Basketball Recruiting News
In less than a month, we’ll know where Matthew Hurt is going to college. The five-star forward told USA Today Sports that he plans to announce his college decision April 19 at his high school in Minnesota. He’s down to Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, and Kansas.
“My birthday is on April 20 so I’m gonna do it the day before,” said Hurt, who averaged 37 points and 12 rebounds a game this season. “I do not know where I’m going yet. The coaches have done a really good job of recruiting me; they haven’t been over the top with it, and I appreciate that. I can only pick one school, and I know that I’ll be happy with my decision in the end.”
Hurt is one of several top 2019 players, including future Cats Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney, in Atlanta for the McDonald’s All-American Game this week. Our own Jack Pilgrim has his boots on the ground and will bring you the latest from the practices and interviews today. Until then, check out what he was hearing on Kentucky’s chances with Hurt in last week’s Insider Notes.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 21st, 2019 @ 6:30pm
Looking for some pregame reading prior to Kentucky’s opening-round matchup with Abilene Christian in the NCAA Tournament tonight? I’ve got you covered.
Usually these go up on Monday evenings or Tuesday mornings, but with Keion Brooks Jr.’s announcement this past Friday and my mini post-commitment insider notes going live shortly after, I decided to push these back a little bit to let the dust settle on UK’s newest addition and what’s next for the Wildcats.
Let’s break it down.
Keion Brooks Jr. commits
In the middle of Kentucky’s matchup with Alabama in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals last week, the Wildcats picked up a commitment from 2019 five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr., and it’s one the coaching staff is absolutely giddy over.
To rewind just a bit, I genuinely thought there was zero chance Brooks would end up at Kentucky following Kahlil Whitney’s commitment back in August. They don’t technically play the same position (Whitney is more of a two/three while Brooks is a three/four), but it was close enough to where I figured the UK coaching staff wanted to go all in on the remaining true big men.
When I talked to a source within the program in early January, though, not only was I told that Brooks was still an option for Kentucky, it was made very clear to me that UK was one of the strong favorites to land him.
It’s no secret Brooks grew up dreaming of playing for his hometown Indiana Hoosiers, but that dream slowly faded when he watched Archie Miller’s group, led by Romeo Langford, crumble their way to the NIT this season. Brooks’ relationship with the coaching staff was strong, but reality set in that he likely wouldn’t have progressed the way he hoped for in his one or two seasons in Bloomington. He wanted to make it to the NBA early, but he watched Langford’s draft stock fall in his lone season. He wanted to play for something of substance in college, but he watched the Hoosiers miss the NCAA Tournament. It was the perfect storm for Kentucky to go in for the kill, as they could offer both things. That’s exactly what they pitched to the 6-foot-8 forward out of Fort Wayne.
When it comes to the actual decision process, sources tell KSR that Kentucky and Indiana were the only two schools seriously in contention over the last week and a half or so, with Michigan State having a shot over two weeks ago, and North Carolina also being involved a bit earlier. That’s how the unofficial cut process went down.
I’m told that when it came down to both schools, Brooks wanted to play with his friends at Indiana, but everything changed once his family and inner circle shifted toward Kentucky. When they said they wouldn’t mind driving down to Lexington for home games and felt he would develop better under Calipari, along with his impressive unofficial visit for the Kentucky vs. Tennessee game, his mind changed. It wasn’t a done deal, but it was enough for the Cats to take the lead, and they never fell behind from that point on.
When he announced his decision date, he knew he was favoring Kentucky, but wanted to give him some time to make a final decision. As the week of the decision came around, Brooks visited with both coaching staffs, and we still saw little-to-no movement on his leaderboard, which was good news for Kentucky. Things went quiet from Wednesday evening through late Thursday, and the official decision was made sometime in that timeframe. And then on early Friday morning, word leaked out that Kentucky would be the choice.
At 8:00 p.m., Brooks made it official.
With that, we can finally close the book on Keion Brooks Jr. and turn to Kentucky’s final few remaining targets in the class of 2019.
One of the most important? Five-star forward Jaden McDaniels.
While his final list consists of Kentucky, San Diego State, Texas, UCLA and Washington, most believe the decision will come down to the Wildcats and Huskies.
I’ve said in the past that things have been extremely quiet with him, but I will tell you that there has been a lot of Washington buzz as of late, with several recruiting analysts changing their predictions in favor of the Huskies. Though a lot of that might be educated guesses, there is genuine interest in McDaniels staying out west and playing with his friend Isaiah Stewart, a five-star center out of Fort Wayne, IN.
