Each year the live recruiting period provides more clarity as to where Kentucky stands with players in its upcoming recruiting class. After spending a weekend watching and talking to recruits on the Nike and Adidas circuit, I have some bad news, some good news and a few other nuggets of information. First, the bad news.
It’s Not Looking Good
Power Forward | 6-11 | 200 lbs.
Phoenix, AZ | Sierra Canyon
AAU: Phoenix Phamily
|ESPN||No. 1 | 1 PF||Top247||No. 1 | 1 PF|
|Rivals||No. 1 | 1 PF||Scout||No. 1 | 1 PF|
Before the Peach Jam, two Rivals recruiting analysts predicted the nation’s top-ranked player would eventually become a Kentucky Wildcat. After his second game at the Peach Jam, Bagley said he’ll “eventually get to Kentucky,” but he did not mean that in a good way.
The 6’11” athlete that does it all will visit Duke this week. Now the most likely East Coast destination for the West Coast kid, the word on the street is that Bagley could reclassify to play college basketball this year. He should do it. He’s wasting his time playing high school basketball. I just hope it’s USC, not Duke.
If Bagley doesn’t reclassify to 2017, Kentucky will still be in the mix, but I would not get my hopes up.
Shooting Guard| 6-5 | 190 lbs.
New Albany, IN | New Albany High School
AAU: 22 Vision
|ESPN||No. 3 | 1 SG||Top247||No. 3 | 1 SG|
|Rivals||No. 3 | — SG||Scout||No. 3 | 1 SG|
Langford’s recruitment has been the most entertaining since Patrick Patterson/Jai Lucas. Living in the middle of UK/IU/UofL country, the country’s top-ranked wing from New Albany, Indiana has created a buzz the area hasn’t seen in years. Now everybody knows somebody that knows somebody that knows sumthin’ bout (h/t Trick Daddy).
Amidst all of the buzz there were two schools that stood out early in the process: Duke and Kentucky, with the Blue Devils receiving a slight edge. Now, neither school is a serious contender, especially Duke. After a game at the Adidas Gauntlet Finale in Spartanburg, Langford said he is no longer communicating with Duke.
The Duke vacancy isn’t an opportunity for Calipari. Even though many believed coaching Team USA in Egypt would be nothing but a positive for Coach Cal, that’s not the case with Langford. Even if he wasn’t limited by back spasms, Langford still wasn’t going to be a star for that team, forced to take a backseat to another UK recruit.
Langford’s recruitment will be a circus for the next nine months. His recent, sudden change could reverse course later in the process, but it’s doubtful to turn toward UK following his Team USA experience. Indiana and Texas were two prominent names to watch, two places where Langford can be the show.
UK is the Team to Beat
Small Forward | 6-8 | 196 lbs.
Norristown, PA | Westtown
AAU: Team Final
|ESPN||No. 4 | 1 SF||Top247||No. 4 | 2 SF|
|Rivals||No. 5 | 2 SF||Scout||No. 4 | 1 SF|
Reddish is the reason Langford will most likely not play college basketball in Lexington. A 6’8” forward with elite guard skills, Reddish received the starting two-spot for Team USA instead of Langford. Even if he didn’t directly take Langford’s place, the way Calipari played Reddish all but convinced Langford he can’t play with Cam.
This is not necessarily bad news. If Langford isn’t scoring, there’s not much else he can do to contribute. Reddish can do just about anything and everything at any given moment on a basketball court. His three-point shot has improved, but if it’s not falling he can get easy buckets in the post. Defensively, Reddish is a physical presence and an excellent rebounder.
Intitially perceived as a Duke-lean, Reddish told Kyle Tucker the Blue Devils are “absolutely not” his leader. Cal’s Team USA experience will help get Reddish to UK. For another recruit, that experience helped even more.
Point Guard (2018) | 6-3 | 175 lbs.
Bel Air, MD | John Carroll School
AAU: Team BBC
|ESPN||No. 14 | 2 PG||Top247||No. 16 | 5 PG|
|Rivals||No. 15 | 4 PG||Scout||No. 10 | 3 PG|
The point guard has not committed to Kentucky, but everybody already considers Quickley a Wildcat. There are still some people in his ear trying to convince him to stay home to play for Maryland, but that’s highly doubtful. Quickley doesn’t just speak positively about his experience with Calipari, he provides glowing reviews and discusses the importance of working with him over the summer.
