The next eight weeks will likely see a host of UK basketball commitments for the Fall Signing Period. Unlike in years past, where the best players tended to all wait until the Spring and make decisions at the last minute, this year a number of players have decided to make their decisions early and end the process quicker (the reason for this isn’t clear but it seems to be a trend for some of the top 15-25 guys). With that in mind, the UK 2015 roster could be coming together much sooner than in years past. If the commitments come as expected in the next 6-8 weeks, here are the three players that are most likely to call Lexington home by the end of October:
Trey Lyles and James Blackmon Jr
I have assumed for quite some time that Power Forward Trey Lyles would end up a Cat. Since his decommitment from Indiana, Lyles has favored UK and his second choice (which I point as Louisville) has continued to be behind. I feel even stronger about this viewpoint with the news this weekend that UK stopped recruiting Cliff Alexander in the past few weeks. The Cats feel good about Lyles as a future commit and I think they get him some time around Big Blue Madness. The interesting development has been the increased connection between James Blackmon Jr and the Cats. He and Lyles have always been close (both were committed to Indiana) and it would not be a surprise to see them go to the same school. But I had assumed Blackmon Jr might take some time and see how the UK class shakes out. However a number of folks have told me that he will probably make the decision in the fall and that Kentucky is the current leader. Of these three choices, he is the one that is the most shaky in my view (if UK gets Stanley Johnson for instance, I could see him going elsewhere), but as of today, I think a commitment to UK is more likely than not.
I always have despised the phrase “silent verbal.” The notion, which started with the internet, is that a player commits to a school and just chooses not to announce it to the public at that time. I find that notion often laughable and easy to mock. However if I were going to believe in the phrase, the time that it would be closest to applicable might be with Devin Booker. While I am unsure if Booker has told the UK folks he is committed, I do think folks are operating as if he will end up being a part of the class. Either way his announcement will come in October and one would have to give me HUGE odds to bet on him being anything but a Cat.
The two players that I don’t expect to make a decision immediately, but could surprise are Kelly Oubre and Stanley Johnson. UK has risen significantly for Oubre and the folks in Lexington love him as a player and hope he will pull the trigger soon. He has said for some time that he plans on waiting, but I am told that his interest in UK has continued to rise and it wouldn’t shock anyone if he rides that emotion to a UK commitment soon. I still think the three players above likely make the call first, but Oubre certainly could jump the gun and end up in the class first. The other question is Johnson. Arizona likely leads but Johnson does love UK. The key question is whether they can get him to come to Big Blue Madness. If he does, I think UK’s chances rise dramatically. Others agree, which is why they are trying to convince him not to make the trip. The key question is will he get on that plane and arrive in Lexington. If he does, all bets are off.
I still think the class ends up like this:
Blackmon Jr or Johnson (maybe both, but I think or more likely)
Others, including players like Myles Turner and Jahlil Okafor, would certainly be welcomed by UK, but the odds on favorite as of now, is still what you see above.