually been a very positive pro-Vanderbilt buzz from NBA teams, but how healthy he is will determine if he’s worth the risk. Don’t expect him to go through drills or participate in five-on-five scrimmages, but if NBA teams feel like he’s on the verge of being healthy he will stay in the draft. Of course this will be trickier to measure because we won’t be able to see/follow those meetings.
Gabriel: He won’t be at the NBA Draft Combine but I think it’s more likely he comes back to Kentucky if Washington and Vanderbilt leave. If one comes back then I think it’s more likely Gabriel stays in the NBA Draft. Gabriel wants to go pro and be able to provide for his family, but the only way he’s coming back if there’s a window for him to put up solid numbers. It makes sense.
My Guess: It’s just a guess but I think Washington and Vanderbilt stay in the draft and Gabriel returns. My confidence level is high in Washington leaving, it’s about 50/50 on Vanderbilt and Gabriel depends on the other two, in my opinion.
Backup Plan: If just one of Vanderbilt/Washington leaves, the Cats have a backup plan and it’s not a major surprise. Stanford senior Reid Travis is working out for NBA teams but wasn’t invited to the NBA Draft combine. It seems highly unlikely he stays in the NBA Draft but just continue to keep an eye on the UK roster situation. Travis is a name to remember.