While I do believe Washington is a serious threat, and very well could win out in the end, I think that we’re still a week or two away from hearing any significant updates on his recruitment. Next week is the McDonald’s All-American Game, and with McDaniels selected to participate in the event, he will certainly be answering questions on his status. I will be there to get as much information on his interest in Kentucky as I can.
Just a few weeks ago, one source I trust flat-out told me Kentucky was not a serious option for the consensus top-ten 2019 prospect. The very next week, Calipari was up in Minnesota visiting Hurt and other recruiting analysts said the Cats were still one of the main contenders. It was admittedly an odd stretch.
We also reported here at KSR that there was worry from Hurt’s camp that Kansas, the perceived leader, was scaring them away a bit with their involvement in FBI rumors. I’m under the strong belief that any serious violations/sanctions found in that scandal will steer him away from the Jayhawks. With Bill Self possibly getting called to testify and more information leaking out of his school’s involvement, that’s looking like a serious possibility.
If that’s the case, Hurt will likely go through an entire second recruitment, where Kentucky will be one of the top options with Duke, North Carolina, and Memphis as the other strong contenders.
Like McDaniels, Hurt was also selected for the McDonald’s All-American Game, so I will be sure to ask about where Kentucky stands and when a decision might come. If you’re playing the odds, I wouldn’t expect a decision until all of the NBA decisions are made and the dust settles a bit on the FBI/college basketball trial. But you’ll have an update this time next week.
Beyond those two, there’s nothing really new on Isaiah Todd, N’Faly Dante, and the other reclassification candidates. I was also told Kentucky will explore the graduate transfer market if need be, but that’s only if the other options fall through and there is a perfect fit a la Reid Travis.
If you’ll remember, EJ Montgomery committed to Kentucky on April 9, while Travis didn’t officially commit until June 20. I’m told that while they do have their top options in place, we could see more opportunities open up once March Madness ends and players go through the draft process.
Kentucky wants at least one more frontcourt signee, and there are plenty of solid options out there to snag. Be patient with this one. After getting Brooks, anything else is icing on the cake.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 16th, 2019 @ 12:00am
After months of a back-and-forth recruitment, 2019 five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr. ended up turning down the hometown Indiana Hoosiers and committing to John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats.
Live from his old middle school, St. Paul’s Lutheran School, Brooks Jr. made the announcement in front of his closest friends and family members. And it’s a decision he says he’s extremely happy with.
Before we get into what this decision means for Kentucky, let’s first take a look at how this thing played out.
How did we get to this point?
Though his final list consisted of four teams, there is no debate that this decision came down to two schools: Kentucky and Indiana.
As mentioned in Pilgrim’s Insider Notes on Tuesday, Michigan State felt they were out of the running this past weekend, and North Carolina has been feeling that way for several weeks now. The Kentucky and Indiana coaching staffs, however, each felt fairly confident in their chances. UK felt John Calipari’s “Kentucky isn’t for everyone” pitch resonated well with Brooks, while Archie Miller took over the recruitment on Indiana’s side of things and felt his team’s “hometown hero” pitch would win out in the end.
To put it simply, if Indiana wasn’t struggling so badly this season and the Romeo Langford experiment worked out better, it absolutely would have worked. Brooks has wanted to play at Indiana for a long time, and that was going to be the choice. It’s not a secret.
With how well Kentucky has turned things around and developed this team for March, combined with Indiana likely missing the NCAA Tournament and their fanbase acting like the sky is falling, it was just the perfect storm for the Wildcats to come in and pull off the upset.
Before the big announcement, I wrote a quick post with some last-minute thoughts on Brooks, and I ended it with a note that I was feeling really confident about Kentucky’s chances this evening. You can check it out here:
Over the last three weeks or so (basically ever since Kentucky’s victory over Tennessee at Rupp Arena with Brooks Jr. in attendance), I had been hearing from multiple angles that the Cats maintained a slight lead over the hometown Hoosiers.
After some silence to start the week, I (finally) heard a fairly significant bit of information from a strong source that Kentucky was the choice. That being said, that didn’t come until early today, which leads me to believe a final decision wasn’t made until yesterday at some point. John Calipari flew up to Fort Wayne, IN on Tuesday and Archie Miller visited on Wednesday, and from what I know, Brooks left both meetings without a decision. From there, he sat down with his family one last time and felt that his basketball future was simply better off at Kentucky.
This evening, he made it official with a quick and easy announcement in favor of the Wildcats (seriously, it was like 30 seconds long).
Now, onto what it means for Kentucky going forward.
Kentucky got a star
Ranked anywhere from No. 17 overall (247 Sports) to No. 38 (ESPN), the 6-foot-8, 190-pound forward is one of the most versatile prospects in the class of 2019, making it no surprise that John “Mr. Positionless” Calipari was dying to get him in Lexington.
