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Kentucky Basketball Recruiting Roundup

Quickley is balling. What’s next for Bagley? Is Zion Williamson slipping away? Will Shittu get offered?

USA Today Sports and USA Basketball

It seems as if the 2018 recruiting trail gets crazier with every passing day. Here’s a roundup of some of the most recent happenings with Kentucky’s targets.

Slipping again?

Kentucky has already taken a big hit with Bol Bol’s recruitment, and with Marvin Bagley trying to reclassify to 2017, he’s likely out of the 2018 picture (though it’s not likely he’ll go to Kentucky either way). Now the Kansas Jayhawks are making their move on Zion Williamson, a 2018 power forward who has all kinds of hype surrounding him. Kentucky was the major favorite for Williamson, until now.

Kyle Tucker of SEC Country explained why the Jayhawks have surged recently, with the help of Andrew Slater:

“I think Kansas makes sense,” he said, “from the perspective of his relationship with [5-star point guard] Devon Dotson, who may wind up [committing to Kansas] fairly soon, his strong connection to Adidas [Williamson plays on that shoe-company’s AAU circuit] and Kansas’ ability to showcase players like him, as they did with Josh Jackson [No. 4 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft]. He also has a strong relationship with Bill Self.”

That’s not great news. Wildcat fans salivated when Williamson talked package deal with Immanuel Quickley, but that may not be the case anymore.

And we’ll get to Quickley in a minute, but let’s get back to Bagley.

Bagley just finished his visit to UCLA, and according to Adam Zagoria, that was the last visit he had scheduled...for now. He still hasn’t visited Kentucky. He has visited Duke and USC. He’s looking to reclassify and jump into the 2017 class, and according to Sam Vecenie, that may be easier for him to do at UCLA. Here’s why:

Simply put: he can enroll later at UCLA, but still before the second semester of the academic year.

Random note from his UCLA visit: his father probably liked his bathrobe.

The hotel has UCLA robes...

A post shared by Marvin Bagley Jr (@coachbagley) on

Who’s the backup plan?

With Kansas emerging as a threat to Kentucky for Williamson, recruiting mastermind John Calipari will have to be a step ahead if all goes wrong. You hate to all some of the best players in the nation “backup plans” because they’re so much more than that, but Calipari has to have a go-to recruit if he doesn’t get Williamson.

That may be Simi Shittu.

Shittu was the MVP of the NBPA Top-100 camp, and stood out in the Nike EYBL. Cal has yet to extend an offer to Shittu, but Corey Evans of Rivals explained Kentucky’s increased interest.

UK restocked its frontcourt in a major way this past recruiting cycle and with the possibility of losing two or three of its incoming freshmen in the spring, John Calipari's program can Shittu on the chance to be the next one-and-done talent out of Lexington. If an offer is made, the Wildcats would immediately become a major factor in his recruitment.

Evans also said that North Carolina has jumped into the battle, but that Oregon is still the leader for Shittu at this time.

Quickley Shining

Getting back to the guard who is seemingly Calipari’s most-coveted 2018 target, Immanuel Quickley is looking like a true point guard. According to Evans of Rivals, Quickley turned the ball over just three times in 157 minutes of action.

Evans praised Quickley for doing the things that won’t show up in the box score as he listed him on his All-United States team for the Adidas Nations Global event.

His numbers aren’t going to jump off the page unlike the rest of his peers starting alongside him, but what we need at the point guard position is someone that will take care of the ball, defend and create for others. Quickley checks all of these boxes.

Elsewhere, ESPN’s Mike Schmitz and Jonathan Givony did a great breakdown of Quickley’s game, calling him one of the most complete guards in the 2018 class.

Although Quickley doesn't always pop on film or in person, he has virtually all the ingredients scouts are looking for in a lead guard prospect. He has positional size and length at 6-3 with a 6-8 wingspan. He is a good decision-maker on the court (28 assists to three turnovers at Nations), is skilled offensively, and is tough-minded defensively. Regularly covering all 94 feet, fighting over the top of screens and sliding deep in a stance to contain the ball, Quickley impacts the game on both ends. Quickley has excellent pace offensively, playing a mistake-free brand of basketball while showing veteran savvy versus ball screens.

Quickley's combination of size, two-way play, feel for the game, shooting, toughness and ability to play either guard spot makes him a borderline no-fail prospect with a high floor.

That sounds like the perfect point guard, or at least as close to one as a recruit can be. No wonder Calipari has been relentlessly pursuing Quickley for over a year.

Cameron Reddish and Louis King will play 2-on-2

Kentucky just recently made the cut for Reddish when he shortened his list, and now we’ll get to see him play in the NYC Jam, a 2-on-2 tournament sponsored by Bleacher Report.

NYC high school hoops meets NBA Jam Full-court, two-on-two basketball is heating up with @nycjam #NYCJAM

A post shared by Bleacher Report (@bleacherreport) on

Reddish will play alongside his old friend Louis King, who still hasn’t gotten the offer from Kentucky yet.

Here’s some of what Reddish said about the tournament to Bleacher Report.

“I haven’t played full-court two-on-two in a long time,” Reddish said. “I play with my boys at home, but never very seriously. This will be a great chance for me to showcase my ball-handling skills. The floor will be open, and I’ll take advantage.”

Reddish received coaching from Calipari as part of Team USA’s U19 team in Egypt recently.

Strong Praise for Barrett

Montverde head coach Kevin Boyle had high praise for his star player R.J. Barrett during a recent interview with Zags Blog. Boyle is no stranger to elite talent, having coached former top-three NBA Draft selections Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kyrie Irving, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and D'Angelo Russell.

Boyle thinks his latest star protege is right in line with those guys.

“He’s right in that class,” Boyle said of Barrett. “Most of the guys (who become NBA stars) are all those wing guys that end up better in these drafts over the years. That’s why I’m saying he should be the No. 1 pick in two years.”

As much love as Zion gets in the 2018 class, Barrett is right there with him, if not better, and Kentucky is in the running for both.

So who is Kentucky most likely to get?

All this information is fine and dandy, but it’s all about who actually comes to Lexington. Ben Roberts of the Lexington Herald-Leader asked experts which recruits are most likely to pick Kentucky. Here are the results, ranked.

5. RJ Barrett

4. Cameron Reddish

3. Simi Shittu

2. Zion Williamson

1. Immanuel Quickley

That list isn’t all that surprising, though I think Kentucky has a better shot with Barrett than with Reddish, and Shittu hasn’t been offered yet. The rest of the story includes analysis on each of the five players.

Also Read:

Scout updates rankings for top 100 recruits in 2018 class

Kentucky targets earn high praise from college coaches

Zion Williamson recruiting: Still good vibes for Kentucky

Jalen Johnson, a top-15 Recruit in 2020 class, will visit Kentucky

Kansas pulling a fast one with Zion by offering Dontarius James?

Armando Bacot hopes to visit Kentucky

Kentucky recruits named to Adidas All-U.S. Team

Ranking Every John Calipari Recruiting Class at Kentucky

Kentucky wants Simisola Shittu to visit

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