LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky basketball fans, who on Friday night saw the nation’s No. 1 recruit commit to Duke and then watched the fifth-ranked Wildcats need a second-half rally to beat Utah Valley in the season opener, got a major morale boost Saturday night.
Five-star shooting guard Keldon Johnson became Kentucky’s second commitment in the Class of 2018, joining 5-star point guard Immanuel Quickley and insuring that John Calipari will have another loaded backcourt next year. Johnson picked the Cats over Maryland, N.C. State and Texas.
“Immanuel Quickley and Keldon Johnson is a terrific two-man class. Anybody in the country would be thrilled with starting off a class with those guys,” Scout.com and 247Sports recruiting analyst Evan Daniels said. “If they add [4-star guard] Tyler Herro to that group, I think Kentucky probably leaves the early signing period thrilled with the perimeter they’ve put together.”
Quickley is ranked the No. 8 overall player in the country by the 247Sports Composite and Johnson is No. 14. Hero, who is on an official visit to Kentucky this weekend, is ranked 36th. The Wildcats are also strong contenders for No. 2 Zion Williamson (small forward) and No. 15 Moses Brown (center).
Johnson, a 6-foot-6 Oak Hill Academy star, is a major addition. He was one of the best players on the Nike AAU circuit last spring and summer, averaging 19.7 points, 8.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 23 games. While not yet a great outside shooter, he’s a talented scorer and the kind of aggressive wing Calipari likes.
“Keldon brings toughness, competitiveness, strength — and he brings energy,” Daniels said. “He’s a hard-playing, physical and explosive wing. He looks to drive the ball on offense and he really brings it on the defensive end. This is a pretty good perimeter threat.”
Johnson told SEC Country this summer that his interest in Kentucky was simple: “Legendary program, great coaching staff — a coaching staff that gets you ready for the [NBA].”
Quickley and Johnson took their official visits to Kentucky together two months ago and hit it off. During some down time on that trip, they got in the gym and worked out. That’s a positive sign for the Wildcats’ future backcourt.
“They were asking the [team] manager what time they could get in there,” Quickley’s mentor and AAU director told SEC Country. “They both seem to be gym rats.”