The eventful recruitment of five-star basketball prospect Bol Bol came to an end with his commitment to Oregon on Monday.
Bol — the 7-foot-2 son of late NBA star Manute Bol — had narrowed his list to Oregon and Kentucky, but it had become clear in recent weeks that the Ducks were the leaders to land his commitment. He announced his decision on The Players’ Tribune website.
“It came down to Oregon and Kentucky — which is kind of funny that it was those two schools,” Bol wrote on the site. “Because when I was a kid, after my family moved to Kansas, everyone on my AAU teams and school teams was a Jayhawks fan. As someone who likes to do his own thing — and yeah, troll a little bit — I always rooted for Kentucky. In Kansas, cheering for the Wildcats is like against the law. So I started telling telling people that I was cheering for Kentucky because I wanted to go to school there. Then when I got older, as a recruit, I really liked how Coach Calipari went about developing young players. That speaks for itself. Kentucky had been in my mind my whole life, so it was a little mind-blowing to me that I was offered an opportunity to be a Wildcat.”
Entering the summer, it appeared that UK might be in the driver’s seat for Bol, the No. 3 overall player in the 247Sports composite rankings for the 2018 class. John Calipari extended a scholarship in early May — a few days after watching Bol dominate at a Nike league event in Indianapolis — but the UK coach was in charge of the USA Basketball U19 squad that cut Bol from tryouts in June.
That decision was made by a committee of USA Basketball officials — not just Calipari — but there were clearly some hard feelings as a result of the cut, and Arizona and Southern Cal had emerged as favorites by the end of the summer.
Both of those schools had assistant coaches implicated in the corruption scandal that rocked college basketball earlier this fall, and Arizona and USC were cut from Bol’s list as a result of the federal investigation into the sport.
Kentucky re-emerged as a possible frontrunner and Bol took an official visit to Lexington for Big Blue Madness weekend, but Oregon had been seen as the team to beat for the past few weeks.
Earlier this month, Bol transferred from Mater Dei (Calif.) to Findlay Prep (Nev.) — where Paul Washington, father of UK freshman PJ Washington, is the head coach — but that Kentucky connection had no effect on Bol’s recruitment.
Bol did not mention the USA Basketball snub in his announcement letter, but he did say that he still has “a ton” of respect for Calipari.
With five-star forward Zion Williamson holding off on a college decision, UK exited the fall signing period with a three-player class consisting of five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley, five-star wing Keldon Johnson and four-star shooting guard Tyler Herro, who have all officially signed with the Wildcats.
That UK group is third — behind only Kansas and Duke — in the 2018 class rankings.
Bol was the only uncommitted post player that Kentucky had offered in the 2018 class, but Calipari did pay a recent visit to five-star center Moses Brown, who remains open and will sign with a college in the spring.
Brown — a 7-1 prospect from Bronx, N.Y. — is the No. 15 overall recruit in the 2018 composite rankings. His father told the Herald-Leader on that night of Calipari’s visit that Brown is planning to visit UK sometime soon, and a scholarship offer from the Wildcats could materialize on that trip.
“It’s just a legendary place to play,” Malcolm Brown told the Herald-Leader. “All the kids are excited about Kentucky, the bright lights, the big stage. And he’s very competitive and he wants to be around the best.
“Coming from Calipari, it’s always an impressive thing. Everybody that plays this game would love to be a part of that. Moses was really, really impressed with it. And hopefully we’ll find a home.”