Good evening and happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day, BBN! Another week has passed, which means it’s time for another edition of Pilgrim’s Monday Insider Notes.
For as “quiet” as things were two weeks ago, we’re reached complete chaos over the course of the last few days.
Let’s dive right in.
Before we get into anything else, we have to discuss the biggest storyline of the day:
Kentucky is hosting the No. 1 player in the class of 2019 in point guard Anthony Edwards on an official visit starting today, with sources telling KSR the 6-foot-6 athlete arrived on campus earlier this afternoon and he will stay through the Mississippi State game tomorrow evening.
Evan Daniels of 247 Sports originally broke the news on Saturday about Edwards visiting Kentucky this week and then Kansas on Feb. 9.
The timing of the visit is interesting, but it’s absolutely massive for the program for obvious reasons. As one of the best scorers and complete players in all of high school basketball, Edwards has a chance to dominate the college basketball scene and end up as the No. 1 overall pick when the 2020 NBA Draft rolls around. Getting him on campus automatically improves Kentucky’s chances of reeling him in, even when the Wildcats’ chances seemed slim when he originally reclassified from the class of 2020.
As far as those chances specifically and why the timing is so interesting, I heard a bit of information from a source a few weeks ago that we needed to watch Ashton Hagans’ situation and his development as an NBA prospect in relation to Edwards’ recruitment. And that exact scenario is playing out.
Hagans quickly becomes a menace on both ends of the floor for the Wildcats, starts finding his way onto NBA mock drafts, and Kentucky gets Edwards in on an official visit out of the blue. I just don’t think that’s a coincidence. In short, I believe the UK staff knows Hagans is trending toward the NBA and they are looking for the No. 1 prospect in the nation to replace him next season (not too shabby of a replacement candidate, I might add).
I have been told that Edwards likes Kentucky “a whole lot, probably more than the general public realizes” and the UK coaching staff is extremely excited for the opportunity to sell him on being a Wildcat. The narrative out there is that Florida State is the team to beat with Georgia knocking on the door, but the staff feels they can swing major momentum their way while Edwards is on campus.
In an interview with Eric Bossi of Rivals.com, Edwards said he’s looking to build relationships and chemistry with the coaching staff during his visit.
“I’m looking at bonding, the relationship with the coach and staying there and seeing if I have chemistry with them,” he said. “They say come to UK and get a national championship.”
Memphis made some buzz with Edwards this last week, specifically with former Kentucky target James Wiseman reaching out to him, but I’m under the impression the elite point guard prospect is officially down to Florida State, Georgia, Kentucky, Kansas, and North Carolina, with the first four schools being the most likely options.
He’ll likely make a decision after the McDonald’s All-American Game in late March.
I will have an update on the site on how things went/specifics when Edwards’ visit concludes.
Last night, five-star power forward Isaiah Stewart committed to Washington over Duke, Michigan State, Kentucky, and Syracuse, a decision that really shocked no one in the recruiting circles.
If you’ve been following along with the notes over the past few weeks, you’d know Stewart has been leaning toward the Huskies and Kentucky was most likely out of the running. Sources told KSR that Kentucky was running fourth behind Washington, Duke, and Michigan State (in that order), and yesterday Stewart himself confirmed that.
The elite prospect out of La Porte, IN told Evan Daniels of 247 Sports that he actually decided on Washington two weeks ago, with the Blue Devils and Spartans also receiving consideration during the home stretch of his recruitment.
“I really decided that I wanted to go to Washington two weeks ago,” Stewart said. “I was bouncing around from school to school. I was strong with Duke at one point and Michigan State at one point.”
The fact of the matter is that while we usually hear of butterflies and rainbows after visits, I’ve been told Stewart’s official visit to Kentucky just didn’t click with the five-star power forward. The Wildcat coaching staff emphasized how difficult things would be in Lexington, how hard he’d have to work, minutes and shots aren’t guaranteed or promised, etc., and Stewart was more interested in going to a school where he could be the superstar in the frontcourt.
In Daniels’ interview with the elite big man, Stewart confirmed that he was looking to be “the guy” in college.
“Come out here and be the guy,” Stewart said. “39 or 36 touches is what Noah Dickerson got one game. Just getting the ball. I’m an unselfish player and I know how to play with other guys. I want to change the culture out there. When I went out there they were just bursting for someone and I just felt it.”
He’s a talented prospect, and I genuinely feel that he would have been a fantastic player in Lexington, but things just didn’t work out. While I’ve gotten optimistic feedback on the other remaining available frontcourt prospects for Kentucky, the responses I got on Stewart during the home stretch of his recruitment were mixed (at best).
