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Monday Insider Notes: 2019 updates and looking at next season


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.

NBA Decisions:

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.

Article written by TJ Walker

15 responses to “Monday Insider Notes: 2019 updates and looking at next season”

  1. JTHinton

    Memphis? Is Penny that good?

    1. callitlikeiseeit

      as a coach probably not. However with the Wiseman kid he is close to the kid and family. For others, especially in the Memphis area, he is an icon. He came from there and made it big.

  2. callitlikeiseeit

    Quote from article “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.”
    None of that matters, if the player is good enough the NBA Draft knows them. Ben Simmons had none of the above things either and was a top pick. Fultz was the same. Look how many guys from overseas get picked, they had none of the above. Michael Porter hardly played and will be a high pick. If you are good enough you will be a high pick no matter where you play. Before the stupid one and done rule several guys were top picks right from High School so they had none of the above either. If you are good enough {or even have the potential} you will be a high pick if you go to UK, dUKe, Lamar, USF, Kent State or Washington.

    1. ukbradstith

      True, none of that matters at all to the NBA. To the player, however, that might be a big factor. Maybe they want to experience a tourney run, sign a big endorsement sooner, etc. But yes, it won’t have much impact on draft stock.

  3. Cokely53

    Great update. It’s a shame PJ wants out of town so badly it seems when he actually has a solid chance to improve his stock and isn’t a first rounder but hey it could be a good thing if we got Travis.

  4. Underdog

    I’ve said all along Jarred is gone. Most fans think he sucks at offense. He did, but that doesn’t mean he can’t play offense. He is GOOOOOOOOOD on offense.

    But the thing is he doesn’t even need to be that good on offense (though he will be good). He’s a rare talent defensively and in rebounding.

    If he stays, he’ll be a top 5 pick next year (assuming he stays healthy).

    The only reason he will go pro is if he KNOWS his body can’t sustain the rigors of college and pro ball and he takes a short-term contract paying him several hundred thousands dollars. That’s better than ZERO, assuming injury.

    Now, if he stays healthy and plays one more year, he’ll sign a contract worth 10+ million dollars next year.

    It all boils down to how durable his body is. If he’s fragile and prone to injury, he’ll take $500,000 and call it a day, go buy a house and go back to school after his body proves it can’t handle elite ball.

    If he’s legitimately healthy, he’ll stay one more year, and sign a $10-12 million contract next year.

    1. chrisg18

      Are you watching the NBA playoffs? All 5 guys need to be good on offense in today’s game.

    2. DelrayCat

      This analysis makes a heck of a lot of sense from the peanut galley, but is in no way a part of Vanderbilt’s decision making.

    3. dynaformer

      I think you gave an excellent analysis of Vanderbilt’s value and kind of agree with you on his decision making factors.

    4. wyatts1

      Vanderbilt is a game changer of a basketball player. He’s a point power forward with great vision, great handleing skills, and a once in a generation rebounding guy. I agree if he returns and stays healthy he will be top 10 next year. As far as his offense goes that doesn’t matter really cause he’s gonna be working a lot on that part of his game which seems to be his only weakness. But either way right now he’s ben Simmons type of player exception being he’s also the best rebounder period in college basketball in the past 5 years anyways.

  5. FlatTopsAndBlockedShots

    Little more on the background of Reid Travis. Travis and former Duke PG are very good and longtime friends from the state of Minnesota, at one point they said they really wanted to play together in college. Tyus Jones’s younger brother Tre is a Duke commit, likely landing spot for Travis is Duke since they really have a glaring weakness and need for a big man.

    1. JPGott2

      Actually they are bringing a bunch of PF/SF hybrids next year. 3 played on the McD’s game, for sakes. So I would not allocate DUKE as the favorite.

  6. Jiminy Crickets

    So cal has spent a lot of time recruiting Antoine and Lewis, has visited them numerous times, and you don’t think we have a chance at either?

  7. Wade

    Wiseman won’t change Memphis in a yr and that’s not fair to expect ,if he comes here then he will get better and compete for a championship. Sounds like Memphis would be a high school reunion for him and some of penny’s old guys from aau and HS. It’s local so it’s compfortable and could be a fun yr but that may spell disaster and bring wiseman down. Coach isn’t proven and no players worth mentioning maybe a couple. He needs to hone his skills properly and build his basketball and business acumen with cal and uk. We have it all to be honest.

    1. UKNUTZ

      Another thing about if Wiseman goes to Memphis is that he will have to carry the load all season pretty much by himself to be successful there. Not saying he couldn’t do it, but at Kentucky he would get all those other benefits mentioned plus having better teammates around to him which would take tremendous amounts of pressure off him.