High school basketball season is slowly coming to a close, which means the recruiting season is about to ramp up, with several of the remaining unsigned elite prospects set to take the next steps in their respective processes.
Two of those targets, Keion Brooks Jr. (2019) and Isaiah Todd (2020, for now) have already shown they’re about to get into the nitty-gritty of their recruitments. Another, Matthew Hurt, has not publicly discussed his recruitment or where he’s leaning in a while, but we have heard some rumblings about his situation and some outside forces that may have an impact on that.
Let’s take a look.
|Isaiah Todd (2020)
Power Forward | 6-10 | 195 lbs.Richmond, VA| Trinity Academy Of RaleighAAU: Team Melo
|ESPN||No. 8 | 4 PF||Top247||No. 18 | 3 PF|
|Rivals||No. 15 | 2 C||247 Comp.||No. 13 | 2 PF|
Two big pieces of news involving 2020 five-star forward Isaiah Todd leaked out over the last week, with both relating back to Kentucky either directly or indirectly.
The first? The Kentucky staff visited Todd in North Carolina last Wednesday, offering a scholarship to the 6-foot-10 forward. I can confirm that this offer is for either his original class of 2020 or the class of 2019 should he make the (expected) decision to reclassify. Whenever he gets to college, Kentucky is ready to welcome him with open arms.
In the other bit of news that came out more recently, Todd will be officially visiting Oklahoma State this weekend, one of the other main contenders in his recruitment.
In fact, after a long string of 247 Sports Crystal Ball predictions in favor of Kentucky from the likes of recruiting experts Evan Daniels, Andrew Slater, and Jerry Meyer, one individual actually put in a pick for the Cowboys.
Though anything can happen on an official visit and there seems to be genuine interest in Oklahoma State, this news indicates to me more that the elite big man is ready to take the next step in his recruitment and break down his finalists to inch closer to a decision. Maybe Zach Lancaster of GoPokes.com heard something on his end that made him feel confident, but everything I have been told (from Kentucky’s and Todd’s side of things) indicates if Todd is leaning any direction right now, it’s the Cats. The family loves John Calipari and the Kentucky staff, and they feel Todd can develop as an NBA prospect at the rate they’re looking for in Lexington.
Picks from Daniels, Meyer, and Slater only back that up.
With Todd scheduling official visits now, I expect this to move rather quickly as far as schools and interest is concerned. He may or may not take all five officials, but no matter how many he takes I’m 99.9 percent certain Kentucky will be one of them. I wouldn’t even be shocked if we see him try to knock visits out so he can get ready for a commitment sooner rather than later. His high school head coach told me things could heat up once his high school season wraps up, and we’re already starting to see that come to fruition.
Speaking of reclassification news, I also learned that Todd is in great position to get his academics figured out, making this reclassification talk pretty serious. Similar to Ashton Hagans last summer, he has just a few Ts to cross and Is to dot before he can take that next major step with it. While the goal is to play on the AAU circuit this summer, there is talk that he can finish up school and make it on campus in June with the rest of the incoming 2o19 prospects.
Getting him to Lexington so he can learn the system and get situated early would be huge. Obviously we’re still a while away from that, especially if he decides to take all five officials, but it’s starting to become a reality.
Keion Brooks Jr.
Forward | 6-8 | 185 lbs.
Fort Wayne, IN | North Side
AAU: Spiece Indy Heat
|ESPN||No. 30 | 9 PF||Top247||No. 16 | 5 SF|
|Rivals||No. 35 | 13 PF||247 Comp.||No. 22 | 6 SF|
As we discussed last week, five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr. is in the home stretch of his recruitment, with a decision expected at any time.
Last week following his visit to Kentucky, I was told that we could hear of a decision coming at any time over the next week or two. The earliest I heard of a potential announcement was late last week, with a soft deadline being the end of February (this week), basically while Keion is home on Spring Break to talk things over with his family.
