UK Recruiting

Who will be the next class of 2019 basketball recruit to land a UK offer?

Josh Green, right, is defended by fellow UK recruiting target Scottie Lewis during an Under Armour game.
Josh Green, right, is defended by fellow UK recruiting target Scottie Lewis during an Under Armour game. Under Armour

With just one more evaluation period remaining this summer, the University of Kentucky’s basketball coaches will continue to keep tabs on possible class of 2019 recruiting targets through this weekend.

Chicago standout Kahlil Whitney — a 6-foot-6 wing now playing his high school ball in New Jersey — was the most recent recipient of a Kentucky scholarship offer, making it public Friday afternoon and then playing in front of John Calipari and assistant coach Tony Barbee two days later.

Who else could join Whitney and the other 2019 prospects on UK’s offer list as the summer wraps up?

Here’s a quick look at 10 more players to watch in the coming days and weeks:

Dontaie Allen

The Pendleton County star is set to wrap up his July at an event in Louisville this week, and he’s scheduled to be back on UK’s campus Aug. 1 for a trip that could end with a coveted scholarship offer from the Wildcats. Allen — a 6-foot-6 wing — has had a terrific July, picking up offers from Louisville, Florida, Auburn and several others while achieving Top 100 status nationally. Clemson extended an offer Friday afternoon, and Kentucky could very well be next. UK has not extended a scholarship offer to an in-state player in more than five years.

Cole Anthony

Anthony is on this list only because he talks very little about his recruitment — even to the coaches recruiting him — and, as a result, has not openly claimed a UK scholarship offer. In reality, the 6-3 point guard from New York will be able to play ball anywhere he wants at the next level. Calipari has seen him plenty this spring and summer, and Anthony has told the Herald-Leader recently that he will “obviously” consider UK in his recruitment.

The top-ranked guard in the 2019 class is expected to release a list of schools sometime in the next few weeks, though it’s unlikely he’ll say much else about his recruitment anytime soon, and it’s almost certain that he’ll wait until next spring to make a college decision.

Five-star point guard Cole Anthony talks about his recruitment and the possibility of teaming up with Tyrese Maxey at Kentucky.

Armando Bacot

Once rumored to be a possible 2018 reclassification candidate, Bacot seems set on staying in the 2019 class, and his level of contact with UK’s coaching staff has been off and on over the past few months. He’s clearly established himself as one of the best bigs in the class, leading his Nike team to a perfect regular season run and Peach Jam title while also helping the USA Basketball U18 team win a FIBA gold medal last month.

North Carolina has been the hot name in Bacot’s recruitment in recent weeks, but the Virginia native is worth keeping an eye on for increased UK interest as the summer recruiting season wraps up.

Kofi Cockburn

Cockburn — a 6-11, 250-pound center — is one of the most physically imposing players in the country, and he led the Nike league in rebounding this spring while playing alongside Jalen Lecque, a recipient of a UK scholarship offer. Cockburn, too, has the Cats’ attention, and that interest seems to have picked up in recent weeks. He told the Herald-Leader earlier this month that Calipari himself has been his main Kentucky contact, and he’s hoping to visit Lexington sometime soon.

UK has already extended scholarship offers to frontcourt players James Wiseman and Vernon Carey — the top two recruits in the class — but Cockburn is one of several bigs on this list who the Cats are keeping tabs on in the event they don’t land one or both of those players. Cockburn has many other offers, no clear favorite and no set timetable for a college decision.

Josh Green

The Australia native has risen to the No. 10 overall spot in the most recent Rivals.com rankings, and Kentucky is clearly interested in his recruitment, which already includes scholarship offers from Villanova, Kansas, Arizona, UCLA and many other top programs.

Green — a versatile, 6-6 backcourt player — has been one of the top recruits on the Under Armour circuit this spring and summer and plays his high school ball for IMG Academy in Florida. Arizona has picked up plenty of buzz in his recruitment, though Green is another player who seems pretty open at this stage in the process.

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RJ Hampton

He’s technically not a member of the 2019 class yet, but Hampton makes this list because he and his father haven’t shied away from ample reclassification talk this summer — it’s actually been mentioned in recruiting circles for months — and such a move would put him among the very best guards in the 2019 class. (He’ll turn 18 years old in February).

