UK Recruiting

The signing period is one week away. Here’s the latest on Calipari’s top recruits.

Justus: Goal is to identify players who see Kentucky as ultimate destination

Kentucky basketball assistant Joel Justus describes Wildcats' recruiting strategy and the landscape of basketball recruiting.
Up Next
Kentucky basketball assistant Joel Justus describes Wildcats' recruiting strategy and the landscape of basketball recruiting.

The tip-off of another college basketball season also means the annual early signing period is right around the corner.

That busy time on the recruiting calendar is now one week away, and John Calipari is hoping to add to his already impressive 2019 class before the fall window shuts and a long winter of recruiting begins.

UK already has commitments from five-star point guard Tyrese Maxey, five-star wing Kahlil Whitney and four-star wing Dontaie Allen, and they’ll all be eligible to sign with the Cats from Nov. 14-21.

Here’s the latest on the other six players dominating Calipari’s 2019 recruiting radar (listed in their order of placement in the 247Sports composite rankings):

James Wiseman

Class ranking: No. 1

The 7-footer from Nashville — now living in Memphis — has completed all five of his official visits to finalists Kentucky, Kansas, Florida State, Vanderbilt and Memphis, and he’s expected to make his college decision sometime this calendar year, though not necessarily in time to officially sign later this month.

Wiseman’s recruitment is still expected to come down to Memphis and Kentucky, and — despite several predictions in the Tigers’ favor on his 247Sports Crystal Ball page and the Rivals.com Future Cast — it’s still not easy to find anyone unbiased and in the know who is expressing any real confidence either way.

Neither outcome — Memphis or Kentucky — would be a surprise as this recruitment enters its final stages. (Side note: Wiseman is scheduled to return to the Marshall County Hoop Fest in Benton, Ky., on Dec. 1).

Vernon Carey

Class ranking: No. 2

Carey — a 6-10 power forward from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — is in a similar spot to Wiseman, who he’s been battling for the No. 1 ranking in the 2019 class for the past couple of years.

This weekend’s trip to Michigan State should mark the final major visit of Carey’s recruitment, which has already featured fall visits to his other finalists: UK, Duke, Miami and North Carolina.

Carey goes into decision mode from there, and he recently told 247Sports that he is likely to cut his list to three schools after the East Lansing trip. He’s also said that he wants to make his college decision this calendar year but probably won’t do it before the signing period ends Nov. 21.

Kentucky might make Carey’s list of three finalists if he follows through with that plan, but the Cats are not expected to be the pick at this point. Michigan State and Duke have been getting the most buzz in recent weeks.

LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER SPORTS PASS

The Herald-Leader is now offering a digital sports-only one-year subscription for $30. You'll get unlimited access to all Herald-Leader sports stories.

Jaden McDaniels

Class ranking: No. 4

Still possibly the toughest high-profile recruit to get a read on in the 2019 class, McDaniels recently cut his list to five schools and has spent the past few weekends on official visits to San Diego State, Washington and Texas.

The 6-10 forward from Seattle is schedule to take his official visit to Kentucky this weekend, and he also counts UCLA as his other finalists. It’s also probable that his recruitment extends beyond the early signing period and into the winter, though he could wrap up all five official visits before the fall period begins if he hits UCLA’s campus next weekend.

McDaniels has given no timetable for a college decision.

Kentucky is not necessarily viewed as a favorite to land McDaniels, who is still expected by many recruiting analysts to stay out west. (His brother, Jalen, is a redshirt sophomore at San Diego State). That said, McDaniels has been tough to read for the past few months, and the Wildcats’ presence on his list, Calipari’s multiple cross-country trips to see him this fall, and this weekend’s trip to Lexington are all signs that UK still has a chance.

McDaniels’ Crystal Ball page is still pretty bare, though Rivals.com national analyst Corey Evans made a Future Cast prediction in Washington’s favor over the weekend.

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.

Isaiah Stewart

Class ranking: No. 5

A 6-9 post player from Rochester, N.Y. — and playing his high school ball at La Lumiere (Ind.) — Stewart is arguably the most college-ready prospect in the 2019 class.

Kentucky was a late addition to his list of finalists, and UK has hosted him for an official visit, as have Michigan State, Syracuse and Washington. He was expected to use his final official visit to Duke this past weekend, but that trip fell through and is being rescheduled for a later date.

The Cats still have a chance for Stewart (despite some negative buzz in national recruiting circles), though Michigan State and Washington might be in the best position at the moment.

Huskies Coach Mike Hopkins has been recruiting him since he was an assistant at Syracuse (and Washington has recent picks in its favor from national analysts Corey Evans and Brian Snow).

Michigan State is now Stewart’s (lukewarm) Crystal Ball favorite, and the Spartans have long been considered a major player in his recruitment. It’s still unclear whether he’ll make an early decision or not.

Matthew Hurt

Class ranking: No. 6

Not too long ago, Hurt appeared set on making a fall decision and putting his college recruitment behind him by the November signing period. Now, he’s probably the least likely player on this list to make a fall commitment.

The 6-9 forward from Minnesota has not yet taken any official visits — or even cut his list of schools — and has maintained that he wants to take several such trips before a college decision. He’s expected to start those official visits this winter, and the schools recruiting him the hardest are Kentucky, Kansas, Duke, North Carolina, Memphis, Indiana and Minnesota.

Kansas has long been considered his most likely choice, though the Jayhawks could be dealing with fallout from the NCAA corruption trials for the foreseeable future. UK appears to have a very real possibility to land Hurt, who has often pointed to Calipari’s record of positioning top recruits for the NBA as a major factor in his decision-making process.

His upcoming official visits will be important as he moves forward in the process.

Keion Brooks

Class ranking: No. 21

Brooks — a 6-7 forward from Fort Wayne, Ind., now playing for La Lumiere (Ind.) — is expected to wrap up his official visits this weekend with a trip to Michigan State. He’s already taken official visits to UCLA, Indiana, Kentucky and North Carolina, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s ready to make a college decision in time to sign during the fall period.

Indiana emerged over the spring and summer as a potential favorite for Brooks — and the Hoosiers have made him a top priority since Archie Miller took over as coach — but Kentucky is making a late push and could be IU’s top competition for his commitment.

Brooks was one of the first players in the 2019 class to land a UK scholarship offer, and his versatility as a forward — Calipari has called him the next Kevin Knox, while Corey Evans has said he might be best as a “small ball 4” — would serve the Wildcats well next season.

Five-star basketball recruit Keion Brooks says UK Coach John Calipari is telling him he could play just like Kevin Knox did for the Wildcats.

  Comments