While I still feel that news could pop at any time, it’s starting to look like it could drag into the early part of March. In his own words, he’s taking it “day by day,” meaning he could wake up at any moment and decide he’s ready. I heard one possibility that by the end of this week he’ll be ready to set an official announcement date, but we’ll have to see with that.
As far as specific finalists, that has not changed from last week. I feel strongly in my prediction change from Indiana to Kentucky, and I still believe those two schools are the serious finalists in consideration.
There was a time that Brooks told the media that he was about set to make a commitment, and I’ve been told if the decision had been made then, it would have been Indiana. This was before Isaiah Stewart and Anthony Edwards made their decisions.
Soon after, I heard Michigan State and North Carolina both surged into the top three, with Kentucky dropping to No. 4. Then, I heard North Carolina had dropped out of the equation completely (I still believe this is true), while Michigan State was clinging on to that No. 3 spot. While they may be one of the hats on the table, I just don’t see the Spartans being one of the true contenders.
With Indiana losing 12 of their last 13 and the wheels falling off within the basketball program (and fans acting accordingly), it has forced Brooks to re-think things. Even with him potentially being a hometown hero and playing in front of friends and family every night, the idea of playing for an NIT team is worrisome. Keep in mind he’s playing for La Lumiere right now, a national powerhouse currently ranked No. 1 in all of high school basketball. He’s a winner at heart, and the realization is setting in that things would be different in Bloomington.
As for Kentucky, his entire family loves Calipari’s pitch, he loves the program, and he thinks he can develop into a first-round NBA draft pick playing against elite competition in Lexington. The program sells itself.
He’d love to play in front of close friends and family at Indiana, but I’m feeling good about Kentucky’s chances, especially if he sets an announcement without making any other visits (a real possibility).
Power Forward | 6-9 | 200 lbs.
Rochester, MN | John Marshall
AAU: D1 Minnesota
|ESPN||No. 5 | 2 PF||Top247||No. 4 | 2 PF|
|Rivals||No. 5 | 3 PF||247 Comp.||No. 4 | 2 PF|
Outside of Todd and Brooks, people have been wondering about the other two big names in the class of 2019: five-star forwards Jaden McDaniels and Matthew Hurt.
While there hasn’t been anything to report on with McDaniels, I did hear some interesting information about Hurt over the last week, and it’s not necessarily good news for Kentucky.
In terms of what’s public knowledge right now, Evan Daniels put in a Crystal Ball pick for Duke on Monday, saying the Blue Devils are in a “really good position” with the 6-foot-9 power forward.
“In terms of the Crystal Ball, it’s not by any means that he’s about to make his college choice because don’t think that’s the case,” Daniels said. “But Duke has put itself in a really good position. There are obviously some other really good schools in there, but I don’t know that I would trade their [Duke’s] position for anyone right now.”
This comes fairly soon after Kansas was seen as the team to beat in his recruitment for numerous reasons.
For one, there are some relatively strong Adidas ties with Hurt, making Kansas an obvious option. He has always liked the Jayhawks and has tremendous respect for Bill Self, his head coach on the USA Basketball U-18 team last summer.
The Kansas women’s basketball team even offered a scholarship to his younger sister, Katie (a current high school freshman), to help with Matthew’s recruitment.
With the FBI investigation into college basketball, however, I’m told Kansas’ involvement may have spooked everyone in his camp out a bit. I don’t think there’s any funny business going on with Hurt and/or his family in the slightest (they’re a fantastic group of individuals), and they don’t want to be attached to that baggage. At one point, I was told he was “Kansas all the way,” but now, that’s a bit fuzzy.
Insert Kentucky, right? Unfortunately not.
In fact, it’s the exact opposite.
I’m told the Cats are not in the best position with Hurt right now, with some going as far as to say they might not even be one of the main contenders. If Kansas can get cleared in the next few months (doubt it), I’d still give them a slight edge over Duke. If not, I unfortunately think he ends up playing for Coach K.