LEXINGTON, Ky. — This is shaping up to be the most important week of the 2018 recruiting cycle for Kentucky basketball.
Coach John Calipari visited 5-star shooting guard Keldon Johnson on Monday in Virginia, after which Johnson confirmed to SEC Country that he decided to take an official visit to Lexington this weekend. He had an unexpected opening in his schedule after a planned visit to Florida State was scrapped in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
The Wildcats will try to take advantage of this sudden opportunity, and they could get an assist from another official visitor who’ll be on campus this weekend: 5-star point guard and heavy UK lean Immanuel Quickley. It might take some convincing to lure Johnson away from Shaka Smart and the Texas Longhorns, who are considered the frontrunner in his recruitment.
Calipari will have time to ponder his pitch while jetting around the country visiting other top prospects. He stopped in to see 5-star power forward Simi Shittu in Vermont on Tuesday and is scheduled to conduct an in-home visit with 5-star small forward Zion Williamson — ranked No. 1 in the class by 247 Sports — and his family in South Carolina on Wednesday night, a source confirmed to SEC Country.
Kentucky made quick work to reschedule that visit, which was originally planned for Monday. Williamson’s family had to postpone while they helped relatives on the coast deal with the aftermath of Irma, but Calipari wasted no time setting up another chance to woo Williamson.
That in-home is big, but the fact that Williamson on Tuesday set up an official visit to Lexington next weekend could be even bigger in Kentucky’s battle with Kansas and Duke, among many others, to land the jaw-dropping highlight machine.
Calipari will crank up the jet again this weekend — presumably after he’s made his appeal to Quickley and Johnson on campus — and fly across the country to California for a visit with 7-foot-3 Bol Bol, a top-five player in the class, and his mother. Bol’s recruitment has been all over the map.
Kentucky was once considered a strong contender, then appeared to take a hit when Bol was cut from the Calipari-coached USA Basketball under-19 team this summer. Now, though, Bol has agreed to host the coach for an in-home and, according to Scout.com’s Evan Daniels, scheduled an official visit to Lexington.
Bol will be on campus the weekend of Oct. 14 — meaning he’ll witness the spectacle of Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena — in addition to official visits to Oregon (Sept. 30), Arizona (Oct. 28), Southern California (Nov. 4) and UCLA (Nov. 11). That and the in-home visit on Sunday at least give Calipari and the Cats a chance to get back in the mix.
By the time Kentucky’s coach finally falls asleep back in his own bed at the end of this weekend, he should have a much better idea of how the Wildcats’ 2018 class is going to shake out.