With the ability to grab a rebound, run the break, and finish on his own or distribute to one of his teammates, he’s proven throughout his high school career that he’s absolutely phenomenal in transition. He can knock down jumpers at a solid rate, but he’s going to make his money on the run.
In terms of player comparisons, I would say he’s a mix between Jarred Vanderbilt and Kevin Knox. He’s long, strong, active, maintains a high motor, and has a tremendous basketball IQ. If there are 37 better basketball players in the nation, you’ll have to tell me who they are. I won’t believe you, regardless.
Seriously, just watch his highlights and tell me this kid isn’t going to be a star:
The 2019 recruiting class is coming together
Kentucky has had commitments and/or signatures from five-star guard Tyrese Maxey, five-star forward Kahlil Whitney, and four-star forward Dontaie Allen.
Beyond those three, the Wildcats had yet to secure a commitment in the frontcourt before today, and the elite options were running dry. James Wiseman, Vernon Carey Jr., and Isaiah Stewart, among others, all opted for other programs, leaving the Wildcats extremely limited to close things out.
With Brooks now on board, things just got a whole lot easier for the Kentucky coaching staff moving forward. He’s not a true power forward (he’s actually more of a three than a four), but he has the ability to thrive at either position.
Now, Kentucky will likely need to sign just one more big man prospect to close out their 2019 recruiting class.
The UK coaching staff must be selective moving forward
With Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery likely returning next season and Brooks now on board, there’s really only one more spot to fill in the Kentucky frontcourt.
Between 2019 five-star prospects Jaden McDaniels and Matthew Hurt, potential 2020 reclassification candidates in Isaiah Todd and N’Faly Dante, and any potential graduate transfers we don’t even know about right now, the Kentucky coaching staff will have to be careful with how they spend their time on the recruiting trail.
Spread the love too much, and it might not be enough to separate themselves from the other contenders. Put all their eggs in one basket, and there’s a risk of missing out on that prospect, where it might be too late to make up ground elsewhere.
Obviously it’s a great position to be in to need just one more piece instead of several to close out a recruiting class, but the point still remains.
Kentucky is going to play differently next season
Several months ago, I was told the Kentucky coaching staff was looking to go back to Calipari’s dribble drive offense and focus on playing at a consistently fast pace, and Brooks’ addition only confirms that.
As mentioned earlier, the newest Wildcat thrives in that style of play, giving Kentucky a lot to work with next season. They can go small with Brooks at the four,
Add a player like McDaniels or Hurt, and the Cats would have one of the most athletic and offensively-skilled teams Calipari has had at Kentucky. They’d be able to shoot from every position on the floor, dominate on fast breaks, toss alley-oops, block shots, and convert on steals.
If things close out how the staff is hoping, the idea of feeding the ball inside and letting the star frontcourt players go to work would be a thing of the past. This group would thrive on setting up easy inside shots and lobs, finding open shooters on the perimeter, and slashing to the basket.
Needless to say, Brooks’ addition was massive for Kentucky on multiple levels. No matter what happens with expected and toss-up NBA Draft decisions, the Cats now have a roster capable of making a run next season.
Add one more elite piece? Goodness gracious.
It’s official: 2019 five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr. is a Kentucky Wildcat.
Forward | 6-8 | 185 lbs.
Fort Wayne, IN | North Side
AAU: Spiece Indy Heat
|ESPN||No. 38 | 9 PF||Top247||No. 13 | 4 SF|
|Rivals||No. 27 | 5 SF||247 Comp.||No. 23 | 6 SF|
In an announcement made at St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Fort Wayne, IN and live on CBS Sports HQ, Brooks committed to Kentucky over Indiana, North Carolina, and Michigan State.
Brooks, a 6-foot-8 forward playing for La Lumiere in Indiana, is considered a consensus top-40 prospect in the nation, with his highest rating behind No. 13 overall (247).
Brooks joins Kentucky signees Tyrese Maxey and Dontaie Allen, along with forward commit Kahlil Whitney, in UK’s 2019 recruiting class.
With the latest edition, UK’s recruiting class moves up to No. 2 in 247 Sports’ team rankings with an overall score of 68.76, putting them right behind Arizona (69.48) and in front of Villanova (68.34).
Watch your newest Wildcat go to work:
Welcome home, Mr. Brooks.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 15th, 2019 @ 7:30pm
Today is the big day, BBN. Caught in the hype of the Kentucky’s quarterfinal matchup with Alabama in the SEC Tournament is a pretty major recruiting decision for UK forward target Keion Brooks Jr.
