LEXINGTON, Ky. — College basketball’s early signing period for the Class of 2018 begins Wednesday, Nov. 8, and runs through the following Wednesday, Nov. 15, and Kentucky finds itself in the unusual position of not really knowing who might jump on board.
The Wildcats have one commitment, from 5-star point guard Immanuel Quickley, and feel good about their chances with 5-star shooting guard Keldon Johnson. The situation is a little murkier with 5-star small forward Zion Williamson — but he still seems more likely to pick Kentucky than No. 1 overall prospect R.J. Barrett (a perceived Duke lean, announcing Friday) and 5-star combo guard Quentin Grimes (on whom Kansas has a tight grip).
Bol Bol, the enigmatic 7-footer whose recruitment has taken many twists and turns, appears headed for Oregon, while 5-star point guard Darius Garland looks like a future Vanderbilt Commodore or Indiana Hoosier. If it sounds like John Calipari is swinging and missing more often than usual in this class, perhaps that explains two new Kentucky targets: 4-star shooting guard Tyler Herro and 5-star center Moses Brown.
Herro got a visit (and scholarship offer) from Calipari last week and is taking an official visit to Lexington this weekend. Calipari also visited Brown (who does not yet have an offer) and invited him to visit UK soon. Brown told SEC Country this spring that Calipari has compared him to Willie Cauley-Stein and Anthony Davis.
Not all of Kentucky’s targets will make decisions before Nov. 15, meaning their recruitments could drag on until the April signing period. So what happens — or doesn’t — in the next week will determine just how panicked Big Blue Nation will be over the next few months.
Before those dominoes begin falling, we enlisted the expertise of Scout.com and 247Sports recruiting analyst Evan Daniels to handicap Calipari and the Cats’ chances with each player they’ve offered in the Class of 2018:
PG Immanuel Quickley — 6-3, 175, Bel Air, Md., ranked No. 8 overall
SF Zion Williamson — 6-6, 275, Spartanburg, S.C., ranked No. 2 overall
Daniels: “Anybody that tells you they know where he’s going, at least as of Tuesday at 2:41 p.m., they’re lying. I don’t think [Williamson and his camp] are showing their hand right now.”
SG Keldon Johnson — 6-6, 216, Mouth of Wilson, Va., ranked No. 14 overall
Daniels: “His isn’t quite as hard to sift through as Zion’s, but there’s still three or four schools involved [Maryland, N.C. State and Texas are the others], and I don’t know if there’s really a leader at this point.”
C Moses Brown — 7-0, 210, Jamaica, N.Y., ranked No. 15 overall
Daniels: “I think at one point he was headed to Louisville, then the FBI stuff happened. Then UCLA and Maryland emerged. But now that Kentucky has [gotten involved], they could be pretty hard to beat in that one.”
SG Tyler Herro — 6-5, 195, Milwaukee, Wisc., ranked No. 36 overall
Daniels: “I think Kentucky is in great shape with Tyler Herro. Wouldn’t surprise me if he’s their next commitment. I think Tyler [former Wisconsin commit] wanted to play for a blueblood and he’s had an affinity for Kentucky for a long time.”
SF R.J. Barrett — 6-6, 180, Montverde, Fla., ranked No. 1 overall
Daniels: “I put Duke in my Crystal Ball a long time ago. I think that they are the favorite heading into the deal. I wouldn’t say I’m 100 percent confident that’s where he’s going, but that’s what my gut says. I don’t think [Kentucky or Oregon] are out of it.”
CG Quentin Grimes — 6-5, 200, College Park, Texas, ranked No. 16 overall
Daniels: “I think it’s a race between Kansas and Texas. It’s probably a combination of those schools recruiting him longer and the other guards Kentucky is involved with.”
C Bol Bol — 7-1, 225, Santa Ana, Calif., ranked No. 3 overall
Daniels: “I think Bol is going to Oregon.”
PG Darius Garland — 6-1, 170, Brentwood, Tenn., ranked No. 10 overall
Daniels: “Vanderbilt, Indiana or UCLA. I don’t think he ends up at Kentucky.”