The summer circuit is in full swing for the Class of 2019 and beyond, and with that, Kentucky’s targets in the class are beginning to take shape.
The Peach Jam is here, and soon, many of the top players will begin taking their visits in preparation for fall decision season. Kentucky has two commitment in the class in point guard Tyrese Maxey and wing D.J. Jeffries, but they’re in the hunt for several top talents in the class.
Here’s a look at the players the Kentucky Wildcats are targeting in the Class of 2019.
Note: Player rankings are based off of the 247 Sports Composite, which compiles multiple rankings together
- Bryan Antoine (5 star, 6th overall) Ranney School (Eatontown, NJ) Offered
- Jalen Lecque (5 star, 9th overall) Christ School (Arden, NC) Offered
- Cole Anthony (5 star, 3rd overall) ArchBishop Molloy (New York, NY)
- Kira Lewis (4 star, 88th overall) Hazel Green (Hazel Green, AL)
The guard class has witnessed some recent shakeups. Kentucky landed a commitment from point guard Tyrese Maxey, ranked eighth overall, and Kentucky commitment Ashton Hagans moved to the 2018 class.
It seems very possible Kentucky could have a stable of guards returning next season. It is not certain that Immanuel Quickley and Tyler Herro will be one-and-done players, although both certainly have the talent to be and could see their stock rise with solid freshman seasons and a Final Four run.
Combined with the possibility of Jemarl Baker returning for another season, Kentucky could have a solid backcourt with Maxey plus the returning guys.
However, that has not stopped them from recruiting several guards in the class. That’s for a good reason. Quickley, Herro, and Baker aren’t guaranteed returners and there is quite a bit of talent at the guard positions in this class.
Jalen Lecque has received interest from Kentucky, but landing him at Kentucky isn’t a certainty. The 6’4 combo guard has received a lot of attention from home state NC State and is also strongly considering Tennessee.
Lecque could also possibly reclassify to 2018, but the more likely scenario is staying in 2019. He has the ability to play both guard positions and could even possibly play the 3 in smaller lineups. His athleticism is something to behold, drawing comparisons to Russell Westbrook.
Calipari has been on Antoine and his high school and AAU teammate Scottie Lewis (more on him below) for quite a while and extended offers to both last fall.
It is not yet clear if the two will play together in college, but as of now, it seems Duke is the favorite for Antoine. Antoine may be the best scoring guard in the class and scouts love his jump shot. Evan Daniels even compared him to Ray Allen.
Antoine trimmed his list to five about a month ago, with Kentucky joining Duke, Villanova, Florida, and Kansas. Kentucky is probably on the outside looking in when it comes to Antoine.
Duke and Villanova are seen as the two leaders with Duke being the overwhelming favorite in Antoine’s 247 Crystal Ball. He will likely decide in the fall, and if I had to guess, Antoine will be a Blue Devil.
Cole Anthony is one of the more mysterious recruitments of recent years. The son of former NBA player Greg Anthony, Cole doesn’t talk about his recruitment much, leaving a lot up to speculation.
Anthony has been one of the best players in the class this spring and summer, and can do just about everything on the court. He’s shown the ability to be a scorer, a really good passer, defend, and he’s also one of the better rebounding guards in the class.
Duke has long been viewed as the leader for Anthony, but as mentioned previously, nobody really knows. Anthony is close friends with Tyrese Maxey, and the two talk about playing together.
A backcourt of Anthony and Maxey would be in contention for the best backcourt of the Calipari era at UK.
The other main guard target is Kira Lewis. Lewis, a 4-star recruit, has had a solid spring and summer and may be one of the fastest players in the class. Lewis recently took a visit to Kentucky, but left without an offer. Lewis may receive an offer, but it is uncertain right now.
- Keion Brooks (5 star, 15th overall) North Side High School (Fort Wayne, IN) Offered
- Scottie Lewis (5 star, 9th overall) Ranney School (Eatontown, NJ) Offered
- Dontaie Allen (3 star, 217th overall) Pendleton County High School (Falmouth, KY)
Kentucky already has a commitment from D.J. Jeffries, the 32nd overall player in the class and AAU teammate to James Wiseman, but outside of Jeffries, Kentucky hasn’t cast its net very far in wings for 2019.
Keion Brooks has been a priority for the coaching staff, as they love his size (6’9”) and scoring ability. Brooks, who is from Indiana, seems to be essentially down to Michigan State, Indiana, and Kentucky.
IU head coach Archie Miller has been on him since taking the job and pitching the idea of staying home. It also helps that one of Brooks’ teammates, Trayce Jackson-Davis, is a heavy Indiana lean.
However, it’s hard to count Calipari out when he prioritizes a player and as evidenced by being one of the first five players to receive a visit from Calipari in this class, Kentucky is going to heavily pursue Brooks.