At 8:00 p.m. ET, the five-star prospect out of Fort Wayne, IN will be deciding between Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan State, and North Carolina at his former middle school, St. Paul’s Lutheran School, live on the CBS Sports HQ.
Before Brooks makes his announcement, I wanted to post a few last-minute notes on the 6-foot-8 forward’s decision, late rumors, and what Kentucky fans should expect.
To get things started, as reported by 247 Sports, Indiana signee Trayce Jackson-Davis will be at Brooks’ announcement this evening. Some fans are reading into this as a positive sign for Indiana, but I’m told this has nothing to do with the destination itself. It’s just a longtime friend supporting another longtime friend on his big day (think Matt Elam attending Damien Harris’ announcement back in 2015). As recently as last week, Jackson-Davis has been outspoken about his confidence in Brooks joining him in Bloomington, but his decision to make the trip to Fort Wayne has no correlation to the final destination.
As far as the date and time of the announcement itself, I will also remind folks that this was set up before Kentucky’s quarterfinal matchup was established, so again, don’t read anything into the game and decision overlapping. The Big Ten Tournament is also going on right now, as is the ACC Tournament, so each of the other schools Brooks is considering could have also potentially played at the time of the announcement.
In terms of what has happened between my insider notes on Monday and right now, the biggest bit of news I can confirm is that Kentucky head coach John Calipari visited Brooks in Fort Wayne on Tuesday, followed by Archie Miller popping in on Wednesday. At this point, I’m told that while the elite prospect may have been leaning toward one school, a final decision was not made at the conclusion of either meeting. That moment came at some point over the last 48 hours.
I believe the coaching staffs were told the decision today, though I can’t confirm this quite yet. I was told earlier in the week that they would all find out at some point on Friday, so I expect this to still be the case. (No, this isn’t a Terrence Jones situation where he’ll be picking a school at the time of the announcement.) Barring something crazy over the next hour or so, I am under the assumption that Brooks knows where he is going to school.
Over the last three weeks in my insider notes, I have said that Kentucky maintained a slight lead and felt they would be the final destination. Today, I learned even more information that makes me feel even stronger about my UK prediction. I won’t dive into it too much until the announcement is made, but the Big Blue Nation should tune in…
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 13th, 2019 @ 8:00pm
Kentucky is focusing on five-star forward prospects Keion Brooks Jr., Jaden McDaniels, and Matthew Hurt to close out the class of 2019, but one more name that has been heavily discussed as another potential frontcourt option is 2020 five-star big man Isaiah Todd.
Todd, a 6-foot-11 power forward out of Richmond, VA, has been a rumored reclassification candidate since late January, with sources telling KSR at one point it was more likely than not that he would end up making the jump and joining Kentucky’s recruiting class for 2019. On Kentucky’s end, there was a spot open for the elite big man in their upcoming class and they wanted him there. On Todd’s end, academics were in great shape and he could absolutely make the jump if he wanted to, per source.
After his high school season ended, however, things grew a bit quiet on Todd’s end of things. He received an official scholarship offer from John Calipari in February and visited Oklahoma State at the beginning of March, but we didn’t hear much outside of that.
Now, Evan Daniels of 247 Sports is reporting that Todd is “strongly leaning towards staying in the 2020 class.”
“There was a lot of talk about Isaiah Todd reclassifying from 2020 to 2019,” he said. “While it’s certainly still an option/possibility, the word is that he’s strongly leaning towards staying in the 2020 class. Let’s put it at 90 percent. Things can always change in recruiting, but as of now I think he stays in 2020.”
When it comes to the major contenders in his recruitment, Daniels still believes the Cats are in great shape.
“In terms of schools, it’s my belief that Kentucky is the current favorite, with UNC just behind them,” he said.
Another prospect that has been involved in reclassification talks for several months now is 2020 five-star center N’Faly Dante. After showing a relatively limited offensive arsenal last year, Dante had an incredible winter and saw his stock rise tremendously. He’s always been seen as one of the top defenders in all of high school basketball, but now, his offensive skills are starting to catch up.
As a result, the opportunity to move up a class is looking more and more intriguing.
According to Daniels, a potential reclassification is still on the table (if not likely) for Dante, and Kentucky is one of just four options for the 6-foot-11, 240-pound center.
“Sunrise Christian big man N’Faly Dante is strongly considering reclassifying to the 2019 class. In fact, I think it’s likely that he makes the move,” he said. “A source close to the situation said, “he’s still thinking about it.” Dante is a force in the paint and currently ranked No. 11 overall in the 2020 class. There are four schools involved in Dante’s recruitment — Kentucky, Kansas, LSU and Oregon.”
