This weekend, the Kentucky basketball program hosted 2020 five-star forward Greg Brown on an official visit, his fourth of five total among remaining finalists in his recruitment.
The first three were to Texas the weekend of Sept. 7, Auburn the weekend of Nov. 30, and Memphis on the weekend of Jan. 4. Following his trip to Kentucky this weekend, Brown will then head to Michigan on the weekend of Feb. 7 for his fifth and final official, with the only step left in his recruitment being an official decision expected in the spring.
So how did the trip to Kentucky go this weekend? First, let’s look back at the report on his first three officials and use it as a measuring stick for his trip to Lexington.
“I think the three schools that we have visited so far are definitely high on our list,” the five-star forward’s father, Greg Brown Sr., told Christian Fowler of 247Sports.com on his podcast, ‘Tigers in 20’ last week. “… I will say that the three schools that we visited so far, man it’s a race between those three for sure.”
At the conclusion of each official visit, Brown Sr. has walked away feeling his son will ultimately wind up signing with that specific school.
“Every visit that we’ve been on, after the visit, I was like Greg’s probably going to this school,” Brown Sr. told Fowler. “So with that being said, after the Memphis visit, I was like, ‘Oh snap, Greg probably might be going to this school.’”
For the majority of his recruitment, Texas has been seen as the runaway favorite, as the connections with the hometown program run deep with Brown’s father being a two-time All-Big 12 Conference honorable mention football player at Texas and his uncle, Roderick Anderson, also playing basketball at Texas. When you factor in Shaka Smart and his staff at UT being on Brown the longest among schools on his final list, it’s no surprise the Longhorns have been (and continue to be) in such strong position.
Following his trip to Auburn, though, there was buzz that the Tigers had made up significant ground, with Bruce Pearl selling the five-star forward on an elite trio of Sharife Cooper, Jalen Green, and Brown leading the program in 2020 and serving as a living, breathing human highlight reel. The same can be said about Memphis in his third trip, as the Tigers picked up serious momentum last weekend, with Corey Evans and Bryan Moss of Rivals.com even submitting FutureCast picks in favor of the Tigers on Jan. 7 and Jan. 10, respectively.
Needless to say, any positive momentum for the Cats this weekend in Lexington would need to be taken with a grain of salt, as post-visit hype has been a common theme with Brown’s recruitment at every stop along the way.
That being said, after his two-day stay in Lexington, Kentucky did as well as they could have to make up ground and move themselves in position to be a legitimate contender in his recruitment.
As you may have seen on social media, Brown and his father sat behind the Kentucky bench in the team’s 76-67 victory over Alabama on Saturday afternoon. And out of the 20,407 announced fans at Rupp Arena, Brown Sr. may have been the most animated individual in the stands.
As a point of reference, the five-star forward’s father is the individual in the red vest behind the UK bench celebrating after Immanuel Quickley’s three-pointer at the top of the screen in the video below:
Greg Brown’s father is behind the Kentucky bench wearing the red vest ?
Again, they had a GREAT time tonight. https://t.co/jiGQPKA3AN
— Jack Pilgrim (@JackPilgrimKSR) January 12, 2020
Media members are not allowed to take photos or record videos of recruits and/or their family members on official visits, but after simply watching Brown and Brown Sr. from press row, I’ll be the first to tell you they were up and celebrating every made basket by the Wildcats and riding the momentum of the fans in Rupp Arena. As the Big Blue Nation got louder in key moments, as did Brown, and more specifically, his father. For a father with such a prominent voice in the five-star forward’s life and recruitment, it was important for Kentucky to win over Brown Sr., and they did just that.
Outside of the game, Kentucky took Brown through their usual itinerary for top recruits: a tour of the facilities, film work to discuss how he’d be utilized in John Calipari’s system, dinner at Jeff Ruby’s (Brown “destroyed his entire steak,” in case you were curious), and a viewing of Kentucky’s practice, game walkthrough, etc. While all the coaches were involved in various aspects, UK assistant coach Tony Barbee was the lead recruiter on the visit, and I’m told he was a “phenomenal” host for the Brown family. Barbee caught some flak from fans to start his Kentucky coaching career, but he has been quite impressive on the recruiting trail as of late. He was the lead recruiter in Terrence Clarke’s recruitment (and key to him reclassifying and signing with the program), and he continues to pick up steam with other top recruits.
After the UK coaching staff ended the night with the five-star forward on Saturday, Brown then hung out exclusively with the Kentucky basketball team to celebrate Kahlil Whitney’s birthday, joining the likes of Whitney, Tyrese Maxey, Ashton Hagans, Keion Brooks Jr., EJ Montgomery, and Johnny Juzang, among others. With Kentucky expected to return several players from that crop next season, building chemistry with those guys certainly didn’t hurt.
One thing I will note is that several individuals within the program told KSR at the conclusion of the visit that Brown and his family could not have been more genuine and warm to be around from the start of the visit through the end. No matter what they thought or who was seen as the perceived favorite going into the weekend, they went into their visit with an open mind and saw UK as a legitimate destination. With so many overbearing prospects and parents in today’s world of recruiting, Brown and his family were “a breath of fresh air” to be around this weekend.
“[The visit] went great,” one source close to the program told KSR on Sunday morning. “His father really seemed to enjoy the [weekend] a lot. He was so comfortable, he was joking and laughing with [Coach] Cal the entire time. … Everything went great.”
This was not a “hat on the table” visit, as Brown’s camp genuinely wanted to be recruited and are strongly open to the idea of ending up in Lexington. Whether that happens or not, the Kentucky coaching staff wanted to feel they had a genuine chance in this recruitment, and they came away feeling that to be the case. It may not mean much to fans in the grand scheme of things, but it meant a lot to the coaching staff, especially knowing the uphill climb they had going into the trip.
Regarding Kentucky’s chances, I will say positive momentum is better than no momentum, but the jury is still out that Kentucky can seal the deal on a signature from the five-star forward when it comes time for a decision. They made up ground, but as we saw with Brown’s previous visits, the other contending schools have, as well. The visit went extremely well and the Kentucky coaching staff is optimistic, but it’s a cautious optimism. And rightfully so.
They understand Brown’s recruitment is expected to last for several more months and certainly doesn’t end at the conclusion of this visit. The gap is shrinking, and they will continue to put in the work to close it even further moving forward.
As of today, even despite the FutureCast picks for Memphis and the Crystal Ball pick for Kentucky from Chad Lykins of The Devils Den on Saturday evening, I’d still put Texas ahead of the pack for the five-star forward. If I were to put the favorites in order, I’d say the Longhorns are first overall with UK and Memphis seen as options 2A and 2B, respectively. The gap is shrinking by the day, but it’s there.
While we wait to see Brown’s next visit to Michigan in February and what unfolds from there, check out some of his most recent highlights here: