John Calipari made some waves at today’s Tip-Off Luncheon in Louisville, but being the basketball recruiting analyst there were two points that stood out above the rest:
- He said he’s traveling to Minnesota today (and later said Indiana) for recruiting. Joel Justus was in Louisville with Calipari and he’s Hurt’s lead recruiter.
- His comments about the G-League attempting to poach the top talent in high school basketball.
Let’s start with his recruiting trip. Earlier today I posted the Monday Insider Notes and one of my non-insider points was that things seem optimistically fishy in Matthew Hurt’s recruitment. You can read my thoughts on his recruitment HERE, but the fact UK is going to visit him proves a few minor points:
- Kentucky is continuing to build on an already strong foundation with Hurt and his family.
- Many people panicked when Hurt didn’t visit for Big Blue Madness but that was never his plan. I’m sure when Hurt and his family will see Lexington will be discussed this evening.
- No team really has much momentum in Hurt’s recruitment, so assuming we hear good things from another in-home visit (UK has been twice), I’m guessing UK may get momentum. Hurt’s family is looking at his recruitment as a business decision so I’m sure they know how much playing time will be available for UK next season and a need for scoring.
Calipari also mentioned going to Indiana and this one is even more intriguing to me. Both Keion Brooks and Isaiah Stewart play for La Lumiere, but my initial reaction was that Calipari was doing his normal in-home visit followup after an official visit. He’s done it with every recruit this year and I wouldn’t expect it to be any different with Brooks. With what I’ve been hearing about Stewart I initially thought it was unlikely they would meet with him, but Ben Roberts was the first to report that the visit will include a meeting with Stewart.
How about that. Two weekends ago I was told that it was highly unlikely that Stewart would end up at UK. Kentucky brought him in for an official visit, the Cats thought things went well, they knew that Stewart’s father really liked Kentucky, but when trying to convince others around Stewart about Lexington things fell apart. Why? I don’t know. People close to Kentucky didn’t seem heartbroken about it, which I found interesting because UK’s running out of frontcourt players. But maybe something has changed again? Is this one last ditch effort by Calipari to try and turn the tide again? I’ll be interested in finding out after the in-home visit. Stewart has visited Michigan State and Syracuse since his official visit to UK, and he checked out Washington before traveling to Lexington. From I’ve heard I’d be surprised if the momentum can turn back into UK’s favor, but I also wouldn’t have thought there would be another in-home visit between the parties. Never count out Cal.
Cal on G League option: That helps us, folks. They're taking 3 to 5 players a year. Those players weren't coming here.
— Jerry Tipton (@JerryTipton) October 22, 2018
This was the other interesting comment from Calipari and until we can ask a followup question we all have our own opinions on what Calipari meant. I’m not worried in the slightest about the G-League’s new “$125,000 salary to elite high school players” plan. I don’t think $125k will move the needle for the majority of elite high school players when you take into consideration that these players will have to play in empty gyms against desperate older players that will be looking to embarrass them. No Final Fours or having the majority of your games on primetime TV, you’re traveling to Maine this weekend to take on the Red Claws. Plus, even if a few UK targets left to go to the G-League there’s a pecking order. Kentucky will just get the next best players that weren’t invited. Again, I don’t think many players will go to the G-League, but if they do and they were UK targets, there will be other options.
But the interesting point is Calipari saying “those players weren’t coming here”. My guess on what he means is he’s referring to the few five-star players every year that aren’t recruited by UK. They may be uncommitted heading into the spring but they never heard from the Cats. Maybe UK was wary about possible NCAA violations. Maybe Kentucky didn’t think there was a good fit, but every year there’s two or three players that don’t hear from UK and recruiting analysts are asked why for months. There’s never a great answer besides UK just not being interested.
My guess is Calipari was talking about those players, but your guess is as good as mine of the second quote from Calipari. What do you think?