There’s no denying that last week for tough for UK basketball recruiting. Kentucky missed on two five-star bigs and if you’ve been living under a rock over the last couple months the Cats need frontcourt players for the 2019-2020 season. So, missing James Wiseman and Vernon Carey Jr., hurt.
But it’s a new week and shockingly there’s some positive momentum for Kentucky. Let’s get to the notes.
2019 five-star Matthew Hurt has scheduled his first official visit and it will be this upcoming weekend to Kentucky, he tells Stockrisers.
MAJOR visit for Coach Cal and staff.
— Jake (@jakeweingarten) November 26, 2018
Matthew Hurt will officially visit Kentucky this upcoming weekend. He then plans on visiting UNC, Duke and Kansas in the near future. His dad, Richard Hurt tells ESPN. #BBN gets the first shot at this ultra versatile forward.
— Paul Biancardi (@PaulBiancardi) November 26, 2018
This was the news that broke last evening. We had been saying the Cats would land an official visit from Hurt, but the timing is sooner than expected and I’m told it’s great news for UK. While the misses on Wiseman and Carey Jr. stung, it was better it happened in November than in April or May. Folks close to UK believe Hurt’s recruitment won’t go late into the spring and Hurt could make a decision in the next month or two.
Hurt’s family is trying to get things as quiet as possible and they weren’t thrilled that the official visit news to UK broke. Just my person opinion, I’m not sure if Hurt will take all five of his official visits. I don’t expect UK to be his only official visit, but I get the sense the family knows the realistic finalist and all that’s left is seeing a few schools. I would be surprised if he didn’t check out Kansas just as a favor to Bill Self, who coached him over the summer.
We’ve been saying it for a few weeks, but UK looks like the team to beat and him visiting Kentucky first without any other visits set in stone is positive news. I was asked about it on Twitter last night, but UK’s preference is to have the first visit when possible. Many schools have the notion that you either want the first or last visit, but most coaches would prefer the first because there’s never a guarantee a player won’t commit before taking all his visits. UK’s thrilled to have Hurt attending campus this weekend.
The Cats are all-in on Hurt. If he ends up at Kentucky it won’t be the end-all answer to rebounding and defensive concerns for the frontcourt for 2019-2020, but the Cats would be landing one of the best offensive players in high school basketball and UK would only HAVE to have one more frontcourt player. Maybe a Nick Richards or an EJ Montgomery, maybe a grad-transfer or a reclassification.
I wouldn’t expect a decision from Hurt after this weekend, but I do think UK will know where its stands with Hurt sooner than later and it seems unlikely this one last more than maybe a couple months.
I said last week I thought UK may reach out to a few new names in 2019 and several of you asked/guessed it would be Kofi Cockburn. Cockburn plays for Oak Hill and is ranked No. 41 in the 247 rankings. I’m told that as of today that UK won’t turn its attention to Cockburn. Can that change? Maybe. Things seem to change all the time in recruiting, but the sense I get is that UK is going to wait to see what happens with a few other 2019 targets before reaching out to new names, specifically Cockburn.
UK watched him a couple times this summer and had a chance to reach out and turn up the heat, but they never did. Even after Cockburn had a nice stretch this summer the Cats stayed quiet and instead started recruiting Oscar Tshiebwe. I get the sense that UK doesn’t believe he’d be a great fit, but that’s just my opinion.
I think new names would come from the grad-transfer ranks or a reclassification, but UK’s first choice is landing a couple of their remaining 2019 targets and seeing if anyone returns from this year’s team.
He officially visited Duke over the weekend and that’s it for official visits, which likely means a decision is near. He checked out Washington, Syracuse, Duke, Michigan State and Kentucky. As it often happens, there was a lot of buzz after the UK official visit.
What we heard was that Stewart visited UK and the dad really liked what he saw. There was even talks he may not take all of his other official visits. But within two weeks things changed. There’s no denying that Stewart is one of the best players in 2019, and UK supposedly liked the kid and the father, but there were plenty of other folks around Stewart that thought they were playing decision maker. If you want some evidence just check out his Instagram. It doesn’t seem like the tightest circle. It’s my opinion that UK wasn’t willing to “play the game” with Stewart and that’s why the Cats are no longer the favorite.
Indiana is the leader but UK is currently second. The Cats will be working hard to try and jump the Hoosiers, but it won’t be easy. I would expect a decision sometime in December. That’s all I got.
I have even less here. I still like UK’s position but I don’t love how quiet things have been. I’m starting to wonder if location will be a factor for McDaniels, but there’s no denying the kid and his father like UK. It doesn’t seem like this recruitment will last too much longer.
It wouldn’t be great from a rebounding/defensive standpoint, but pairing McDaniels/Whitney/Hurt on UK’s frontcourt would be incredibly intriguing. Offensive and competitiveness out the wazoo.
It’s going to be really, really tough to get him away from Florida State. UK will recruit him hard and will likely get him on campus for a visit, but everything I’ve heard screams Seminoles.
The Hillcrest star is one of my favorite players in 2020 and KSR will have more on Walker this week.