It’s basketball week in the Bluegrass! Thank goodness we’ll have a week of basketball to help drag us into football season at the end of this month. The UK coaches have turned their attention (briefly) away from recruiting to basketball prep this week, but we still have much to discuss from a wild week. Kentucky lost a commitment, gained a commitment and hosted a five-star wing on a visit.
Let’s talk about it.
Dontaie Allen: He committed just days after D.J. Jeffries decommitted. He unofficially visited (his second) and I think the story of that visit is fascinating. As we said on the MIN last week, UK expected a commitment from one of Allen/Whitney shortly after the visits this weekend (I had predicted Whitney), but folks close to UK didn’t expect it to go down like it did with Allen. It was a two-day visit that consisted of watching practices, seeing the campus and all that jazz, but then John Calipari spoke with Allen and his family about an offer. This should make UK fans fall in love with Allen.
Calipari spoke with Allen about if he feels like he’s up to the challenge of being at Kentucky. Calipari says this to most of his recruits, but in my mind I thought it may be in response to Jeffries’ decommitment. Allen’s dad clarified that it was about the practice that they had just witnessed, which was the open practice to select media members. It was the most physical practice I’ve ever watched at Kentucky. Allen said yes and Calipari extended the offer.
Minutes after the offer during that same conversation Allen told Calipari, Justus and his dad that he didn’t want to take other visits or carry on with his recruitment. He wanted to commit to Kentucky right then and there. UK’s staff and Allen’s dad were surprised. Yes, even Allen’s dad didn’t expect the commitment then and there. Allen grew up a fan of Kentucky and wanted to be a Wildcat. He didn’t need promises, he didn’t need to check out other schools and he didn’t need to be woo’d. He seems to be willing to work for minutes and knows how UK recruits. The Cats will bring in other talented players, other talented wings and they will do that during Allen’s career at Kentucky.
He’s up for the challenge. You gotta love that from the Kentuckian.
Jeffries: Although all this happened in the last week, it seems like it’s been months. You’re probably sick of reading about him and I’m somewhat tired of writing about him, but I figured I would share a few last thoughts on how things went down.
Supposedly Jeffries and his dad called UK to say they were disappointed Kentucky’s staff didn’t watch his last AAU game and that UK was hosting two other wings that week. An assistant from UK (it may have been Barbee but I can’t confirm) told them they were recruiting other players to try and make sure Jeffries played on a great team. They had watched Jeffries nearly every game during the summer (he does play with James Wiseman) and they missed his last game and it ticked off the Jeffries. I believe that Calipari eventually spoke with them and instead of trying to smooth things over I was told that UK wished Jeffries the best and that was that.
There wasn’t a moment of trying to convince him to stay. There wasn’t a last ditch effort from UK and they didn’t even tell Jeffries to sleep on the decision. It’s my opinion that UK felt Penny Hardaway had been in Jeffries’ ear for weeks and if Jeffries was unsure of his commitment over four months before signing day then it was likely bound to happen. It wasn’t sour grapes on UK’s end, but the Cats know they have other options on the wing.
So, I get asked a lot of what this means for James Wiseman. It doesn’t help, that’s for sure. But I don’t think it hurts a great deal. Wiseman wouldn’t have picked UK specifically because Jeffries was already committed. He’s going to make his own decision. Jeffries may have been a nice added bonus, but this doesn’t eliminate Kentucky. As I’ve said in previous weeks everyone in Memphis is trying to convince Wiseman to stay home, but there was no bigger Memphis advocates than his AAU team. It’s a good thing the AAU season is over and I’ll be curious to see how often UK reaches out to players that play for Bluff City Legends. I don’t get the vibe those guys like UK, and it’s my opinion that I’m not sure UK’s staff love those guys. Obviously Wiseman will still have a relationship with members of his AAU team (staff and players) but I’m sure UK isn’t heartbroken he’s no longer spending every weekend with them.
I still think UK has a solid chance with Wiseman. Don’t count out Calipari.
Kahlil Whitney: The visit went great. Whitney said when he was a freshman in high school that UK’s his dream school and it appears that is still the case. I’m told that Whitney is going to head home, think things over and could make a final decision in a”few” weeks. I’m not sure if that means there will be a commitment this month, or next month, but it seems like Whitney isn’t even sold on taking other visits.
I’m told that if he does decide to take other visits there’s a chance this could go until November, but my source doesn’t believe (as of today) that will happen.
It appears Whitney could be committing to Kentucky soon and that would put UK in a great spot for 2019:
UK would be fine in the backcourt in my opinion. If you could add a Scottie Lewis, Bryan Antoine or Cole Anthony that would be icing on the cake, but you wouldn’t have to add another piece. But then the Cats could turn their attention to the frontcourt. The Cats would HAVE to add at least two of:
Vernon Carey Jr.
Kofi Cockburn (no offer)
Oscar Tshiebwe (no offer)
I still think UK is in the top two for the first three names and it’s unclear just how interested the Cats are for the last two names. Obviously you couldn’t build a class around Cockburn or Tshiebwe, but they would be nice pieces to have to compliment Wiseman, Hurt or Carey. No disrespect to Sophomore Nick Richards, but after watching the open practice last week I’m slightly more convinced we could see Junior Nick Richards. He’s still just a little behind and the frontcourt will be loaded this year. It was just one practice and he will continue to improve, but that’s one guess to UK’s thinking for 2019-2020. If the Cats had Richards then you really only need two more bigs.
Keion Brooks: He will transfer to La Lumiere to play his final season of basketball. I would guess that adding Dontaie Allen and most likely Kahlil Whitney probably doesn’t mean great things for UK’s chances with Brooks. I like Brooks’ game, but it seems like he will most likely go somewhere else.