Good afternoon, folks. This post has been edited a couple times today with the news this morning. If you missed it, James Wiseman will announce his college decision on Tuesday at noon on ESPN and Vernon Carey Jr., will cut his list to three at some point this week. It’s going to be a busy week, so let’s get to the notes.
I posted what I’ve heard on Wiseman in another post and weighed the pros and cons of Kentucky’s chances. You can read that HERE. I have no current update from that post and what I was going to post today before the news is how strangely quiet UK has been over the last week, and really the last few weeks. A quiet confidence? Probably wishful thinking as I’m not sure Wiseman’s family has broken any news to UK (positive or negative). Someone did bring up another hypothetical that I didn’t put in the post above, maybe Wiseman is committing to UK tomorrow to give Penny plenty of time to look for other targets, but that seems unlikely. Wiseman plays former UK commit DJ Jeffries later Tuesday evening. If that were the case Memphis’ staff wouldn’t have been pumping their chest for the last month. I had one 2019 recruit tell me Wiseman is going to Memphis, but he said it’s “an educated guess.”
I’ll be watching tomorrow but I’m not expecting any surprises.
The best I have on Carey’s final three is that someone close to UK told me “anyone’s guess” which isn’t the bode of confidence UK fans were looking for in the recruiting world. I feel confident that Carey Jr. ends up at Michigan State or Duke (like most analysts). UK, UNC or Miami will get the last spot on that list, but folks on the AAU scene seem to believe that it would take something surprising for any of those three schools to overtake Carey’s top two.
I’m not ready to give up on UK’s chances of making the final three, but I haven’t heard anything to indicate it’s a lock. I’ll be anxiously awaiting like everyone else and it also seems like UK’s staff will be in the dark.
So, what’s next:
If Wiseman picks Memphis and Carey eliminates the Cats it’s going to be a blow and there’s no denying momentum is low for UK. However, no inside information, but Calipari will figure something out. Here are some options: UK still has other forward targets in 2019, we’ve been told that a grad-transfer is possible, keep an eye out on someone possibly reclassifying and I would almost guarantee that new names will emerge in 2019 and someone will decommit at some point in the next six months. A coach will get fired or something will happen.
But even though I believe UK will have viable bodies for next season this has still be a shocking development with bigs in 2019. Landing Wiseman, Carey or Stewart seemed like a must and there’s very little reason to believe any of the three will end up at UK. I would have never guessed that a couple months ago and always thought it was more likely that UK would end up with two of those players instead of none. I still think UK is the team to beat with Hurt, but as we’ve learn with the players above, being in the lead or near the lead months before a commitment doesn’t mean much (or anything). Hurt still hasn’t taken an official visit.
The troubling part is that UK wasn’t outworked in the Wiseman/Carey recruitments, especially Wiseman. Some schools have been recruiting Carey longer, but once UK started they’ve been recruiting him as hard as anyone. And while the Carey recruitment isn’t over it appears those two just weren’t buying what UK was selling. I’m guessing folks close to UK are as confused as you are as to what went wrong.
But UK will get bodies for next season. I’m not completely sold on E.J. Montgomery and Nick Richards leaving after this season. My guess as of today is that Montgomery will go, but he currently doesn’t have NBA teams salivating in what will be a loaded draft.
He officially visited UCLA over the weekend and that was his last official. He’s checked out his final five: Washington, UK, Texas, San Diego State and UCLA. How quiet the family has kept this recruitment has been pretty amazing. For nearly every official visit the media didn’t find out about the visit until a few days before. So, I have no idea when he plans on making a final decision or if he maybe will surprise everyone and sign in the next few days.
My guess is he won’t, but I’m not sure.
The only new piece of info/scuttlebutt I heard (from the AAU side of things) is that the dad likes UK/Washington, but others close to McDaniels would like to see him go to San Diego State where his brother currently stars. His brother is likely heading to the NBA Draft after this season, so it’s unlikely you’d see the two play together, but there seems to be a sense of keeping the McDaniels pipeline alive at SDSU. That same person also didn’t seem to love UK’s chances because McDaniels is a quiet kid and the lights may be too bright at Kentucky. I can confirm that McDaniels is a quiet kid but that’s the first I’ve heard that it could hurt UK’s chances.
We did report the near fight between McDaniels and UK commit Kahlil Whitney over the summer. I have zero inside info (as a matter of fact someone close to Whitney said there’s no truth to it) but I did wonder if Whitney refused to sign because UK is heavy with McDaniels. I doubt that to be the case, but if you’re looking for conspiracies there you go. I’d be completely shocked if Whitney didn’t end up at UK regardless of who Kentucky brings in at the wing or forward position.
And sadly that’s all I have for this week. I wish there was more but people have been mostly quiet during the signing period and I’m guessing UK’s taking a wait-and-see approach with how things shake out this week, but if the worst case scenario happens I’d be a little surprised if they didn’t try and reach out to some new names. If the Cats could land Hurt and another wing/forward, they would be fine for 2019-2020. You would still need a bruising center (grad-transfer) or Nick Richards to return, but a frontcourt like that would be serviceable enough to make a Final Four and compete for title. But the margin for error is razor thin.