UK Recruiting

Five-star basketball recruit expected to pick UK on Wednesday. But when will he join the Cats?

Tyrese Maxey is one of the standout recruits on the Nike travel circuit.
Tyrese Maxey is one of the standout recruits on the Nike travel circuit.

On Wednesday afternoon, five-star basketball recruit Tyrese Maxey will announce his college decision.

The finalists are Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma State and Texas, but there’s little suspense about his destination heading into this reveal.

A clear favorite has emerged in recent weeks.

“The Wildcats,” national analyst Corey Evans told the Herald-Leader. “There’s no doubt in my mind.”

That would be the Kentucky Wildcats, who made Maxey one of their major recruiting priorities for the class of 2019 months ago. He was the first point guard in his class to land a UK scholarship offer. He visited Lexington for Big Blue Madness last fall. And he’s hosted John Calipari for several in-home visits. In April alone, Calipari and UK assistant coach Tony Barbee traveled to Texas twice to meet with Maxey and his family.

The Wildcats’ staff was a constant presence on the sidelines for his games through the first two sessions on the Nike circuit last month, and they’re the overwhelming frontrunner to land his commitment Wednesday afternoon, a decision that’s expected to be announced around 5 p.m. from his home state of Texas.

There is a bit of mystery heading into Maxey’s big day, however.

It involves not where he’ll play college basketball, but when he’ll play college basketball.

The 6-foot-3 prospect has been the subject of reclassification talk in recent weeks, and he has openly expressed interest in the idea of moving to the 2018 class and playing college ball right away next season.

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.

Maxey told the Herald-Leader a few days ago that he needs just two more classes to complete his high school coursework, and those classes will be finished by the end of June. As recently as last week, there were many in recruiting circles predicting Maxey, who turns 18 in November, would go ahead and make the jump to 2018, skipping his senior season of high school. Now, according to some recruiting analysts — and some close to the UK program — it appears more likely that Maxey will stick in the class of 2019.

At least, for the time being.

“I think he stays ’19 for now, honestly,” Evans told the Herald-Leader. “Could it happen where he jumps to 2018 this summer? I think so. He has to get all the academics in order for it to happen. And more prodding from Calipari and those guys — or wherever he goes — could force the issue. But I think he remains in ’19 for now.”

Maxey said at the Nike league stop in Indianapolis two weekends ago that he would likely make a reclassification announcement the following week, with a college decision coming at the same time or a few days later. We now know that college choice is coming Wednesday, but Evans isn’t predicting it will be accompanied by a move to the 2018 class, as once expected.

“I don’t see it happening right now,” he said.

Whenever UK gets Maxey on board — assuming he does pick the Cats — it’ll be good news for the future of the program.

He’s ranked by as the No. 14 overall prospect in the class of 2019 and is among the scoring leaders on the highly competitive Nike circuit. He averaged 22.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.4 steals per game as a high school junior.

There’s also not a glaring need for UK to add him for next season.

The Cats have already signed McDonald’s All-American point guard Immanuel Quickley to go along with returning point guard Quade Green. They also have a commitment from 2019 point guard Ashton Hagans, who is expected to switch to the 2018 class and play for UK next season. (Evans said Monday he thinks Hagans will follow through with reclassification).

If Maxey stays in high school for his senior season, one or two (or all three) of those players could be gone by the time he gets to UK.

“With all these guards coming in, is he comfortable being another cog, instead of being the guy?” Evans said. “But, then again, you start talking about the idea and about how it could work and what could occur, and maybe Tyrese buys into it.”