On Thursday afternoon, the Kentucky basketball program earned a commitment from Rhode Island transfer Jacob Toppin, with the 6-foot-8 forward out of Brooklyn, NY choosing the Wildcats over offers from Oregon and Iowa State.
Brother of former Dayton superstar and 2019-20 National Player of the Year, Obi Toppin, the newest Wildcat averaged 5.1 points and 3.9 rebounds in 18.5 minutes per contest as a freshman. He participated in 30 games in his debut season, starting in three.
Outplaying his three-star status as a freshman, Toppin put together solid performances against high-quality competition, finishing in double figures against LSU (10), Alabama (11), and Richmond (12). He also finished with 12 points, two rebounds, and a block against Saint Joseph’s, 11 points, seven rebounds, and a block against LIU, nine points, six rebounds, and three assists at Fordham, seven points and four rebounds at St. Bonaventure, five points and six rebounds at West Virginia, five points and two rebounds at Davidson, and four points and three rebounds at Dayton, among other impressive performances.
You can check out his freshman highlights below:
— Kentucky Wildcats Breakdown (@GoCatsBreakdown) April 16, 2020
Not enough? You can see his senior highlights from high school below, as well:
Now, Toppin will join Creighton point guard Davion Mintz as the newest transfers to commit to Kentucky, with Purdue center Matt Haarms also seen as a legitimate possibility in near future.
Speaking of which…
Is Matt Haarms nearing a decision?
As we celebrate Toppin’s commitment, should we also be preparing for news on Purdue center transfer Matt Haarms?
Last weekend, the 7-foot-3, 250-pound center native of Amsterdam cut his list to ten, with Arizona, Arkansas, Boston College, BYU, Gonzaga, Kentucky, Memphis, Minnesota, Texas Tech, and UNC Greensboro remaining in contention.
After the list cut, the Purdue graduate transfer said he was going to be thorough in the decision-making process, but did not want to “drag it out.”
“Just going to take some time first and then think about how I’m going to handle this going forward,” Haarms told Evan Daniels. “Not going to drag it out though.”
In recent days, buzz has grown that a commitment was on the horizon, with the most recent rumblings indicating an announcement could come as early as today.
Here is my excerpt from last night’s edition of Pilgrim’s Insider Notes:
During the build-up of Creighton graduate transfer Davion Mintz’s commitment to Kentucky last week, those within the UK program felt confident that Matt Haarms was the most-likely frontcourt candidate to fill out the roster following the inevitable frontcourt departures in Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery (NBA), along with Nate Sestina (graduation).
From then, sources both inside and outside the program have felt a commitment from the 7-foot-3 center was possible leading up to this weekend, with the latest public rumblings indicating an announcement could come as early as Friday. As of last week, there was optimism within the program that they wrap things up by this weekend, so this recent buzz goes hand-in-hand with the initial confidence Kentucky felt upon Haarm’s decision to enter the transfer portal.
As co-host and Cats Illustrated insider David Sisk reported on KSR’s Sources Say Podcast today, those close to the situation feel Haarms has been rather distant and quiet this week, indicating the 7-foot-3 center is in the middle of the decision-making process and an announcement could be imminent. No official day or time has been set, but we’re trending in that direction.
Will he opt for Kentucky and become the program’s third transfer addition in a week? Optimism is certainly there.
Jalen Green signs with the G League
Former Kentucky target Jalen Green has officially turned pro.
On Thursday afternoon, the five-star senior announced he would be turning down his two college finalists – Memphis and Auburn – and signing with the NBA G League.
It’s been a crazy exciting experience for me and my family. A lot of opportunities that came” he said. “But the ultimate end goal is to get to the NBA. With that being said, I’ve decided to partner with the NBA G League’s new team for elite players.”
blessing from the man above???? pic.twitter.com/TItfZTSX85
— Jalen Green? (@JalenGreen) April 16, 2020
Green is considered a consensus top-three prospect in 2020, including No. 1 overall in the ESPN player rankings.
… and the G League isn’t stopping there
Aside from Green, five-star forward Isaiah Todd backed off of his commitment to Michigan this week and will sign a similar G League contract. Outside of the confirmed additions, the league is also recruiting the likes of Evan Mobley, Ziaire Williams, Terrence Clarke, Greg Brown III, Jalen Suggs, Makur Maker, Nimari Burnett, Cliff Omoruyi, Kai Sotto, Kennedy Chandler (2021), Moussa Cisse (2021), and Michael Foster (2021), among others. Several have turned the deals down, including UK signee Terrence Clarke, but many are still mulling their options.
And the intrigue is understandable.
Yesterday, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Adrian Wojanrowski broke the news that the one-year development program will pay elite prospects $500,000 and up to skip college and not play overseas for a season. In addition to the salary, bonus, and endorsement incentives, athletes will also receive professional coaching, training, and college scholarships to use whenever they want.
Here was the report:
Green is committing to become part of a year-long developmental program with G League oversight that will include professional coaching, top prospects and veteran players who will combine training and exhibition game competitions against the likes of G League teams, foreign national teams and NBA academies throughout the world, sources said.
The season could include 10 to 12 games against G League teams that wouldn’t count in standings, sources said, but the primary objective will be assimilation and growth into the NBA on several levels — from playing to the teaching of life skills.
The salary bonus structure in Green’s contract, for example, is expected to include financial incentives for games played, completing community events and life skills programs coordinated by the G League’s oversight of the program, sources said.
If you were a 17-year-old superstar athlete, would you turn down that opportunity?
KSR in an hour
Looking for something to get you through the morning? Look no further.
Matt Jones and the KSR crew are back to break down all things Kentucky from 10 a.m. to noon. There, they will discuss Kentucky’s newest commitment and the G League chaos, among other news.