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What does Devin Askew’s commitment mean for Kentucky?

Photo: Jon Lopez/Nike

Late this evening, 2021 five-star guard Devin Askew announced his commitment to Kentucky, choosing the Wildcats over Louisville, Memphis, and Arizona, among 16 total scholarship offers.

And though he technically committed as a 2021 prospect, he also acknowledged that he is considering a jump to the class of 2020 at the conclusion of his junior season at Mater Dei High School.

Askew, a 6-foot-3, 195-pound guard out of Sacramento, CA, is considered the nation’s No. 9 overall prospect according to Rivals.com and the No. 1 overall point guard. ESPN has him listed at No. 12 overall (No. 1 point guard), while 247Sports has him ranked No. 13 overall (No. 2 combo guard). The newest Wildcat comes in at No. 10 overall on the 2021 247Sports Composite Rankings.

But what do we need to know about Askew? And most importantly, what does his commitment mean for Kentucky?

Who is Devin Askew?

A knockdown shooter with elite floor general qualities, Askew is arguably the top point guard in the junior class for a reason.

This summer playing for Team WhyNot on the Nike EYBL circuit, Askew averaged 9.8 points (46.2% from three), 3.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, and 1.8 steals per contest during the regular season to go with 16.2 points, 5.8 rebounds, 6.0 assists, and 2.0 steals per contest during Peach Jam. During bracket play, Askew was instrumental in leading Team WhyNot to the Peach Jam finals alongside former UK target Jalen Green.

Throughout the entire Nike EYBL season, Askew made at least one 3-pointer in 16 of 20 total games, at least two 3-pointers in 11 games, at least four 3-pointers in six games, and at least five 3-pointers in two games. His status as one of the nation’s best shooters, regardless of class, is no secret.

As a sophomore at Mater Dei High School last season, Askew averaged 14.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists, and 2.1 steals per contest. He also had a 2.72-1 assist-to-turnover ratio.

Outside of being an elite shooter, the 6-foot-3 prospect is a superb floor general and a competitor through and through. With strong court vision, exceptional instincts as an on-ball perimeter defender, and efficiency as a playmaker, major recruiting analysts and experts were quick to move Askew from the late 20s/early 30s up to consensus top-15 status.

He’s not the type to dunk on anyone or separate himself on the floor as a pure athlete, but from a pure fundamental and competitive standpoint, Askew is second-to-none among 2021 guards.

The timeline

After watching him in a few Nike EYBL events to close out the spring and begin summer, Kentucky assistant coach Joel Justus flew out to Phoenix, AZ on June 21 to watch Askew participate in the Section 7 Camp, which also included 2020 five-star guard Daishen Nix.

After a standout performance at Peach Jam, the Kentucky coaching staff moved forward with an official scholarship offer on July 26, where the Wildcats joined the likes of Vanderbilt, TCU, Villanova, Nebraska, Ohio State, Kansas, and Memphis as summer offers.

Louisville, the longtime favorite in Askew’s recruitment, received the first official visit from the five-star guard on September 1. From there, Kentucky head coach John Calipari visited the 6-foot-3 prospect at his school in Santa Ana, CA to open the fall recruiting period on September 12, with Justus taking another trip out west to see Askew on September 24.

Askew took an unofficial visit to Arizona on September 27, and followed it up with another unofficial to Memphis on October 3.

On the weekend of October 4, the five-star guard took his official visit to Lexington, where sources tell KSR that the Kentucky established itself as the runaway favorite to land Askew’s commitment.

After originally denying rumors of a commitment this week, the five-star guard officially announced on Wednesday afternoon that a decision was coming on Thursday evening.

Tonight, Askew officially became a member of the Big Blue Nation.

The decision

“I would like to thank all the programs and coaches for recruiting me and putting their time into me,” Askew said in an announcement video provided by ESPN on Thursday evening. “With that being said, I will be taking my talents to the University of Kentucky. I chose Kentucky because I feel that Coach Cal and all the assistant coaches have my best interest [in mind] and help me get to my goals. Some things I would like to accomplish at the University of Kentucky are win a national championship and become better as a player and improve to become a pro.”

“Coach Cal is a straight up honest guy,” Askew said in a statement to ESPN’s Paul Biancardi. “He loves his players and his players love him. He wants what’s best for his players. He helps you achieve you goals.“

Calipari’s big win over Chris Mack

While Askew is a phenomenal player and will be a major contributor in Lexington, the recruiting aspect of this commitment is rather significant at the local level.

Louisville head coach Chris Mack was hired in March of 2018, and immediately followed it up by prioritizing the five-star guard out of Sacramento. He watched him during the AAU season, became one of the first to offer Askew on August 13, 2018, began taking multiple trips out west to see him at his home and school, and brought him in on visits, both unofficial and official.

