FISHERS, Ind. — Scottie Lewis is different. And therein lies the reason Kentucky, Duke, Villanova and college basketball’s blue bloods covet the 2019 prospect.
“He’s so different from the rest of this generation,” said Mike Rice, former Rutgers coach and Lewis’ AAU coach for Team Rio. “When you’re a top-10 kid you’re not supposed to care more about your teammates, and that’s completely what he does.”
Unselfish to a fault is how Rice described it. And on the defensive end?
“Scottie’s a different breed,” AAU teammate and fellow top-10 2019 prospect Bryan Antoine said. “Scottie’s the only player that plays hard on defense. He just plays 110 percent both offense and defense.”
Antoine and Lewis are the No. 7 and No. 8 prospects in the 2019 class, according to the 247Sports composite. Lewis is a 6-foot-5 small forward and Antoine is a 6-foot-5 shooting guard. Not only are they AAU teammates and top-10 prospects, but they both attend Ranney School in New Jersey. Those connections are why Lewis and Antoine are often linked in the same sentences.
Rice glowingly talked about Antoine much like he did Lewis.
“His athleticism is something you don’t find in guys these age,” Rice said of Antoine. “His explosion, his quickness, his athleticism is incredible. You put that on top of a silky smooth jump shot and you have an elite player — one who is humble, one who is still developing his body.”
While Lewis seems to be further along in the recruiting process than Antoine, Kentucky is on the radar for both. The two have lists: schools they’d attend separately, and schools they’d attend together. Kentucky is on the latter.
“It’s definitely one of those schools that we’d both be interested in,” Lewis said.
Antoine isn’t ready to reveal a list of finalists, but Lewis recently went on a binge of visits to Kentucky, Duke, Florida, Villanova and St. John’s.
“Some were better than others, and some just felt like family,” Lewis said.
Asked which ones stood out, and Lewis pointed to three.
“Florida, and St. John’s and Villanova, they’ve been following me since I was in eighth grade in those back gyms,” Lewis said. “Every time I’m around them it just feels like family.”
He then outlined what the pitches were from Kentucky and Duke.
“Coach K’s pitch was not to worry about the past, but to worry about the present and that I could come into the program and create something new,” Lewis said. “That’s definitely what I’m all about … Kentucky’s pitch was that [John Calipari’s] gonna take care of me. He’s gonna push me hard, he’s gonna love me as a player and a person.”
Although he first singled out Florida, St. John’s and Villanova, Lewis said that no school on his list is ahead of another.
“I think for a player like me and a mind like mine, I think I have a lot aspects that go into my college decision,” Lewis said. “It’s extremely hard.”
Lewis hopes to cut his list in August and then make his final decision by the middle of his senior season. Antoine hopes to take official visits this summer but otherwise has no timeline.
Kentucky’s 2019 class already includes 5-star point guard Ashton Hagans (though many expect he’ll reclassify to 2018) and 4-star small forward D.J. Jeffries. A pledge from either Lewis or Antoine would give Calipari and the Cats another top-10 prospect.
And as would be expected, that competition within a program would be welcomed by Lewis.
“One characteristic that I like about my game personally is that I’m a captain, and I’m a leader,” Lewis said. “I think if I surround myself by guys that want to succeed just like I do, I can lead that team to success.”