UK Recruiting

Despite some recent disappointments, UK’s early recruiting class is still impressive

Video highlights of UK basketball recruit Tyrese Maxey from USA camp

Five-star Kentucky basketball commitment Tyrese Maxey was one of the standout recruits through the first few sessions of USA Basketball U18 camp in Colorado.
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Five-star Kentucky basketball commitment Tyrese Maxey was one of the standout recruits through the first few sessions of USA Basketball U18 camp in Colorado.

The early signing period for college basketball recruits ended Wednesday, and — barring any late surprises — it appears Kentucky will go into the winter with three commitments.

There was plenty of disappointment for the Cats during the fall recruiting period, but John Calipari and his coaching staff have still put together a solid group for their 2019 class, with a few more spots likely to be filled between now and next summer.

Earlier this week, Calipari talked about Texas point guard Tyrese Maxey and Pendleton County wing Dontaie Allen, who have both officially signed with the Wildcats.

“They’re going to be terrific here, both of them,” Calipari said. “I think Maxey gives you the size at guard and the playmaking ability and shot-making ability. He defends. He rebounds. He’s one of those. This was a guy that I really felt, we really had to get that guy. And Dontaie, being in state, you always want to get that guy. You want to get a guy that, you know, ‘This guy can make it.’ And he can make it here. A guy that wants to be here. You always want guys that want to be here.

“Those two guys, I think, are built for this. I’m happy about them.”

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Calipari has not yet publicly addressed the commitment of five-star wing Kahlil Whitney, who did not officially sign with the Cats during the early period. (College coaches are not permitted to comment on recruits until they’ve signed with a school).

Some players over the past few years have signed during the early period but not announced those signings until a few days later, but that’s not likely to be the case with Whitney. A ZagsBlog report this week said that Whitney plans to sign with Kentucky in the spring.

The Chicago native attends high school in New Jersey, and he was unable to get back to his hometown — where much of his family still lives — during the one-week fall recruiting period. “His dream has always been to do it at his elementary school in Chicago, and it didn’t work out for the fall,” according to the ZagsBlog report.

Whitney is UK’s highest-ranked commitment — No. 8 nationally, according to the 247Sports composite rankings, and he is still firmly committed to the Cats with no plans to reopen his recruitment. The spring signing period begins April 17.

Maxey is No. 10 in the 247Sports composite rankings, and Allen is ranked No. 74 nationally.

In-state basketball recruit Dontaie Allen made four three-pointers right off the bat and continued to excel in a game at the Louisville Jamfest on Saturday. UK is among the schools recruiting him.

This is the ninth straight recruiting cycle that Calipari has landed at least three commitments before the end of the early signing period. Calipari’s only class at UK where that wasn’t the case was his first full cycle in 2009-10, when Stacey Poole signed early and was joined by Terrence Jones, Enes Kanter, Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb in the late signing period.

This is also the first time in three years that Calipari has landed a top-10 prospect in the early period. (UK has two this year in Maxey and Whitney.)

The Cats are still actively recruiting five uncommitted prospects in the 2019 class: shooting guard Anthony Edwards, perimeter forwards Keion Brooks, Matthew Hurt and Jaden McDaniels, and post player Isaiah Stewart. That list of targets is likely to grow over the next few weeks.

UK’s early signees in Calipari era

2017: Tyler Herro, Keldon Johnson and Immanuel Quickley.

2016: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Quade Green, Nick Richards and PJ Washington.

2015: Bam Adebayo, De’Aaron Fox, Wenyen Gabriel, Sacha Killeya-Jones and Malik Monk.

2014: Isaiah Briscoe, Skal Labissiere and Charles Matthews.

2013: Devin Booker, Trey Lyles, Karl-Anthony Towns and Tyler Ulis.

2012: Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison, Marcus Lee, Derek Willis and James Young.

2011: Willie Cauley-Stein, Archie Goodwin and Alex Poythress.

2010: Anthony Davis, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Marquis Teague and Kyle Wiltjer.

2009: Stacey Poole.

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