Duke, Kansas and Memphis are among the many top programs that have already extended offers — and the Blue Devils have some notable picks in their favor on Hampton’s 247Sports Crystal Ball page — but Kentucky has also expressed continued interest and kept tabs on the Texas native during the Under Armour league this spring and summer.

Kira Lewis

Lewis teamed up with top UK target James Wiseman and others with an Adidas-affiliated squad over the weekend after finishing up his career on the NIke circuit the previous week. The 6-2 guard visited UK last month and didn’t land a scholarship offer on that trip, but it could still come in the near future. Lewis — an Alabama native — has been one of the Crimson Tide’s top targets in this class, and many recruiting analysts are predicting that’s where he’ll end up. A UK offer could change that perception.

Nico Mannion

Mannion announced over the weekend that he has decided to move from the 2020 class to the 2019 class — something that had been expected for months — and 247Sports immediately placed him at No. 11 overall in those rankings. The Arizona native was already on Kentucky’s radar before the move, and he’ll remain a scholarship offer candidate now that he’s even closer to starting his college career.

The 6-3 point guard plays for the same Under Armour team that features Josh Green, and he has offers from a who’s who of top programs. Duke and Arizona have generated the most buzz this summer.

Jaden McDaniels

The Seattle native has rocketed up the national rankings this spring, and he now sits in top-five territory with the possibility of becoming the No. 1 prospect in the country before the 2019 cycle wraps up. A 6-10 forward who can play on the perimeter, McDaniels confirmed a couple of weeks ago that his father has indeed had contact with Kentucky’s coaches, and he even called UK his “dream school” growing up.

The next step will be a scholarship offer from the Wildcats, but McDaniels doesn’t seem to be in any rush to make a college decision. Arizona is among the schools with some buzz. His brother plays for San Diego State, and he’s familiar and comfortable with that coaching staff. And, in the end, it might be tough for UK to pull him off the West Coast. It’ll be worth the try for a player of his caliber and upside.

Isaiah Stewart

Easily one of the most impressive players during Nike play this spring and summer, Stewart recently cut his list to 10 schools, though he has said UK has been in contact since then and he’d be interested to hear more from the Wildcats.

Kentucky better hurry up and make a serious move, though, because the 6-10 power forward has also said he plans to move on with his recruitment very soon, cutting his list to five schools in the next few weeks. Duke might be the favorite coming out of the summer.

Other notes

There has been no real public connection between UK and Orlando power forward CJ Walker just yet, but there have been some rumblings in recent days that Walker is indeed on the Cats’ radar. The 6-8 prospect has been one of the most-talked-about players of July, picking up new offers from Louisville, Memphis, Texas and others in recent days.

Oscar Tshiebwe is a name to remember in the 2019 class. The 6-9 post player had an excellent showing against No. 1 recruit James Wiseman over the weekend, and Kentucky has watched him play this spring and summer. Akok Akok is another 2019 big man who impressed over the weekend (and he plays for the same travel team that produced Wenyen Gabriel).

Class of 2019 big man Aidan Igiehon continues to pop up in reports linking him to UK, but the Herald-Leader was recently told that he is not being actively recruited by the Wildcats at the moment. Louisville has emerged as a possible favorite for the five-star native of Ireland.

There’s been no indication recently that UK has interest in Trinity guard David Johnson or University Heights guard KyKy Tandy, the top two in-state players in the 247Sports composite rankings (and both Top 100 national recruits). Dontaie Allen still appears to be the most likely in-state addition for the Cats in 2019.

Top UK targets in the class of 2019

CommitmentsPosHometownRanking
DJ JeffriesSFOlive Branch, Miss.No. 37 in 247Sports composite
Tyrese MaxeyPGGarland, TexasNo. 8 in 247Sports composite
OffersPosHometownRanking
Bryan AntoineSGEatontown, N.J.No. 10 in 247Sports composite
Keion BrooksSFFort Wayne, Ind.No. 15 in 247Sports composite
Vernon CareyPFFort Lauderdale, Fla.No. 2 in 247Sports composite
Matthew HurtFRochester, Minn.No. 6 in 247Sports composite
Jalen LecqueGBrooklyn, N.Y.No. 13 in 247Sports composite
Scottie LewisG/FEatontown, N.J.No. 9 in 247Sports composite
Kahlil WhitneyG/FChicago, Ill.No. 19 in 247Sports composite
James WisemanPFNashville, Tenn.No. 1 in 247Sports composite
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