UK Recruiting

'Do-it-all guard' Tyrese Maxey commits to UK, bolstering Calipari's future backcourt

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.

John Calipari’s spring recruiting sweep continued Wednesday with the addition of yet another five-star prospect for the UK basketball program’s future.

Last month, in a matter of 24 hours, it was EJ Montgomery and Ashton Hagans picking the Wildcats.

Now, highly touted point guard Tyrese Maxey has decided to do the same.

Maxey — a 6-foot-3 prospect from the Dallas area — chose Kentucky over fellow finalists Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma State and Texas. There was little mystery heading into his decision day — UK had emerged as an overwhelming favorite in recent weeks — but there was some question over whether or not he would jump from his current class of 2019 to the 2018 class, a move that would allow him to play college basketball this coming season.

Maxey did not announce such a move Wednesday, and it appears he will stick in the 2019 class, where he’s currently ranked as the No. 2 point guard nationally behind Hagans.

“He’s kind of like the definition of a do-it-all guard,” analyst Corey Evans told the Herald-Leader. “There’s really no such thing as a point guard or a shooting guard anymore. I think you’re either a guard, forward or big man. And I think Tyrese kind of encapsulates that perfectly. He’s become a better shooter. In the past, he was a high-volume scorer and high-volume shot taker, and he’s really put in the time on his shot. And at the same time, he’s still a high-energy guy. He’s going to rebound. He’s going to pass. He’s going to defend. He’s a big-time steal artist — he plays the passing lanes well with quick hands and good instincts.

“So there’s really no major deficiencies with him.”

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USA Today debuted Maxey's new player blog just minutes after he announced his commitment Wednesday afternoon. Maxey said there that UK had been his "dream school" for as long as he could remember, and he explained his reasoning behind wanting to stay in the 2019 recruiting class.

"For me it came down to me just wanting to be a kid for my last year of high school," he said. "I just wanted to be around all of my friends and all of my family one last year and I don’t want to pass that up. My dream is to be a McDonald’s All-American, too, so I’m just gonna take this year and work hard and do everything possible to make that dream a reality.

"I always wanted to be a part of a class that I helped create; guys I helped to bring to the school with me to try and win this national title. I told Coach Cal my decision to stay in 2019 about a week ago and he was fine with it. He’s always told me he doesn’t care when I come as long as I come there. Of course, I’ve been talking to all of the guys at Kentucky and all of the commits and we’re all like fam already!"

Maxey joins Hagans and highly touted small forward DJ Jeffries, who committed to the Cats in March, as the third commitment for UK’s 2019 class, though the makeup of that group could change soon. Hagans has also openly flirted with the possibility of reclassification to 2018, and he’s actually expected to follow through on that move later this summer.

Montgomery — the Cats’ other major addition this spring — is a 2018 recruit.

New UK commitment Tyrese Maxey says the Wildcats' coaches have compared him to a cross between Tyler Ulis and Jamal Murray. He also wants to team up with James Wiseman.

Maxey, ranked No. 14 overall by, averaged 22.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.4 steals per game for his high school team this past season, leading them to the Texas state semifinals. He’s also one of the top scorers on the Nike circuit, where he’s averaging 24.0 points, 5.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game while shooting 36.5 percent from three-point range and making 87.9 percent of his free throws. He connected on 14 of 30 threes at the most recent Nike league event in Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago.

Not only does he fill up the stat sheet, he’s also a crowd-pleaser — playing the game with pizzazz and, quite often, with a smile on his face.

“I would say he’s one of the most entertaining ballplayers out there,” Evans said. “In today’s game — and I understand it — these elite prospects act like the professionals. And they should — the chance of them playing at the highest level is there. But some of these guys act like robots. And it’s nice to see a guy like Tyrese actually smile and enjoy playing the game. Tyrese loves the game. He enjoys competing.”

In that area, Evans compared Maxey to former Alabama guard Collin Sexton, one of the most dynamic backcourt players in the country this past season and a projected lottery pick in next month’s NBA Draft.

“He kind of has that bravado to him that Collin Sexton did, where every night you knew he was going to bring that same mentality,” he said. “And that’s hard to find in high school, college, teenage prospects.”