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Insider Notes: James Wiseman and Vernon Carey Jr. take more official visits

Hey, folks. I hope everyone had a great weekend and enjoyed another UK football win. I love that we’re rolling into November, one of the most important basketball recruiting months of the season, and the vast majority of UK fans are prioritizing football. That’s the way it should be and I hope it continues for years to come. However, there’s still plenty of basketball recruiting news to get to and that’s what we do on the Monday Insider Notes.

James Wiseman took his official visit to Memphis and is now finished with visits. Vernon Carey also checked out his hometown school, Miami (Fla.). He will see North Carolina this weekend and will be finished with visits. Both players are open to committing in November or December, so the end could be near.

Let’s get to it.

James Wiseman:

He checked out Memphis and the Tigers pulled out ALL the stops for the five-star center.

The unicorn bit is a nickname for Wiseman. People call him a “unicorn” and he’s adopted it. So, if you ever see him posing for a picture with a finger over his forehead that’s his unicorn pose. He does it often.

Memphis fans chanted his name during the exhibition game (no word on if they put him on the jumbotron again). Memphis coaches made sure Wiseman and his family felt the love all weekend and they paraded him around in public any chance they had.

I was unable to talk with any AAU sources/any Memphis connections over the weekend about Wiseman, so unfortunately I don’t have a “Memphis” side of this recruitment, but I did talk with someone close to UK after the Memphis visit. Two things stood out, one is an interesting point that gets lost in the shuffle and the other point I disagree with.

Let’s start with the disagreement:

When I mentioned that Memphis pulled out all the stops I was told that UK wasn’t worried and it showed that Memphis is getting desperate. I understand the logic, but this was Wiseman’s last official visit and he may announce at some point in the next two months. Was Memphis supposed to play it cool? If they feel like the leader they aren’t going to just have it be a run of the mill official visit. Once Memphis was given a chance to pay for Wiseman and his family to enjoy a weekend on them, the Tigers were going to go all out. So, I disagree with that sentiment as a sign of panic from Memphis. Penny put on a show and he’s going to do whatever he can to land a commitment.

The other talking point: Memphis can do whatever they want to try and land Wiseman, but at the end of the day Wiseman has told people close to UK that winning is one of the most important aspect of his recruitment. He wants to play in a Final Four and he wants to realistically compete for national championship. Now, of course he could just be saying that to UK, or maybe he commits to Memphis and genuinely thinks he has a chance to win big there, but at least one person close to UK thinks if he truly wants to play for a national contender his one year in college it won’t be at Memphis.

This recruitment seems too close to call. Nationally it seems like the majority of analysts believe he will stay home, but people close to UK (and Evan Daniels) feel like they are still the team to beat.

I’m guessing you will see some Crystal Ball picks flip and flop over the next couple weeks.

My personal opinion, if you hear of a decision date set in the next week or two I wouldn’t take that as good news for Kentucky. I don’t think that happens, but you never know. If he can make it through the next few weeks without committing that would be promising.

D.J. Jeffries:

He committed to Memphis over the weekend giving the Tigers even more momentum on the recruiting trail. UK is obviously fine with not having Jeffries on their commitment list. Kahlil Whitney is better and Dontaie Allen gives UK more options offensively, but many will look at Jeffries’ commitment and think it will impact Wiseman’s recruitment.

I wouldn’t worry about that. If Wiseman goes to Memphis it’s because of Penny, it won’t be because of Jeffries. I talked about it back when Jeffries committed, over the summer and certainly after he decommitted- Jeffries and Wiseman are friends but there was never a package deal and they’re not best friends. Even on the floor the two hardly communicated with one another.

So, maybe Wiseman ends up at Memphis but it won’t be because of Jeffries.

Photo by FIBA


Carey checked out Miami and nothing I’ve heard makes me think the Canes are a serious threat to land a commitment from Carey. Sadly, there’s still a Duke buzz. Maybe that wears off when he visits North Carolina this weekend, but the Tar Heels would need to do something special to get in the conversation with UK, Michigan State and Duke.

But UK is doing what they have to do in this recruitment. John Calipari will once AGAIN travel to Florida to visit Carey on Monday. Calipari will likely check out a couple targets this week, but UK is making sure they aren’t going to be outworked for their top targets. Carey is as big of a target as any other player.

We hope to hear more about the in-home visit, and if we do we’ll post it, but you gotta love Calipari’s work ethic.

I’ll be curious to see if Carey will take another visit to Michigan State. There’s a chance he could take advantage of the new NCAA rules and officially visit Michigan State again, but he hasn’t indicated that’s something he’s planning on doing. He checked out MSU back in February.

