On Wednesday afternoon, the NCAA officially announced it would be pushing the recruiting dead period from April 15 back to May 31, meaning schools will not be able to have face-to-face contact with recruits or transfers for at least another two months. No campus trips, no traveling to see recruits and their families for in-home visits, nothing.
Now, the remaining elite prospects in the class of 2020, along with the top available graduate transfers on the market are left with two options: wait until the dust settles on this recruiting stoppage or make decisions based on phone/video calls and prior knowledge of potential schools without taking new visits.
Factor in these uncertainties, along with several current players in the process of making their NBA Draft decisions, and things are certainly up in the air on how Kentucky plans on closing out the 2020-21 basketball roster.
Regardless of who stays, comes, or goes, future Kentucky point guard Devin Askew is ready to roll with whatever pieces he has to work with.
“I honestly don’t know who would be coming in or who would be leaving, but whoever stays and whoever comes in… If no one comes in, I feel confident in myself with the group that’s coming in,” Askew said. “Even though we’ll be young, we’ll grow as the year goes on. If someone else comes in, we’re just adding another piece. It only gets better. I’m confident either way it goes.”
Those pieces he already has at his disposal next season? Five-star guards Terrence Clarke and BJ Boston, five-star forwards Isaiah Jackson and Lance Ware, and four-star forward Cam’Ron Fletcher, who, along with Askew, have all signed with Kentucky in the class of 2020.
So what do fans need to know about Kentucky’s top-ranked recruiting class? And more importantly, why is Askew so excited to play with each of them?
First and foremost, it’s a competitive group of like-minded players with a passion for winning.
“We’ve got a great group of people. Man, I can name them all.,” he told KSR. “Lance Ware, Cam Fletcher, BJ Boston, [Terrence] Clarke, Isaiah Jackson. It’s just, I’m excited. It’s all great players. If you don’t like playing with great players, then Kentucky is not the place for you. We all like playing with really good players. It’s going to be exciting. We all joke around in [a group text message], we talk about how we can’t wait to play with each other.”
Calipari’s future point guard gave a player-by-player scouting report his future teammates, with a common theme holding true for all five signees: aggressiveness and a “dog” mentality.
“Lance Ware is fundamental, big guy. He’s a dog,” Askew said. “Super aggressive, and he’ll bang down there in the post. His energy is crazy. … That kid is good. I’m telling you. Lance, in my eyes, he’s so underrated. He’s going to shock everyone. I’m telling you. He’s a dog.
“Cam Fletcher, he’s a wing that’s super athletic and versatile, plays hard defense,” Askew continued. “With him, he’s super aggressive, as well.
“BJ Boston, he can shoot the lights out of the ball. He’s tall, he can play the two through four.
“[Terrence] Clarke, his offensive game is crazy. He’s just hype. He’s a super emotional player out there, gets everyone hyped.
“And Isaiah Jackson? Man! Bounce, that’s all I’ve got to say,” the Kentucky signee concluded. “He has bounce, his athleticism is crazy.”
As for his own game, he values his knack for winning and ability to lead a team, which is exactly why John Calipari recruited him to Lexington.
“[Calipari told me to] just come in and be a leader, be our point guard. Lead the team,” Askew said of the Kentucky head coach. “One of the things he told me was, “You have a knack for winning and you fight.” I just really love leading a team.”
The 6-foot-4 guard out of Santa Ana, CA doesn’t have to score all the points or have the ball run through his hands at all times. In fact, he often prefers to put his teammates in position to thrive and feed the hot hand.
At the end of the day, that’s what leads to wins, his top priority every time he steps on the floor.
“Leading a team is not always just scoring the ball and everything,” Askew told KSR. “Leading a team can be recognizing one of my teammates is killing it that game, let’s make sure we all get him the ball. That’s the knack for winning that I have and I know I have. It’s not to be selfish in ways where I have to do it all, no. I see when other people are doing better in certain games, like, “We have to get him the ball because he’s hot. He’s doing better at this than he is right now, let’s focus on him right now.” And it changes every game.”
During the recruiting process, that mindset is what led Askew and Calipari to one another. When the Kentucky head coach recognized his win-at-all-costs mentality, the five-star guard prospect knew he wanted to play for him in Lexington.
In his mind, they understood each other.
“Just being a leader, being out there on the court and leading them, that’s what he liked about me,” he said of Calipari. “I know that about myself, so when he said that, I was like, “Oh, he understands me.”‘
And it’s not just the relationship between Calipari and his future point guard. Between the six signees, Askew feels they all thrive in the spotlight and crave high-pressure situations.
In short, they’re all built for the colossal stage that is Kentucky basketball.
“We’re just a group of kids, I feel like, that loves to compete,” Askew, the No. 25 overall recruit in the 247Sports Composite Rankings, said. “We all like to be in those close games, those competitive games that are made off of those last-minute decisions. We like to be in those situations and play in those situations.”
The chemistry between Kentucky’s six signees is already growing by the day, but with several Wildcats set to make difficult NBA Draft decisions in the coming weeks, how would other potential returnees fit into the equation?
While he understands the value in striking while the iron is hot on NBA opportunities, he would welcome any and all current players – namely Immanuel Quickley and EJ Montgomery – to return and help put together a special season in Lexington next season.
For Askew, the more the merrier.
“Hey, that’d be great,” Askew said of Wildcats from the current roster potentially returning to school. “If Immanuel Quickley comes back, that’s cool. That’s just an extra really, really good piece. If EJ [Montgomery] comes back? That’s even better. It’d be amazing. Honestly, it’d be cool if some players did that. But I know Coach Cal, he’s the kind of coach where, if you can get out, and it’s your time to go get your money? Go get your money. The NBA is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and if you get that chance, you’ve got to jump on it. You don’t want to miss out on that opportunity [if the timing is right].
“But if Quickley comes back, if EJ comes back, let’s get it.”
For KSR’s entire conversation with Devin Askew on the Sources Say Podcast, you can listen below: