The early signing period for college basketball is over, and Kentucky came out looking pretty good.
The Cats signed three Top 50 recruits over the past week — point guard Immanuel Quickley, shooting guard Tyler Herro and wing Keldon Johnson — and that trio of backcourt players is talented enough to give UK the No. 3 class nationally (behind only Kansas and Duke).
John Calipari isn’t done yet, however.
Kentucky is still in the mix for at least a couple of five-star prospects in this 2018 class, and the biggest name left on the board is Zion Williamson, the No. 2 overall player in the country and the most dynamic prospect in high school basketball.
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Williamson is one of 10 five-star recruits still uncommitted coming out of the early signing period, which ended Wednesday. The regular signing period begins April 11, but players are free to commit to colleges anytime between now and then.
Here’s the latest on the uncommitted Top 100 recruits for the 2018 class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings:
The five-star recruits
2. Zion Williamson: The 6-foot-6 small forward from Spartanburg, S.C., has had arguably the most high-profile recruitment in this cycle, and there are no signs that it will be finished anytime soon. Williamson has narrowed his list of schools to Clemson, Duke, Kansas, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina — and none of those programs has conceded defeat so far.
The Gamecocks seem to be the longest shot exiting the fall recruiting period, but Coach Frank Martin attended Williamson’s season opener Tuesday night. UNC Coach Roy Williams was at his school earlier in the day Tuesday, and coaches from Duke and Kansas have stayed in constant contact.
Clemson and Kentucky are the schools getting the most buzz in recent weeks. UK has been a popular pick for Williamson, who is good friends with Immanuel Quickley, and the Wildcats were in South Carolina on Wednesday to visit with him. Clemson represents the local choice — his stepfather also played for the Tigers — and top-ranked Crystal Ball analyst Andrew Slater predicted Williamson to Clemson after covering the star recruit’s season opener Tuesday night.
3. Bol Bol: The 7-3 power forward has narrowed his recruiting list to Kentucky and Oregon, and he was widely expected to sign with the Ducks during the early period. As of Thursday morning, there was no word on a decision from Bol, who recently transferred from Mater Dei (Calif.) to Findlay Prep (Nev.), where he’ll be coached by Paul Washington, the father of UK freshman PJ Washington.
It’s still possible that Bol has signed a national letter of intent but has not yet made his decision public, but if he is indeed uncommitted heading into the winter, it could be an interesting situation for Kentucky.
5. Romeo Langford: The 6-5 shooting guard from New Albany, Ind., was one of UK’s earliest targets in the 2018 class, but the recruitment fizzled over the summer, and the Cats have been officially cut from consideration. Indiana, Kansas and Vanderbilt are Langford’s three finalists, and he’s not expected to make a decision anytime soon.
7. Simi Shittu: The 6-9 power forward from Canada — now playing for Vermont Academy — was a candidate to make an early decision. If he had done that, Vanderbilt appeared to be the most likely pick. Instead, Shittu decided not to sign in the fall period. Calipari visited Shittu early in the fall but decided not to extend a scholarship offer. Now that Shittu remains uncommitted going into the winter — and with no decision date in sight — it wouldn’t be a total surprise if UK tried to re-establish contact with the top-10 recruit. But there have been no signs or confirmation of a renewed interest on Kentucky’s end.
North Carolina was also seen as a contender this fall, but Vanderbilt has been the only school to land an official visit from Shittu.
11. Jordan Brown: The 6-10 power forward from California tried out for Calipari’s USA Basketball U19 team in June — and the UK coach praised him during training camp — but he didn’t make the squad. There’s been no indication that UK will get involved in his recruitment, despite the Cats’ apparent need of a post player. Brown has taken official visits to UCLA and St. John’s.
12. Anfernee Simons: The 6-3 combo guard at IMG Academy (Fla.) was set to be one of Rick Pitino’s top signees ever at Louisville until the longtime coach’s ouster earlier this fall. Simons re-opened his recruitment and is taking things slow. Florida and Tennessee appear to be the most likely options at the moment.
15. Moses Brown: The 7-1 center from Bronx, N.Y., appears to be — along with Williamson — the biggest current Kentucky recruiting target on this list. Brown was assumed to be toward the top of UK’s frontcourt recruiting board going into the spring, but he never received a scholarship offer from the Cats despite visits from Calipari and other UK coaches. There was no mention of Brown as a serious UK target coming out of the summer.
In a surprise move, Calipari showed up in New York last week for an in-home visit with Brown and his family. The UK coach invited them to take an official visit to Lexington this past weekend — before the end of the early signing period — but obligations to his high school team prevented that trip from happening. It’s presumed that Brown will land a UK offer as soon as he visits campus, and his father told the Herald-Leader last week that the family expects that trip to happen sometime soon.
If Brown had signed in the early period, Maryland would have likely been his pick. Brown’s father told the Herald-Leader last week that the Terrapins are still at the top of his son’s list, though it’s expected that an offer from Kentucky would change that. He’s definitely a player to watch heading into the winter.
19. Jahvon Quinerly: The 6-0 point guard from New Jersey was committed to Arizona entering the fall, but — as one of the players affected by the federal investigation into college basketball — he has since decommitted from the Wildcats and re-opened his recruitment. Villanova has been a popular pick recently on his 247Sports Crystal Ball page.
21. Emmitt Williams: The 6-8 power forward from Florida entered the fall with scholarship offers from Duke, Florida, Kansas, Oregon and other top schools. He was charged last month with felony sexual battery and false imprisonment, and he has since pleaded not guilty to those charges.
25. E.J. Montgomery: The 6-10 power forward from Marietta, Ga., had been committed to Auburn until that program became tied up in the federal investigation into college basketball. He told Rivals.com this week that he is “completely open” in his recruitment and is in no rush to make another decision. There has been no mention of Kentucky as a possible suitor in recent weeks.
Others in the Top 100
37. Courtney Ramey: The 6-3 point guard is a former Louisville commitment from St. Louis, and Missouri has emerged as the favorite in his recruitment.
51. Khavon Moore: The 6-8 small forward from Georgia has taken an official visit to Florida, and Oklahoma currently leads on his Crystal Ball page.
59. Tyger Campbell: The 6-0 point guard from La Lumiere (Ind.) recently decommitted from DePaul, though he’s still considering that school. Purdue has also emerged as a potential landing spot.
66. Jairus Hamilton: The 6-7 small forward from North Carolina has taken official visits to Boston College, Maryland and Mississippi State, and Villanova is also recruiting him.
73. Bryan Penn-Johnson: The 7-footer is playing for a prep school in Utah and is the only player outside the Top 25 on this list that has been linked to UK in any way recently. The Cats reached out toward the end of the summer, but they have never seriously recruited Penn-Johnson, and there’s been no known contact between him and UK this fall. He’s taken official visits to DePaul, UCLA and Washington.
79. J’Raan Brooks: The 6-8 power forward from Seattle backed out of a commitment to Southern Cal after that school was mentioned as part of the federal probe into college basketball. He appears to be in no hurry to make another college choice.
87. Devonaire Doutrive: The 6-5 shooting guard from California has listed offers from Arizona State and UNLV, but not much is known about his recruitment.
90. Bryce Wills: The 6-5 shooting guard from New York has a final four of Stanford, UConn, Villanova and Wake Forest.
Keep in mind …
The ongoing federal investigation into college basketball didn’t stop many top recruits from picking colleges early in this cycle, but it could continue to have an effect on the 2018 class.
It’s notable that players like top-ranked Arizona commitments Shareef O’Neal and Brandon Williams did not sign national letters of intent with the school. Williams signed non-binding scholarship papers, and there was no indication as of Thursday morning that O’Neal — the son of Shaquille O’Neal — had signed anything, though he has said in recent weeks that he remains committed to the Wildcats and plans to sign in the spring. (Update: Scout.com reported Thursday night that O’Neal also signed non-binding financial aid papers with Arizona).
O’Neal has been linked to UK in the past as a possible recruiting target.
If more schools are implicated in the federal investigation — or if more information comes to light about schools already linked to the probe — that could lead to decommitments and those programs letting players out of signed agreements.