I was told that if Wiseman cares about winning then Carey is obsessed with it. So, I doubt Carey goes to Miami. That’s good. However, unlike Wiseman, Carey has other elite options that could compete for titles and Final Fours.

One thing that worries me, and this was tossed around in Kevin Knox’s recruitment and was obviously untrue, but Carey may equally like UK/Duke but picks the Blue Devils because ACC games will be closer for him and his family. No inside information that it matters to Carey, but something I think about when looking at this recruitment.

Isaiah Stewart:

I haven’t heard anything to make me think that UK is back in the drivers seat. He is officially visiting Duke this weekend and there’s a little part of me that worries about him and Carey pairing up at Duke. Carey wants to play with Stewart or Wiseman, so that’s something to keep an eye on.

I would be surprised to see Stewart end up at UK with where things stand today.

CJ Walker:

There was a lot of buzz last week that UK was becoming a major player in CJ Walker, but Walker made it clear he’s focusing on Miami, Oregon and LSU. Walker wanted an offer and the only way Walker was going to be a serious option for UK is if he waited until the spring and the Cats could look at other options first. He didn’t want to do that and that was that.

Photo by adidas


I’m still trying to figure out when Hurt will officially visit UK. It will be during the season and my guess is the Kansas game is the one that everyone is trying to make work. Hurt’s high school season/schedule will play a big part in his visit schedule, but don’t worry, Hurt will check out UK’s campus at some point.

I’m still confident the Cats are in a great spot for Hurt.


He will play three games in Kentucky later this year. December 28th-29th at Marshall County. It will be a great chance for UK fans to watch the future Cat, and Larry Vaught has you covered on the details. Read those HERE.


Article written by TJ Walker

12 Comments for Insider Notes: James Wiseman and Vernon Carey Jr. take more official visits

  1. cking
    3:28 pm October 29, 2018 Permalink

    I don’t if I feel good about any of these recruits…

    I would love to get Carey…

    I wonder if there are any Juco players or graduate transfers out there?

    We need 2 centers & 2 Power forwards

  2. Rod Crandler
    3:29 pm October 29, 2018 Permalink

    IMO…I don’t think Wiseman has ever planned on coming to UK. Penny needs this to look like a battle with UK so it will look like a huge win for future recruits. Penny is pulling all the strings on this.

    • Wade
      4:46 pm October 29, 2018 Permalink

      Cal knows. Kid can be big man on campus or another big man at uk and have a run at a title. Hell Memphis could make a run in a weak conference and get hit. They will all be very conpfortable with each other and their coach. He will be ok with this group since he’s been with them forever. I mean I would choose yo but I don’t blame him. We’re not for everyone and stars are aligned for him I think to um.

  3. Alex90
    3:31 pm October 29, 2018 Permalink

    This post summarized- There is nothing new.

    • 4everUKblue
      5:00 pm October 29, 2018 Permalink

      That’s about all he ever writes about…just letting you know, there’s nothing new.

    • a21CATSfan
      8:04 pm October 29, 2018 Permalink

      Like him being overconfident about Carey coming to Kentucky for months. Now since he took a visit to dUKe, and they play in the ACC, he’s worried. They have been a contender in his recruitment since day one, and they didn’t just join the conference. CATS

  4. Memphis UK Cat
    4:13 pm October 29, 2018 Permalink

    Rod, I think you are right because Memphis would love to stick it to Cal.

  5. SuperTroy18
    5:14 pm October 29, 2018 Permalink

    Someone needs to tell Wiseman that Penny probably wouldn’t go to Memphis back in the day if he had the hindsight he has now. (I know he was a hometown kid, but he didn’t get a ring. Maybe if a big blueblood school had been his choice, that would be different.)
    Cal knows that school. Knows that fan base. He can tell Wiseman all he needs to know about how tough it is to win there. Cal even struggled at first down there. Penny has never even coached a collegiate game. He’s gonna completely waste his one season in college if he goes to Memphis. They might make the tourney based on some talent alone, and a seriously weak conference; but they won’t get past the first weekend. And I’d expect them to be more of an NIT team. Cats will once again be stacked. If he really wants to win, he ends up in Lexington.

    • a21CATSfan
      8:05 pm October 29, 2018 Permalink

      Cal doesn’t negatively recruit. That’s for Coach Kshechefski.

  6. recliner coach
    7:07 pm October 29, 2018 Permalink

    Doesn’t the G league start with this class?

    • a21CATSfan
      8:06 pm October 29, 2018 Permalink

      Lottery picks won’t pass up guaranteed millions for 125K.

  7. michaelb
    7:52 pm October 29, 2018 Permalink

    What an embarrassing handle . Gotta step in sometimes and take up for yourself & that would be one of those times .