The newest name on John Calipari’s recruiting list in this hard-to-figure 2018 class is actually one that’s been there before.
Calipari and UK assistant coach Tony Barbee made the trip to New York on Sunday to see Moses Brown, one of the top post players in high school basketball.
Brown — a 7-footer from Bronx, N.Y. — appeared to be one of the Cats’ top frontcourt targets going into the spring travel circuit earlier this year, but he never received a UK scholarship offer and no longer seemed to be on Calipari’s radar entering the fall.
Then came Sunday’s visit.
“It happened so fast, it just kind of caught everybody off guard,” Malcolm Brown, the player’s father, told the Herald-Leader on Sunday night. “(Calipari) was in and out. He was back and forth with it. A lot of other schools have been in the mix. And now he’s back around.
“Moses does like the school — it’s always been his dream school. He’s kind of hesitant right now making a commitment, because, like I said, everything just happened so quick.”
Brown averaged 14.2 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 25.6 minutes per game on the Under Armour circuit earlier this year and is ranked by Scout.com as the No. 13 overall prospect and No. 2 center in the class of 2018.
He dropped a few spots in the rankings over the course of the summer, but Brown still projects as one of the top big men in the 2018 class, and his father said Calipari remarked on how much he thinks he’s improved since the beginning of the year.
“He felt like his motor wasn’t there like he wanted it to be, but he knows that he has a really good work ethic and he’s confident that he will be successful in his program,” he said.
Bol Bol — a 7-3 power forward from Los Angeles — is currently the only frontcourt player in the senior class with a UK scholarship offer, but Oregon has emerged as the favorite in his recruitment.
Brown’s father said Calipari did not formally extended an offer Sunday, but the UK coach did invite the family to take an official visit to Lexington this coming weekend (usually a sign that an offer is forthcoming). Obligations to his high school team, Archbishop Molloy (N.Y.), will prevent Brown from making the trip then, his father said.
The timing of that is important, because this coming weekend will be the final one before the end of the early signing period, which starts Wednesday and runs through Nov. 15.
Brown also played in a major showcase in New Jersey on Sunday, and the family had not yet had a chance to have a lengthy conversation about the renewed interest from Kentucky. His father said he couldn’t yet speak on Moses’ behalf on whether Sunday’s visit could lead to a commitment in time for the early signing period.
“I do know that he was very impressed with them coming to see him,” he said.
Brown has already taken official visits to Maryland, Florida State, UCLA and Louisville. (The Cardinals have since been cut from the list). Before Calipari’s visit, the Terrapins had 100 percent of the predictions on Brown’s Crystal Ball page, and it sounds like they’ll be the team to beat if the Cats are serious about landing the five-star center.
“Maryland is still on the top of the list,” Malcolm Brown told the Herald-Leader on Sunday night.
The Cats return to this recruitment in a pretty good spot, though.
Brown’s father repeated the words “dream school” multiple times when talking about his son’s interest in Kentucky, and — despite Calipari’s relative silence during the weeks preceding Sunday’s visit — there were plenty of kind words for both the Wildcats’ program and UK’s coach.
“It’s just a legendary place to play,” Malcolm Brown said. “All the kids are excited about Kentucky, the bright lights, the big stage. And he’s very competitive and he wants to be around the best.
“Coming from Calipari, it’s always an impressive thing. Everybody that plays this game would love to be a part of that. Moses was really, really impressed with it. And hopefully we’ll find a home.”