2020 five-star forward Isaiah Todd is one of the most interesting prospects in all of high school basketball. At 6-foot-11 – and still growing – the Baltimore, MD native has the size and length to make an impact in the post on both ends of the floor.
Oddly enough, that aspect of Todd’s game isn’t even the most valuable to the countless schools tripping over themselves to get in line for their shot at him.
Similar to the guard-in-a-big’s-body we’ve seen with guys like Anthony Davis and Kevin Durant, Todd is in that same mold from a pure style standpoint. He possesses an effortless perimeter jumper, smooth handles, and runs the floor like a gazelle. Regularly in his games, Todd will grab a strong rebound, take the ball coast-to-coast, and either pull up for the shot in transition or find his way to the rim for an easy bucket. In a positionless basketball world, the elite 6-foot-11 big man fits that mold to perfection.
And when it comes time for a decision, Kentucky has a legitimate shot to land the five-star prospect.
When asked about the schools prioritizing him the most at the 2019 Nike Peach Jam this week, Todd was quick to list the Wildcats first among three different programs.
“Kentucky, Maryland, and Oklahoma State [have prioritized me] the most,” Todd said. “I hear from Kentucky a lot, Oklahoma State a lot, Maryland obviously because I’m from Baltimore, they reach out a lot, as well.”
And after taking recent visits to both Oklahoma State and Maryland, the Baltimore product said Kentucky was next on his list.
“I visited Maryland, that was my second official visit,” he said. “I’m going to schedule something for Kentucky, but I’ll also be going to Kansas in the fall.”
Outside of Kentucky, the Cowboys, Terrapins, and Jayhawks, are all seen as the strongest contenders to land the 2020 prospect.
Todd broke down his interest in each of those schools with the media at Peach Jam:
Maryland: “The Maryland visit was alright,” Todd said. “Obviously I’m from Baltimore, the schools in the D.C. area, a lot of the guys that go to the schools I know from my area because he recruits a lot of the Baltimore natives, so it was fun to see what they had to say as well.”
Kansas: “The coach came and we did a home visit right after the first session,” he said. “He was just telling me how good I could be and that he was going to help me reach my potential, and just hearing that from a great coach was enough for me to go check out the campus at least.”
Oklahoma State: “Coach [Dave] Kotaxis was working there, and he talked really good about Coach Mike, [Boynton] and on my visit they showed me around they really want me to be a factor on that team and just change around the whole program, and I have a history of doing that with small schools I’ve been at in high school.”
And though the Cowboys have picked up all the momentum for 2020 five-star guard Cade Cunningham and that is a school of mutual interest for Todd, he says they haven’t even really discussed the possibility of teaming up in Stillwater.
“I haven’t really talked to Cade about going there together,” he said. “I didn’t even know they were really recruiting him until his brother got the job there.”
Flipping back to the Wildcats, Todd says that there are plenty of factors that are admittedly drawing him to the program.
“The guys that come from Kentucky, the history of the school, the style of play, the coach himself, he’s really real,” Todd said. “That’s what everyone says about him and I really got to witness that just talking to him.”
And John Calipari’s pitch?
“Kentucky’s pitch to me is that all the guys they have coming in, they’re young, and the coach is just really real,” he said. “He keeps preaching getting to the next level, getting to the next level, being in the NBA. If that’s your dream, he can make that happen.”
But it hasn’t just been about selling the Kentucky program. In fact, Todd says that Calipari has been coaching him from afar, giving him a sneak preview of what life would be like if he eventually became a Wildcat.
“Coach says I really need to focus on my shot selection, work inside out,” he said. “He was telling me what he was preaching to his young guys now the other day when I was on the phone with him, understand what you have [on the floor] before you catch the ball, play the game the right way. Take care of business.”
Coach Cal has also been stressing the importance of continuing the trend of playing positionless basketball and how Todd would be the perfect fit for that in Lexington.
“I feel like the true big man is fading out in today’s game, and Calipari realizes that,” he said. “He just preaches adapting to the game, his coaching style is really appealing because he lets his guys play.”
While he has been giving him pointers from a distance as of late, Calipari and the Kentucky coaching staff made sure to be up front and center for Todd’s first game of the day when the July live period opened this morning.
And it was a gesture the elite big man certainly appreciated.
“It definitely means a lot to me,” he said. “Obviously, [coaches] might be watching on the live stream, but for them to actually get up and take the time to be at those early games, I know it can be kind of loud and they might not want to be there, so it means a lot to me when they do.”
But according to Todd, it’s not just Calipari and the Kentucky coaching staff recruiting him hard to Lexington. There have been some other individuals helping UK’s efforts.
“A lot of my friends went there, and they never have anything bad to say about them,” he said. “If there was something wrong, some of the guys close to me would tell me.”
The main individual speaking on behalf of the Kentucky basketball program? Former Wildcat forward Keldon Johnson, who Todd says has been singing the school’s praises during their regular conversations together.
“Keldon Johnson, he’s from Virginia, and I lived in Virginia for a little while,” he said. “I know him through (my old AAU program) Team Loaded. That’s just the main one I talk to. He says Kentucky is a great program. He says that the biggest thing he learned there was about trusting the process and being a factor in helping the team win.”
While Todd is planning on being patient with this recruiting process, it’s pretty clear that the Kentucky coaching staff has put themselves in tremendous position to land the top-ten prospect out of Maryland.