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2019 five-star forward Jaden McDaniels commits to Washington

2019 five-star forward Jaden McDaniels commits to Washington

2019 five-star forward Jaden McDaniels has made his decision.

As expected, the 6-foot-10 prospect out of Federal Way, WA has decided to stay home and play for the Washington Huskies.

He made the following post on Twitter this evening:

McDaniels, a consensus top-15 prospect, chose Washington over Kentucky, San Diego State, Texas, and UCLA.

Over the last several weeks, we’ve seen multiple momentum shifts in this recruitment. Washington was seen as the favorite for the majority of his senior season, but recently, Kentucky took over as the (temporary) favorite.

In the end, though, the draw of staying at home to play in front of friends and family every night won out. Instead of playing in the spotlight several hundred miles away in Lexington, he’ll have the ability to distance himself from the pressure at Washington one more year before making the jump to the NBA.

We’ll have more on the decision and what it means for Kentucky moving forward in Pilgrim’s Insider Notes tomorrow afternoon.


If Jaden McDaniels is Truly Torn, Let’s Give Him His Space

(Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)

We’re now officially towards the back-end of May, and yet we somehow don’t appear to be any closer to the end of the recruitment… that just won’t end. I’m of course talking about Jaden McDaniels, the five-star forward from Seattle, who has seemingly been trying to decide between Washington and Kentucky since the Obama administration. Yet despite summer school starting in just a week or two, he doesn’t appear to be any closer to actually making his college decision.

Or is he? Who knows.

Frankly, it feels like he could commit a minute after this article publishes. Or a month from now. No one seems to have any idea. McDaniels doesn’t do interviews, doesn’t seek attention on social media and doesn’t truly seem in any rush to make a decision.

If anything, he is the opposite of what college basketball recruiting is in 2019. He doesn’t seek the spotlight. He actively avoids it.

Never was that more apparent than this weekend, when we actually got some interesting information about McDaniels recruitment. Information that came from the most unlikely source: His older brother Jalen.

San Diego State’s Jalen McDaniels was at the NBA Draft Combine this weekend, where he was stopped by the Lexington Herald-Leader’s Jerry Tipton and asked about his younger brother.

There, Tipton asked if the elder McDaniels had any idea when his brother would decide. I mean, his older brother would have to know, right?

Maybe not.

“Whew, man, I’m wondering the same thing, honestly,” Jalen said. “I mean, honestly. I feel like it should be coming soon, though.”

“To be honest, I don’t know what’s holding it up,” Jalen said. “I know it’s between two schools. He’s just trying to make the right decision.”

My goodness. In a world where it’s easier to get information out of Fort Knox than it is the McDaniels camp, doesn’t this interview tell you everything you need to know about Jaden McDaniels recruitment? If McDaniels own brother has no idea where he is going, is it possible that maybe, just maybe, Jaden himself has no idea either?

The answer is probably a “yes.” And if Jaden really does have no idea where he wants to go to college then let me say this: He deserves respect from all of us (especially folks like me in the media) while making his decision.

Now look, before we go any further, I already know what some of you are thinking: “Aaron, do you really believe that Jaden McDaniels own brother has no idea where he is going to college?” It of course possible that the elder McDaniels does know and doesn’t want to give away the suspense. It’s also certainly possible that, considering that Jalen McDaniels has been at San Diego State the last three years, that he just isn’t all that close to his brother’s decision-making process any more. That certainly seems plausible.

At the same time, if you just read his comments, do you really believe that the elder McDaniels is part of some big conspiracy and trying to shield his brother? Or do the comments read like an older brother who genuinely has no idea what his baby bro is thinking (and yes, I just dropped a casual, Johnny Drama “Baby Bro” in this article).

To me it’s the latter.

And when you think about it, doesn’t it kind of make sense that Jaden McDaniels might be genuinely confused as this point? After all, as much as we professionalize all these big-time basketball players and assume that they’ve got it all figured out (since they’ll be in the NBA within a year), the reality is that they’re still 17, 18 and 19-years-old. For most of them, this is the first truly big decision that they will make in their lives. That’s especially the case for Jaden McDaniels. He isn’t a kid who has been the focus of a big-time recruitment since he was a sophomore in high school, but was relatively unknown until about a year ago. He also isn’t some kid who spent a year or two at Oak Hill Academy or Montverde adjusting to life away from home. This is all, quite literally, new to him.

So, you think that this might be overwhelming for him?

Seriously, think about everything he’s choosing between right now: The place he has called home his whole life, or a school that’s 3,000 miles away. Playing in front of friends and family for the next year, or on the biggest stage in college basketball. Playing for a solid Pac-12 program where expectations will be somewhat low, or on a team that will very likely start the season ranked in everyone’s Top 5 and be expected to compete for a national title. Being the hometown hero? Or playing for his “dream school.”

