Mondays always suck, but they suck even worse when the No. 1 high school basketball recruit chooses Tom Crean and the Georgia Bulldogs over your beloved Kentucky Wildcats.
Unfortunately, that became reality yesterday morning when Anthony Edwards brought out his baby nephew and revealed him wearing a Georgia t-shirt and bib.
On this edition of Pilgrim’s Insider Notes, we’ll break down what happened with Edwards and what’s next for Kentucky on the recruiting circuit.
Let’s dive right in.
As Edwards himself said yesterday morning, the decision to go to Georgia was made two weeks ago, and it’s a big reason why all of the major recruiting outlets went all-in on their predictions in favor of the Bulldogs. It really wasn’t a secret, especially following his official visit to Athens the weekend after his trip to Lexington.
To get this out of the way, some are jumping to the conclusion that money or extra benefits changed hands or something of the sort. With all of the shenanigans going on with the FBI and the NCAA lately, it’s certainly easy to just assume that there’s no way a potential No. 1 draft pick could actually go to a school like Georgia without receiving something on the side. But fans should absolutely believe it, because I truly don’t believe there was any shady business going on in this recruitment. It was relatively cut-and-dry, honestly.
Yes, Edwards actually wants to attend a school that is currently 10-13 on the year and 13th in the SEC. And he’s pretty darn excited about it.
In short, Edwards’ relationship with Georgia head coach Tom Crean and his assistants was strong and the trust between all parties was built not long after the coaching changes were made. As we’ve said here on KSR multiple times over the court of his recruitment, Crean sold Edwards on being the next Victor Oladipo or Dwyane Wade, and it worked.
I’m under the impression that Crean told Edwards he can come in and instantly get all of the minutes, touches, and shots he could possibly dream of, putting up ridiculous numbers each night en route to the No. 1 draft pick next summer. His family and friends can come watch him become college basketball’s next superstar as a strong representative of his home state. He has said he thinks he can lead Georgia to a national championship next year (not gonna happen), but it shows that he bought what Crean was selling. Even if the Bulldog head coach hasn’t been the biggest media darling as of late.
After Georgia’s 16-point loss to Ole Miss on Saturday afternoon, Crean threw his entire team under the bus and his comments ended up going viral.
“It’s all on me,” he said. “Because I’m the one who decided to keep these guys. It’s all on me. And I get it. Because the last thing I can do, with making decisions, on keeping guys in the program in the spring, is now get overly mad at them because I’m the one who made the decision. So I live with that every day. And it doesn’t mean that they’re not great kids,” he said. “But very few programs, when there’s a takeover, when you have guys who haven’t done it at any point really in their career, a lot of those guys, they move on.”
While many were baffled at his comments and assumed it would hurt his program’s chances with the top prospect in the nation, Edwards said it didn’t faze him at all.
“I know he’s not like that,” he said following his commitment. “He’s a great guy. He didn’t mean it like that.”
To take it a step further, I was told that the comments may have actually solidified his commitment even more. In his mind, he sees it as an opportunity to come in and immediately be the face of a new up-and-coming program under a new coaching staff. Think of it like when four-star football recruits originally committed to Mark Stoops and the Kentucky football program when he got started back in 2013.
On Kentucky’s end of things, I’m told they absolutely made up ground during his official visit to Lexington, jumping past Florida State on his final “list.” He loved Calipari’s pitch and watched Kentucky’s game against Mississippi State back in January very closely, watching every possession and envisioning himself in the system. But even after that, Georgia held the top spot, and they finally sealed the deal that weekend in Athens. Edwards wanted to make things interesting with Instagram posts and uniform pictures, but this thing was officially over the second he left Georgia’s campus.
And with that, we close the door on Anthony Edwards and look elsewhere to close out the class of 2019.
As one door closes, another opens.
Last week, five-star guard RJ Hampton cut his list to five schools, with Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, Memphis, and TCU making the cut.
While the majority of buzz surrounding Hampton’s recruitment seems to be with Duke and Memphis, I’m told Kentucky is right in the thick of things and are absolutely one of the favorites in this recruitment. The family respects John Calipari and the Kentucky program and really feel the combo guard out of Little Elm, TX would thrive in the system.
Dan McDonald of Rivals.com actually said in a recent staff roundtable discussion that he believes Kentucky will end up being the landing spot for Hampton.
“Memphis seems to be one of the schools that has done a lot of work with him early on and I think a lot of what Penny Hardaway is selling was validated by landing James Wiseman in the 2019 class,” he said. “But beating Duke, Kansas and Kentucky is this one will be a tall task because he doesn’t have the same advantage he did with having coached Wiseman. I’ll take a wild guess on this one and roll with John Calipari adding to his collection of really good guards to have played for him.”
