Did another option for Kentucky’s 2018 recruiting class just open up?
Last night, ESPN released a bombshell report that Arizona head coach Sean Miller organized a $100,000 payment to ensure No. 1 prospect DeAndre Ayton ended up in a Wildcat uniform.
Before it all released to the public, four-star Arizona commit Shareef O’Neal tweeted that he “didn’t want to be involved with that.”
Back in late September when Arizona was originally included in the FBI investigation, there were rumors O’Neal would decommit from the school, and Kentucky was seen as the likely destination if that happened.
When O’Neal signed only financial paperwork with the school in the first week of October, rumors only spread further. In fact, 247 Sports’ Andrew Slater flipped his Crystal Ball from Arizona to Kentucky, saying O’Neal’s father, Shaquille, is a “big fan of coach Calipari.”
“There are rumors that [O’Neal] is likely to decommit from Arizona, given the events of last week. He’s likely to visit Kentucky on the 13th with his AAU teammate and friend Bol Bol. O’Neal’s father is reportedly a big fan of coach [John] Calipari.”
Five other Crystal Ball picks came for Kentucky after the events, and now, 100% of experts on the site list Lexington as the likely destination.
With Zion Williamson and RJ Barrett heading to Duke, Kentucky is left looking for a star forward to fill the frontcourt. Five-star forward EJ Montgomery is seen as the No. 1 target for Kentucky as of right now, and his recruitment will likely come down to the Cats, UNC, and Duke in the coming weeks.
If things go south with Montgomery, could Coach Cal give a call to O’Neal? Or if he expects another player in the Kentucky frontcourt to leave school early, could he make a hard push for both prospects? Maybe he goes after both players regardless of impending departures, hoping for another loaded roster next season?
If he does officially decommit from Arizona, I’d certainly expect there to be mutual interest between Kentucky and O’Neal.