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Kentucky Basketball: Positive buzz for James Wiseman, Matthew Hurt and Zeke Nnaji

Kentucky is looking to load up on frontcourt stars in 2019, and Wiseman is the grand prize.


When news broke on Sunday that John Calipari had offered 2019 power forward Zeke Nnaji a scholarship, many wondered if it was in response to something Kentucky learned from another recruit.

Calipari and his staff still seem to be all-in on James Wiseman, Matthew Hurt and Vernon Carey, and they will visit Wiseman in his home this coming week.

After Wiseman’s official visit to Lexington this past weekend, Ben Roberts of the Herald-Leader offered a pretty encouraging update on Wiseman’s recruitment.

Roberts is fairly conservative in sharing his opinion on where Kentucky stands with recruits, so for him to say that he likes Kentucky’s chances says something.

He also makes a great point about Kentucky’s needs in the front court. The Wildcats are certain to lose Reid Travis, PJ Washington is likely gone, and there is always the chance that either or both of Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery could move on. There will be a huge gap to fill in the post, and they will need multiple big men to fill it.

Elsewhere, KSR’s TJ Walker had his own positive update on Wiseman, saying he would guess Kentucky is the leader as of today. That’s significant, as the national perception is that Memphis has moved ahead of Kentucky for Wiseman, so it would be great news if Kentucky has moved back ahead going into the fall.

When Penny Hardaway was hired as the head coach for the Memphis Tigers, many believed Kentucky took a back seat in Wiseman’s recruitment. More alarms went off when his teammate DJ Jeffries decommitted from the Wildcats.

Yet as of late, every report makes it seem as though Kentucky is still the leader for Wiseman. If that is the case, John Calipari will likely be headed for yet another top-ranked recruiting class.

But while getting Wiseman would be tremendous for Kentucky, they’re going to need anywhere from 5-8 new guys to come in to help fill out the roster for next season. If the Wildcats accomplish their goal of winning a national title, we could see another 2012-like defection of seven guys to the NBA and graduation.

That’s why getting several multi-year guys in this class is going to be critical, and Nnaji may be someone who fits that bill. Not long after Kentucky offered Nnaji on Sunday, 247 recruiting experts Jerry Meyer and Andrew Slater logged a crystal ball prediction in favor of Kentucky.

TJ Walker adds that Nnaji now plans to unofficially visit Kentucky this month and could later take an official visit.

Just like Kahlil Whitney in the summer, this is a recruitment that’s taking off fast as Nnaji has his own ascent up the recruiting rankings. He was an afterthought going into the spring, but a big showing on the AAU circuit has led to him rising up the rankings going into the fall. His highest mark is No. 30 overall by 247 Sports Composite.

One other note: Walker still thinks Kentucky leads for Matthew Hurt, whom Nnaji has been AAU teammates with in Minnesota. Kansas had long been viewed as the favorite for Hurt, but Walker wrote back in July that Kentucky was a real threat to land the top-10 prospect.

It seems like that momentum has continued into the fall, and that’s before he even takes his official visit to Lexington during Big Blue Madness weekend.

Obviously, Kentucky isn’t going to land everyone they want in this class, but it sounds like they’re in great shape with their top prospects.