When you think about it like that… man is that a lot on the shoulders of an 18-year-old kid.

Maybe I’m overthinking things, but to me, this doesn’t seem like the type of kid to simply use social media to build drama between two fan-bases. He doesn’t seem to be waiting on anything honestly, other than for his heart to tell him where to go to college.

To me, this just seems like an 18-year-old kid who is truly torn on his college decision.

If his brother has no idea where he’s going, it probably means no one does including Jaden McDaniels.

So let’s all give him the respect he deserves as he tries to figure things out.


Kentucky no longer in the running for RJ Hampton

@CourtsideFilms

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Kentucky is no longer in the running for RJ Hampton. John Martin of 92.9 ESPN in Memphis is reporting that the five-star guard is down to Memphis, Kansas, and Texas Tech and cut the Cats from his list because “Kentucky’s backcourt is set.”

While Hampton is an exciting prospect and we’ve heard that those around him actually prefer Kentucky to other schools on his list, between Ashton Hagans, Immanuel Quickley, Tyrese Maxey, and Johnny Juzang, the Wildcats’ backcourt is simply too loaded for the scenario to make sense.

Kansas leads Hampton’s Crystal Ball with 81% of the predictions.


USA Today Sports

Head-to-head recruiting: Coach Cal vs. Coach K

USA Today Sports

When the college basketball season ends (and sometimes before), the recruiting season begins, and it’s no secret that John Calipari is a master recruiter (despite how much he may downplay it). Since 2011, Kentucky has been the only school with a consensus top-5 recruiting class among 247SportsScout, and ESPN. Furthermore, the Wildcats have had a consensus top-2 class every year except for 2019 (though they could rise in the rankings if Jaden McDaniels goes against predictions and chooses the Cats).

While Coach Cal’s recruiting prowess has paid dividends, it’s placed a target on his back, and other schools have elevated their game in the recruiting arena. Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway has put together the No. 1 recruiting class so far this cycle, but the most consistent competition comes from Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

From 2014 to 2018, the Wildcats and the Blue Devils have shared the top-2 spots in recruiting, and the latter has owned the consensus No. 1 class the past two years. Last year, Duke boasted the first class in the modern era with the No. 1, 2 and 3 ranked players on their roster.

A variety of factors go into the players a coach chooses to recruit and the schools a player is interested in joining. Coach Cal and Coach K have different play styles which call for different skill sets and, as such, they often recruit different players. However, players inevitably come along who are so talented that both coaches compete for them. These head-to-head battles are where things get extra competitive – and interesting.

These decisions, the ones made by the most sought after players in a class, often come down to Kentucky, Duke and a handful of other schools. It may be worthwhile then to examine those cases and see how Cal and K stack up as “closers” when they’re vying for the same prospect. These are the athletes (and their ESPN rankings) since 2014 who were considering both UK and Duke at the time they made their final decision:

2019

Matthew Hurt (No. 11)—Duke

2018

R.J. Barrett (No. 1)—Duke

Zion Williamson (No. 2)—Duke

Cam Reddish (No. 3)—Duke

E.J. Montgomery (No. 14)—Kentucky

2017

Kevin Knox (No. 10)—Kentucky

2016

Harry Giles (No. 1)—Duke

Jayson Tatum (No. 3)—Duke

Wenyen Gabriel (No. 14)—Kentucky

Marques Bolden (No. 16)—Duke

2015

Brandon Ingram (No. 3)—Duke

Luke Kennard (No. 24)—Duke

2014

Karl Anthony-Towns (No. 9)—Kentucky


So, since 2014, the score is 9-4 in favor of Krzyzewski. Of course, there were players considering both schools who eventually dropped one and went to the other (i.e. Trey Lyles), but when it comes down to arguably the two most prestigious programs in college basketball history, Duke seems to be winning out on the recruiting trail, at least right now.

This is not to say Calipari & Co. has not done extremely well on said trail. Like previously mentioned, the Wildcats have had a consensus top-2 class every year until 2019, and things could still change in that department. Regardless, it hurts just a little bit more when the Cats miss out on top talent to none other than Coach K and his Blue Devils, right?


Where UK Stands With the Remaining Frontcourt Options for 2019

(Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports)

UK’s 2019 roster is already formidable, but Coach Cal is still searching for that final cog that would have the machine running at full strength. Even if we assume EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards both return to Lexington for another season, there is still potentially room for one more big body to fill out the front-court rotation. Who that player will be, or if the Cats wind up with just three big men for next year, remains to be seen, but there are several options still technically on the table.

The likelihood that any of them end up in blue and white is a mixed bag.

Jaden McDaniels

The premier recruit still left undecided in the 2019 class, McDaniels seems to be having trouble making his final decision. We all know UK is his “dream school,” but with plenty of hometown Washington advocates certainly in his ear, the pressure of making a final commitment has to be weighing on the guy.

