A recruiting trip to New Jersey on Sunday evening proved productive for Kentucky Coach John Calipari, who got to see Wildcats signee Nick Richards, as well as several prospects from the 2018 and 2019 classes.
Richards — a 6-foot-11 center — had eight points and 10 rebounds in his team’s victory at the Primetime Shootout, which also included five-star 2018 centers Moses Brown and Naz Reid, as well as 2019 standouts Cole Anthony, Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis.
It’s early in the process for Anthony, Antoine and Lewis, but UK has already shown considerable interest in those three sophomores.
Anthony — a 6-1 point guard from Briarwood, N.Y., and the son of former NBA point guard Greg Anthony — was a teammate of UK signee Quade Green and UK target Mohamed Bamba in the Nike league last summer, averaging 10.5 points per game as one of the few 2019 recruits playing on the highly competitive EYBL circuit.
Scout.com ranks him as the No. 1 point guard and No. 12 overall recruit in the sophomore class.
“Cole is a pretty dynamic guard in that 2019 class,” national recruiting analyst Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader. “I think he has a lot of combo guard to him. Right now, and especially on his high school team, he’s looked at as more of a scorer. And that’s kind of his mentality. He’s aggressive off the dribble and looks to drive the ball, but he can also make some jump shots.
“I think what is clear about Cole — and this goes with the pedigree of his dad being Greg Anthony — is he’s a confident kid. And he’s clearly been taught the game of basketball.”
Antoine and Lewis are teammates at Ranney School (N.J.), and Calipari and UK assistant coach Tony Barbee, who also made Sunday’s trip, have seen the duo several times over the past few months.
Antoine — a 6-5 shooting guard — is ranked No. 11 overall by Scout.com and already has scholarship offers from Kansas, Villanova, Florida, UConn, Maryland and others.
Scout.com’s class of 2019 rankings
“Bryan is a really intriguing prospect for a number of reasons,” Daniels said. “He has good size, he’s a very good athlete, and he’s also a knockdown shooter. I don’t like comparing these high school kids to elite-level NBA players — because I don’t want to put those type of expectations on them — but, that said, there’s a little Ray Allen to his game. He plays similar to him, and his strengths are similar.
“He can really make shots. He has good form and shot mechanics. He’s a confident shooter. And it’s not just catch-and-shoot threes. He can go one, two dribbles and pull up. I think he has a lot of upside, and he’s one of the best shooter-scorers I’ve seen in that class.”
Lewis — a 6-5 small forward — is ranked No. 4 nationally by Scout.com and is being recruited by many of the same schools that are pursuing Antoine.
“Scottie is a ridiculous athlete,” Daniels said. “He plays the game so hard, and he’s got good size and length. He’s really good in transition. He has the potential to be a really good defender and defend multiple spots. An area where he can continue to improve would be his jump shot, but he’s a guy that has continued to show improvements over the course of the last year, which is promising.”
Anthony, Antoine and Lewis are three of more than a dozen 2019 prospects that Calipari and the UK coaching staff are keeping tabs on, a larger-than-usual group for the Wildcats to be recruiting at this early stage in the process.
The top three sophomores in the Scout.com rankings — shooting guard R.J. Barrett and post players Charles Bassey and Balsa Koprivica — have also listed UK prominently when talking about their recruitments.
“It’s definitely pretty early, but this class looks pretty good. It looks pretty deep,” Daniels said. “The 2018 class just lacks depth and isn’t very good overall. The 2019 class — it already has developed some star power and it appears to have good depth — so I think it’s going to be the next really good one.”