A source told KSR several months back, specifically when the initial Dante/reclassification rumors came out, that Kentucky is certainly interested, but they would prefer he stay in the class of 2020 to allow for more development on the offensive end.
Now, however, the possibility to snag him a year early is intriguing, especially if some of Kentucky’s other frontcourt options fall through. We’re still early in the process, but depending on how the recruitments of Brooks, McDaniels, and Hurt end up, expect the UK coaching staff to make a strong push for Dante in the coming months.
Looking for other juicy reclassification rumors? Daniels also said 2020 top-five combo guard RJ Hampton was “50-50” in his decision to make the jump to 2019, saying it would need to be a “great scenario” for him to consider it.
“From talking to those close to him, Hampton is considering moving to the 2019 class, but it’s certainly not a guarantee. I’d put it at 50-50,” he said. “Hampton’s list of five are Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, Memphis and TCU. Was also told it would have to be a great scenario for Hampton to consider. With Duke’s Tre Jones trending towards the draft, could Hampton be his replacement?”
Could Tyler Herro and Ashton Hagans both leaving for the NBA Draft be considered a “great scenario” for the five-star guard? Strong postseason performances from each, specifically from Hagans, could make that a reality.
Keion Brooks Jr. will be deciding on Friday, followed by McDaniels and Hurt in the next month or two.
After that, reclassification news on multiple top 2020 prospects will be coming in hot.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 09th, 2019 @ 10:00am
Kentucky will have (at least) two representatives at the 2019 Jordan Brand Classic in April.
The official rosters for the annual high school All-Star game have been released, and future Wildcats Tyrese Maxey and Kahlil Whitney each made the cut.
Outside of those two, five-star forward prospects and major Kentucky targets Keion Brooks Jr. and Jaden McDaniels also made the team and will be teaming up with the current UK commits on the away team.
Brooks will be making his official college announcement next week, while McDaniels is still well over a month away from deciding.
In terms of other familiar names, former Kentucky targets Cole Anthony, Vernon Carey Jr., Anthony Edwards, Jalen Lecque, and James Wiseman also made the roster.
John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Brandon Knight, Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Tyler Herro, and Keldon Johnson are just a few current or former Wildcats to participate in the event.
The Jordan Brand Classic, usually in Brooklyn, NY, will be making the move to Las Vegas for the first time in event history. The game will be played on Saturday, April 20 at 5:00 p.m. PST (8:00 p.m. ET).
Check out the entire roster:
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 06th, 2019 @ 11:30am
Coming off their big victory over Ole Miss on Tuesday night, the Kentucky coaching staff is hoping to use that momentum on the recruiting trail.
Tonight, UK head coach John Calipari and an assistant will be in tonight to see 2019 five-star power forward Matthew Hurt in action.
Power Forward | 6-9 | 200 lbs.
Rochester, MN | John Marshall
AAU: D1 Minnesota
|ESPN||No. 10 | 2 PF||Top247||No. 9 | 2 PF|
|Rivals||No. 7 | 2 PF||247 Comp.||No. 8 | 2 PF|
According to Eric Bossi of Rivals.com, Kentucky will be in attendance with Duke and Memphis representatives to watch his game this evening.
Five star senior Matthew Hurt is expecting visitors tomorrow night. Mike Krzyzewski and the entire Duke staff, Kentucky’s John Calipari and an assistant plus Memphis asst Mike Miller all planning to watch his Wednesday night game. https://t.co/rTDwPGRwNw
— Eric Bossi (@ebosshoops) March 5, 2019
In an update from Corey Evans of Rivals.com, the highly-respected recruiting analyst believes that while Duke is getting a lot of buzz as of late, he still believes Kansas is the leader.
“While there was a ton of smoke last week regarding Hurt and Duke, I am still not ready to buy it just yet that he is Durham-bound,” he said. “Sure, the Blue Devils have a lot to sell, as they always do, and the void remaining in the frontcourt adds more opportunity for Hurt, but my pick continues to be Kansas.”
Evans added that Bill Self’s relationship with Hurt makes him feel the Jayhawks are going to win out in the end, though he expects Duke, Kentucky, and UNC to also make strong pushes for the 6-foot-9 prospect.
“The Jayhawks have a major need at his specific position on the floor and no one has recruited Hurt longer and harder than Bill Self and his staff. Hurt has given a timetable for a college decision and waiting until the spring so that he could get a better feel for who leaves and who stays at each of his finalists makes the most sense. In the meantime, expect for Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and UNC to find ways to strengthen their pitches.”
