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Is Kentucky cooling on Evansville transfer DeAndre Williams?

Evansville Athletics

Evansville Athletics

Is the Kentucky basketball program moving on from Evansville transfer DeAndre Williams?

According to Kyle Tucker of The Athletic, UK may have “backed away from the table” on the 6-foot-10 forward, who was planning on making a decision this past weekend.

“My sense is UK backed away from the table on Evansville transfer DeAndre Williams,” Tucker said in a tweet this afternoon. “There’s a lot going on there with a 24-year-old Class of 2016 guy who played for a home school team, had a lost year, then prep school, then ineligible year and has 18 career D1 games.”

“And frankly, I think John Calipari owed it to Keion Brooks (and the two top-50 HS forwards he recruited) to give them a crack at being the guy(s) at power forward,” Tucker continued in a follow-up tweet. “If Sarr gets a waiver, Kentucky has plenty in the frontcourt.”

On Williams’ end of things, the Evansville transfer is looking for a significant role at his next stop, choosing between a final four of Arkansas, Baylor, Kentucky, and Memphis.

In recent days, though, there have been rumblings that Williams  – who will turn 24 years old in October – is scrambling a bit with his choices after taking a closer look at the rosters and his anticipated fit at each program.

With Kentucky, John Calipari and his staff recently signed Wake Forest transfer Olivier Sarr to join five-star forwards Isaiah Jackson and Lance Ware as newcomers, with Keion Brooks Jr. also returning for a sophomore campaign. Rhode Island forward transfer Jacob Toppin – who is expected to use this season as a redshirt year, regardless of the NCAA’s upcoming decision on the one-time immediate transfer rule – is also on the roster.

“You have to look at the fact that there’s a lot of guys fighting for that four spot on that roster,” Williams’ coach and mentor, Kenny Roy told KSR. “You look at the point guard, [Devin] Askew, you look at the two five-star wings he brought in. Somebody’s got to be a two, and someone’s got to be a three. Sarr is at the five. So the way I see it is that there are a lot of guys fighting for that four spot.

“That’s not saying DeAndre won’t fight for that spot, I’ll never take away his competitiveness and how he can play. Like I said last time we talked, DeAndre comes in and takes what he wants. But it’s still worth mentioning that there are a lot of guys at the four spot, I didn’t know there were that many.”

KSR has also learned that Williams has been stressing shots, minutes, and an increased role with interested schools, something the UK coaching staff is never comfortable with guaranteeing to any potential recruit.

Outside of Kentucky, Arkansas is waiting on a draft decision from guard Isaiah Joe, while six new additions this offseason put the Razorbacks right at the scholarship limit. Baylor is in the same boat, waiting on two draft decisions – Jared Butler and MaCio Teague – along with three new signees in the class of 2020. Both teams have loaded rosters and would have to create space to add Williams.

There’s a bit of speculation that Memphis forward D.J. Jeffries could transfer this offseason, which could open up a scholarship spot on the roster. Until then, though, the Tigers are also full with 13 scholarships accounted for, including one for Virginia Tech transfer Landers Nolley, who may not even be eligible next season due to NCAA transfer rules. Even if Memphis clears space for Williams, the risk factor is there for two players taking up spots who would have to sit out as true transfers, something Penny Hardaway and his staff are hesitant to do.

With question marks at all four finalists, there is recent buzz that Williams – who still has his name in the NBA Draft – could move forward with his professional career or go back to the drawing board and re-open his recruitment.

Either way, it appears things are trending away from Kentucky to land the versatile forward.

Article written by Jack Pilgrim

Follow me on Twitter: @JackPilgrimKSR

28 Comments for Is Kentucky cooling on Evansville transfer DeAndre Williams?

  1. kentuckybackupplayer
    5:09 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

    Sure am glad jefferies backed out of his commitment to Kentucky.

    • TonyMontana
      5:56 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

      He might be worried about possible sanctions coming down from the NCAA? Who knows. I selfishly hoped he would have a terrible season down there. I was shocked that he actually had a really good year, scoring in double figures almost every game and shooting over 50%. If he does transfer, that’s gonna be so funny though because Memphis lost its best 2 players (Wiseman, Precious) and they only have received 1 commitment this year. They went from the #1 class to #129. OUCH! It’s gonna be a rough year for them. (Insert picture of flattened penny on train tracks)

    • Han
      6:28 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

      Penny definitely reccruited him away.

    • Cletis75
      7:01 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

      Guess Memphis St recruited over him too,lol!

  2. mashburnfan1
    5:10 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

    Funny none of this “bad” stuff was brought up when he was considered the perfect fit. Sounds like he is choosing elsewhere so we now act like we were not interested. Anyone with some experience would be a benefit next year

    • tncatrn
      5:26 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

      DJ Drama Queen Jeffries backing out of Memphis too?! Shocker…

    • tncatrn
      5:34 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

      Well its not exactly like they walk around with a sign around their neck with this stuff listed out is it? HI MY NAME IS DEANDRE IM 6’9″ AND CAN SHOOT THREES…DISCLAIMER…I ALSO WANT TO BE THE CENTER OF THE TEAM AND SHOOT AS MUCH AS I WANT. We are no longer interested because turns out he isnt the fit they thought he might be…next…same goes for you

    • BlueBanker18
      5:39 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

      I didn’t see “perfect fit” used in describing Williams, I saw plenty of it with Sarr though.

