UK Men's Basketball

Thoughts on latest UK basketball recruiting predictions, possible new target and more

Bol Bol was the MVP on the Nike EYBL circuit this summer.
Bol Bol was the MVP on the Nike EYBL circuit this summer. Nike

The start of the early signing period for college basketball is now less than two weeks away, and it’s been a busy a few days for recruiting predictions.

Bol Bol: There was a major swing on the Crystal Ball page of the 7-foot-3 forward starting Tuesday, when national analyst Evan Daniels logged a prediction in favor of Oregon for the No. 2 recruit in the Scout.com rankings.

Until then, UK had been the leader on Bol’s page, but Daniels’ pick started a chain reaction of predictions for the Ducks, who are now the overwhelming favorite for Bol.

National analysts Jerry Meyer and Andrew Slater have changed their picks from UK to Oregon, ESPN analyst Jeff Borzello has been predicting Oregon for a couple of weeks, and a few Oregon-based recruiting analysts started picking the Ducks in the days preceding Daniels’ prediction.

Oregon now has all of the momentum in this one.

Zion Williamson: The biggest noteworthy change to Williamson’s Crystal Ball page was Andrew Slater — the No. 1-ranked analyst in the Crystal Ball standings — switching his prediction from Kansas to “foggy,” meaning there’s not enough reliable info to make an informed decision.

Kentucky remains the favorite on Williamson’s page — Meyer has logged a pick for the Cats, and Borzello is also predicting it’ll be UK — but there has been plenty of conflicting buzz in recruiting circles over the past couple of weeks. Kansas, Duke and home-state Clemson have all been mentioned as possible landing spots for the 6-6 small forward, and he’s taking an impromptu official visit to North Carolina this weekend.

Williamson — the No. 2 player in the 247Sports composite rankings — commented on the predictions related to his recruitment in his USA Today blog this week.

“It’s always funny when I read different things from sports writers that think they have me all figured out and know who I’m gonna choose,” he wrote. “I don’t even know that yet! Haha! I’m just gonna continue to enjoy the process and keep them guessing until it’s time to decide.”

Keldon Johnson: There’s been no new movement regarding predictions for Johnson, and UK is still the leader on his Crystal Ball page. Based on recent buzz, it would be a major surprise if the 6-6 shooting guard and possible top-10 recruit ended up anywhere other than Lexington.

Quentin Grimes: Kansas still holds 100 percent of the picks on Grimes’ Crystal Ball page, and ESPN’s Borzello and Rivals.com’s Corey Evans have both predicted the Jayhawks for the 6-5 combo guard in stories over the past week.

Still, there’s been plenty of recent talk in recruiting circles that UK has a real shot to land Grimes, a top-20 prospect and the first player John Calipari visited during the fall recruiting period. He might end up at Kansas, but don’t count out the Cats here.

R.J. Barrett: Duke is still the leader on the Crystal Ball page of the No. 1 overall prospect in the 247Sports composite rankings, and Scout.com’s Daniels is among those publicly picking the Blue Devils. (And we’ve actually heard more buzz for Oregon than Kentucky as a possible dark-horse pick over the past couple of weeks). Duke remains the favorite. Barrett will announce a decision Nov. 10.

Darius Garland and Romeo Langford: Both top-10 recruits visited Indiana last weekend, and the Hoosiers are now the favorites to land both players. There has been very little UK talk surrounding Garland and zero UK talk for Langford.

Quick stat

Scout.com’s Evan Daniels started making Crystal Ball predictions for 247Sports this summer, and he has been correct on his last 32 picks, as of Friday morning.

That’s an unprecedented success rate, and it’s worth noting that Daniels is admittedly cautious when making public predictions on recruits. If he logs a prediction on the Crystal Ball page, it means he has compelling intelligence behind it.

Daniels made a Duke pick for R.J. Barrett one month ago and made the Oregon prediction for Bol Bol this week. He has not yet logged a Crystal Ball prediction for top UK targets Quentin Grimes, Keldon Johnson or Zion Williamson.