In last week’s Pilgrim’s Insider Notes, I said that Kentucky is not currently in a great position with Hurt, with the five-star forward likely favoring both Kansas and Duke over the Cats. I also added that while Hurt loves the Jayhawks and has for quite some time, his camp may be a little spooked out with Kansas’ involvement in the college basketball/FBI scandal, and if anything serious comes out of that, he’ll likely explore his other options more seriously. In that case, Duke would likely be the early favorite to land the talented scorer out of Rochester, MN.
This would also open the door for other schools (Kentucky being the main one) to make a strong push. Again, we’re still well over a month until Hurt even thinks about making a decision, so there’s a lot of time for things to change and moving parts to shift in UK’s favor. We still have more 2019 prospects on the board, NBA Draft decisions, and potential reclassifications that could shake things up for multiple schools.
Nonetheless, Calipari making an appearance tonight certainly won’t hurt.
In the meantime, watch his highlights below:
Kentucky’s homegrown star has won the state’s most prestigious prep award.
On the eve of the Sweet 16 Dontaie Allen was named Mr. Basketball. The University of Kentucky signee won the award even though he has been sidelined with an ACL tear since late December.
Prior to his injury, the Pendleton County star averaged 42.9 points and 14.2 rebounds per game, the state’s leader in each category. Allen scored more than 50 points in six of 12 games this season and finished his career as the 10th leading scorer in state history.
Allen is UK’s first Mr. Basketball signee since Dominique Hawkins in 2013.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©March 05th, 2019 @ 2:00pm
On Sunday afternoon, 2019 five-star forward Keion Brooks Jr. announced that he would be making his final decision on March 15 at 8:00 p.m., certainly huge news for not only the college basketball recruiting scene, but also the Kentucky Wildcats.
As we’ve discussed regularly on KSR over the last several weeks, Kentucky is one of the main contenders in this recruitment, and they’ll have a major shot to win out in the end.
Today, we will be diving deep into the Brooks’ decision by looking at it from the perspective of all the main parties involved, breaking down the rumors, separating the truth from the speculation, and more.
Let’s take a look.
Keion Brooks Jr.
Forward | 6-8 | 185 lbs.
Fort Wayne, IN | North Side
AAU: Spiece Indy Heat
|ESPN||No. 30 | 9 PF||Top247||No. 16 | 5 SF|
|Rivals||No. 35 | 13 PF||247 Comp.||No. 22 | 6 SF|
Sources told KSR last week that Brooks would sit down with his family to talk through recruiting and take the final steps toward making a decision during his Spring Break. Coming off his unofficial visit to Kentucky, there was talk that he could pull the trigger later that week, but most people I talked to felt he would want to have some time to clear his head and think things through before making an emotional decision.
With his Spring Break starting this past weekend, he got the chance within the first day or two to sit down and talk things over with his family and closest friends, and they ended up deciding on March 15 to give him just enough time to be 100 percent certain with everything. While he may have a solid idea of where he’s leaning, I can confirm he has not made up his mind and wants to use the time between now and then to weigh all the options and make a decision he’s happy with.
As far as the decision date is concerned, I have been told that everything was set prior to all of the college basketball games being played this past weekend. So for those wondering, no, Brooks did not watch Indiana defeat Michigan State and Kentucky get smothered by Tennessee and let it impact his decision in the slightest. I wouldn’t read anything into that.
It is also my understanding that Brooks will not be making any other visits prior to his announcement (especially no rescheduled visit to Michigan State), though there is a possibility that all of the coaches involved will make trips to Fort Wayne in the ten days or so leading up to the big day.
I will add that former KSR writer TJ Walker said on his radio show yesterday that he heard from a source this weekend that Kentucky was ready to “seal the deal” on a recruit, and not long after, Brooks announced his decision date. Put two and two together, and that seems to be solid news for Kentucky.
While I can’t confirm whether or not the Kentucky staff has already visited Brooks over the last few days, I have been told that they do plan on seeing him before the announcement date.
That should cover most of the date-specific stuff.
As far as the location of the announcement is concerned, Brooks said that it will take place at his middle school of St. Paul’s Lutheran School in Fort Wayne.
— Keion Brooks Jr. (@KeionB_12) March 4, 2019
In an interview with Brian Snow of 247 Sports, Brooks said that he’s excited to have his “family and teammates” there.
“It means a lot to me that I will have a chance to have my family and teammates there,” said Brooks. “All of them have been instrumental in getting me to this point, and have helped me a lot along the way. I would be doing a major disservice to them if they weren’t around, so I am excited to have them there supporting me.”
While it is a public church, and thus, the announcement will technically be open to the public, I do find it interesting that they are not actively inviting the Indiana locals to come out. We’ve seen the public school announcements where all family, friends, students, and fans are encouraged to attend, similar to what we saw with Romeo Langford just last year. Usually those announcements favor the home school, but with this, we haven’t seen anything like that. Make of that what you will.
