Five-star post player James Wiseman wasn’t at the McDonald’s All-American Game in Atlanta this week, but he’s still one of the hottest topics of conversation in basketball recruiting circles.
Will Wiseman — the No. 1 junior in the country — make an appearance at next year’s McDonald’s Game? Talent-wise, that’s a no-brainer. The question is whether he’ll still be playing high school ball a year from now.
Though the 6-foot-11 power forward from Tennessee has denied the reclassification rumors at every turn, they’re still out there, and they’re probably not going away until he’s sitting in a classroom next fall.
“He’s pretty adamant that it’s not going to happen,” Rivals.com national analyst Eric Bossi told the Herald-Leader. “To me, I feel like I hear about it more in the media. I don’t hear about it from other coaches who are recruiting him or people around the circuit. If he does it, I don’t think it’s something that would happen until the end of the summer.”
Wiseman, who won a state title with Memphis East earlier this month, is expected to play on the Nike circuit this spring and summer for the Bluff City Legends — formerly Team Penny — and he’s said he’ll return to school for his senior season.
Marvin Bagley, the No. 1 prospect in the 2017 class, said similar things last year before playing on the Nike circuit and then reclassifying and enrolling at Duke after summer ball was finished.
It’s been said in recruiting circles for months that Bagley’s move is expected to start something of a trend, where a couple players follow the same path each year.
There are differences between Bagley and Wiseman, however.
“He’s not Marvin Bagley, physically,” Bossi said of Wiseman. “And he’s not quite as aggressive in nature. So I think he might really be a kid who needs that year of high school anyway. If you’re taking a year of development away from a guy and you’re expecting him to still be as good, I don’t know that that’s really fair to him.”
Wiseman is also still just 16 years old. He turns 17 this weekend. Bagley turned 18 several months before making his move to the 2017 class.
“Bagley turned 19 this year,” Bossi said. “So he’s a little older. Wiseman is one of the younger guys in his class. The question with him is, ‘Physically, how far along is he?’ So, taking a year away from him could make things really tough on him. But, if they think the fit’s right, you never know. They never tell us they’re going to do it. Like Bagley’s dad, at the beginning of his junior year, would say, ‘It’s what we want to do, but we don’t think it’s possible.’ … I don’t know. We’ll see.”
Bossi said it could become clear in the next few weeks which way Wiseman might be leaning there.
“I would suspect that (Hardaway’s) been working that relationship for the future for quite some time now,” he said. “I think it’s going to be real interesting. We’re going to find out, I think, pretty quickly, how much James Wiseman really likes Penny Hardaway.”
The Herald-Leader asked several players at McDonald’s All-American media day Tuesday where they thought EJ Montgomery — the top uncommitted post player in the country — would end up.
The trio of perceived favorites features UK, Duke and North Carolina, but even the recruits from those schools waffled on Montgomery predictions. Just about everyone gave a pick, but everyone also acknowledged it was no more than a guess.
Everyone except UK signee Keldon Johnson, that is.
“He’s keeping it close, but I think he’s going to come to Kentucky,” Johnson told the Herald-Leader. “So Big Blue Nation better get ready. I think he’s going to come.”
Johnson added that he’s been recruiting Montgomery — a 6-11 power forward from Marietta, Ga. — “pretty hard” over the past few days.
“We would love to have him,” he said.
Kentucky took a big step in the recruitment of Ashton Hagans on Thursday, extending a scholarship offer to the five-star point guard from Georgia.
Hagans — a 6-4 prospect — also has an offer this week from Louisville and has been visited by top coaches from around the country. His father told the Herald-Leader on Thursday that the family would sit down and sort through the process in the near future, but he said not to expect a college decision anytime soon. Marvin Hagans also didn’t say much about the possibility that his son could move from the class of 2019 to the class of 2018 and play college ball next season.
All of the buzz during McDonald’s week indicated that the Cats would be major favorites if they did offer and that Hagans is almost certain to eventually join the 2018 class. Going into the spring, that appears to be the most likely scenario.
Five-star post player Jordan Brown was one of only three uncommitted recruits at the McDonald’s All-American Game this week, and it sounds like his process still has a little ways to go.
“Recently, my recruitment kind of opened up a little bit more, just letting other schools kind of get involved,” Brown told the Herald-Leader. “Stanford and Arizona have started to get involved a little bit more. They’ve been calling and talking to my dad.”
Brown — a 6-10 power forward from California — has also taken official visits to St. John’s, California and Louisiana, his father’s alma mater. He said he hasn’t heard from Oregon or UCLA, another school that scored an earlier official visit, in recent weeks. National analysts Andrew Slater and Jerry Meyer logged Crystal Ball predictions for Stanford this week.
247Sports analyst Evan Daniels called Brown “arguably the top big man performer” in the McDonald’s Game, and Rivals.com analyst Eric Bossi wondered in a tweet why schools such as UK, Duke and North Carolina haven’t been recruiting him.
Would Brown listen to a late pitch from Kentucky?
“Of course, yeah. I would,” he said.
Brown was a late addition to John Calipari’s USA Basketball U19 training camp last summer. He didn’t make the team, but he did make a nice impression on the UK coach. Still, there’s been no hint of any interest from the Wildcats.
“It was a great experience,” Brown said of the camp. “He’s a great coach. He liked my game, but, in the end, it just didn’t work out for what was best for the team.”
Brown is the No. 16 overall prospect in the 247Sports composite rankings.