UK Recruiting

When will UK’s top basketball targets pick a school? Many already have a plan.

James Wiseman is arguably the best overall prospect in the class of 2019.
James Wiseman is arguably the best overall prospect in the class of 2019. tglantz@thestate.com

For the next couple of weekends, John Calipari and his coaching staff will be on the road for the final two evaluation periods of the summer recruiting season.

Then the real fun begins.

Though many of UK’s top targets for the class of 2019 are still in the process of cutting down their school lists and planning campus visits, recent history shows that most of the Cats’ signing class for next year will likely fall into place in the next few months.

Over the past five recruiting cycles, 19 of UK’s 28 high school signees have made their college decisions in time to sign with the Cats in the early period, before the start of their senior seasons. Only six of those signees have waited until after their final season of high school ball to make a decision, and three of those players — Isaac Humphries, Jamal Murray and Ashton Hagans — reclassified to come to Kentucky early.

Calipari already has commitments from point guard Tyrese Maxey and small forward DJ Jeffries for 2019 — they’ll be eligible to sign with UK in November — and the Wildcats’ coach has several scholarship offers out to their classmates.

So, when are those players planning to make their college decisions? Here’s what they’ve been saying about their timelines:

Deciding early

Bryan Antoine: The New Jersey shooting guard has been clear about his intentions to make a fall decision. Antoine will take official visits to UK, Duke, Florida, Kansas and Villanova over the next few months — he’ll be in Lexington on Sept. 22 — and then make a college choice in time for the early period, which runs Nov. 14-21. UK is not often mentioned among Antoine’s top options, however.

Matthew Hurt: Nothing is set in stone, but Hurt and his father have said recently that they would like to get his college decision out of the way before his senior season. UK is one of several blueblood schools in the mix, and — though the Minnesota power forward hasn’t scheduled an official visit yet — Hurt is likely to be back in Lexington sometime before making his choice.

Dontaie Allen: The Pendleton County wing has blown up nationally in recent days and will be back on UK’s campus for an unofficial visit Aug. 1, possibly the date he’ll get that coveted Wildcats scholarship offer. Allen has said that he’d like to make a decision before his senior season, and the chances of that probably increase if he gets the UK offer anytime soon.

Kira Lewis: It’s not clear yet whether Lewis — a top-50 guard from Alabama — will land a scholarship offer from Kentucky, but he is hoping to make a decision in time for the fall signing period, his mother told 247Sports this week. Until that UK offer comes, the home-state Crimson Tide will be viewed as the favorites, and they might be tough to beat even if the Cats do offer.

Five-star basketball recruit Matthew Hurt has scholarship offers from Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina and several other schools.

Signing late

Scottie Lewis: The New Jersey wing could find the right fit among his final seven schools — UK, Duke, Florida, Harvard, St. John’s, Stanford and Villanova — in time to make an early decision, but he told the Herald-Leader a few weeks ago that isn’t the most likely scenario. “It’s more about when it feels right, but I’m thinking a little bit more late,” he said. Lewis is hoping to visit UK this fall, and the Cats remain a legitimate possibility, though Florida, St. John’s and Villanova have also been getting some recent buzz.

Cole Anthony: The New York City point guard doesn’t talk much about his recruitment, but he told the Herald-Leader recently that he will definitely be waiting until after his senior season of high school to reveal a college decision. Anthony — the top guard in the 2019 class — is likely to keep everyone guessing until the end.

Jaden McDaniels: A more recent addition to UK’s 2019 recruiting list, McDaniels — a Seattle wing — has the potential to be the No. 1 player in the class, but he isn’t giving many hints about his recruitment. He said Kentucky was his “dream school” growing up, but Arizona has been on him hard, his brother is a star player at San Diego State, and many more will be vying for his commitment. He said last week he’s likely to be a spring signee: “I’m going to take my time with it. Just look over everything.”

Five-star basketball recruit Jaden McDaniels has blown up on the national scene this spring and summer, and UK is now among the many top schools paying attention.

Up in the air

Keion Brooks: The Indiana forward has an impressive list of offers — UK, Indiana and Michigan State are the three mentioned most often — and no real timeline for a decision. His father said last week UK will get an official visit, but there’s no pressure to sign in the fall. “I don’t have any timetable for him. As long as he needs is as long as I’m going to be here to help him and get through it,” Keion Brooks Sr. told the Herald-Leader.

Vernon Carey: The No. 1 recruit in the Rivals.com rankings is making the moves of someone who plans to sign early — all of his official visits will be completed this fall — but he wouldn’t commit to a November timetable last week. Carey — a power forward from Florida — simply said he would like to make a college decision before his 18th birthday, which is in February. He’ll be at UK for Big Blue Madness, and his other options are Duke, Miami, Michigan State and North Carolina.

Jalen Lecque: For someone who was seriously considering moving to the class of 2018 not too long ago, Lecque — a New York City guard — doesn’t seem to be very far along in his recruitment. He didn’t discuss favorites or a decision timeline at Peach Jam last week, implying that a college choice wasn’t coming anytime soon. “I’m cutting it down slowly, because I have a lot of time,” he said.

James Wiseman: The recruit at the top of most UK fans’ interest list — and at the very top of the 247Sports and ESPN rankings — isn’t saying much of consequence about his recruitment. We know it’s basically down to UK and Memphis, where his former coach, Penny Hardaway, is now in charge. Waiting until the spring would give Wiseman a chance to see how Hardaway does in his first season as a college head coach. Signing early would rid himself of all the recruiting hoopla. At Peach Jam, he didn’t give any indication as to which way he’s leaning.

“I don’t think he’s in a rush to make a decision,” 247Sports analyst Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader. “He’s in a position where everyone’s waiting on him, it’s not the other way around.”

Five-star forward DJ Jeffries talks about his teammate James Wiseman and the possibility that the two could team up with Vernon Carey at Kentucky a year from now.

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