It looks like the Kentucky Wildcats are becoming a real threat to land Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
The last five 247 Crystal Ball picks for Alexander have gone in favor of UK, who watched the four-star prospect workout at his high school this week. Ever since he decommitted from Florida, bigger programs like UK and Kansas have began showing more interest in the Chattanooga (TN) combo guard.
247 recruiting director Jerry Meyer told the Herald-Leader he sees Alexander as a shooting guard in college.
“I like him best as a shooting guard,” Meyer said. “He also has point-guard-type playmaking from that position. So he’s a double threat at the guard position, which fits in very well with how Coach Calipari wants to play.
“He can create for himself and others off the dribble. He can really score. He rebounds well for his position. He has nice length (a 6-10 wingspan). He’s just an overall good player.”
DraftExpress lists Alexander as 6' 5.5” with a 6' 9” wingspan, so he certainly looks like someone who could play shooting guard and even on the wing in college. That could be important with how many of those types of players UK is recruiting in 2017, one of which being John Petty.
For essentially the past year, the Wildcats have been the team to beat for Petty. However, it looks like Alabama is making a late push for Petty that has some picking the Crimson Tide as his eventual destination.
The first hint of that was news that Petty canceled his visit to UK this coming weekend. At first, the plan was for Petty to reschedule the visit to a later date, but now it’s looking like that may not happen before he makes his decision...
Which is why news that Petty has set his decision date is concerning for UK. Petty decided that he will make his decision on November 10th at halftime of his school’s home game vs Huntsville.
If Petty does not take his official visit to UK before then, one has to wonder what that means for their chances of getting Petty. And for whatever it’s worth, the most recent 247 Crystal Ball picks for Petty have gone to Alabama.
November 10 also happens to be the day when Collin Sexton, a five-star point guard in 2017, will announce his commitment, according to a report from MadeHoops.com. The 6-foot-2, 175-pound Sexton is the No. 7 prospect in the country, and Alabama is viewed as the favorite in his recruitment.
Seeing two recruits announce their decisions on the same day typically bodes well for the school in the running for both players. UK is not recruiting Sexton.
It also seems odd that UK is still working on a host of other guards/wings in 2017, but won’t be able to land all of them. Even a school like UK cannot get 4-5 players who could play the same position in college to come to the same school, even with John Calipari’s “positionless” approach.
Earlier this summer, Ben Roberts reported that UK appeared to be backing off Petty to prioritize other 2017 wings, such as Hamidou Diallo, Kevin Knox and Lonnie Walker.
Other guys who UK continues to recruit that could play the wing include P.J. Washington, Jarred Vanderbilt, and ‘maybe’ Brian Bowen.
But that clearly wasn’t the case as UK continued to recruit Petty, including a visit from John Calipari, as well as Petty unofficially visiting for Big Blue Madness. Since then, it’s appeared UK was bound to land Petty in the 2017 class, but with word that he canceled his visit to UK right before he makes his decision, that’s never a good sign.
I do think it’s possible that Calipari may have tried to slow-play Petty in hopes he'll make his decision later, which would give UK more time to figure out if UK can/will land Kevin Knox, and/or other guard/wing prospects.
But Petty may have given UK an ultimatum to let him commit this fall or he'll sign with Bama.
One also has to wonder if Petty, at least giving off the impression that Bama may be leading, has something to do with the recent players UK has met with. Vanderbilt just took his official visit to UK, and Walker is set to take his from Nov. 5-7, three days before Petty makes his decision.
Combined with UK’s sudden interest in Alexander, one has to wonder if all of this isn’t a sign that UK is no longer the favorite for Petty that they’ve been out to be.
Whatever the case really is, these next few weeks leading up to the early signing period are going to be very interesting.