On to the next…
Over the course of the last week or so, rumors have been floating around that once Isaiah Stewart officially committed to Washington, five-star forward Jaden McDaniels would soon spurn his hometown Huskies and commit to Kentucky. I don’t know where they came from or why they’re out there, but I can say with 100 percent certainty they are not true.
In fact, it’s just the opposite. Sources tell KSR that Stewart’s commitment to Washington only strengthened the team’s chances of securing a commitment from McDaniels, not force his hand to look elsewhere.
After Stewart committed to Washington on Sunday evening, he told 247 Sports his first job as a Husky will be to convince McDaniels to join him in Seattle.
“I feel like I’m special and I feel like I deserve to go out there and I feel like they deserve a top recruit,” he said. “I’m going after Jaden McDaniels and we are trying to build something out there.”
Adam Zagoria of FloHoops interviewed McDaniels at the Hoophall Classic this afternoon, asking him of his thoughts on Stewart’s pitch and the Huskies in general.
“When [Stewart] recruits me, everything sounds good,” he said. “I feel like it would be crazy because they have Quade [Green] too, so I feel it would be something people haven’t seen before.
“[I’d be] super comfortable there,” he added. “Because everybody there I know. I’m just around them all the time so I feel that would be a good situation.”
As for Kentucky, the perceived co-favorite in his recruitment, McDaniels says he’s in contact with the Wildcat coaching staff “all the time.”
“Yeah, I talk to the all the time,” he said. “They’re shooting me texts like ‘we’re watching’ and ‘we’d love to have you,’ and stuff like that. They just tell me if you come it’s not going to be given to you, you just gotta work for everything.”
As far as a decision and his overall recruitment goes, McDaniels says he’s going to wait until the end of his season to make a decision, as KSR reported last week.
“I haven’t really been paying attention to [recruiting], honestly,” he said. “I’m just worred about my high school team and doing what we’re doing. I don’t even know [when I’ll make a decision] right now, probably toward the end of our season.”
I believe that while Kentucky feels great about their position, Washington is a legitimate threat to land the 6-foot-11 forward. The fact that McDaniels is in no rush to make a decision plays in Kentucky’s favor.
Keion Brooks Jr.
Last week in the notes, I wrote about five-star forward Keion Brooks coming close to a decision, with sources telling KSR that it would likely come down to Indiana and Kentucky in the end.
Over the last few days, however, two prominent recruiting analysts reported Brooks’ decision would likely come down to two schools, but they each had different finalists (with neither including Kentucky).
“[North Carolina’s] best chances lay with Keion Brooks and Matthew Hurt,” he said. “Brooks is much closer to his decision, and it looks to be a battle between Indiana and UNC for him.”
Brian Snow of 247 Sports, however, wrote in a recent post that he felt the decision was between Indiana and Michigan State for Brooks.
— Matt Charboneau (@mattcharboneau) January 21, 2019
Indiana has been the go-to pick for most recruiting analysts, as he has openly discussed his satisfaction with staying home and playing in front of friends and family every night. There’s no doubt the Hoosiers will be in the conversation right up until the final announcement.
Though I have been told the Kentucky coaching staff feels good about their chances with the versatile forward, the fact that there might not be a clear-cut team up there with the Hoosiers makes me think Archie Miller and the IU coaching staff will win out in the end.
Brooks participated in the Hoophall Classic this afternoon, so quotes from his postgame interview should begin to trickle out in just a bit. He has said he is nearing a decision, and I was told that with his teammate Isaiah Stewart committing on ESPN at the event this weekend, fans should watch out for him pulling the trigger, as well.
Obviously that hasn’t happened, but we’ll see if we get a decision date sooner rather than later.
Five-star forward Matthew Hurt completed his official visit to Duke this weekend, the third of his five anticipated officials before making a decision this spring. He started with Kentucky at the beginning of December and followed it up with a trip to North Carolina on December 14.
He’s also scheduled to visit Kansas in February and take a fifth to either Memphis or Minnesota to close things out, though nothing has been determined as of yet.
As far as his visit to Duke goes, 2019 five-star Blue Devil commit Wendell Moore joined him, where he tried to sell the elite scorer on joining him in Durham throughout the weekend.
I’ve been told that Hurt is the last target on the board (barring a reclassification) for Duke, so they sold him on being the final piece to the puzzle to close out their recruiting class that includes five-star center Vernon Carey, Moore, and four-star combo guard Boogie Ellis. Things unsurprisingly went well, though I will add that his trip didn’t change his mindset on his recruitment (i.e. he didn’t want to jump on a commitment, cut list, etc.). That’s obviously good news for Kentucky, who still feels great about their chances.
Like I said last week, this thing is going to go the distance, so nothing monumental was expected during this visit. Hurt wants to close out his senior season before focusing on cutting his list and making a final decision.
I’ll be back with more when Anthony Edwards’ visit concludes.