Checking in on UK’s basketball targets for 2015

 Posted by at 1:07 AM on March 18, 2015
Mar 182015
 
Zimmerman

Zimmerman

Newman

Newman

Brown

Brown

The NCAA Tournament kicks into full gear Thursday, which means there probably won’t be many major developments in the recruiting world over the next couple of weeks.

Kentucky has three signees for 2015 — and the No. 1 class in the country, according to ESPN — and nine other uncommitted seniors hold scholarship offers from the Wildcats. It’s likely that the majority of those players will wait until after the season to announce their college commitments. How many more recruits join UK’s class will depend largely on how many current players opt for the NBA Draft, but it’s likely that the Cats will add at least a couple of more prospects.

Here’s a look at each of the players on UK’s recruiting radar, where they are in their high school seasons, and what’s coming next in their recruitments:

THE SIGNEES
ISAIAH BRISCOE: The New Jersey point guard led his team to the state’s Tournament of Champions event, which crowns one champ from all classes. Briscoe and Roselle Catholic play in Friday’s semifinals, with the championship game set for Monday. UK freshman Karl-Anthony Towns led St. Joseph’s to the title last season.
All-star games: Briscoe will play in the McDonald’s All-American Game (April 1), the Nike Hoop Summit (April 11) and the Jordan Brand Classic (April 17).

SKAL LABISSIERE: There hasn’t been much news from Labissiere lately, and contacts in Memphis told the Herald-Leader last week that his Reach Your Dream Academy team hasn’t played in the area recently. The 6-11 post player should be well rested for the all-star circuit.
All-star games: Labissiere will play in the the Nike Hoop Summit (April 11) and the Jordan Brand Classic (April 17).

CHARLES MATTHEWS: UK’s first commitment for the class of 2015 wrapped up a stellar senior season last Friday night with a loss to Simeon in the sectional championship game. Matthews scored 25 points in that contest and had several 30-plus point games as a senior. His mother told the Herald-Leader on Monday that the family is still working on a schedule that would allow him to play in the Derby Festival Classic in Louisville on April 11.
All-star games: Matthews will play in the Jordan Brand Classic (April 17). The Derby Festival Classic (April 11) remains a possibility.

THE TARGETS
JAYLEN BROWN: The top-rated uncommitted prospect in the class of 2015 wrapped up his senior season earlier this month by sinking two free throws with less than a second remaining to lead his team to a one-point victory in the state title game. He’s expected to take an official visit to Michigan later this week. His Wheeler (Ga.) squad had also been chosen for the eight-team Dick’s Sporting Goods National Tournament, to be played April 2-4 in New York.
Who’s left?: Kentucky, Kansas, UCLA, Michigan, North Carolina, Georgia, Georgia Tech
Official visits: Kansas (10/10), Kentucky (10/17), UCLA (10/31), North Carolina (1/12)
All-star games: Brown will play in the McDonald’s All-American Game (April 1), the Nike Hoop Summit (April 11) and the Jordan Brand Classic (April 17).
Likely decision date: No earlier than the McDonald’s Game (April 1); Could be much later.

THOMAS BRYANT: The hard-working post player from Rochester, N.Y., had another great season with Huntington Prep, which has been named to the Dick’s Sporting Goods National Tournament (April 2-4). Many considered Syracuse the favorite in his recruitment, but recent NCAA sanctions likely mean the Orange no longer have room for him. Indiana has emerged as the trendy pick in his recruitment, but — depending on how many post players leave for the NBA — UK could be considered the favorite. He visited Lexington for two games during the season and has said he’ll return for an official visit before he makes his decision. UK fans can catch him at the Derby Classic in Louisville on April 11.
Who’s left?: Kentucky, Indiana, Missouri, Syracuse (maybe)
Official visits: Syracuse (9/19), Missouri (10/10), Indiana (10/17)
All-star games: Bryant will play in the Derby Festival Classic (April 11) and the Jordan Brand Classic (April 17).
Likely decision date: Look for him to wait on the NBA stay-or-go decisions.

CHEICK DIALLO: The Mali native was again a rebounding and shot-blocking force for Our Savior (N.Y.), which played a national schedule against top competition this season. Diallo’s guardian told the Herald-Leader last month that they would not be talking about his recruitment until after the season, so don’t expect any news between now and McDonald’s All-American media day March 31. All the latest buzz has Kansas and Iowa State as the two favorites, and there’s been little talk of UK in recent weeks. Lexington is seeming less and less likely to be his destination.
Who’s left?: Kentucky, Kansas, Iowa State, Pittsburgh, St. John’s
Official visits: Kentucky (6/29), Kansas (9/19), Iowa State (9/26), St. John’s (10/17)
All-star games: Diallo will play in the McDonald’s All-American Game (April 1), the Nike Hoop Summit (April 11) and the Jordan Brand Classic (April 17).
Likely decision date: No earlier than the McDonald’s Game (April 1)

