Whew. There’s a lot to get to today after a busy weekend. I hope you weren’t impacted by the nasty weather on Friday, but if you were hopefully the damage wasn’t too substantial and you’re safe. I’ve been without power since Friday evening and it’s been a struggle. Luckily no property damage, but a job that relies on internet and electricity becomes tough when it’s out for a few days. However, basketball recruiting never stops and it was an eventful weekend for UK’s staff. The Cats checked out over a dozen players and even extended a new offer.
Let’s get to the notes.
Kahlil Whitney: Per Whitney, the Cats offered the Chicago native who now plays for Isaiah Briscoe’s old high school in New Jersey (Roselle Catholic). Whitney is a long 6-foot-6, 185-pound wing player that is incredibly gifted offensively and was one of the better scorers on the Nike EYBL circuit. You can read more about Whitney here. It’s clear that UK is going to lose Keldon Johnson after this season. There has been a great deal of hype surrounding Johnson, but he’s always wanted to be a one-and-done player and the Cats are going to need to replace his production on the wing.
Initially it was just Keion Brooks in 2019 for UK. That’s now far from the case. KSR is told that Calipari is readjusting his approach for wings in this class. I’m not saying the Cats are completely unsold on Brooks. I don’t know if they think they’ve fallen behind on Brooks, but I know UK isn’t Brooks or Bust anymore. UK really likes Whitney. Kentucky’s staff is intrigued by Kentuckian Dontaie Allen. The Cats have offered Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis and are now showing more interest in Josh Green. Those last three players are more of guards than true wings, but obviously UK has shown they can roll with three guards just fine.
The new approach is putting some of the pressure back on the players. UK will take two wings tops in 2018-2019 and there’s a chance Kentucky ends up with just one. Who wants to be at UK? Who wants to claim that spot? Whitney plans on visiting soon. Brooks will visit this fall. Allen is visiting next week. All the guards will visit in the fall, too (although we can’t confirm Green’s visit at this time). By UK looking at more wings it’s a safer approach than putting all its eggs in one basket, and it could allow the Cats to go into the spring already having a wing player or a swing guard locked up for 2019.
I’m told that Whitney was “flattered” by UK’s interest over the weekend. Kentucky watched just about everyone of his games and he would be brought into Lexington as a scorer but I’m told there’s a lot to like about his defensive potential. Maxey is a great scorer, too, and most of UK’s 2019 targets are known for their offensive game. We are such a long way from knowing what the 2019-2020 team will look like, but it appears Calipari wants it to be an offensive juggernaut.
One thing to watch in Whitney’s recruitment- he’s going to visit in the next month or two. If it’s an unofficial visit that would be great news for Kentucky because it will likely mean Whitney would return for an official. If his first visit is an official that’s clearly not a bad thing, but I’ll be anxious to see if his first trip is on his dime.
Another thing on Brooks instead of making a new bold point- UK still likes Brooks, but they’re looking at other options now. I still wouldn’t be shocked to see Brooks end up in Lexington, but it’s not my predicted landing spot anymore.
Scottie Lewis & Bryan Antoine: The Monday Insider Notes haven’t touched much on Lewis and Antoine over the last few weeks because we hadn’t heard too much about either player. But both earned offers from UK early in the process and both are planning on visiting UK this fall. Lewis will visit UK on Sept. 29th and Antoine will see Lexington the week before. UK will have home football games for both those weekends (MSU-22, USC-29) so they should be exciting visits.
Remember when Lewis said that he would only go to UK if he were a “basketball only” type of guy? Well, KSR reported that he didn’t mean that as a slight to UK or John Calipari, but since that comment we’re told that Calipari has talked with Lewis as much as any other coach. A bond has been established between those two and it’s my opinion that the only coach Lewis is closer with is Jay Wright, who’s been recruiting Lewis longer.
I have never had the best feel on the Lewis & Antoine’s recruitments, and the two are not a package deal, but I think UK is still firmly in play for both players. Many thought Lewis was a Duke lock, but I actually think the Cats have a better chance with Lewis than Antoine, but again, not a recruitment that I have a great grasp on at this time.
Cole Anthony: Anthony’s AAU team ran a combined combine with another AAU team and John Calipari wasn’t in attendance. GASP. Several other coaches didn’t show either, and Calipari has never really loved AAU combines. But let’s not freakout. UK watched Anthony in games earlier in the weekend and have watched him in nearly every game he’s played in this summer (for the games coaches are allowed to watch, of course). Also, Anthony won’t be making a final decision until April or May of 2019. We have forever in this recruitment and Anthony won’t cut the Cats, or Duke, or Kansas, because they didn’t attend a combine that’s built more for less-heralded players.
Things will be ever changing in this recruitment, but I can say with 100 percent confidence that the Cats will always be in picture. As I’ve said in other MIN, UK’s roster (and other rosters) will play a role in Anthony’s final decision. He’s the type of guard that could, can and wants to play 40 minutes per game. Obviously that probably won’t happen consistently, but he won’t want to share playing time if he doesn’t have to and he shouldn’t have to because he will be the best true point guard in college basketball in 2019-2020. If the Cats have Quade Green, Immanuel Quickley and other guards in the backcourt then Anthony likely won’t end up in Lexington. If it’s just Tyrese Maxey and maybe another guard then my guess is Anthony picks UK.
The Cats are in such a great spot but we’ll have to look at how the roster will shakeout before knowing exactly where Anthony lands.
James Wiseman: The good news is Wiseman is planning another visit to UK next month. Wiseman has already been on Kentucky’s campus, but the more familiar he becomes with UK’s campus, staff and players, the better for the Cats. The bad news is I still haven’t heard great things as of late with Kentucky’s chances with Wiseman. Again, it’s not to say that UK won’t land Wiseman and it’s not to say Memphis is the clear leader. I had previously thought UK was the clear leader and I now think it’s about 50/50. I’d be a major shock to KSR to learn of Wiseman reclassifying (and obviously that’d eliminate UK) but I’m more curious to see if he decides to opt for a prep-school. For the first time in a long time I think that decision could make a big difference in his recruitment. If Wiseman leaves Memphis for his senior year of high school that will be great news for UK. Usually I have said that but added if he stays at Memphis East it’s not a positive for UK but it’s not a major negative. I now think it will be a negative. Wiseman has dozens and dozens of people in his ear telling him to stay home. Possibly eight more months of that won’t be ideal for UK’s chances. My guess is he stays in Memphis for his senior season and it becomes somewhat of an uphill climb for UK. We shall see.
Dontaie Allen: Allen will visit UK on August 1st and Louisville on August 13th. KSR will have more on this visit, but I still expect Allen to land an offer from Calipari. Remember, UK usually likes to extend offers in person and there’s a reason why the Cats waited after his dominant performances two weeks ago. An offer alone won’t lock Allen into a Kentucky commitment. The Cats will still need to recruit and make him somewhat of a priority. I expect that to happen and for Allen to ultimately end up in Lexington, but keep an eye on Chris Mack and Louisville. The new Cards’ coach is trying to make a splash and if the Cards could land Allen AFTER UK offers that would be a big deal.
However, it would also be funny to see UofL make Allen a priority and the Cats still land him. I’m all for some Mack and Calipari head-to-head battles.