UK Recruiting

Expect UK to add another five-star basketball recruit for next season. And expect it to happen soon.

Five-star point guard Tyrese Maxey plays for Houston Hoops on the Nike EYBL circuit.
Five-star point guard Tyrese Maxey plays for Houston Hoops on the Nike EYBL circuit.

Reclassification is all the rage in high school basketball, and that party is apparently just getting started for Kentucky.

Earlier this month, five-star point guard Ashton Hagans — currently a member of the 2019 recruiting class — announced his commitment to UK, and he’s widely expected to make a move to the 2018 class sometime soon and play for the Cats next season.

The recruiting rumor mill has long pegged Hagans, who turns 19 in July, as a reclassification candidate, so — if he does it — it won’t be a surprise.

Such a move for another five-star point guard, Tyrese Maxey, is a newer storyline.

Maxey — a 6-foot-3 prospect from Texas — is still just 17 years old, and his current high school class (2019) matches up with his age.

A few weeks ago, he said his mother pointed out that he would have the credits to graduate this summer and go to college early, if he wanted. Maxey looked into it further then, and he’s now two classes away from having the necessary coursework to make that move.

Those classes wrap up June 28, and he’s fully expecting passing marks.

“My grades are pretty high right now, so I’ll be good on that,” he said Saturday.

Then, the only question is: does he want to play college basketball next season?

That answer to that one already appears to be a yes, and that’s great news for UK.

Maxey said he expects to announce a final decision on reclassification within the next week, and he followed up with the Herald-Leader on Saturday to say that he could very well announce his college choice at the same time.

Five-star point guard Tyrese Maxey talks about the possibility that he will reclassify to 2018. He also discusses future UK point guard Ashton Hagans and the Cats' crowded backcourt.

Playing at the Nike league event in Indianapolis this weekend, Maxey spoke like someone who had already made his mind up to make the early jump to college.

John Calipari and Tony Barbee have visited him twice in the past few weeks, and UK’s coaches were courtside for his games in Indy. You do the math.

“If Tyrese Maxey is going to reclassify, then I think Kentucky’s the favorite,” said 247Sports national analyst Evan Daniels, who has a near-perfect track record of Crystal Ball predictions and recently logged one for UK on Maxey’s page.

The feedback over the weekend indicated it’s a matter of when, not if, Maxey picks the Wildcats. And the “when” of it should come sometime in the next few days.

If it all works out the way it looks like it will, Kentucky will have a devastating backcourt for the 2018-19 season.

Former five-star point guard Quade Green is coming back. Five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley, a McDonald’s All-American, is coming in. Hagans and Maxey — friends off the court who are already referring to themselves as “the duo” — are currently ranked as the No. 1 and 2 point guards, respectively, in the 2019 class.

On top of that, UK will have freshmen shooting guards Jemarl Baker and Tyler Herro, as well as versatile wing Keldon Johnson, another McDonald’s All-American.

Maxey was asked the obvious: Isn’t that backcourt already too crowded to join?

“No, sir,” he replied. “Coach Cal always tells me that he’s good with guards — having a lot of guards. He just keeps it in the back of my mind that he’s done this before.

“Coach Calipari has pro guards. Every guard he gets, they have a good chance of getting to the league. So that’s very intriguing when you talk about Kentucky.”

That, of course, is the goal.

And, under current NBA Draft rules, Maxey, who turns 18 in November, would be eligible for the 2019 draft if he graduates from high school now and plays college basketball this coming season.

Asked to name the pros and cons of a reclassification move, Maxey said the obvious con would be missing out on his senior year of high school.

The obvious pro, is getting to the pros.

“Of course, the pro would be to get to your dream faster.”