With over a year head start on Kentucky, the Louisville coaching staff built a phenomenal relationship with their prized guard target and established itself as the heavy favorite. If a decision had been made this spring, it would have been tough to imagine Askew landing anywhere other than UofL.

In just a matter of months, the Kentucky coaching staff managed to swoop in and solidify itself as a legitimate contender in his recruitment. They sold the idea of Askew coming in and competing against NBA players every day in practice and building his own draft stock in the process.

And then down the home stretch, John Calipari managed to do what he does best, sealing the deal on a commitment from yet another elite recruiting target.

In his very first major recruiting battle with John Calipari as UofL’s head coach, Mack came away empty-handed.

Reclassification?

We know Askew is officially a Wildcat, but when will he end up on campus?

The Sacramento, CA native has gone back-and-forth on a potential reclassification, originally telling the world early this summer that he was open to moving to the class of 2020, but later telling Rivals.com in September that he will not make the jump.

“It’s always just joking around like, “Oh, Dev, you should come to college early,” but nah, I’m staying in the class of 2021,” he told Krysten Peek of Rivals.com in September. “I think it’s best if I stay and play my senior year here at Mater Dei, play with Coach McKnight, that’ll for sure make him happy. And with just all the guys on the team, we have all these returning players and can have a really fun year next year too.”

Just a few weeks later, though, both Askew and his father, Brian, confirmed to various publications that a reclassification was still on the table.

Just yesterday, Brian Askew told Evan Daniels of 247Sports that his son was committing as a 2021 prospect, but would “re-evaluate” after the season.

“He’s going to commit as a 2021 and then we’ll re-evaluate after the season,” the five-star guard’s father said.

Sources tell KSR that as of today, Askew is expected to reclassify to 2020 and join Kentucky’s upcoming recruiting class. That being said, 2020 No. 2 prospect Cade Cunningham is still available and is rumored to be leaning toward Kentucky, which could potentially shake things up.

While UK is recruiting both Askew and Cunningham for the class of 2020 and is hoping they both suit up in blue and white during the 2020-21 season, would Kentucky’s newest commitment opt to stick with his original class if the top senior guard prospect winds up in Lexington? It’s certainly something to consider.

What does this mean for Kentucky’s other guard targets?

With Askew now on board, Kentucky has a star point guard in its back pocket as they decide how to move forward. As mentioned in the previous section, the UK coaching staff is going all-in on Cade Cunningham, with the Wildcats currently maintaining significant momentum following an impressive official visit. 247Sports Director of Recruiting Evan Daniels submitted a Crystal Ball pick in favor of Kentucky, with fellow recruiting experts Jerry Meyer and Chris Fisher both following suit, as well.

If Cunningham commits to Kentucky, the only question at hand regarding UK’s future recruiting efforts in the backcourt is whether or not Askew decides to join him in 2020. If so, they move forward with Cunningham, Askew, Terrence Clarke, and BJ Boston as one of the most impressive individual guard classes in recent memory.

But it’s not a guarantee he reclassifies with the 6-foot-7 guard out of Arlington, TX on board. While UK is giddy at the idea of it coming to fruition, it’s easy to see why a player like Askew may be hesitant to make the jump. While he could follow in Tyler Ulis’ footsteps – come in as a freshman and develop behind a star guard before taking over the team as a sophomore – the 6-foot-3 prospect could opt to follow through with his senior season, become a McDonald’s All-American, play in the Jordan Brand Classic and Nike Hoop Summit, and go for the Peach Jam title once again next summer.

If Askew decides he wants to stick with 2021, Kentucky is still likely done in the backcourt and has an elite guard to look forward to in the 2021-22 season.

If Cunningham commits to Oklahoma State, there is no question that the Kentucky coaching staff will push Askew to make the jump, a move he will almost certainly make.

No matter the future steps for either high-level prospect, Askew’s commitment means Kentucky now has the flexibility to put all its eggs in the Cade Cunningham basket and not look back.

Not a bad cushion to have.

Highlights

Welcome home, Mr. Askew.


Kentucky picked to win the SEC, three Wildcats on preseason All-SEC teams

Kentucky picked to win the SEC, three Wildcats on preseason All-SEC teams

Kentucky basketball has been selected to win its sixth regular-season SEC title under John Calipari in the 2019-20 preseason media poll.

This afternoon, it was announced that the league’s media voted on UK to take home the program’s 49th overall regular-season title, the 15th time since the 1998-99 season the Wildcats have been named the overall preseason favorite.

Calipari, who is in his eleventh season at Kentucky, has led the Wildcats to regular-season SEC titles in 2010, 2012, 2015, 2016 and 2017, with UK also claiming the SEC Tournament title six times in that span in 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018.

In addition to the SEC preseason poll, three Kentucky Wildcats were selected to preseason All-SEC teams. Sophomore guard Ashton Hagans was picked to the first team, while freshman guard Tyrese Maxey and sophomore forward EJ Montgomery were tabbed to the second season. Hagans also received one vote for preseason SEC Player of the Year, with former Kentucky target and current Florida Gator Kerry Blackshear Jr. earning those honors.

