UK Men's Basketball

Pool of possible UK basketball recruits for the class of 2018 continues to dwindle

Louis King played for John Calipari’s USA Basketball U19 team in Egypt earlier this summer.
Louis King played for John Calipari’s USA Basketball U19 team in Egypt earlier this summer.

Wrapping up some possibly overlooked recruiting items from this week …

A few days ago, we noted that many players with interest — but no scholarship offers — from UK’s coaching staff had started to cut their school lists, either unwilling to wait around for an offer or realizing they were unlikely to ever get one.

That trend continued later in the week when five-star small forward Louis King and four-star center David McCormack both announced new favorites that did not include Kentucky.

King — a 6-7 small forward from New Jersey — narrowed his list to Kansas, Maryland, North Carolina State, Oregon, Purdue, Seton Hall, Syracuse and UConn. He’s one of the top 20 players in the 2018 class and played for John Calipari’s USA Basketball U19 squad, but it had become more clear to all involved in recent weeks that he was not going to land the UK offer.

McCormack — a 6-10 center from Virginia — cut his list to Duke, Kansas, N.C. State, Oklahoma State, UCLA and Xavier. UK showed interest in McCormack throughout the summer, but there was no evidence that an offer was coming any time soon.

Keldon Johnson earned a scholarship offer from Kentucky last week. Mike Fender

King and McCormack joined Jordan Brown, Naz Reid and Emmitt Williams as players on the periphery of UK’s recruiting radar who decided to move on from the Cats.

With Keldon Johnson landing a UK offer last week and Simi Shittu expected to get one as soon as he visits Lexington, the latest defections leave five-star center Moses Brown as the only class of 2018 player who has been linked to UK but does not yet have an offer from the Cats.

247Sports national analyst Jerry Meyer told the Herald-Leader recently that Kansas, Louisville and Maryland should be considered the top teams in Brown’s recruitment. The 7-footer is taking an official visit to U of L this weekend and one to Maryland later this month.

If the Cats don’t offer Brown — and there’s been nothing lately to indicate they will — that would make Shittu, a 6-9 power forward, and 7-3 forward Bol Bol the only non-backcourt players on their offer list.

UK might not need much in the way of frontcourt players, with the possibility that PJ Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt, Nick Richards, Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Tai Wynyard could all come back for next season. (At least a few of those players will return).

The latest list-cuttings — along with Cameron Reddish’s commitment to Duke on Friday night — also mean that UK’s class is likely to primarily be made up of the current pool of offer recipients: R.J. Barrett, Bol, Darius Garland, Quentin Grimes, Johnson, Romeo Langford, Immanuel Quickley, Simi Shittu and Zion Williamson.

No other players in the 2018 class seem like possibilities to join that list, so any other additions likely wouldn’t be known until very late in the process. Examples of those types of recruits would be a player whose college coach moves elsewhere (like Jemarl Baker in the 2017 class), a junior college transfer (like Mychal Mulder), a reclassification situation (like, most recently, Jamal Murray and Isaac Humphries), a local player hitting UK’s radar late (like Dominique Hawkins) or a graduate transfer (which Calipari hasn’t done since bringing in Julius Mays five years ago).

Expect the Cats to have three or four commitments by the end of the November signing period, and don’t expect their final 2018 class to consist of more than five players.

No. 1 center Moses Brown talks about the latest in his recruitment and the recent interest from John Calipari and other big-name coaches.

Big man on campus

A reminder that No. 1 overall player R.J. Barrett is expected to start his official visit to UK on Friday, the first such trip of his college recruitment.

Earlier this week, the Herald-Leader asked five national analysts to handicap Barrett’s recruitment, and they came up with Duke as the favorite (though UK finished second in the polling). The 6-7 shooting guard from Canada will also visit Duke, Arizona, Oregon and Michigan before making a fall decision.

▪  Barrett won’t be the only top recruit taking an official visit this weekend. UK’s top point guard target, Immanuel Quickley, will take his official visit to Kansas starting on Friday. Five-star shooting guard Keldon Johnson, who received a UK offer last week, will take an official visit to Texas this weekend.

Watch those Jayhawks

Kansas Coach Bill Self is known as one of the best recruiters in college basketball, and his 2018 class has the potential to be a great one.

Self landed a commitment from 6-9 power forward Silvio De Sousa — the No. 30 overall player in the 247Sports composite rankings — on Wednesday.

According to the 247Sports Crystal Ball, the Jayhawks are also the slight favorites for No. 2 recruit Zion Williamson and the heavy favorites for No. 18 recruit Quentin Grimes and No. 32 recruit Devon Dotson, in addition to being in the mix for a handful of other talented players in the 2018 class, such as five-star talents Moses Brown and Romeo Langford.

Looking like a good cycle for KU.

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

Return visit?

The father of five-star shooting guard Keldon Johnson told 247Sports this week that he’s not sure which school will get the family’s fifth official visit. It’ll either be UK or Georgetown, as Johnson already has visits scheduled for Florida State, Maryland, N.C State and Texas.

If UK doesn’t get that fifth visit, it shouldn’t be viewed as having much of a negative impact on the Cats’ chances. Johnson — a 6-6 senior at Oak Hill Academy (Va.) — has already been on UK’s campus several times, including the most recent trip that was highlighted by a scholarship offer from John Calipari.

Johnson probably knows everything he needs to know about UK at this point, and he’s spoken very highly of Calipari and the Wildcats’ program during conversations with the Herald-Leader over the past year or so.

UK and Texas appear to be the top two teams in his recruitment.