Keion Brooks Sr. also tweeted out “Time to be selfish!” in response to his son’s announcement on Sunday, a phrase that has been dissected and investigated thoroughly from the moment it was posted.
Time to be selfish! https://t.co/vCTtlzeylG
— Keion Brooks (@keion_brooks) March 4, 2019
He also tweeted, “Only one person has walked your shoes through this journey it’s your time to shine!
#allaboutyou #SCHOLARSHIPSOVERCHAMPIONSHIPS” in another post.
What decision would be “selfish,” exactly?
As far as the “Scholarships over championships” line is concerned, it’s a common phrase throughout Indiana high school and AAU basketball and has no significance in terms of specific school choice. Brooks Sr. has tweeted that phrase in reference to Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan State, and North Carolina in the past. Don’t read anything into that.
Now onto the actual schools involved.
The general consensus right now amongst several sources both on Kentucky and Indiana’s side is that Brooks favors the Hoosiers ever-so-slightly, but it’s not enough to sway his decision either way. Disregard the “hometown hero” pitch, he simply would enjoy playing in front of his friends and family every night and represent his state. That’s the extent of it.
Oddly enough, after months of hearing about his closest friends and family pulling at his heartstrings to stay home, I have actually been told that the script has flipped a bit on that. There are actually several people inside Brooks’ circle that favor Kentucky, saying they’ll make the trip to see him in Lexington each game, too. To take it a step further, I’ve been told that while they won’t make this decision about them in the slightest (as we’ve seen with several other elite prospects in the past), they actually favor Kentucky over Indiana in terms of believing in Coach Cal and the UK coaching staff pushing him to reach his maximum potential.
While he gives the (very) slight edge to IU, I’m told he strongly values the opinions of his loved ones (they are a really tight-knit group), and that’s why Kentucky is the perceived favorite to land the five-star prospect right now.
Brooks loves Kentucky, he loves John Calipari, he loves the facilities, he loves the fans, he loves his potential teammates, and he loves the idea of playing one or two years in Lexington before making the jump to the NBA. Based on everything I’ve been told, Kentucky’s pitch was just about as perfect as you can get and the UK coaching staff deserves a ton of credit just to be in the position they’re in right now.
With how poorly Indiana has played this season and the idea that they will likely have to replace two of their top scorers, one being Romeo Langford, next season, that’s weighing heavily on him. He has always favored Indiana and it’s always been his dream to represent his home state by playing in Bloomington, that dream might not align with what’s best for his future right now.
It’s why most of the best national recruiting writers are picking Kentucky. And it’s why I’m still sticking to my prediction of Kentucky.
From a school perspective, both main contenders in Kentucky and Indiana are really confident, so it’s tough to make much of anything from either side. Coaching staffs tend to be more confident than what might be reality in some instances. I heard one rumor that the Michigan State coaching staff genuinely believes they’re getting Brooks, though everyone else I’ve talked to indicates the Spartans are extremely off base with this.
Combine everything together, and I’d probably put the percentages at:
5% Michigan State
0% North Carolina (or anyone else)
The week leading up to the announcement is when we usually hear of leaks and more context to past rumors, so next week’s insider notes will almost certainly be jam-packed with information on Brooks as we prepare for his big decision.
I’ll see you then.
Fort Wayne, Indiana native and 5-star prospect Keion Brooks just announced on Twitter that he will be announcing his college choice in less than two weeks at St. Paul’s Lutheran School at 8pm.
— Keion Brooks Jr. (@KeionB_12) March 4, 2019
Brooks is rated as the 23rd overall prospect by 247Sports Composite rankings. Listed at 6’7″ and 195 pounds, the forward for La Lumiere School has a final six school listing that he’s considering, but most think it is down to Indiana, Kentucky, and Michigan State.
— Keion Brooks Jr. (@KeionB_12) September 25, 2018
Brooks is one of the top players left on the board for the Kentucky staff and it appeared they had the momentum in recent weeks, gaining significant predictions on the 247Sports Crystal Ball. As of now, Kentucky leads at 46%, with Indiana’s 31% and Michigan State’s 14% next on the list. Let’s hope we’ll be seeing him in Lexington next season.
By Brett Bibbins on ©March 03rd, 2019 @ 3:00pm
While yesterday was a rough day for the current set of Kentucky Wildcats, future Cat Tyrese Maxey was competing for a spot in the Texas High School Basketball State Tournament, with a spot at State on the line. Unfortunately, Maxey’s South Garland squad fell to Klein Forest by the score of 64-53 in the Regional Finals.
