It’s no secret that Kerry Blackshear Jr. is the No. 1 target on Kentucky Basketball’s board right now. It’s also no secret that it was a BIZARRE week in his recruitment.
On Monday, Rivals.com’s Corey Evans reported that John Calipari visited Blackshear’s parents for an in-home meeting.
— Corey Evans (@coreyevans_10) April 22, 2019
Well, not exactly. Almost immediately after Evans put out that report, Blackshear’s father, Kerry Blackshear Sr., denied that the meeting ever happened.
FWIW, Kerry Blackshear Sr. told me just now he did not meet with John Calipari today. "That wasn't the case."
He said they're working on a date. "We're trying to figure that out right now as we speak.'
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) April 23, 2019
Well, it gets even weirder, since later in the week Blackshear Sr. admitted that he lied, and that the meeting did in fact happen.
So it appears John Calipari did in fact meet on Monday with Kerry Blackshear Jr. and his family, as reported by @russhoops. Kerry Sr. told several reporters the meeting did not take place.
— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) April 24, 2019
And since those bizarre interactions, everyone has tried to figure out what to make of Blackshear Sr.’s behavior. Did he not want details of the meeting getting out to the media? Did Kentucky tell him to keep things hush-hush, especially with two big men (Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery) testing the NBA Draft process?
Only Blackshear Sr. knows, but the man who was on the other side of this mess, Corey Evans of Rivals.com, joined KSR’s Aaron Torres Sports Podcast this week to explain his version of the event. He also discussed Blackshear’s recruitment and gave updates on R.J. Hampton and Jaden McDaniels (you can download the full show by clicking here).
Evans was hesitant to speculate on what the Blackshear family might have been thinking, but added that because Kerry Blackshear Jr. was a relatively low-rated recruit coming out of high school, his family might not be used to this kind of attention.
“There’s definitely some pressure there on all sides,” Evans said. “I think of what Kerry was in high school. He was a relatively thought of prospect. But it wasn’t like this. It’s not nationally acclaimed, coming from every angle. The family has never dealt with this.”
Strange ordeal aside, it’s clear that Kentucky is in fact in the mix to land Blackshear if he returns to college. And if he does land in Lexington, the Wildcats are getting an instant impact player that Evans called “maybe the best grad transfer I can remember” after he averaged 15 points and 7.5 rebounds per game in the rugged ACC. The question now is, after this bizarre week, where exactly does Kentucky fit into the pecking order?
Evans made it clear that Blackshear Jr.’s full focus is on the NBA. But if he does return to school, Evans said that, as has been reported elsewhere, the Wildcats, Florida and Texas A&M (where Blackshear’s old coach Buzz Williams is) are the teams to beat.
“First off, what I think Kerry would like to do is go to the NBA,” Evans said. “But if he does return to college those three schools would atop his list. That would be Florida, the local program that is bringing in a super-talented class. They already have a couple guys [in the backcourt] in terms of Andrew Nembhard, Noah Locke and Keyontae Johnson and all they’re really missing is that stud big man. He can take Florida from a potential Top 4, Top 5 SEC team, to a dark horse Final Four team. Kentucky is there [in the mix] as well. Texas A&M too. Buzz Williams was the guy who recruited him when no one outside a select few schools were really on him.”
Evans also mentioned that he believes Michigan State, Tennessee and Gonzaga are making a strong push for Blackshear as well, but are currently on the outside of those three schools looking in.
Outside of Blackshear, the rest of the recent recruiting buzz with Kentucky has been on a few select players, including 2020 guard prospect R.J. Hampton, who is expected to reclassify into the class of 2019, as well as Jaden McDaniels.
Hampton is a transcendent talent, a player who Evans said “might be in the mix for the top player in the class of 2019” if he decides to reclassify. Unfortunately, with a loaded backcourt next season with the return of Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley and the arrival of Tyrese Maxey, it doesn’t seem like Kentucky makes a ton of sense for Hampton.
“John Calipari was there [Thursday] along with Kenny Payne to do their best to get two Texas guys with Hampton along with Tyrese Maxey,” Evans said. “They’re doing their best, but it’s not the right fit I believe.”
With the return of Tre Jones at Duke, Evans gave the Blue Devils “about a one percent chance” of landing Hampton, and said he believes it will likely come down to Memphis and Kansas.
And finally, there is the long, winding, maybe never-ending recruitment of Jaden McDaniels. The 2019 prospect is finally, just now starting to take his recruitment seriously. But even just weeks before most freshmen will enroll in college, Evans and most recruiting experts have no great feel for where McDaniels will land. He did say that he wasn’t as convinced as everyone else that the choice would be Washington, but added that no one is quite sure right now.
“I talked to his family two weeks ago and they told me that Jaden had begun to start to turn his focus towards his recruitment,” Evans said. “He doesn’t have to do anything until — honestly, he could sign Financial Aid papers and show up on campus at any of those colleges, and they likely keep a scholarship for him just in case it happens.
And it sounds crazy like, ‘that would never happen.’ But Jaden is just that kind of guy to do that. He just wants to ball. He doesn’t care about the recruiting process whatsoever. His family has kept him down to Earth throughout this all. I think there’s been some traction. But nothing where we’re talking about a commitment.”
Overall it was a fun conversation with Evans, and in-depth on three of the biggest prospects that Kentucky is currently recruiting. To listen to the full interview, please click here.