UK Men's Basketball

UK is gaining ground for five-star basketball recruit, and he’s visiting this weekend

Quentin Grimes is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 11 overall prospect in the class of 2018.
Quentin Grimes is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 11 overall prospect in the class of 2018. Adidas

One of Kentucky’s top basketball targets for the class of 2018 will be on campus for his official visit this weekend, and the Wildcats appear to be picking up steam in his recruitment.

Grimes — a 6-foot-5 guard from the Houston area — received his UK scholarship offer in late March, and it was unclear just how serious the two sides were about the other until recently. Though many recruiting analysts have considered Kansas to be a heavy favorite for Grimes, he was the first prospect that John Calipari visited during the fall recruiting period that began earlier this month, and Kentucky is now one of four finalists for his commitment.

A few months ago — maybe even a few weeks ago — UK was viewed as an afterthought in Grimes’ commitment. That’s no longer the case.

“This is an interesting recruitment,” Scout.com’s Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader on Thursday night. “I think Kentucky has certainly made up a lot of ground with him and are more in the mix than I think I initially realized. Now, I’m not calling them the favorite, but they certainly have a shot. The visits will factor in heavily, as I think all four schools involved have a shot.”

Those four schools are UK, Kansas, Marquette and Texas, and Grimes is scheduled to take official visits to all of those campuses before he makes his final decision. He stayed close to home with the Texas visit last week, will be in Lexington this weekend, heads to Kansas in two weeks and then visits Marquette the weekend of Oct. 20.

The early signing period begins Nov. 8.

Grimes, ranked by Scout.com as the No. 11 prospect in the country, is listed as a point guard but he has the size and skill set to play one of the two wing positions, and he made it clear this summer that he would be OK in a more off-the-ball role if it meant playing alongside other talented point guards.

UK’s only commitment so far for the class of 2018 is five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley, who is ranked a few spots ahead of Grimes. The Cats could also return five-star point guards Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous Alexander next season. Both players will be freshmen at Kentucky this season.

Kansas has 100 percent of the picks on Grimes’ 247Sports Crystal Ball page, though it’s worth noting that neither Daniels nor 247Sports national analyst Andrew Slater has made a prediction yet.

Decision day

Class of 2018 power forward Jaxson Hayes, who received a scholarship offer from Kentucky last week, will announce his college decision Friday at 3:30 p.m.

The 6-10 prospect from Cincinnati has cut his list to five schools: UK, Butler, Georgetown, Texas and Xavier, and he’s already taken official visits to Texas and Xavier (as well as a recent unofficial visit to Kentucky).

Shortly after it became public that Hayes would be announcing Friday afternoon, a major run of pro-Texas picks popped up on his 247Sports Crystal Ball page, including predictions by Evan Daniels, Jerry Meyer and Andrew Slater.

Expect the Longhorns, who have been recruiting Hayes for much longer than UK, to be the pick.

Update: Hayes did indeed commit to Texas on Friday.

Big night for Kansas

Zion Williamson — the No. 2 overall recruit in the class of 2018 — is expected to take his official visit to Kansas this weekend, and he’ll be there for the Jayhawks’ annual midnight madness event.

Williamson’s stepfather shot down a report Thursday that indicated Jim Gatto, one of the Adidas officials arrested on federal charges this week, was also trying to use money to persuade Williamson to pick Kansas, an Adidas-affiliated school.

“No one from Adidas has approached Zion or his family,” Williamson’s stepfather, Lee Anderson, told WSPA 7 Sports in South Carolina. “If anyone approached the family without Zion’s best interests in mind we would simply walk away.”

Williamson played for an Adidas-affiliated travel team this summer.

Last week, the Herald-Leader asked five national analysts to handicap Williamson’s recruitment, and Kansas finished a distant third behind UK and Clemson, the two favorites. The Herald-Leader has also been told recently that any perceived momentum Kansas appeared to have at the end of the summer has faded.

The Jayhawks are also expected to host UK target James Wiseman, the No. 1 junior nationally, according to Scout.com and ESPN, for a visit this weekend. Wiseman was the first player from the class of 2019 to earn a Kentucky scholarship offer.

Williamson was expected to visit UK last weekend for his first official visit, but he had to postpone that trip due to a death in the family. He will reschedule the UK visit, though no date has been announced yet.

Latest on Langford

Five-star shooting guard Romeo Langford cut Louisville from his list Wednesday night, hours after Rick Pitino was ousted as the Cardinals’ head coach. Before U of L’s latest scandal, the Cards were the favorites on Langford’s Crystal Ball page.

With Louisville out, Indiana has taken the Crystal Ball lead for Langford, who is from New Albany, Ind., and ranked No. 5 nationally in the class of 2018.

247Sports national analyst Jerry Meyer is picking Kansas.

Louisville’s prized recruit

Anfernee Simons was Louisville’s highest-ranked commitment in 10 years (since Samardo Samuels) until Wednesday, when he announced shortly after Rick Pitino’s removal that he was no longer committed to the Cards.

He could end up in the Southeastern Conference.

247Sports analyst Andrew Slater reported Wednesday that Florida and Vanderbilt should be considered early leaders now that Simons is uncommitted, and the Gators have picked up a wave of predictions on his Crystal Ball page since.

Simons is the No. 6 player in the 2018 class, according to 247Sports.

Family atmosphere

We’ve talked in recent Herald-Leader recruiting podcasts about the tight family bond that exists among UK players in the Calipari era, a somewhat surprising occurrence since many of those players are on campus for less than a year.

Another example of that came last weekend, following five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley’s commitment to the Wildcats.

Quickley, who has told the Herald-Leader in the past that John Wall is his favorite former UK player, tweeted out his thanks to Wall for following him on Twitter.

Wall then responded, congratulating Quickley on his commitment and adding that he planned to attend some of his high school games this season. Quickley is from the Baltimore area.

The next day, former UK point guard Eric Bledsoe followed Quickley on Twitter.

Quickley also thanked him for the follow.

“Yessir fam!” Bledsoe responded. “We are glad to have you.”

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