At one point, Kentucky looked like the heavy favorite to land arguably the best 2018 recruit, not to mention one of the more electrifying dunkers in the history of high school hoops.
However, the Jayhawks are going all out to keep Zion out of Lexington for what will almost certainly be his one season of college hoops. If nothing else, Zion-to-Kentucky is no longer the done deal many were making it out to be, but that doesn’t mean John Calipari isn’t still in great position for the five-star forward.
This week, Ben Roberts of Lexington Herald-Leader reached out to five of the nation’s top recruiting analysts. With their help, Roberts formed a list of the five likeliest commitments Kentucky will score in 2018.
Of course, Immanuel Quickley came in at No. 1, as he’s viewed as a lock to pick the Cats this fall. As for the second-most likely recruit to pick Kentucky, Zion was the Herald-Leader’s pick.
Kyle Tucker of SEC Country has the same top two in his prediction of who Kentucky lands in 2018. He too views Quickley as a near-lock to pick Kentucky, and he’s also pretty confident in Zion becoming a Cat.
Scout.com’s No. 2 small forward and No. 4 overall prospect got Kentucky fans’ hopes up in July when he started talking about a desire to play with Quickley in college. Then 247Sports recruiting insider Andrew Slater let some air out of that balloon by changing his prediction to Kansas for Williamson, which he explained to SEC Country. But the hunch here is still that the Quickley relationship, combined with Calipari prioritizing him and the Cats’ reputation as a one-and-done factory, could be enough to fend off the Jayhawks.
Confidence he signs: 70 percent
It’s great to see there’s still a lot of good vibes for Kentucky in the battle for Zion. He’s a program-changing recruit that could elevate Kentucky to national championship-favorite status in the 2018-19 season.
That’s already shaping up to be a monster team with so many guys on the current roster expected to be multi-year college players, but they may need a guy like Zion to take them over the top.
It’s also good to see there remains a strong belief that Quickley will ultimately be a Cat. He’s a complete point guard who should fit seamlessly into Kentucky’s starting lineup, even if it’s as a second point guard next to Quade Green.
After Quickley and Zion, Kentucky’s 2018 class could go a variety of ways between Cam Reddish, Bol Bol, R.J. Barrett, Quentin Grimes, Marvin Bagley and others. Even so, landing Quickley and Zion would almost assure Kentucky of claiming another top-ranked class, even if this turns out to be a smaller haul with just four signees.
Kentucky will have a great team this coming season, but the 2018-19 Cats could be historically great if everything falls into place.