Usually one of the busiest weeks on the college basketball recruiting calendar, this early signing period has — so far — been a dud, and time is running out for the country’s top young stars to officially lock in their school decisions before the spring.
At least one of the nation’s top recruits will make a decision this week, however.
James Wiseman — the No. 1 recruit in the class of 2019, according to the 247Sports composite rankings — is scheduled to announce his college choice Tuesday at noon on ESPN. The 7-footer from Nashville — now living in Memphis — has narrowed his list to UK, Florida State, Kansas, Memphis and Vanderbilt, and he’s already taken official visits to all five schools.
UK and Memphis have long been seen as the leaders for Wiseman, who was the first player in the 2019 class to land a scholarship offer from the Wildcats but has also played for new Tigers head coach Penny Hardaway at both the high school and AAU levels.
It’s looking like Wiseman might be the only major UK target who will be ready to sign this week.
UK has received and confirmed the signings of two early commitments: five-star point guard Tyrese Maxey, who made his pledge official on the first morning of the signing period; and four-star wing Dontaie Allen, who signed with the Cats during a ceremony at Pendleton County High School on Friday afternoon.
Kentucky’s other early commitment — five-star wing Kahlil Whitney — has not confirmed that he will officially sign early with the Cats, though he can still do so this week. Either way, Whitney is firmly committed to UK and is not expected to reopen his recruitment.
High school seniors who don’t sign with a college during this fall window must wait until the regular signing period in April to make any commitments official, and that’s what most of the top prospects in the 2019 class appear to be planning.
As of Monday morning, none of UK’s other top remaining 2019 targets — Vernon Carey, Jaden McDaniels, Isaiah Stewart, Matthew Hurt and Keion Brooks — had scheduled dates for their commitments, and some have said outright that they plan to wait until the spring.
Heading into this month, Brooks — a 6-foot-7 wing from Fort Wayne, Ind. — might have been the most likely of the Wildcats’ targets to make an early decision, but he told Rivals.com at the beginning of the early signing period that he wasn’t planning on a decision before Wednesday.
“I don’t think I will sign early because I don’t think that fits my timetable,” he said. “But I think in a couple of weeks or a month or so I should be able to make a decision. I just need some time to step away, speak about it with my family, pray on it and then hopefully make a great decision from there.”
Brooks also canceled his official visit to Michigan State this past weekend. Indiana and Kentucky are seen as the two favorites, and the Hoosiers bolstered their lead on the home-state star’s 247 Crystal Ball page over the weekend. The Rivals.com Future Cast remains 100 percent Indiana for Brooks.
Stewart — a 6-10 post player from Rochester, N.Y., and a high school teammate of Brooks in Indiana — has scheduled his final official visit to Duke for this weekend, a trip that will come after the end of the early signing period, ensuring he will not make a commitment before Wednesday.
He was already among the least likely players on UK’s list to pick the Wildcats, according to national analysts that spoke to the Herald-Leader last week. 247Sports director of basketball recruiting Evan Daniels placed Stewart sixth and last when ordering his list of “most likely” players to end up at Kentucky.
Carey — a 6-10 post player from Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — has also said that he won’t sign early. He visited Michigan State two weekends ago, and his recruitment is expected to come down to the Spartans and Duke, with Miami — his father’s alma mater — thought to have inched ahead of Kentucky for the third spot on his list. Carey is expected to make a decision in 2018.
Hurt — a 6-9 forward from Rochester, Minn. — still hasn’t taken any of his official visits and will wait until the spring to make a college commitment. Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Memphis, Minnesota and Indiana are all on his list.
McDaniels — a 6-10 forward from Seattle — was expected on UCLA’s campus for his final official visit over the weekend. His recruitment also includes UK, Washington, Texas and San Diego State, and no clear favorites have emerged. McDaniels is expected to make a college decision in the next few weeks but has said nothing about a fall signing.
Uncommitted players in Top 25 for 2019
Note: 247Sports composite rankings