Latest on Herro

Four-star shooting guard Tyler Herro has restarted his recruitment after decommitting from home-state Wisconsin last week, and Kansas, Oregon, Villanova and Butler all had coaches in Milwaukee to check him out this week.

There have been several predictions in favor of Kentucky for Herro over the past few days, including picks from national analysts Jerry Meyer and Andrew Slater, as well as one from Wisconsin basketball insider Mark Miller.

Herro — a 6-5 prospect ranked in the top 40 nationally for 2018 — has definite interest in UK, but the Wildcats have not yet reciprocated that interest with a visit.

Kentucky has been recruiting backcourt players Keldon Johnson and Quentin Grimes for months, and both of those players could be making college decisions in the next couple of weeks.

With Herro seemingly in no rush to make another commitment, UK could wait until Grimes and Johnson announce their college intentions before proceeding with another shooting guard.

Weekend preview

The biggest recruiting trip this weekend will be Zion Williamson’s official visit to North Carolina, a change from his original plans.

Williamson was scheduled to visit UCLA this weekend, but he canceled that trip and has eliminated the Bruins from his list. He’s already taken official visits to UK, Duke and Kansas.

Zion
Zion Williamson will visit North Carolina this weekend. Tracy Glantz tglantz@thestate.com

The other two schools left on his list are home-state programs Clemson and South Carolina, and he’s already taken unofficial visits to both schools for Saturday night football games this fall. It’s still unclear if he will use his fifth official visit for another trip to one of those schools.

Five-star shooting guard Romeo Langford will take an official visit to Kansas this weekend. Langford — from New Albany, Ind. — will have no more official visits remaining after this one, and UK is the only school on his list that did not get one.

There has been no recent contact between Langford and Kentucky.

Five-star point guard Darius Garland will be at UCLA for an official visit this weekend, two weeks after a trip to Kentucky for Big Blue Madness. This will be the fourth and final official visit for Garland, who has also been to Indiana and Vanderbilt.

The other class of 2018 recruits with UK scholarship offers — R.J. Barrett, Bol Bol, Quentin Grimes and Keldon Johnson — have already taken official visits to all of the schools left on their recruiting lists.

Zion’s timetable

The previously mentioned USA Today blog post by Zion Williamson also included a recap of his official visits to Kentucky and Duke — check it out here — as well as some comments about a timetable for making a college decision.

“I know signing day is next month, and, hey, if I’m ready I’ll definitely sign,” Williamson wrote. “But I don’t want to feel rushed by a date so I’m just seeing how everything goes. My heart has to tell me which school I am supposed to be at.”

The early signing period starts Nov. 8 and runs through Nov. 15. If a player does not sign with a college during that period, he must wait until the regular signing period in April to do so (though players can give unbinding, verbal commitments any time before April).

After Williamson visits North Carolina this weekend, he will have taken fall trips to all six of the schools remaining on his list.

I still think we’ll get it done, but we’ll just have to wait and see.

Immanuel Quickley, UK commitment

Five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley — Williamson’s close friend and UK’s only commitment for 2018 — also had a USA Today blog post this week. Quickley made it clear that he’s still doing all he can to get Williamson to join him in Lexington.

“I’m closer with Zion so I’m constantly working on him,” Quickley wrote. “I’ve known him for a couple of years and spent time with him in different countries with basketball and getting to know him as a person. I basically just turn into the coach when I’m talking to Zion just asking him what he wants out of his college experience! Haha! Kentucky is the perfect place for a player that brings everything he brings to the table.

“I still think we’ll get it done, but we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Quickley has been tweeting UK-related material at Williamson since his own commitment to the Cats several weeks ago. His latest such tweet Thursday morning was a frame-by-frame photo set showing Quickley throwing an alley-oop pass to Williamson at an Adidas event this year.

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