The July recruiting period for college basketball begins Wednesday evening, with AAU events tipping off on all three of the major shoe-company circuits. SEC Country will be at Nike’s Peach Jam and Adidas’ Gauntlet Finale providing updates on top Kentucky targets in the Class of 2018 — but first, a primer on the month ahead.
“They’re in about the same position they are every year,” Scout.com director of recruiting Evan Daniels said of the Wildcats and coach John Calipari. “They’re in great shape with (5-star point guard) Immanuel Quickley — he’s a guy I think they’ll end up getting — and they’ve got six other offers out to all top-tier guys, and they’re in the mix with all of them. So I think they’re positioned pretty nicely for a normal, loaded Kentucky recruiting class.”
Daniels’ biggest question for the Cats heading into the July recruiting period is related to Calipari’s recent stint coaching Team USA in the FIBA U19 World Cup. He had six 5-star recruits in training camp and four on the team in Egypt (including Quickely, who started). Three of the top five players in the Class of 2018 — No. 2 Bol Bol, No. 4 Cameron Reddish and No. 5 Romeo Langford — tried out for Calipari’s national team.
“One started (Reddish), one was cut (Bol) and one didn’t play very much (Langford),” Daniels said, “so I’m curious how all of those dynamics factor in — and if they do or don’t.”
SEC Country plans to speak with each of those players and several more this week on the AAU circuit. Here are Daniels’ thoughts on where Kentucky stands with each of its top targets heading into those events:
MARVIN BAGLEY III (6-11 PF)
No. 1 overall on Scout.com, 50% UK, 30% Duke on 247Sports Crystal Ball
“His deal is interesting because he did cut it to six (Arizona, Arizona State, Duke, Kentucky, Oregon, UCLA) in June. Usually when you cut down a list to that type of working number, it means you’re ready to get this process going and over with,” Daniels said. “But he really hasn’t made a head-first dive into the process. He hasn’t set up any officials. Marvin Bagley doesn’t appear in a hurry to do anything. I think Kentucky is one of a handful involved and in the mix, and usually if you’re Kentucky, that means you have a great shot.”
BOL BOL (7-3 C)
No. 2 overall on Scout.com, 75% UK, 12% Kansas on 247Sports Crystal Ball
“We’re not going to get a straight-up answer” from Bol about whether getting cut from Team USA hurts Kentucky’s chances, Daniels said. There is a rule that only one naturalized citizen can make the roster and the selection committee took Georgia Tech’s Josh Okogie to fill that spot. “Going into the trials, his top two were Arizona and Kentucky, and you have to keep in mind that (Arizona coach) Sean Miller was on that selection committee, too. Cal was coaching the team, but Sean was on the committee. So who knows? I think kids probably have to understand that there’s strong competition at those deals and it’s not a lock that you’re going to just go and make the team. But that’s a question.”
ZION WILLIAMSON (6-6 SF)
No. 3 overall on Scout.com, 36% UK, 27% Duke on 247Sports Crystal Ball
“He’s obviously being recruited by everybody, but I think he’s open, and he hasn’t made any comments that would make me believe otherwise. He hasn’t narrowed down his list like a lot of these other top-tier guys, so we’re more or less just waiting for the dust to settle and for him to kind of jump into the process a little more.”
CAMERON REDDISH (6-8 SF)
No. 4 overall on Scout.com, 92% Duke, 8% UK on 247Sports Crystal Ball
“I don’t have a feel for his recruitment. I know he’s being recruited by the who’s who and I know Kentucky really likes him and I know he really likes Kentucky,” Daniels said. Reddish started and at times starred for Team USA and Calipari in Egypt and said the Wildcats were making progress. “In terms of a favorite or is Kentucky the leader, I don’t know the answer to that, but they certainly appear to be in a pretty strong position.”
ROMEO LANGFORD (6-4 SG)
No. 5 overall on Scout.com, 50% Louisville, 30% Duke on 247Sports Crystal Ball
On the sense that Kentucky is fading in his recruitment, particularly after Langford’s limited role (back spasms reportedly contributed to that) on Team USA: “That certainly seems to be the word. I can’t confirm it, but it appears to be the word,” Daniels said, noting that in-state Indiana, nearby Louisville and powerhouse Kansas are the three to watch with Langford. Gun to his head on which one it’ll be? “I’d pass on getting shot in the head,” Daniels said.
MOSES BROWN (6-11 C)
No. 6 overall on Scout.com, 50% Maryland, 40% UK on 247Sports Crystal Ball
“My understanding,” Daniels said, “is Kentucky is not involved right now.” So scratch that one.
NAZREON REID (6-10 C)
No. 9 overall on Scout.com, 75% LSU, 12% UK on 247Sports Crystal Ball
“He doesn’t have an offer and he visited LSU recently,” Daniels said. “I think he has some strong ties there, so they appear to be one of the leaders, if not the school to beat at the moment.”
IMMANUEL QUICKLEY (6-3 PG)
No. 10 overall on Scout.com, 100% Kentucky on 247Sports Crystal Ball
“He’s got some official visits set up and I think he’s going to them and then make his college choice,” Daniels said. Why not just pull the trigger for the Cats, which seems inevitable? “He’s always said this is how he’s going to do the process. He hasn’t necessarily been shy about his affinity for Kentucky and Calipari, but this is how he said he’d do the process.”
LOUIS KING (6-8 SF)
No. 12 overall on Scout.com, 83% Kentucky on 247Sports Crystal Ball
On whether King, who went to Egypt with Team USA aiming to earn a Kentucky scholarship offer alongside AAU teammate Reddish, is a Wildcats-caliber player: “We have him ranked in our top 15, so I certainly think he’s that caliber of prospect,” Daniels said, “and I think if they go ahead and offer him, they may slide into a leadership type of position with him. They’re a school that he’s heavily interested in.”
* Stay tuned to SECCountry.com/Kentucky for updates all week from the Wildcats’ top targets on the AAU scene.