Maxey’s high school basketball career has come to an end earlier than he had hoped, but it is clear he left it all on the floor every night for the Colonels and I’m sure he was distraught about ending before a shot at the State Title.
Gave it my all.
— Tyrese Maxey (@TyreseMaxey) March 3, 2019
Last night, he finished with 25 of his team’s 53 points in a losing effort. Take a look at some of his highlights from this year’s playoffs below.
Had a chance to film @TyreseMaxey in his final two high school games during the 6A District II Playoffs. South Garland (@SGHS_Colonels) didn't advance to state but the Senior guard played his heart out. Kentucky (@KentuckyMBB) has a special player on the way. #TXHSBB #TXHSHoops pic.twitter.com/yA9vV0gsfm
— Noah Magaro-George ??? (@N_Magaro) March 3, 2019
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) March 2, 2019
While no one wants to overlook the most fun part of this Kentucky season, as Selection Sunday is a few weeks away, people have to be really excited about what Kentucky is going to be getting in Tyrese Maxey next year. Maxey is an absolute stud, and seeing him alongside whoever returns for UK will be exciting to watch.
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 28th, 2019 @ 9:00pm
For the first time in what seems like ages, we have a new recruiting update on 2019 five-star forward Jaden McDaniels.
For several weeks, sources have told KSR that though Kentucky is in great position with the versatile 6-foot-11 prospect, the recruiting process isn’t even close to a priority for him right now and we’ll have to wait till April or even May before we hear a decision.
Today, Corey Evans of Rivals.com got the chance to interview the consensus top ten recruit about where he is in the process and when we should expect a decision.
To start with, McDaniels confirmed what we had been hearing for quite some time: we won’t hear much of anything until his senior season ends.
“(Recruiting) is still the same,” he said. “I haven’t really paid much attention to it. I am more worried about my season right now and after the season, I will give it some thought.”
He did, however, give us our first real timeframe on when he thinks things will start heating up in his recruitment.
“Give me like a week and a half, two weeks after the season, and then I will start things back up and begin talking to coaches again and try and make my decision,” he said.
While KSR has heard anywhere from April to May on a decision, Evans believes we could see him pop on an announcement as soon as late March.
Kentucky, Washington, Texas, San Diego State, and UCLA are the final five schools in contention, though most recruiting analysts feel it will come down to the Wildcats and the Huskies when the time does come for a decision.
Check out his ridiculous 51-point performance back in January:
By Jack Pilgrim on ©February 27th, 2019 @ 6:00pm
The Kentucky coaching staff may be looking to close out the class of 2019 with a bang, but that’s not stopping them from putting the full-court press on prospects in the class of 2020.
|B.J. Boston (2020)
Shooting Guard | 6-7 | 183 lbs.
Norcross, GA | Norcross HS
AAU: Athletes of Tomorrow (AOT)
|ESPN||No. 15 | 4 SF||Top247||No. 12 | 3 SG|
|Rivals||No. 8 | 2 SF||247 Comp.||No. 10 | 3 SG|
According to Evan Daniels of 247 Sports, Kentucky will be in this evening to watch five-star guard Brandon “BJ” Boston less than a week after offering him a scholarship.
Kentucky is expected to watch Brandon Boston this evening. The Wildcats recently offered the five-star wing a scholarship.
— Evan Daniels (@EvanDaniels) February 27, 2019
Boston, a 6-foot-7 shooting guard out of Norcross High School, was in Lexington on an unofficial visit to see Kentucky defeat Auburn 80-53.
Right before the elite scorer headed home, Kentucky head coach John Calipari extended an offer, just the ninth player and the second shooting guard in the class of 2020 to receive a scholarship.
Blessed to receive an offer from Kentucky ???? pic.twitter.com/RxFts5pbCp
— Brandon Boston Jr (@bboston_) February 23, 2019
Here is the list of Kentucky’s confirmed offers in the class of 2020:
- Five-star combo guard RJ Hampton
- Five-star point guard Jeremy Roach
- Five-star point guard Sharife Cooper
- Five-star shooting guard BJ Boston
- Five-star shooting guard Jalen Green
- Five-star small forward Jalen Johnson
- Five-star small forward Scottie Barnes
- Five-star power forward Isaiah Todd
- Five-star Center N’Faly Dante
The Duke Blue Devils currently hold 100 percent of Crystal Ball predictions for the consensus top-15 guard on 247 Sports, including picks from recruiting experts Jerry Meyer and Andrew Slater. Auburn is also expected to be a major contender in this recruitment.
With Kentucky making a strong push, though, it’d be silly to think they won’t be right in the thick of things when we get to the heat of Boston’s recruitment.
Here are just a few of his long list of impressive highlight tapes:
Come on down, young fella.