Five-star basketball recruit Bryan Antoine announced his commitment to Villanova on Tuesday morning, choosing the defending national champions over four other finalists that included Kentucky and Duke.
Antoine — a 6-foot-5 shooting guard from New Jersey — was one of UK’s earliest recruiting targets in the class of 2019, earning a scholarship offer from the Wildcats last fall on the same day as friend, teammate and fellow five-star prospect Scottie Lewis.
Duke had long been seen as the favorite in Antoine’s recruitment, however, and the Blue Devils held 100 percent of the predictions on his 247Sports Crystal Ball page as recently as this past weekend. Villanova’s campus is a short trip from Antoine’s high school, and the Wildcats have been recruiting him as hard as anyone in the country. That paid off with Tuesday’s commitment.
“Villanova, such a great school,” Antoine told the Herald-Leader in June. “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.”
Antoine was scheduled to take an official visit to Kentucky later this month. That trip obviously will not happen.
The Cats weren’t given much of a shot in Antoine’s recruitment by national analysts over the past few months. His commitment to Villanova on Tuesday is a bigger blow for Duke, which appears well-positioned for several top players in the 2019 class but still does not have a single commitment from that group. This past offseason, the Blue Devils lost lead recruiter Jeff Capel, who is now the head coach at Pittsburgh.
Kentucky has early commitments from five-star point guard Tyrese Maxey, five-star wing Kahlil Whitney, and four-star wing Dontaie Allen.
Lewis — a 6-foot-5 wing — played alongside Antoine on the Under Armour circuit, and both prospects play their high school ball for Ranney School in New Jersey. The pair have taken some recruiting visits together and talked about possibly teaming up in college, but they’ve also said multiple times that their final college decisions would be made independently of each other. Antoine was also Under Armour teammates with four-star center Aidan Igiehon, another Wildcats recruiting target.
UK is scheduled to host Lewis for an official visit next weekend, and Rivals.com national analyst Corey Evans wrote Tuesday that Florida and Kentucky might be the top two schools in his recruitment, giving the Gators the edge. Lewis is also considering Duke, St. John’s, Stanford and Villanova.
Lewis and Antoine are ranked No. 10 and No. 11, respectively, in the 247Sports composite rankings.