Now things are going to start heating up in recruiting. This week is the Nike EYBL Peach Jam event, and adidas and Under Armour will have their respective top-level tournaments, too.
While things have been relatively quiet over the last few weeks, that changes this week. We should get updates on all of UK’s top targets and shortly after Peach Jam is when lists are cuts and visits are set.
Cole Anthony: Things have been quiet for most UK targets over the last few weeks, but strangely enough there has been plenty of Anthony buzz. It’s strange because Anthony very rarely talks about his recruitment and even his parents and coaches won’t talk about it. Anthony spoke with the New York Post and had plenty of interesting things to say. Anthony said he has no favorites and is unsure where he will go, and it’s also clear that he is going to wait long into the spring of 2019 before making a final decision. I asked some folks about these two tidbits and here is what I learned:
- UK still feels like they have a great chance to land Anthony. While analysts predict Duke, Oregon or Kansas, I continue to tell people not to sleep on Kentucky’s chances. UK’s staff has done a good job in this quiet recruitment and the Cats will continue to be a major player for Anthony. UK won’t be backing down in this recruitment and don’t be surprised if Anthony visits UK’s campus multiple times. But UK’s chances could diminish in the next four-six months and I talk about that below.
- Kentucky is fine with Anthony waiting until the spring, and it’s probably good news. Obviously you’d love to have a player like Anthony commit ASAP, but with Anthony taking his time he will be able to see how other classes unfold and who stays and goes. Anthony told KSR he’d love to play with Tyrese Maxey in college, but where this could hurt UK is if Quade Green, Tyler Herro, Jemarl Baker and Immanuel Quickley return to Kentucky for 2019-2020. Anthony is playing and starting wherever he goes, but it would be clear that those players returning to UK would expect more minutes, and those minutes would be taken from Maxey and Anthony. Maxey and Anthony would still likely get the bulk of the minutes, but he would still share more playing time at UK (in this hypothetical) than at other schools. If that matters to Anthony, and I’m sure it does, then that may not be good news for UK. But we’ve been through this several times. There’s always surprise departures. With Anthony waiting until the spring it will allow UK to show him there’s an abundance of playing time, or the Cats will be returning several experienced guards and Anthony would just be a luxury at that point. The timing allows UK to be in a win-win situation.
What I’ll be interested in seeing is if the Cats land another guard before Anthony decides. UK doesn’t appear to lead for Scottie Lewis or Bryan Antoine, but both will officially visit UK. What if one ends up committing to Kentucky in the fall? It would seem that could eliminate UK for Anthony. That’s something UK’s staff will have to figure it out. I’m under the impression that UK has its pecking order when it comes to guards in 2019, but like all the players they’ve offered. Duh. UK wouldn’t tell Antoine or Lewis no just to wait for Anthony. That’s probably the safer play, but like I said, I don’t think UK leads for Antoine or Lewis, so it may not matter.
Another thing to watch in the next few weeks- Anthony will likely play prep school. It’s a virtual guarantee. Let’s see where he picks.
Keion Brooks: I wrote about this on Saturday, but I heard some rumblings last week that UK may not be the leader for Brooks like I previously thought. I still think UK is a major player and right at the top, but I thought this recruitment was going to be (somewhat) easy for Kentucky’s staff. That doesn’t appear to be the case. Obviously other schools are doing a good job recruiting Brooks, and everyone is making him a priority, but the common theme of Brooks’ list is that Big Ten schools are hot and heavy. Louisville and UK seem to be the only major outliers, although UNC is also a player. One AAU source I spoke with wasn’t sure if Brooks would go to IU or Michigan State, but there was a sense he’d want to stay in Big Ten to play so many games close to home. Again, UK isn’t too terribly far away but with the exception of possibly some early seas games that be the closest. Brooks hasn’t gone on record saying location is a major factor, and I’m sure he will be asked about it this week.
But like I said on Saturday, let’s keep an eye on if UK offers any other wings. If they do it probably means things aren’t going as planned with Brooks, but as long as UK is locked into Brooks then it should tell us what we need to know about how John Calipari is feeling.
Photo: USA BasketballJames Wiseman: Larry Vaught reported that Wiseman’s Memphis East high school will play in the Marshall County Hoop Fest on Dec. 1st. It’s unclear when Wiseman will make a final decision, and it’s still not 100 percent confirmed he will stay at Memphis East, but could this be the first chance for UK fans to see Wiseman as a UK commit playing in Kentucky? UK’s staff hopes. Wiseman played in the event last year and my guess is he’s still uncommitted. UK commit D.J. Jeffries will also be playing in the event.
I don’t have anything brand spanking new or hot nuggets regarding Wiseman, but I do want to reiterate how badly UK’s staff wants Wiseman. Kentucky has locked in on several targets years in advance before, and sometimes Cal gets the guy and sometimes he misses, but I’m not sure the Cats have recruited anyone harder than Wiseman. Calipari won’t be doing this forever. This may be his last “giant recruit” that he goes all-in for on the recruiting trail. The Cats want him as badly as any other recruit since 2010.
New Guys/Surprise: One of the best parts of Peach Jam is we have questions answered. I can hear all sorts of different things throughout the week, but who Calipari, Payne, Justus and Barbee watch over the next week will showcase guys they are recruiting. No misdirection. No misinformation. The guys they are spending time on watching are the guys they want to recruit, or at the least scout and then possibly recruit.
Kira Lewis, Dontaie Allen, Jaden McDaniels and Isaiah Stewart are relatively new names for UK basketball recruiting. If not new then at least not as talked about as other recruits. If UK watches everyone of McDaniels’ games over the next week then that will be telling. If the Cats don’t watch Lewis, well we know what that means. We’ll learn a lot more about UK’s preferences and who the Cats are keying in on the next week.
My guess is that UK watches a lot of McDaniels, for what it’s worth.