I hope everyone had a good weekend! Things will be somewhat quiet over the next few weeks leading up to Peach Jam in mid-July. It’s nice to finally turn the page on the 2018 recruiting class and turn our attention to 2019 and beyond. UK finished 2018 about as well as you can and things are looking great in 2019.
Here’s your Monday Insider Notes:
Reid Travis: Let’s follow up on Travis before talking about some 2019 targets. There was no mystery or intrigue in this recruitment. I believe this was finished long ago and Travis just wanted to commit in person while on campus. Villanova was hardly a player. I’m not 100 percent sure how everything went down between UK and Travis. I’m not sure who reached out first and when that was, but supposedly Travis had been thinking about grad-transferring to UK for some time and Kentucky had known during the NBA Draft decisions that Travis would be joining the fold regardless of who stayed and went. Matt had mentioned the possibility on his radio show months ago. This wasn’t a well-kept secret. The guy really wanted to spend his final college basketball season as a Wildcat and fans should appreciate that about Travis. He’s going to be the hardest worker and his experience will go a long way with the young guys.
Calipari has said he doesn’t like grad-transfers, but don’t be surprised to see this happen again if UK feels like it needs a missing piece. Remember, the NCAA may soon allow transfers to join new teams without sitting out a season. Not just grad-transfers, but all transfers. What a game changer that would be (virtually free agency in college basketball) and it would only be a positive for UK.
Wiseman: Sadly we won’t see Wiseman play with the USA U17 team when they travel to Argentina for the FIBA World Cup. Wiseman suffered a groin injury at the NBA Top 100 Camp and while the injury isn’t anything serious, Wiseman and his family want him to take it easy so he can be 100 percent for Peach Jam.
You won’t be hearing anything new from Wiseman on his recruitment but behind the scenes there’s always news. Memphis’ staff continues to try and land Memphis natives and former teammates of Wiseman. The relationship between Penny and Wiseman is already strong, but Memphis is trying to make it the most perfect and comfortable situation for Wiseman. There’s no denying that it’s having a positive impact on Wiseman. Memphis is and will always be UK’s biggest competition for Wiseman and it would be in Kentucky fans best interest to root against the Tigers this upcoming season. I’d expect Wiseman to take all five official visits and there will certainly be some buzz for other schools, but this will come down to UK and Memphis.
Memphis will have a better relationship with Wiseman than UK. They will be able to sell playing at home. They will be able to sell Wiseman getting more shots and putting up insane numbers. But there are a few areas where UK has the advantage and they are important.
– UK can sell competing for a national championship. Memphis realistically cannot.
– UK can sell experience with coaching top draft picks and how to get the most out of highly ranked bigs. Memphis cannot.
While Memphis has a better relationship with Wiseman (Penny coached him for years) the Cats did a really good job making up ground and getting the family to buy in with the staff and their message. UK isn’t terribly far from Tennessee so location shouldn’t matter too much. UK’s also tried to make it a comfortable situation by adding a commitment from D.J. Jeffries. UK likes Jeffries just fine, but it’s clear that commitment served multiple purposes.
It’s been the case for months that this decision will be a heart/head decision. It will be tough telling Penny no because of previous relationships but UK’s staff remains incredibly confident that Wiseman ends up at Kentucky. UK is also recruiting Vernon Carey Jr. and Matthew Hurt. All are different types of bigs, but it’s not like the Cats have just Wiseman as a big target. However, only three big targets when UK will lose Washington, Reid and probably Montgomery leaves a thin frontcourt for 2019-2020. If UK were panicking about Wiseman other bigs would have been offered. Until that happens I wouldn’t be concerned.
Jalen Lecque: There remains a lack of buzz between UK and Lecque and I just don’t see an avenue where he ends up at UK. It seems clear he will stay in the class of 2019, but even staying in his original class I don’t see him in Lexington. Lecque is a freak athlete and should be a nice college basketball player, but Calipari is truly prioritizing guards that can shoot and Lecque doesn’t fall into that category for Calipari.
I would expect UK to continue to prioritize Cole Anthony, Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine as guards that will possibly join Tyrese Maxey in Lexington.
Jaden McDaniels: UK fans have been abuzz with McDaniels since he said he grew up watching Kentucky and considered UK a dream school. Remember, Markelle Fultz said virtually the same thing. He begged for an offer from Kentucky and desperately wanted to be recruited by Calipari. Finally, the Cats offered and shortly after Fultz committed to Washington. He clearly wanted UK to offer for his own personal reasons and said what he had to say to land that offer.
Fultz isn’t the only player to do it and Calipari won’t recruit a guy that he doesn’t think is seriously considering UK. I can’t say if McDaniels truly prefers UK, but the Cats are talking with McDaniels and Kentucky has been in contact a couple times a week for several weeks. I expect UK to continue to develop a relationship and assuming McDaniels continues to grow as a player (no player has had a bigger rise this spring) then I think UK eventually offers. The Cats prefer Wiseman, Carey and Hurt, but Kentucky won’t land all three and two would be quite the haul. McDaniels would be another great frontcourt option so the Cats will continue to talk and form a relationship with McDaniels.
Vernon Carey Jr.: One of the strangest recruitments in my opinion only because I’ll go a few weeks where I hear him brought up as a realistic option for UK and then I will go a week where the buzz from the AAU scene is that it will be Miami or Duke. But even during the times where there isn’t a great deal of pro-UK buzz, I expect the Cats to be a major player throughout his recruitment and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- don’t sleep on UK’s chances. He will take his five official visits and I would expect this recruitment to be the type where just a day before the decision four out of the five schools feel like they have a chance, but don’t be surprised if Kentucky ends up as the destination.
CORRECTION: This is a quiet period, not a dead period. The dead period starts 07/06/2018.