I hope everyone enjoyed the weekend! Another five-star recruit on campus and another football win. Rinse and repeat. It’s been a busy stretch for UK basketball recruiting and it will be a few more weeks before things slow down slightly. Even after Big Blue Madness the Cats are hoping to get all of their current commitments signed in the fall (it would be surprising if that didn’t happen) and ideally two or three players that aren’t currently committed.
Things will be busy until November but we’ll know about the recruitments of Scottie Lewis and Oscar Tshiebwe before then. Here’s the latest:
Scottie Lewis about to pop? pic.twitter.com/9W20tsEsAs
— T.J. Walker (@TJWalkerKSR) September 23, 2018
He put on Instagram the above picture with the caption “I think it’s about that time!” and it’s seems obvious that Lewis is nearing a decision. Last week he returned from his official visit from Kentucky and announced he was down to a final two of Kentucky and Florida. The Gators visited Lewis the day after he returned from UK and I have reason to believe that the Cats went up and saw Lewis later in the week.
His AAU coach, Brian Klatsky, told me that a decision will not happen this week, so I’m going to believe that a decision won’t happen this week. Of course plans can change and Lewis could wake up tomorrow and say he wants to get it over with and that would be that, but Klatsky said the plan isn’t for a decision this week so we will likely be talking about Lewis’ recruitment this time next week.
I’m not sure if that’s good or bad news for UK. It probably doesn’t matter. If Lewis decided this time last week I would think the Cats would be the pick because he was riding high from the official visit, but he’s taking everything in and clearly won’t be making an emotional decision. He’s heard the pitches from both schools and I still ultimately think it’s a head/heart decision (similar to Tshiebwe). Florida has been recruiting him for five years (which is a crazy amount of time to recruit someone and is extra wild considering Mike White didn’t get to Florida until the spring of 2015, so I’m not sure how that adds up). UK hasn’t been recruiting him nearly that long but it’s clear that Lewis is impressed by UK’s track record with five-star players.
Here’s a few pros and cons for Lewis’ recruitment:
- Things changed days before he officially visited UK. Florida’s staff was pushing for a commitment and that didn’t happen. That doesn’t mean Lewis is a lock for UK, but he was at least able to tell Florida no once. Surely he can do it again.
- Did UK suggest to Lewis not to play in exhibition games in Ireland with Aidan Igiehon this summer because of potential eligibility concerns down the road? Klatsky said that’s not the case but if it’s true it would speak highly of Kentucky’s chances since Lewis would be listening to people close to UK before even committing. Again, probably not much here.
- Lewis’ quotes to Adam Zagoria were awfully positive for the Cats, plus he’s in a group message with other UK commits. You can read those quotes here.
- UK really hasn’t reached out to any other guards in 2019. The Cats are still holding out hope for Cole Anthony, but that’s it. There’s also a chance there will be several returning guards, so there isn’t as much pressure for more guards in 2019.
- This picture, which probably isn’t a huge deal but who knows. He at least likes UK enough to wear a Cats jersey to the beach (with socks):
- Florida has been recruiting him longer.
- The Gators are still the heavy favorites in Lewis’ Crystal Ball. That doesn’t mean everything, but it’s a sign there aren’t many “pro-UK” rumblings at this point.
- His friend and teammate will play for Florida, Alex Klatsky. That’s the son of his AAU coach, too. The Klatsky’s are fans of Florida and while they are allowing Lewis to make his own decision, I’m sure Lewis knows it would make them happy if he ended up in Gainesville.
My guess is that UK leads but it’s just a guess. I think Lewis knows where he wants to go but hasn’t told anyone or the staffs of a final decision and it appears that won’t happen until next week at the earliest.
Tshiebwe visits this weekend:
This is a huge weekend for UK because the Cats will host five-star center Oscar Tshiebwe. Kentucky hasn’t recruited Tshiebwe (shoob-way) as long as James Wiseman or Vernon Carey, but I’m told they think he can be as good of a college player as those two. Those two are better today, and may have a higher-ceiling professionally, but Tshiebwe’s physicality and hustle could make him elite at the college level. Kentucky really, really likes Tshiebwe.
He picked up an offer like we expected last week and Tshiebwe has known he’s been a take for UK long before the official offer. I’m a little surprised that nearly all the national media still has Tshiebwe pegged to WVU because people around UK feel great about where things stand heading into his official visit to Lexington. I think the Cats land Tshiebwe and I feel more confident about Kentucky’s chances with Tshiebwe than I do Lewis.
This visit should go great this weekend and UK’s campus will be bonkers with USC in town, but it will be the visit to WVU the following week that is the only thing that can derail UK’s momentum. It’s more head/heart for Tshiebwe but supposedly he’s always enjoyed UK basketball since coming to the states, that’s why I think he ends up in Lexington.
UK is in the picture with Stewart:
Kentucky has done enough to get back in the hunt with Isaiah Stewart. Someone that knows his recruitment better than I do told me that Stewart is thinking about his professional career when making a college decision so “of course he’s considering UK because he could come in and start” and I agree with that take. I didn’t know if Stewart would be willing to put UK back on his list after cutting the Cats back in the spring, but whatever Calipari said over the last few weeks worked because Stewart is fully considering Kentucky and I would expect we hear of a visit in the future.
It would be fitting that we’ve talked about Wiseman, Carey and Matthew Hurt for months and months the Cats end up with Stewart, Tshiebwe and Nnaji. I don’t know exactly how UK’s finishes the frontcourt but UK has plenty of options and is in a decent spot in all six of those recruitments. I don’t think UK leads for Stewart but Stewart won’t be announcing until the spring so there is plenty of time for the Cats to jump ahead.
Maxey is going to be a star:
Maxey’s official visit to UK went well (drink) but it is good news for the Cats that he will return for Big Blue Madness. We know that UK will host Carey and Hurt, two major targets in 2019, that weekend, so it will help to have as many UK commitments in their ear all weekend. Dontaie Allen will also be there. There are going to be other underclassmen that will be at Rupp Arena for BBM (R.J. Hampton and Khristian Lander to name a couple) but having Maxey and Allen on campus will help with the 2019 targets.
I was also reminded that UK believes they have the best scoring guard in 2019. Maxey is going to be a star player on the court for UK in 2019-2020, but he also has recruiting responsibilities. The kid already looks like a Wildcat… hey wait a minute….
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) September 23, 2018
Still no UK visit date set for Igiehon, who also put out a message on social media hinting he may commit somewhere soon. I don’t think UK is a realistic option at this point, but I’ve been saying that for weeks/months. Until we hear of a date for a visit I won’t be changing my mind.
I did hear that UofL is the leader for Igiehon. Chris Mack is doing a solid job on the recruiting trail. Four top 100 commits already in 2019. None are in the top 40, but it’s still the start to a solid class but Igiehon would only help UofL’s momentum. Mack’s plan is to recruit like Villanova. Get top 100 players that will be around for three or four years and every so often land a top 10 or 15 guy. UofL is still actively going after Cole Anthony, who I think ends up at UNC.