Hagans is joined by Blackshear, Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, Ole Miss’ Breein Tyree and Mississippi State’s Reggie Perry on the first team. Joining Maxey and Montgomery on the second team were Alabama’s Kira Lewis Jr., Arkansas’ Isaiah Joe, Florida’s Andrew Nembhard, LSU’s Skylar Mays and Tennessee’s Lamonté Turner.

Hagans shared 2019 SEC Defensive Player of the Year honors last season after picking up 61 steals as a freshman.

Kentucky will begin exhibition play with the program’s annual Blue-White Game scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on Friday on the SEC Network. From there, the Wildcats will participate in two more exhibition games against Georgetown College on Oct. 27 and Kentucky State on Nov. 1.

UK will then open up the regular season in New York for the State Farm Champions Classic against Michigan State at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN.


Confirmed Big Blue Madness visitor list grows to ten

Two more visitors have been added to the confirmed Big Blue Madness visitor list, which now sits at ten total prospects.

Kentucky will now host at least three prospects in each of the upcoming 2020, 2021, and 2022 recruiting classes.

For 2020, the star of the show is No. 2 prospect Cade Cunningham, with UK commitments Terrence Clarke and Lance Ware also confirmed to be in attendance. Four-star forward and Bardstown’s own JJ Traynor will also be in Lexington for the event on an unofficial visit.

Cunningham, Kentucky’s top guard target in the class of 2020, received a visit from John Calipari at his school on Monday, sparking significant UK buzz in his recruitment over the past several days. The 6-foot-7 guard out of Arlington, TX is down to Kentucky, Oklahoma State, North Carolina, Florida, and Washington, with the Wildcats, Cowboys, and Tar Heels seen as the current favorites.

Traynor, a 6-foot-8, 180-pound forward out of Bardstown, KY, received a visit from UK assistant Kenny Payne last month and took an unofficial to UK last week. The top-100 prospect and No. 1 recruit in the state of Kentucky has not earned a scholarship from the school at this time, though one is expected in the near future. Traynor has not cut his list, though Kentucky, Louisville, Western Kentucky, and Cincinnati are seen as the top contenders in his recruitment.

Clarke, the No. 4 prospect in the class of 2020, and Ware, the No. 33 recruit in the nation (247Sports), both committed to Kentucky back in September.

As for the class of 2021, top-ten forwards Paolo Banchero (official) and Moussa Cisse (unofficial) lead the way, with four-star forward Trey Kaufman also in attendance on an unofficial.

Banchero, ranked as high as No. 2 in the nation (Rivals) and considered a consensus top-four prospect in the class of 2021, recently trimmed his list down to ten. Those in contention? Kentucky, Washington, Duke, Tennessee, Gonzaga, North Carolina, Michigan, Baylor, Georgetown, and Memphis.

Cisse, the No. 9 prospect in the junior class, received an offer from Kentucky back on September 30 when John Calipari visited him at his school. The 6-foot-9, 200-pound Memphis, TN native holds confirmed offers from Kentucky, Connecticut, Georgia, Pittsburgh, Texas A&M, Memphis, and Ole Miss, with the Tigers currently seen as the favorite.

As for Kaufman, he doesn’t currently hold an offer from Kentucky, though UK assistant coach Joel Justus made the trip to Sellersburg, IN to watch the four-star forward at his high school. At 6-foot-8, 210 pounds, Kaufman is listed as the No. 29 overall recruit in the class of 2021 on 247Sports and holds offers from Indiana, Lousiville, Xavier, and Purdue, among others.

Finally, top-15 prospect Brandon Miller and four-star point guard Paul McMillan IV will represent the 2022 class, with Eastern High School (Louisville) prospect James Jewell also making his way to Lexington. All three sophomore recruits will be in town on unofficial visits.

Miller, a 6-foot-6, 175-pound small forward out of Antioch, TN, is considered the No. 11 overall prospect in the class of 2022 in the 247Sports Composite rankings. His lone confirmed offer comes from the Tennessee Volunteers.

McMillan, a 6-foot-1, 170-pound point guard out of Cincinnati, OH, currently holds offers from his hometown Cincinnati Bearcats and Xavier Musketeers. 247Sports lists the four-star prospect as the No. 34 recruit and No. 5 overall point guard in the sophomore class.

To close things out, Jewell, a 6-foot-7 forward out of Louisville, KY, is currently unranked among all recruiting services, though he is considered one of the best up-and-coming prospects in the state and has separated himself as the No. 1 player in Kentucky for 2022.

Known for his elite athleticism, length, and motor, Jewell – who played varsity as a freshman last year – averaged 3.6 points and 1.8 rebounds per game as a role player off the bench in 2018-19.

Needless to say, it’ll be a busy weekend for the Kentucky basketball program…