Happy Fourth of July! I hope you all had a great weekend and will have the opportunity to spend this week with friends and family. This will be a quiet week for recruiting but that will change next week. Kentucky Sports Radio will be at Peach Jam and there are a plethora of UK targets playing in the event including several recruits with offers from UK. We’ll preview the event next week, but if you’re in the area (the event is in North Augusta, S.C.) you should stop by the gym.
Today’s Insider Notes will touch on the current UK team with a few recruiting tidbits.
Montgomery: If you listened to Kentucky Sports Radio today then you likely heard Matt Jones already talk about the Montgomery hype. When talking with people that have seen this team practice it’s impossible to have a conversation where Montgomery isn’t mentioned. He’s been one of the best players in practice and his versatility is perfect for UK. P.J. Washington and Reid Travis can stretch the floor a bit, and we saw Washington playing on the perimeter a few times last year, but Montgomery will be able to play with any other frontcourt player. I’m not expecting him to be the most versatile player on UK’s team, and don’t look at him as a true three, but he’s so talented I would expect Calipari to get creative to find a way to have him, Travis and Washington on the floor at times. It probably won’t be UK’s starting lineup, and I wouldn’t expect it for 20-30 minutes, but think about the size, strength, scoring and rebounding if you have Montgomery joining Travis and Washington.
Offensively I’m told that he has the highest ceiling out of all the bigs. Richards will continue to take his time with his development, and while Washington and Travis are better offensive players right now, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Montgomery an elite offensive player come March. That’s not to knock his defense or other areas of his game, but he’s going to be able to score in a variety of ways for UK .
While everyone is getting hyped for Washington and Travis on the frontcourt, remember that Montgomery is going to make an impact and I predict he has a big Bahamas trip.
Hagans: But wait, there’s more. While I’ve heard nothing but great things about Montgomery, the biggest surprise in these early practices has been Ashton Hagans. UK wouldn’t have added Hagans this year if they didn’t believe he could be an elite play-maker, but few expected to see flashes this early. Hagans is supposedly the most athletic player on the team, fastest with the ball in his hands, best on the ball defender and I’m told that he could be in the conversation for the best player on the team come March. I was just as surprised to hear it.
Matt Jones and I have disagreed a bit on Hagans. When he committed I tried to calm the expectations by saying it would take Hagans time to be an elite player at UK, but it could happen come March. I always thought Hagans would do some nice things for UK, but for every three or four nice play he made on the floor he may have a silly turnover or a freshman mistake. That’s not uncommon from UK freshmen and instead of him being in the John Wall/De’Aaron Fox category I thought Hagans would be more of a Teague/freshman Andrew Harrison (not their style of play, but their impact and readiness for the college game).
Matt was much more hyped about Hagans’ early season impact and from all the early reports I’ve had, Matt seems closer to the truth. Ugh. I still don’t want people thinking Hagans is going to be a John Wall (that’s not fair for Hagans), but it sounds like he will be ready come November and I wouldn’t be shocked if he won UK a game early in the season.
I was told other guards are better in certain areas (shooting specifically) but it’s clear that Hagans is the best “all-around” point guard. I’m sure Immanuel Quickley and Quade Green would disagree, but that’s good news for the team. Supposedly the competition in practice has been as good as its ever been.
Wiseman: Nothing new on his recruitment. I think it’s a two-horse race between UK and Memphis, but other schools will get visits. The scuttlebutt in Memphis is that the Tigers’ staff is incredibly confident in landing Wiseman, but people close to UK remain confident, too. I guess someone will end up being wrong.
But in the next few weeks I’d expect a final decision on where Wiseman will play his senior year of high school. Once Penny took the Memphis job it almost seemed like a lock that Wiseman would leave Memphis and play his final season at a prep school, but with how quiet things have been over the last couple months have many thinking Wiseman may stay in Memphis. I would remind people that part of the reason why Wiseman didn’t reclassify was because he wanted to enjoy his senior year of high school (and his mom wanted him around, but I’m sure that was overplayed a bit).
In my opinion he stays in Memphis for his high school basketball. I don’t believe that helps UK’s chances, but it doesn’t hurt. In a perfect (UK) world he would go play for Findlay Prep for his one season and then commit to UK, but I’ve been told whatever he decides in the next few weeks/month won’t have an impact on his college recruitment (so if he leaves Memphis it doesn’t mean he may not return for college). Again, I don’t see a scenario where he stays in Memphis and it helps UK’s chances, but I don’t think it will matter one way or the other.
Stewart: It was reported this week that UK is starting to show interest in Isaiah Stewart. The New Yorker is playing at La Lumiere in La Porte, Ind. (where Isaac Humphries played). Stewart is 6-foot-8, 230-pound forward with offers from Duke, Florida, Kansas and several other elite programs. UK hasn’t offered, but the Cats have reached out and Stewart said he’s willing to hear their pitch.
I don’t expect Stewart to end up at Kentucky, and if things don’t pick up in the next few weeks it will be much ado about nothing. Kentucky prefers other bigs in the class and if Stewart becomes a major priority it’s probably more telling about where things stand with Wiseman, Vernon Carey Jr. and Matthew Hurt. But between UK reaching out to Stewart and Jaden Mcdaneils, it may be something to monitor.