    • Cletis75
      5:44 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

      Mashburnfan1, you really like to live up to the facts are optional part of KSR! You’re definitely a glass half empty kinda fella!

    • NickPapagiorgio
      6:17 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

      @BlueBanker, KSR literally wrote an article on 5/4 describing him as a perfect fit. I’m sure we backed off due to him wanting to be the guy and now we’re looking to control the narrative. Not sure why KSR always has to spin it like this and attempt to vilify the individual (e.g., calling his age into question)? Either tell the actual truth and name the individual of where you “learned” this information or just wait until he signs somewhere and the actual news breaks.

    • Jack Pilgrim
      6:48 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

      What are you talking about? Saying a 24-year-old kid wants an opportunity to showcase himself is not “vilifying” him. It’s saying he knows he’s getting old for a college basketball player and realizes this year is important for his future.

    • Jack Pilgrim
      6:44 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

      The quote from his mentor was actually from Friday, a few days before he was supposed to make a decision and Kentucky buzz was growing. The perfect fit quotes came from the same person and others in Williams’ camp before Olivier Sarr’s commitment. They pushed the narrative, not KSR.

    • 4everUKBlue
      7:00 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

      Even funnier I could’ve predicted you would take a shot at BBN because….that’s who you are! You’re the anti-Kentucky fan except when it comes to football, then you’re the ultimate apologist, keep it up I need some comic relief.

  3. A_Blue_Wildcat
    5:13 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

    Was wondering how this guy was a class of 2016 and yet only a sophomore in college. Wild to think he might graduate college at 26.

  4. UKgrad80
    5:19 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

    What DJ Jeffries not happy at Memphis? He said he was so happy he chose Memphis over UK what happened DJ?

  5. UKLugo
    6:30 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

    Go get Jeffries! Haha. JK.
    Get Maker. He’d be insurance at the 5 if Sarr is ineligible. If Sarr is a go, Maker can provide depth at any front court spot. Win win for UK.

    • CJKAssassin123
      9:52 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

      Don’t forget about Banchero

  6. KentuckyBoy
    6:44 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

    He thought he could dictate to call about playing time. Good luck, have fun. I still think we need a multiple year type player to back up Keion. I think he will make a huge leap next year, PJ style. He was is my favorite player from the 19/20 class.

    • nocode96
      9:40 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

      I agree. He showed flashes, albeit briefly, last year that have me excited for what he can do. Huge energy too. A year under his belt and I think he will be huge for us.

  7. 2andToodleLoo
    7:58 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

    If UK is the party backing off they better hope Sarr gets eligible or we’re going to be thin in the front court.

    • CJKAssassin123
      9:50 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

      Not if Banchero reclassifies and commits to UK and Makur Maker also signs with UK.

  8. JT55
    8:19 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

    If Sarr is ineligible as expected, they’re going to be very thin in the frontcourt.

    • ClutchCargo
      9:19 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

      As expected by whom?

    • nocode96
      9:42 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

      No one. This is the Internet, Guys like him make stuff up to fit the narrative of their opinion.

  9. VirginiaCat
    8:56 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

    Sounds like cooler heads prevailed on the Kentucky side. Had he come to Kentucky, It might not has gone over particularly well with Brooks and incoming talent. This will possibly head-off possible dissension within the ranks. Looking at it from all angles, good outcome.

  10. CJKAssassin123
    9:47 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

    I think Williams will be better off just staying in the draft and going undrafted & sign with a team as an undrafted free agent that’s probably his best option at this point.

    • ed.mueller
      11:45 pm May 13, 2020 Permalink

      I’m not sure UK gets Banchero to reclassify or Sarr gets a waiver, which are both problematic, and I also think Tucker is likely right on his assessment of Maker using college as leverage.

      I’m ok with our roster right now, even without Sarr getting a waiver because the pieces in place are incredibly versatile. Yes, it will be very difficult to defend the rim without a, “true 5 man,” but it’s not impossible. 5’10” Tyler Ulis used to switch to an opponent’s 5 and front the post….a 6’6” guard should be able to as be well.

      With this year’s team, I’ll be looking much more at a steep learning curve. I don’t think that even the veteran transfers like Minshaw and Sarr know what kind of work they’re going to have to put in yet or the scrutiny that comes with playing in the fishbowl that is UK basketball.

  11. Aar
    1:03 am May 14, 2020 Permalink

    24, went through Juco, eligibility issues, injuries, etc. While that could scream “watch out”, it also says “what guts, courage and self-belief”. The difficult path leaves scars. Whatever future path he chooses, I’m a fan and wish him well.