The early signing period for college basketball begins Wednesday, and most of UK’s top recruiting targets in the class of 2018 are expected to make their college decisions before the fall signing window closes Nov. 15.
Here’s a rundown of what to expect over the next week and a half:
The lone commitment
Immanuel Quickley: The five-star point guard picked Kentucky back in September and remains the Wildcats’ only commitment for the class of 2018.
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Quickley — a 6-foot-3 prospect from Maryland — will be eligible to sign with UK on Wednesday, and he’s expected to make things official with the Cats sometime before the end of the early signing period next week. He’s the No. 8 player in the 247Sports composite rankings for the class of 2018.
The new targets
Tyler Herro: The 6-5 shooting guard from Milwaukee has been a busy guy since decommitting from Wisconsin less than three weeks ago. He hosted coaches from Kansas, Oregon, Villanova and Butler the week after he re-opened his recruitment, and a visit from John Calipari came the week after that. Calipari extended a UK scholarship offer on that trip, and Herro will take an official visit to Lexington this weekend, the only such visit he’s scheduled so far.
Timetable: Herro, the No. 36 player in the 247Sports composite rankings, had planned to wait until the spring to sign with a new school, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him pick the Wildcats early if all goes well this weekend. Oregon and Villanova have been mentioned as possible official visit destinations, but no trips to those schools are scheduled yet, and he’ll be unable to see either campus before the end of the early signing period, giving Kentucky the short-term advantage.
Moses Brown: The 7-footer from Bronx, N.Y., hosted Calipari and UK assistant coach Tony Barbee on Sunday and is back on Kentucky’s recruiting radar after things seemed to have cooled during the summer. The No. 15 player in the 2018 composite rankings, Brown entered the spring travel period as one of UK’s top frontcourt targets, but the Cats never extended a scholarship offer.
He has since taken official visits to Florida State, Louisville (now off the list), Maryland and UCLA, and was leaving the fifth and final visit open for either Kentucky or Duke. He’s been clear in his past comments that he’s very interested in the Wildcats, and his father told the Herald-Leader on Sunday night that UK is his son’s “dream school.” Maryland will be UK’s biggest competition for Brown.
Timetable: Brown was planning to wait until the spring to make a college decision, but this latest push by Kentucky could expedite the process. Brown’s father didn’t completely dismiss the idea that the family could take an official visit to Lexington before the end of the early signing period, but he did specifically tell the Herald-Leader they wouldn’t be able to make it to town this weekend. Like with Herro, an early decision would likely favor the Wildcats … if Brown is able to make it to campus. If he holds off on that visit, a winter commitment could be a possibility.
Two to watch
Keldon Johnson: The newest star at Oak Hill Academy (Va.) and the No. 14 player in the 2018 composite rankings, Johnson landed a UK scholarship offer from Kentucky earlier this fall, and the Wildcats are now the favorites on his 247Sports Crystal Ball page. Maryland, Texas and North Carolina State are the other contenders in Johnson’s recruitment, and the 6-6 shooting guard has taken official visits to all of those schools.
Timetable: Though he hasn’t set a specific announcement date, Johnson told the News & Observer (N.C.) on Friday night that he hopes to reveal a college decision sometime this week. He told USA Today over the weekend that he’s “95 percent sure” he knows where he wants to go to college. All signs point to UK being that place, and it’ll be a major surprise if he doesn’t make a decision in the early period.
Zion Williamson: The No. 2 player in the 2018 composite rankings, Williamson has taken official visits to Kentucky, Duke, Kansas and North Carolina, and he’s been on local trips to home-state contenders Clemson and South Carolina. The 6-6 small forward from Spartanburg is arguably the most exciting player in high school basketball, and he’s risen to the top of UK’s recruiting wish list in recent months.
Many recruiting insiders consider UK the favorite, though Duke, Clemson and Kansas have all been mentioned as legitimate possibilities in recent days, and Williamson took an impromptu visit to North Carolina a couple of weekends ago.
Timetable: Williamson has gone back and forth on whether or not he will sign early. Usually, when a player takes all of his visits before the fall signing period, that means he’ll make a November decision. It’s still uncertain whether Williamson will go ahead and make an announcement now or hold off and take his recruitment into the winter, then sign in the spring. (There was also some weekend buzz that he might take another visit to Clemson in the next few days).
R.J. Barrett: The No. 1 player in the class of 2018, according to Scout.com, ESPN and Rivals.com, Barrett is down to Kentucky, Duke and Oregon and has already visited all three schools. The 6-7 shooting guard from Canada hasn’t said much at all about his recruitment in weeks. That silence has led to widespread speculation about which way he might be leaning, though Duke remains the team to beat heading into this week.
Timetable: Barrett will announce his college decision Friday at 6 p.m. on the Canadian sports channel TSN.
Quentin Grimes: Like with Barrett, there hasn’t been a lot of solid information out of Grimes’ camp in recent weeks. The 6-5 combo guard from Texas has narrowed his list to UK, Kansas, Marquette and the home-state Longhorns. The recent info that has been out there would indicate that the Jayhawks are the favorites — with Texas as the possible dark-horse pick — going into the early period. The Herald-Leader has been told that Marquette doesn’t have much of a shot and that UK shouldn’t be counted out completely.
Timetable: Grimes has not yet scheduled an announcement date, but he is widely expected to make a college choice during the early signing period.
Bol Bol: The No. 3 player in the 247Sports composite rankings has cut his list to Kentucky and Oregon, but the Ducks recently emerged as the clear favorite for the 7-3 power forward. He’s already visited both schools.
Timetable: The Herald-Leader has been told that Bol is almost certain to sign with a school in the early period, and Oregon is expected to be the choice.
Darius Garland: One of the top point guards in the 2018 class, Garland is down to UK, Indiana, UCLA and hometown Vanderbilt, and he’s taken visits to all four schools. Garland visited Lexington for Big Blue Madness, but there has been zero buzz surrounding the Wildcats in this one. National recruiting insider Andrew Slater recently made a Crystal Ball pick in favor of the Commodores.
Timetable: Garland has not yet said if he’ll sign in the early period, but he seems to be working toward that goal. A fall decision appears to be the most likely outcome.
Romeo Langford: Kentucky has not officially been cut from Langford’s list, but there has been no contact between the Wildcats and the 6-5 shooting guard from New Albany, Ind., in months. Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, UCLA and Vanderbilt are all under consideration.
Timetable: Langford has been leaning toward waiting until the spring to make a college decision, though he is expected to cut his list to three sometime soon. Kentucky is not expected to be in that final three.