Lewis is a top-10 player in the class along with his teammate Bryan Antoine. Lewis projects to play more at the small forward position in college, but he does have some flexibility to play the shooting guard as well. He’s a super athlete that plays above the rim as well as anyone in the class and projects as a strong defender in college.
Kentucky may actually be in better shape with Lewis than they are with Antoine, so it will be interesting to see how the talented duo approach the college selection process.
With Kentucky not reaching out to many wing players in the class, it seems that Kentucky feels confident that they will land either Brooks or Lewis. Brooks is probably the more likely option, but landing either shouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
Pendleton County guard Dontaie Allen averaged 31.8 points per game and more than 11 rebounds this past season. Allen has recently picked up several offers, including from Purdue, Western Kentucky, and Xavier, while also taking visits to Virginia Tech and West Virginia.
Allen recently visited UK’s campus but left with an offer. Fans have long been yearning for UK to take a Kentucky kid on the roster, and Allen seems like a good fit for that. He is the main in-state option after Kentucky stopped recruiting KyKy Tandy.
The problem will be that Allen has the talent to be a major contributor right away at other schools, whereas he probably wouldn’t be an immediate starter at UK. This recruitment will be one to watch.
- James Wiseman (5 star, 1st overall) Memphis East High School (Memphis, TN) Offered
- Vernon Carey Jr. (5 star, 2nd overall) University School (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) Offered
- Jaden McDaniels (5 star, 4th overall) Federal Way High School (Federal Way, WA)
- Isaiah Stewart (5 star, 5th overall) La Lumiere School (Rochester, NY)
- Matthew Hurt (5 star, 6th overall) John Marshall Senior High (Rochester, MN) Offered
- Aidan Igiehon (5 star, 23rd overall) Lawrence Woodmere Academy (Woodmere, NY)
Wiseman has long been Kentucky’s top priority in the class and continues to be... for good reason. He’s the #1 or #2 player in the class, depending on which service you’re looking at, and his talent (and upside) are evident.
A near 7-footer, Wiseman excels on both ends of the floor, being able to score from multiple spots on the floor and using his length to block and alter shots on the other end. He also has excellent athleticism and can run the floor with smaller players.
Kentucky is the favorite in Wiseman’s recruitment, but like Jeffries, he played under Penny Hardaway on the AAU Circuit and on Penny’s high school team. Memphis is probably the only threat standing between a Kentucky-Wiseman union, which should make for an interesting battle in the next few months.
The player in competition with Wiseman for the top spot in the class is Vernon Carey, Jr., a 6’10” forward from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. UK assistant Kenny Payne recently told him he could model his game after DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.
Carey is skilled and can play inside and out on offense, and is probably the best rebounder in the class. Kentucky is pitching the idea of Carey and Wiseman playing in the same frontcourt together in Lexington, which would be the best frontcourt in the nation, hands down.
However, that is easier said than done, as Duke is seen as the favorite for Carey, along with Miami (FL.), where his father was a standout football player before being drafted in the first round in the NFL.
There haven’t been a lot of recent updates on Wiseman and Carey. KSR’s TJ Walker said this week he still believes Kentucky leads for Wiseman and is “in the hunt” for Carey.
McDaniels has been a new prospect to emerge recently, though there’s not even been confirmation that Kentucky has contacted the top-five big man from Washington. However, you can bet Calipari will have some level of interest in the uber-talented big whose dream school is supposedly Kentucky.
Heck, even some recruiting experts are now picking the Wildcats for McDaniels. Perhaps it’s only a matter of time before a formal offer is made.
Hurt projects as a stretch four in college because of his ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter.
Calipari extended him an offer in December, and has the ability to be a true inside-out threat. There is some mutual interest between Kentucky and Hurt, although Kansas seems to be a clear leader. That probably was solidified with Bill Self coaching Hurt during the FIBA U18 Tournament.
Hurt fits in with Calipari’s new-found desire to bring in players that can shoot from multiple positions, so expect that recruitment to continue throughout the process. Don’t count Kentucky out in this recruitment, but it seems like Kentucky will have a hard time passing the Jayhawks.
Isaiah Stewart may not have Kentucky on his list, but he’s still open to hearing from the Wildcats.
Back in May, Stewart cut his list to 10 schools, and Kentucky did not make the cut. But in an interview with Evan Daniels, Stewart spoke about Kentucky and if they could be getting back into his recruitment.
Stewart even admitted UK could be contender for his services, even if they’re jumping back in late in his recruitment. He may not be in the same class as Wiseman and Carey (though he did take it to Wiseman in the spring), but he’s still an elite big man that Kentucky would love to have.
As for Igiehon, Kentucky hasn’t offered but it recently came out that UK and Duke are trying to convince the 5 star big man to postpone cutting his list.
- D.J. Jeffries (4 star, 36th overall) Olive Branch High School (Olive Branch, MS)
- Tyrese Maxey (5 star, 8th overall) South Garland High School (Garland, TX)
Stay tuned here as we bring you more updates from the recruiting trail for the Class of 2019.