UK Men's Basketball

Busy recruiting weekend could result in some new UK basketball commitments

Four-star shooting guard Tyler Herro will be at Kentucky for an official visit this weekend.
Four-star shooting guard Tyler Herro will be at Kentucky for an official visit this weekend. Under Armour

Less than a month after backing out of his commitment to Wisconsin, four-star shooting guard Tyler Herro will be on UK’s campus this weekend for the first — and possibly last — official visit of his recruitment.

Herro — a 6-foot-5 prospect from Milwaukee — is one of the top shooters in the 2018 class. He earned a scholarship offer from Kentucky last week, and the Wildcats have jumped to the front of his recruitment.

Scout.com national analyst Evan Daniels is among those predicting that Herro ends up at UK.

“I like Kentucky’s chances,” Daniels told the Herald-Leader on Thursday evening. “If I was on the Kentucky coaching staff, I certainly wouldn’t trade my position with anybody. It think they’re in good shape. I think Tyler wants to go to a blueblood. I think that there’s an affinity for Kentucky, and now he’s going to go check them out, see the school and go from there.”

Herro’s original plan after decommitting from the Badgers was to take his recruitment slow, go on multiple visits and wait until the spring to make a final decision. UK’s heavy push over the past couple of weeks, however, could expedite that process.

The early signing period ends Wednesday, and that would give Herro a couple of days between the end of his visit and the signing deadline to make the call for Kentucky.

“I think that’s certainly possible,” Daniels said. “I don’t think it’s definitive. I asked Tyler about that, and he didn’t say it wouldn’t happen. He didn’t say it would, but he didn’t say it wouldn’t. So I’d say it’s a possibility.”

Kansas, Oregon, Villanova and Butler have also showed heavy interest in Herro recently, but he will not visit any of those schools before the early signing period ends.

Herro is the No. 36 prospect nationally in the 247Sports composite rankings.

Saturday night addition?

Five-star shooting guard Keldon Johnson is scheduled to announce his college decision at Oak Hill Academy (Va.) at 6 p.m. Saturday, and Kentucky goes into the weekend as the leader on his 247Sports Crystal Ball page.

Keldon
Keldon Johnson will announce his college decision Saturday night. Mike Fender

Scout.com’s Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader on Thursday evening that he did not yet have a final prediction in Johnson’s recruitment, but it sounds like the Cats are in good shape with the No. 14 prospect in the 2018 composite rankings.

“This one has had some twists and turns heading down the stretch,” Daniels said. “I think that you could make a case for a couple of different schools. At this stage, I don’t know where he’s going. … I most definitely think that Kentucky is in his top two.”

Daniels said his “educated guess” would be that Maryland is the Cats’ top competition heading into Saturday night. Other recruiting analysts who have spoken to the Herald-Leader in recent days have also chalked this one up as a UK-Maryland battle, though one insider said Thursday that North Carolina State could be a team to watch heading into Johnson’s announcement.

Texas is Johnson’s other finalist. Not that long ago, the Longhorns were seen as the favorites for Johnson, but they’ve been getting the least amount of behind-the-scenes buzz in recent days.

No. 1 is ready

A reminder that R.J. Barrett — the top-ranked recruit in the 2018 class — will announce his college decision Friday at 6 p.m. on Canadian sports station TSN.

The Herald-Leader talked to a couple of national analysts Thursday about Barrett’s recruitment — you can read that story here — and the buzz going into his announcement is that Duke is the most likely landing spot, but fellow finalists Kentucky and Oregon can not yet be ruled out.

UK’s newest target

John Calipari was in New York City on Sunday to visit with five-star center Moses Brown, one of the top frontcourt players in the 2018 recruiting class.

2017_Hoophall_MosesBrownClassic
Moses Brown is one of the top centers in the class of 2018. Gregory Payan AP

Brown — a 7-1 prospect from Bronx, N.Y. — was invited by Calipari to take an official visit to UK this weekend. A scholarship offer from the Wildcats was expected to materialize on that trip, but Brown’s father told the Herald-Leader that the family would be unable to visit this weekend due to a scheduling conflict.

If Brown can’t make it to Lexington before the end of the early signing period Wednesday, it seems highly unlikely that he would be able to commit to Kentucky in time to sign this fall. But, UK is still looking like a possible frontrunner in Brown’s recruitment, and he was already planning to wait until the spring to officially sign with a school, in part because he was holding out for more interest from UK and/or Duke.

Rivals.com national analyst Corey Evans predicted earlier this week that Brown would ultimately pick the Wildcats, and he explained his thinking on that to the Herald-Leader on Thursday.

“Moses has always spoken honestly about Kentucky and about Duke,” Evans said. “And the interest was on and off, of course, but it really became legitimate (a few days) ago when Calipari came and visited. I know a lot of people are pretty confident with Maryland, and I think they’re definitely in there. But I think that Moses is interested in kind of waiting this thing out.

“He’s always been pretty professional about it, pretty mature about it. It’s not just about next year, but it’s about his well-being 5, 6, 7, 8 years from now. And he’s always talked pretty highly about Kentucky, about them putting him in the best spot possible for a professional career. And by Kentucky coming in late — and Moses speaking about taking the whole process into the winter — I think that if Kentucky does what they have to do, they’ll get him.”

Doing “what they have to do” means showing a sustained interest in Brown’s recruitment, and all signs point to Calipari following through on that in the coming days, weeks and months.

Other notes

▪  In case you missed it, five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley officially signed with Kentucky on Thursday morning. He remains the Wildcats’ only commitment so far for the class of 2018.

▪  There’s not much new to report on five-star small forward Zion Williamson, the No. 2 recruit in the 2018 class. The Spartanburg, S.C., native will be at nearby Clemson this weekend, but it will not be an official visit. It’s still unclear whether or not Williamson will sign with a school during the early period.

▪  Five-star recruits Bol Bol and Quentin Grimes are still expected to announce college decisions during the early signing period, but neither player has set a specific date. Oregon remains the favorite for Bol, and Kansas is favored for Grimes. Both have UK scholarship offers.

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