The recruitment of Bryan Antoine — one of the top 10 basketball prospects in the class of 2019 — is reaching its final stage, and the New Jersey standout recently narrowed his list to five schools.
Kentucky is one of those five schools, and Antoine — while typically viewed as a long shot to join the Wildcats — continues to have great things to say about John Calipari’s program.
“(I like) the coaching staff and how the coaches let their players play. And I was down there for an unofficial visit. The campus was amazing,” Antoine told the Herald-Leader. “I know a couple of players at Kentucky, and they tell me everything about Kentucky. The past players that have gone to Kentucky — they pretty much stormed the league. So I’m just trying to follow in their footsteps.”
Antoine — a 6-foot-5 shooting guard — has the same personal trainer that Brad Calipari worked with in high school, and he also keeps in touch with returning UK players Quade Green and PJ Washington.
They’ve relayed to him the “fishbowl” aspect of Kentucky basketball.
“They tell me on media day — and I’ve seen YouTube videos on it — that media day for them is crazy. It’s like an NBA media day. There’s a lot of people coming out and talking to them,” Antoine said. “And just what’s expected because they’re at Kentucky — you pretty much have a target on your back.
“Coach Cal does a great job of recruiting top recruits, so every other school is pretty much trying to come at you. So you have to go out there and play hard.”
Antoine spent several days last week participating in the USA Basketball U18 training camp. Though he didn’t make it past the first round of cuts Sunday morning, there’s no denying his talent level.
One of the best players on the Under Armour circuit, Antoine is the No. 7 overall prospect in the 2019 class — according to the 247Sports composite rankings — and one of the best shooters in high school basketball. He also has versatility at the guard position, with suitable skills to fill in at the point and the length and athleticism to play multiple positions on defense.
The other four schools left in his recruitment all offer compelling arguments.
Villanova has won two titles in the past three seasons and represents the local choice on Antoine’s list.
“Villanova, such a great school,” he said. “The stuff that they’ve done in the past three years — with two national championships — that’s unheard of. Also the fact that they’re an hour and 45 minutes from home. That’s a close drive. And they’re one of the schools that’s been on me ever since seventh, eighth grade. And that connection has not died down. … Ever since then it’s been nonstop.”
Florida and Kansas remain in the mix, too.
The director of his Under Armour program and family friend, Brian Klatsky, is a Gators alumnus. Antoine also used to live in Florida, has visited the campus multiple times and said he still has family not far from Gainesville.
He said he’s watched Kansas play quite a bit — focusing particularly on the Jayhawks’ backcourt players — and sees that program as a good fit for his skill set.
The school with the most buzz on Antoine’s list, however, is Duke.
“Duke is a great school,” he said. “I talk to Coach Jon (Scheyer) all the time. I’ve had phone calls with Coach K from time to time. Ever since they offered me, they’ve been contacting me 24/7. I’m very close friends with Joey Baker, a Duke commit.”
Antoine noted that Baker has reclassified from 2019 to 2018 and will be at Duke this season. He said he’ll rely on the Blue Devils newcomer to keep him posted on what life is like in Durham, and he might’ve added some foreshadowing to his final decision.
“He’s going there a year early,” Antoine said of Baker. “So he’ll most likely be there when I’m there … or, if I go there.”
That possible slip-up aside, Antoine claims he has no leader in his recruitment. He said he’ll take all five official visits starting at the end of July or early August and then make a college decision in time to sign in November.
Five-star teammate Scottie Lewis, who is also being recruited by all five schools on Antoine’s list, said he’s been best friends with Antoine since the sixth grade and the two talk about recruiting pretty much every night.
“I believe it,” Lewis said of Antoine’s no-favorites claim. “We talk about it so much. We try to be as well-rounded as possible. It’s a constant conversation between ourselves. So I believe it.”