As recently as last week, it seemed UK was firmly in the driver’s seat as the clear leader to land McDaniels, but when his suspected decision day came and went without any official announcement, the waters got much murkier. 247Sports’ Evan Daniels flipped his prediction yesterday, now saying he believes Washington will snag the 5-star forward. With minimal whispers and no firm date set for his decision, expect the McDaniels saga to drag on just a bit longer.

Kerry Blackshear, Jr.

The former Virginia Tech standout is also ruminating on a decision of his own: to risk the uncertainty of the NBA Draft or spend one more year in college boosting his stock.

The most recent rumblings on Blackshear point to him leaning towards staying in the draft. That being said, our own Jack Pilgrim did note that should Blackshear not get the feedback he’s looking for from the League, Kentucky may be the favorite destination for arguably the top grad transfer in 2019. We’ll know soon enough: only 10 days remain until the draft withdrawal deadline.

Jordan Brown

UK reached out to the former Nevada big man and McDonald’s All-American almost immediately after his name popped up in the transfer portal, but updates on Brown have been few and far between since then. Arizona is pushing hard to woo the 6’10” power forward, but other than that, there haven’t really been any indicators on Brown’s status.

Maybe he’s waiting to see where other chips fall? Or could he be holding out for a different school to show interest? As soon as we know, so will you.


For now, I wouldn’t call the situation with any of these guys critical. But on the off chance EJ or Nick explore their options elsewhere, Coach Cal might have to put on his big boy recruiting cap and get to work once again.

@JayWinkKSR


2020 five-star wing BJ Boston cuts list to four, includes Kentucky

2020 five-star wing BJ Boston cuts list to four, includes Kentucky

Kentucky is a finalist for one of the top prospects in the class of 2020.

Five-star wing Brandon Boston Jr. trimmed his list down to four this evening, with Kentucky, Duke, Auburn, and Florida making the cut.

Ever since Kentucky offered the 6-foot-6 prospect back on February 23, most recruiting analysts felt it was a two-horse race between the Wildcats and Blue Devils, with the latter being the rumored favorite.

Over the last week, however, the Wildcats have received four consecutive Crystal Ball picks, including one from 247 Sports Director of Basketball Scouting Jerry Meyer and Duke insider Andrew Slater.

At the recent Nike EYBL event in Atlanta, Boston told KSR that while his recruitment is open, there are four schools recruiting him the hardest right now.

“I would say Duke, Alabama, Kentucky, and Florida,” he said. “I think that’s it.”

Since then, however, the Tigers have recruited him as a package deal with AAU teammate and fellow five-star guard Sharife Cooper, something that intrigues Boston. This would explain Alabama being dropped from the final list and Auburn being added.

The five-star prospect added that he loves Kentucky because of how focused they are on winning in Lexington, something he is definitely interested in when he gets to college next year.

“I love how Coach Cal, all of the coaches and players, they all hold each other accountable,” he said. “They just want to win.”

In his official scouting report over on 247 Sports, Jerry Meyer highlights his length, athleticism, and “natural feel for the game.”

A long athlete who is still growing. Has good athleticism and a natural feel for the game. Lack of strength needs to improve, especially to be effective long term on the defensive end. Terrific scorer who is effective at all three levels. Has a nose for the ball and the length to be a dangerous rebounder. Has tremendous upside, which makes him a potential lottery pick.

Watch some of his most recent highlights during his time on the Nike EYBL circuit this spring here:

Come on down, young fella.


Jaden McDaniels’ brother weighs in on the ongoing recruitment

Photo via Endless Motor

Jaden McDaniels is still quiet as a mouse regarding his will-he or won’t-he commitment that’s down to Kentucky and Washington, but his brother, Jalen, is breaking his silence. In a new report from Jerry Tipton and the Herald Leader, Jalen weighed in on his brother’s pending decision. Unfortunately, he seems as confused as the rest of us.

When will a decision be made?

“Whew, man, I’m wondering the same thing, honestly,” Jalen said Thursday. “I mean, honestly. I feel like it should be coming soon, though.”

He’s also not sure why it’s taking this long.

“To be honest, I don’t know what’s holding it up,” Jalen said. “I know it’s between two schools. He’s just trying to make the right decision.”

Although there is definitely some McDaniels recruiting fatigue, it’s certainly not caused by Jaden McDaniels himself. The five-star prospect has remained silent throughout this entire process, leaving some with questions regarding his ability to handle the spotlight that comes with playing basketball at Kentucky. His brother isn’t convinced that would be an issue.

“He’s a low-key guy. He doesn’t get caught up in that. Like, the attention doesn’t mean a lot to him,” Jalen says. “He knows it comes with it, but something that he doesn’t get caught up in it. So I feel he’d do fine.”

[Herald Leader]