There have also been reclassification rumors with Hampton for several months now, and the family isn’t necessarily going out of their way to deny them. In an interview with KSR’s Aaron Torres, Hampton’s father, Rod, said that while the plan is to remain in the class of 2020, his son has put himself in position academically to reclassify and will leave the option open in case his mind changes down the road.
Turning 18 last week, Hampton is ready both physically and mentally to play at the college level. He’s already putting up ridiculous numbers as a junior, and by making the jump now, he’d be back with other players his age and be on track to enter the draft at 19 years old.
To put the icing on the cake, Hampton is one of the most competitive players in the class of 2020, so playing with Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney in the Kentucky backcourt would not scare him away. In fact, Hampton is actually close with Maxey, a fellow Texan, and sources tell KSR they have discussed the idea of playing together at Kentucky together next season.
I would not be surprised in the slightest if he takes the Marvin Bagley III route and says he’s staying in the class of 2020 all the way through the AAU circuit before deciding to make the jump. If Hampton announced his intention to reclassify now, he would be ruled ineligible to spend one final summer trying to earn a championship playing AAU, one of the goals he has set for himself before heading to college.
(As a side note, there is also a rumor out that Hampton, a current prospect on the Under Armour circuit, may be making the move to the Nike EYBL circuit with hopes of competing for a title at Peach Jam this summer.)
We’ll monitor this situation closely.
Last week, we told you about Trinity Academy (NC) five-star forward Isaiah Todd and his decision to either stay in 2020 or make the jump to 2019.
In an interview with KSR, Trinity head coach Bryan Burrell said should his star forward reclassify, he’d be ready to make an instant impact next year in college.
“I think one of his best qualities is that he’s able to pick things up quickly,” he said. “If he was able to get there and immerse himself with his teammates and the coaching staff, and the coaching staff explained to him from day one what they were looking for specifically with production, I think he’d be able to help out a program immediately.
Burrell said that Todd will dive into the recruiting process harder and make a decision on his reclassification once his season ended, which as of today, only has a maximum of four games remaining. The state tournament starts on Thursday and (if Trinity makes it to the title game) ends next Saturday, so we’ll hear more about it from there.
After digging a little deeper on Todd and his circle, I was actually told that those around him actually wouldn’t mind seeing Todd head off to college a year early. He was born in Maryland, found his way to Virginia for school, and then moved to North Carolina to close out his high school career, so it’s not like he has strong ties holding him down in any certain location. Sources tell KSR that if he can get his academics in order, and that’s looking likely as of now, he will be making the jump to 2019.
As far as specific schools he is interested in, I can say with certainty that Kentucky wants him and they would like to have him next season. And as far as I know (again, we’ll learn more about specifics when his season ends), the interest is mutual.
Kentucky, Maryland, Oklahoma State and Boston College have all been in this week for five-star junior Isaiah Todd. Talented forward could reclassify to 2019. @Dwayne_Wise
— Jeff Borzello (@jeffborzello) February 8, 2019
Outside of Kentucky, North Carolina, Maryland, and Oklahoma State are seen as the other main contenders in this thing.
If I were a betting man, I’d say both Todd and Hampton find themselves in the class of 2019 before it’s all said and done, with Kentucky right in the thick of things with both.
On Saturday night, video leaked out of a scuffle between Kahlil Whitney’s Roselle Catholic Lions and the Montverde Eagles, sparking a bit of controversy on social media.
To break it down, a Montverde player got tangled up with a player on Roselle Catholic and appeared to shove him into the bench. In response, Whitney and numerous other Lions came to their teammate’s defense, sparking a bench-clearing brawl.
From there, we saw pushing and shoving from both sides until security came out to break things up. After things cooled down, Roselle Catholic inbounded the ball and dribbled the clock out. Game over, no big deal.
On social media afterward, however, Whitney (being a high-profile, top-10 prospect) was quickly made out to be the bad guy, as people began calling out his maturity and temper, among other things.
Sources tell KSR the folks at UK weren’t happy with the negative comments Whitney and his team have been receiving and felt it was ridiculous people felt a minor incident like that had any bearing on a teenager’s character.
In short, Kentucky is standing by their guy and they are ecstatic for him to sign on the dotted line on May 3. Case closed.
We’ll be back next week with more on the remaining 2019 guys, reclassification rumors, and whatever else is almost certain to pop up between now and Monday.