Even though I’d seen Quickley in action for Team USA, he was even more impressive in Spartanburg, playing off just one day of rest in the last month. An excellent passer with an improved shot, Quickley’s skills will be valuable to Kentucky, but maybe not as valuable as his ability to bring other elite recruits into the fold. Just like Quade Green in 2017, Quickley’s skill-set and personality will attract some of the best in the nation to UK.
Forward | 6-7 | 220 lbs.
Spartanburg, SC | Spartanburg
AAU: SC Supreme
|ESPN||No. 2 | 2 PF||Top247||No. 1 | 1 SF|
|Rivals||No. 2 | 1 SF||Scout||No. 2 | 2 PF|
The previous two players are certainly close to committing to Kentucky. Zion is not close to making a decision, but Kentucky does appear to be in much better shape, thanks to Quickley.
“Me and Immanuel are good friends,” Williamson said. “We bonded over the Adidas Path and I just love the way he plays point guard. That’s the type of point guard I want to play with.”
They don’t make big guys as explosive as Zion is. Truly a marvel to watch, his highlights don’t do it justice. I could write 1,300 words about him (like Jack did here) but it still doesn’t encapsulate his presence on and off the court.
A Spartanburg native, he brought crowds that are abnormal for AAU events. Those crowds will try to convince him to stay home and play for Frank Martin at South Carolina. After the Gamecocks’ Final Four run, it’s possible. He’s also the kind of kid that would stay home.
We will not know Zion’s destination for a long time, but Kentucky is in a better place now than they’ve ever been before.
There’s a Long Way to Go
Power Forward/Center | 7-3 | 225 lbs.
Santa Ana, CA | Mater Dei
AAU: Cal Supreme
|ESPN||No. 41 | 13 PF||Top247||No. 5 | 2 PF|
|Rivals||No. 7 | 3 PF||Scout||No. 13 | 3 C|
Bol is a beast that can help you quickly forget the Cats are seemingly out of the picture for Marvin Bagley. A 7’3” guy with elite offensive skills (even a jump shot that can extend beyond the three-point line), it’s unbelievable that he didn’t make the cut for Team USA. Bol did not sound too terribly upset that he did not make the team, but Kenny Payne made sure Bol knew immediately after the cut that he should have made the team.
Even though many recruiting analysts are hearing he will stay on the West Coast, Calipari is in a good position. Coach Cal will continue to build that relationship throughout the year until Bol makes a decision next spring.
Point Guard | 6-4 | 175 lbs.
The Woodlands, TX | College Park
AAU: Basketball University
|ESPN||No. 14 | 2 PG||Top247||No. 8 | 1 PG|
|Rivals||No. 12 | 3 PG||Scout||No. 24 | 6 PG|
Considered one of the top point guards in the class, he’s not really a point guard, he’s a shooting guard. The one time I watched Grimes play, he scored 30 and made threes from all over the floor.
A guy that could complement Immanuel Quickley well on the wing, Kentucky likes their position with Grimes, even though the 247 Crystal Ball currently predicts Grimes will end up at Kansas.
Point Guard | 6-2 | 170 lbs.
Brentwood, TN | Brentwood Academy
AAU: St. Louis Eagles
|ESPN||No. 11 | 1 PG||Top247||No. 10 | 2 PG|
|Rivals||No. 12 | —||Scout||No. 8 | 2 PG|
The Cats held off on extending a scholarship offer to the nation’s top-ranked point guard until this weekend. Reading between the lines, the move was probably because of the situation with Romeo Langford. Long seen as a Duke-lean, it’ll be interesting to see if Kentucky gets any traction following the offer.
Center | 7-1 | 210 lbs.
Briarwood, NY | Archbishop Malloy
AAU: New Heights
|ESPN||No. 6 | 2 C||Top247||No. 25 | 2 C|
|Rivals||No. 7 | —||Scout||No. 6 | 2 C|
Calipari has watched the nation’s top-ranked center (Bol and Bagley are considered forwards) multiple times on the Under Armour circuit, including tonight, however, he has yet to extend a scholarship offer to Brown. The Cats might not lose a ton of talent in the post after next season. Brown will likely be UK’s next option if things do not go well with Bol.
Small Forward | 6-6 | 205 lbs.
Columbus, NJ | Hudson Catholic
AAU: Team Final
|ESPN||No. 16 | 2 SF||Top247||No. 14 | 3 SF|
|Rivals||No. 16 | —||Scout||No. 12 | 3 SF|
One of the wings on Team USA and Cam Reddish’s AAU teammate, King has not been shy about his intentions: he wants a scholarship offer from Kentucky. King believes he did enough in Egypt to earn one, but Cal still has not pulled the trigger. If he does, it would not take King long to do the same and commit to Kentucky.