UK Recruiting

Is he UK’s most likely basketball commitment for 2020? ‘I really like Coach Cal.’

UK basketball target Isaiah Todd talks about reclassification

Five-star basketball recruit Isaiah Todd talks about John Calipari, his interest in Kentucky, the possibility of a move from the 2020 class to the 2019 class, and who's input will be important in his decision.
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Five-star basketball recruit Isaiah Todd talks about John Calipari, his interest in Kentucky, the possibility of a move from the 2020 class to the 2019 class, and who's input will be important in his decision.

For a time this winter, it looked like five-star basketball prospect Isaiah Todd might expedite his recruitment, reclassify to 2019, and play in college next season.

If that had happened, UK appeared to be the most likely destination.

Todd — a 6-foot-10 player at Trinity Academy (N.C.) — has spent the past few weeks trying to squash that reclassification rumor.

“100 percent, I’m staying in the class of 2020,” he said after making his Nike debut this past weekend.

Todd, who doesn’t turn 18 years old until October, said he and his family hadn’t even considered making the jump from 2020 to 2019 until he heard the rumor for himself during his junior season. They considered it, talked to coaches — including UK’s John Calipari — about it, and ultimately decided against it, choosing instead to stay in the 2020 class and play one more season of high school basketball.

He was an especially attractive reclassification target for UK, which is still awaiting word on whether EJ Montgomery and Nick Richards will return to Lexington next season, leaving graduate transfer Nate Sestina as the lone lock for the Wildcats’ post game.

Asked over the weekend if he would reconsider a move to 2019 if a program — like Kentucky — really needed another big man next season, Todd grinned.

“I can’t really tell you what might happen,” he said. “I don’t know. I guess it just all depends on what my mom and I decide to do.”

That doesn’t sound like it’s “100 percent” that he’s sticking in 2020, but reclassification is still seen as a long shot to those who have been closely following Todd’s recruitment.

“We’ve seen kids pull a 180 overnight, but I would be surprised if he decides to make a move to ‘19,” national analyst Corey Evans told the Herald-Leader.

Riding With Recruits featuring 6-11 Isaiah Todd of Raleigh Trinity School. He's a top 10 national recruit in the class of 2020 and a major Duke/UNC target. His team plays this weekend at the Providence Day Crown Town Classic.

Evans scouted Todd the week before his Nike debut at another major recruiting event, and he came away impressed with the progress the young player is making on the court.

“He’s still kind of trying to figure out what he really is,” Evans said. “At the heart of it all, he’s a very, very talented prospect. He has all the talent in the world. There’s a reason why he was thought of as arguably the best player in his class as a freshman. Some guys have passed him by, but he’s 6-10 with a 7-2 wingspan. He can shoot it. He has a good feel for the game out of the high post. The talent is out of this world. It’s now about putting it all together and doing it consistently.”

Todd averaged 28 points, 15 rebounds, 5.4 blocks and 4.3 assists per game in his first season at Trinity Academy after transferring from a high school in Virginia the year before. In his first weekend of play on the Nike circuit, Todd averaged 14.5 points and 8.0 rebounds per game.

Calipari watched him and five-star teammate Scottie Barnes — another major UK target — play their entire opening game of the weekend, while nine other Nike league games — some featuring other UK targets — were going on around him.

“The whole game, yep,” Todd said, confirming he had noticed. “I really like Coach Cal.”

Calipari saw a player that is continuing to build confidence away from the basket while being able to make an impact around it. Todd had a good-looking stroke from outside and kept an eye out for open teammates from the high post. He also ran the floor and was active on defense.

“I like studying film on guys like Kevin Durant, guys like Giannis (Antetokounmpo),” he said. “I just try to look at guys that have my body type — what they do well — and I try to implement that into my game. … I just look at guys that play hard and do everything they can do. I can pretty much dabble and do everything, so I just try to do a little bit of everything.”

UK has emerged as the favorite on Todd’s Future Cast and 247Sports Crystal Ball page, but he claimed this past weekend that all of his 10 finalists are of equal standing. “I don’t like anybody more than anybody else,” he said. (The others on that list are Central Florida, Kansas, Maryland, Memphis, North Carolina, Oklahoma State, Oregon, UCLA and Vanderbilt).

Still, UK should take its favorite status into the summer.

“I still think they’re going to be there,” Evans said. “They’ve done a really good job with him. Joel Justus has done a great job recruiting him. But leaving it for another year, it just allows others to get involved with the process. I know he has 10 schools on his final list, but I could see some new schools getting involved.”

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