UK Men's Basketball

New leaders? Package deals? The latest on all of UK’s top basketball recruits for 2018

Brentwood Academy (Tenn.) point guard Darius Garland, right, is one of the top basketball players in the recruiting class of 2018.
Brentwood Academy (Tenn.) point guard Darius Garland, right, is one of the top basketball players in the recruiting class of 2018. AP

The Herald-Leader covered Nike and Adidas basketball events in South Carolina last week, and all seven of the class of 2018 recruiting targets with UK scholarship offers were there.

Here’s the latest on each of those players — including an eighth prospect who picked up a UK scholarship offer Sunday — as well as the weekend buzz on where the Cats stand in each of their recruitments:

Marvin Bagley

The biggest national story out of this month’s first live recruiting period revolved around Bagley — the nation’s No. 1 recruit — and the possibility he might reclassify to 2017 and start his college basketball career this season.

CBS Sports national reporter Gary Parrish first reported Friday that Bagley and his family were considering the move to 2017 and that it would be academically possible for the 6-foot-11 forward to make that jump. The CBS report said no final decision had been made, and Bagley’s father didn’t confirm or deny the possibility in interviews with reporters at Nike’s Peach Jam event. (Recruiting rule of thumb: Once serious reclassification talk starts, the player reclassifies more often than not).

Bagley will take official visits to Duke, Arizona and Southern Cal in the near future. UK has two available scholarships for this season, but the Wildcats are not expected to be a likely landing spot if Bagley does make the move. Even if Bagley stays in the 2018 class, other schools now appear to be in better position in his recruitment, the Herald-Leader was told.

Top basketball recruit Marvin Bagley talks about Duke, his upcoming visits and the recruiting process in general.

Darius Garland

The 6-1 point guard from Nashville is the latest 2018 star to receive a scholarship offer from Kentucky. Garland picked up the offer Sunday, a curious move by the Cats, who are expected to land a commitment from another five-star point guard, Immanuel Quickley, sometime this fall.

UK freshman point guards Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are not projected as one-and-done NBA picks after this season, which means they would be back in Lexington — presumably alongside Quickley — a year from now.

Garland is the No. 1 point guard and No. 8 overall player in the 247Sports composite rankings. Duke and Vanderbilt have generated the most buzz in his recruitment recently.

It’s worth noting that a few elite players in the 2018 class — including UK targets Marvin Bagley and Cameron Reddish — have expressed an interest in teaming up with Garland in college.

Romeo Langford

Langford played for John Calipari’s USA Basketball U19 team this month, but he was sidelined for some games in Egypt due to back spasms.

Those troubles flared up again this past week. Langford traveled with his Twenty Two Vision team to the Adidas Gauntlet Finale in South Carolina but barely played in any of those games.

He said his back “started acting up” when he played in his team’s first game Thursday, and he sat the rest of the week.

Langford — a 6-5 shooting guard from New Albany, Ind. — said he plans to cut his list to seven schools at the end of the summer and will have a better feel for official visits then. He has not set any of those visits, and he declined to name any schools that would definitely get one of those five trips.

Louisville and Indiana were the two schools talked about as the most likely landing spots for Langford at the Adidas event. Also, he said he considered nearby U of L to be his “hometown” school.

Immanuel Quickley

Quickley — a 6-3 point guard from the Baltimore area — is still the heavy favorite to be UK’s first commitment for the 2018 class.

He reiterated that Kentucky is the favorite in his recruitment — Kansas, Maryland and Miami are his other finalists — though he still plans to visit all four schools this fall (his UK trip is scheduled for Sept. 16). Quickley is planning to make a college decision by late September.

“I just want to get it done,” he said.

Quickley also plans to be an active recruiter for his school of choice after he commits. He is currently talking to Zion Williamson and Cameron Reddish, his roommate with Calipari’s USA Basketball squad in Egypt, about teaming up in college.

Five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley talks about his friendship with fellow top recruit Zion Williamson.

Cameron Reddish

One of the most impressive players in the 2018 class, Reddish plans to cut his recruiting list to five or six schools in the next few days and then start lining up his five official visits.

The 6-7 wing from Pennsylvania is targeting November or December for a commitment. Duke has long been seen as the favorite, though Reddish has said in recent weeks he does not have a leader.

The Blue Devils might still be the team to beat heading into this final stage, but Reddish does seem sincere about keeping an open mind while he goes on his official visits, and his time with Calipari as part of the Team USA squad had a positive impact on Kentucky’s chances.

Others

▪  Bol Bol — the 7-3 son of Manute Bol — said last week there were no hard feelings over being cut from Calipari’s USA team. That might be true, but it still appears as though UK has lost the lead in his recruitment. Southern Cal definitely had the most buzz for Bol at Peach Jam last week.

▪  Quentin Grimes — a 6-5 combo guard from Texas — is still considering UK despite the apparent impending commitment from point guard Immanuel Quickley and possible return of Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Calipari and UK assistant Joel Justus also watched Grimes this past week, showing the Cats remain interested. Still, other schools — notably Kansas — are seen as more likely possibilities for the No. 16 player in the 247Sports rankings.

▪  The “package deal” talk between Zion Williamson and Immanuel Quickley is very real. The two players have bonded during their time at Adidas events and roomed together at a recent camp in Italy — such overseas trips helped Duke land the package deals of Wendell Carter/Gary Trent Jr., Harry Giles/Jayson Tatum and Jahlil Okafor/Tyus Jones in recent years. UK should now be considered the favorite for Williamson, and the Herald-Leader was told over the weekend that he and Quickley could both commit to the Cats by this fall.

Top basketball recruit Zion Williamson discusses the colleges on his list, the evolution of his playing style and more.

  Comments