Last week, the Herald-Leader asked five national recruiting analysts to look at a list of UK’s presumed top 10 basketball targets for the class of 2018 and pick the five most likely to ultimately commit to the Wildcats.
Unsurprisingly, five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley came in at No. 1 (and you can read the rest of those results at this link, if you missed it).
Of the 10 players on the list — Quickley, Marvin Bagley, R.J. Barrett, Bol Bol, Darius Garland, Quentin Grimes, Romeo Langford, Cameron Reddish, Simi Shittu and Zion Williamson — only two were left off of all five of our experts’ lists completely.
No recruiting analyst had Bagley in their top five. That wasn’t a surprise. It had become clear in recent weeks that the nation’s No. 1 recruit was intent on moving to the class of 2017, and UK was no longer a realistic option. He committed to Duke on Monday.
The other player from our list that no one selected? Romeo Langford.
A few months ago, that would have been a shocker.
Langford — a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from New Albany, Ind. — was one of the first players in the 2018 class to receive a UK scholarship offer. John Calipari went to watch him play as a high school sophomore — the UK coach usually doesn’t do that — and Langford returned the favor by visiting for Big Blue Madness last fall.
A couple of months ago, Langford tried out for Calipari’s USA Basketball U19 team and was one of the few high school players to make the final squad.
Kentucky still wasn’t considered the favorite at that point, but the Cats were at least looked at as a team to watch moving forward in Langford’s recruitment.
That has changed.
The buzz in recruiting circles is that Langford and Calipari didn’t quite click during their Team USA time together. The UK coach also didn’t get to see much of him on the court. Langford played a team-low 29 minutes during the FIBA World Cup — appearing sparingly in five games and sitting out two more altogether — with a lower back injury. He also missed time on the Adidas circuit with the injury when he returned to the United States last month.
Langford told the Herald-Leader and others at an Adidas event in July that UK’s standing in his recruitment was “still the same as before” the Team USA trip. He’s expected to cut his list to seven schools sometime soon, and Kentucky might make that list, but — as of now — it seems highly unlikely that he ends up as a Wildcat.
Louisville, Indiana and Kansas are the three schools with the most buzz in his recruitment at this time. When asked last month what he would consider to be his “hometown school,” the Indiana native named Louisville, which is located about 10 miles from New Albany High School.
The Cardinals are the leaders on Langford’s 247Sports Crystal Ball page.
More from the experts
To recap, the Herald-Leader last week asked a panel of five national recruiting experts — Jerry Meyer and Andrew Slater of 247Sports, Evan Daniels of Scout.com, Jeff Borzello of ESPN and Corey Evans of Rivals.com — to look at the 10 class of 2018 recruits mentioned earlier and pick the five most likely, in order, to ultimately commit to UK.
Our panel picked Quickley, Williamson, Shittu, Reddish and Barrett, in that order, as those five players.
Some other interesting notes from the experts’ picks:
▪ Texas guard Quentin Grimes finished at No. 6 — just behind Barrett — and was chosen by one analyst as the third-most likely player from the group of 10 to pick Kentucky. Grimes — a 6-5 recruit — is also considering Arizona, Baylor, Kansas, Marquette, Texas and Texas A&M, with Kansas most often mentioned as the favorite. UK is trying to sell him on the idea of playing alongside another great point guard — like Quickley — and Grimes does have the skills to be a highly effective player off the ball. It’s also possible, maybe probable, that UK will return five-star freshman point guards Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander from this season’s team.
▪ Quickley was the easy choice for No. 1 in our poll, and every recruiting analyst who participated pegged him as the most likely to pick UK. There was more variety in the No. 2 spot. Three analysts picked Williamson as second-most likely to choose the Wildcats, while one picked Reddish and another chose Shittu.
▪ Bol Bol — the 7-3 son of Manute Bol — showed up on only one of the five lists. After John Calipari extended Bol a UK scholarship offer a few weeks ago, it looked like the Wildcats would be the team to beat in his recruitment. That has obviously changed, with Arizona and Southern Cal both emerging as possible favorites.
▪ Barrett — maybe the most likely consensus No. 1 recruit in the 2018 class if Bagley does reclassify — was No. 5 on our experts’ composite list, but no single analyst had him higher than No. 4 and he was left off of two lists altogether. One national recruiting analyst said he didn’t think UK had much of a shot at all in Barrett’s recruitment.
You think you’ve had a busy summer? Listen to Immanuel Quickley’s schedule.
UK’s top point guard target — who lives just outside of Baltimore — started his spring/summer travel at the Adidas Gauntlet series in Dallas from April 21-23, then played at the Adidas event in Atlanta from April 28-30. Three weeks later, he played in the Southern Jam Fest in Hampton, Va. (May 19-21), and the week after that he was at the Big Shots event in Richmond, Va. (May 26-29).
On June 9, Quickley traveled to Italy for the three-day Adidas Eurocamp, and he was back in Virginia for the NBPA Top 100 Camp in Charlottesville from June 13-17.
From there, he flew to Colorado Springs, Colo., for John Calipari’s Team USA Basketball U19 training camp, which went from June 18-25 and included multiple practices and workouts per day.
“What are you, nuts?” Calipari said of Quickley’s Italy-Charlottesville-Colorado trek on the second day of training camp.
It got crazier from there.
Quickley was one of four high school players to make Calipari’s U19 squad and traveled with the UK coach to Cairo, Egypt on June 26. The team practiced in Egypt before playing in the FIBA World Cup against top international competition from July 1-9.
When he returned to the United States, Quickley played in the Adidas Gauntlet Finale in South Carolina (July 12-15), the Battle of the Best in Orlando (July 19-23), the Adidas Summer Championships in Las Vegas (July 26-30) and the Adidas Nations event in Houston (Aug. 4-7).
Later this week, Quickley will travel to Aruba — located about 15 miles off the coast of Venezuela — for another Adidas event scheduled to last four days.
That’s a whole lot of basketball, and — more impressive than the travel — Quickley maintained a high level of play throughout the summer.
He was one of the top players on the Adidas circuit and made a claim as the No. 1 point guard in the 2018 recruiting class.
Next month, he’ll take recruiting visits to UK, Kansas, Maryland and Miami, and he’s expected to make a college decision no later than early October.
▪ Simi Shittu cut his list to 10 schools Sunday: UK, Arizona, Arizona State, New Mexico, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oregon, South Carolina, UConn and Vanderbilt. Kentucky is the only school on that list that has not yet extended a scholarship offer, but the Herald-Leader has been told that an offer is likely forthcoming and would coincide with Shittu’s first visit to Lexington, a trip that could come in the very near future.
▪ Five-star forward Louis King, the only high school player on John Calipari’s U19 team that did not have a UK scholarship offer before the trip to Egypt, still hasn’t received an offer from the Wildcats’ program. The Herald-Leader has been told that, as of now, it’s looking unlikely that King will land a UK offer.
▪ Five-star point guard Tre Jones became the first top-15 recruit from the 2018 class to pick a school, committing to Duke on Sunday night. Jones, the No. 12 player in the 247Sports composite rankings, is the younger brother of former Duke point guard Tyus Jones.
▪ Louisiana State is no longer recruiting five-star center Mitchell Robinson, who took a visit to Kansas over the weekend. There’s still no timetable for a college decision from the former Western Kentucky signee. He is not expected to be eligible to play college basketball this season after joining the Hilltoppers’ team earlier this summer and then leaving less than a month later.