UK Men's Basketball

This edition of Big Blue Madness will be one of Calipari’s biggest recruiting events yet

Zion Williamson is the No. 2 overall player in the class of 2018.
Zion Williamson is the No. 2 overall player in the class of 2018. Adidas

John Calipari’s ninth Big Blue Madness in charge of the Kentucky Wildcats is set for Friday night, and this one — just like past editions of Madness — will feature an extensive guest list of visiting recruits.

As of Thursday morning, 11 highly touted high school basketball players were confirmed for Friday night’s showcase, and three of those recruits are expected to stick around through the weekend for their official visits to Kentucky.

If one more player is added to the list (and there are often surprise visitors), this year’s guest list would match 2016 and 2013 as the largest in Calipari’s tenure.

Here’s a look at Friday’s list, as it stands now:

Class of 2018

Immanuel Quickley: So far, he’s UK’s only commitment for next year, but that’s expected to change in the very near future. Quickley — a 6-foot-3 point guard from the Baltimore area — committed to Kentucky last month and is likely to be in full-on recruiting mode with three of his 2018 peers in Lexington this weekend, including close friend and No. 2 national recruit Zion Williamson. This will be Quickley’s second consecutive trip to Madness after visiting last year as a junior. He will be eligible to officially sign with the Wildcats on Nov. 8.

(Update: Quickley will not be able to attend Big Blue Madness).

Bol Bol: The No. 3 overall recruit in the 247Sports composite rankings, Bol told reporters at USA Basketball camp last weekend that he has cut his list to UK and Oregon in the wake of the corruption scandal that led to the arrest of assistant coaches at Arizona and Southern Cal, two of his previous finalists. The 7-3 son of late NBA star Manute Bol is one of the most interesting prospects in the country; a tall, long player who likes to play on the perimeter and shot nearly 50 percent from three-point range on the Nike circuit this summer. UK has taken a clear lead on Bol’s Crystal Ball page in recent days.

UK women's basketball coach Matthew Mitchell has become known for his yearly dance number at the Kentucky basketball pre-season event.

Darius Garland: One of the top point guards in high school basketball, Garland has narrowed his list to Kentucky, Indiana, UCLA and Vanderbilt, and his recruitment is expected to wrap up relatively soon. The 6-1 prospect from Nashville is scheduled to take his final official visit to UCLA in two weeks. Scout.com ranks him as the No. 7 overall prospect in the 2018 class and the top available point guard, but UK is looking like an unlikely destination despite this weekend’s visit. The Cats already have a commitment from Quickley, and freshman point guards Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander could both return for sophomore seasons. Indiana and Vanderbilt are getting the most buzz in Garland’s recruitment.

Zion Williamson: Arguably the most exciting player in high school basketball, Williamson will be on UK’s campus this weekend after postponing an official visit originally scheduled for last month. The 6-6 small forward has already become a YouTube sensation with his highlight-reel dunks and electric style of play, and he’s developing the skill set to be an impact player from day one in college. Kansas still holds a slim lead on Williamson’s 247Sports Crystal Ball page, but Kentucky is considered by many to be the favorite (and Duke and Clemson should not be discounted at this point in his recruitment).

Class of 2019

Keion Brooks: Scout.com ranks Brooks — a 6-8 small forward from Fort Wayne, Ind. — as the No. 14 prospect in the junior class, and he received an offer from UK during a visit last month. Michigan State and Indiana are also expected to be major players in his recruitment.

D.J. Jeffries: The second player from the 2019 class to land a UK scholarship offer, Jeffries played for Team Penny (that’s Penny Hardaway’s squad) on the Nike circuit. He’s No. 15 in the 2019 composite rankings, and Kentucky has emerged as a possible early favorite.

Tyrese Maxey: One of the top point guards in the 2019 class, Maxey got a visit from John Calipari earlier this week and is looking like a serious target for the Cats in the next cycle. The 6-3 prospect from the Dallas area is also being heavily recruited by Southern Methodist, which recently hired his father as its director of player development.

James Wiseman: Nearly 7 feet tall and a versatile power forward, Wiseman is now ranked No. 1 nationally in the junior class by Scout.com and ESPN, and he drew rave reviews from the USA Basketball minicamp in Colorado Springs last weekend. He was the first player from the 2019 class to land a UK scholarship offer, and Kentucky is looking like the early favorite in his recruitment. Wiseman, who started his high school career in Nashville, has moved to Memphis to play for Penny Hardaway, who was also his summer-league coach on the Nike circuit.

Others

Jaemyn Brakefield: The No. 13 overall player in the 2020 class, according to the 247Sports rankings. A 6-9 power forward from Huntington (W.Va.) Prep, he already has reported scholarship offers from Baylor, Mississippi and Virginia Tech.

Jalen Johnson: The No. 8 overall player in the 2020 class, according to the 247Sports rankings. The 6-7 small forward from Wisconsin already has an offer from the hometown Badgers, and he’s getting serious early interest from Duke and North Carolina, as well.

Zion Harmon: He helped lead Bowling Green to the state title as an eighth-grader last season, and he’s now a freshman at Adair County. Harmon — a 5-9 guard — is an explosive scorer and played on the senior Nike EYBL circuit as a seventh-grader. He has taken unofficial visits to UK and Kansas this fall, and this will be his second trip to Lexington in less than a month.

Friday

Big Blue Madness

7 p.m. at Rupp Arena (SEC Network)

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