BRANDON INGRAM: He wrapped up his senior season with a North Carolina state title earlier this month after regularly putting up near-triple-double stat lines throughout the year. He still has six schools on his list, and in-state powers Duke and North Carolina have long been considered the favorites. He recently acknowledged that the academic scandal at UNC has given him pause with that school. Kansas is another program that has emerged as a possible front-runner (and it’s worth noting here that Ingram played on the Adidas summer circuit). UK seems to be on the second tier of his list, but he has implied that he will wait until all of the NBA decisions are revealed by current players before he makes his own choice. Fans can see him at the Derby Festival Classic in Louisville on April 11.
Who’s left?: Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, UCLA, N.C. State
Official visits: North Carolina (1/26), Duke (8/7), Kansas (10/10), Kentucky (10/17), UCLA (10/24)
All-star games: Ingram will play in the McDonald’s All-American Game (April 1) and the Derby Festival Classic (April 11).
Likely decision date: Look for him to wait on the NBA stay-or-go decisions.

THON MAKER: He recently announced his intention to join the class of 2015, as expected, and immediately took an unofficial visit to Indiana. Maker has also visited UK and Kansas recently, and his guardian has said that those two programs will get follow-up visits before he settles on a school. There’s also the possibility that Maker could opt to play professional basketball internationally next season, then declare for the NBA Draft in 2016. UK might not be as likely a destination as some are predicting. Maker is likely to choose a school that will make him an immediate focal point, and Kentucky’s 2015-16 roster might make that tough, depending on who leaves for the draft. He’ll almost certainly wait until those decisions are made before picking a school. In the meantime, UK fans can see him at the first Bluegrass National Championship tournament in western Kentucky next week.
Who’s left?: Kentucky, Kansas, Indiana, possibly others
Official visits: None
All-star games: Maker will play in the Nike Hoop Summit (April 11)
Likely decision date: He’ll almost certainly wait on the NBA stay-or-go decisions.

MALIK NEWMAN: He wrapped up his high school career over the weekend with another Mississippi state championship. Now the attention will turn to his recruitment, which he’s kept relatively quiet over the past few months. Newman has visited UK, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and LSU (for a game against UK), and he’s still considering Kansas and N.C. State. He has yet to take any of his five official visits, though he has said he plans to use all five before making a college decision. That means an announcement is unlikely to happen anytime soon. (Newman recently said it would not be before the McDonald’s Game on April 1). LSU is the trendy pick of late, but Kentucky is still in a good position. If Aaron Harrison, Andrew Harrison and Devin Booker all leave for the NBA — which could very well happen — that might put the Cats in front for Newman, who has long been a fan of John Calipari and the UK program. The longer Newman goes without an announcement, the better things look for the Wildcats.
Who’s left?: Kentucky, Kansas, LSU, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, N.C. State
Official visits: None
All-star games: Newman will play in the McDonald’s All-American Game (April 1), the Nike Hoop Summit (April 11) and the Jordan Brand Classic (April 17).
Likely decision date: No earlier than the McDonald’s Game (April 1)

IVAN RABB: He won another game Tuesday night to stay on the path to the California state championship game, which is set for March 28. If Rabb’s team makes it that far, it’s highly unlikely he’ll commit to a school before the McDonald’s All-American game (he would fly to Chicago for game week festivities the day after the state title game). Rabb is still considering five schools, but local program California has emerged as the favorite. He has said that he’s closest to the Cal coaching staff, and the Bears would give him an opportunity to be the go-to guy from day one. Arizona seems like the next most likely choice at this time. If Rabb waits until NBA decisions are made, UK could factor more heavily into the conversation.
Who’s left?: Kentucky, California, Arizona, UCLA, Kansas
Official visits: Kentucky (10/25), Arizona (1/2), Cal (2/28)
All-star games: Rabb will play in the McDonald’s All-American Game (April 1), the Nike Hoop Summit (April 11) and the Jordan Brand Classic (April 17).
Likely decision date: Could happen before the McDonald’s Game

CALEB SWANIGAN: Swanigan’s high school team is on a path to the Indiana state title game, which would be played March 28 in Indianapolis. The buzz earlier this year was that other recruits in the class would have a tough time outlasting Swanigan for the title of “last top prospect to commit” to a school. That might still be the case, as Swanigan just last week cut his list to seven schools and still has three official visits remaining. Where he’s leaning and when he’ll actually decide are anybody’s guess. Michigan State was seen as the early favorite, but that was before UK, Duke and others started showing real interest. There’s not much inside info to be found here. Wait and see.
Who’s left?: Kentucky, Duke, Michigan State, California, Arizona, Purdue, Chicago State
Official visits: Duke (2/18), California (2/28)
All-star games: Swanigan will play in the McDonald’s All-American Game (April 1), the Nike Hoop Summit (April 11) and the Jordan Brand Classic (April 17).
Likely decision date: Could go uncommitted until late April or May

STEPHEN ZIMMERMAN: He recently wrapped up an exceptional high school career with his fourth consecutive Nevada state title, becoming the winningest player in his school’s history. There’s no clear-cut favorite in his recruitment. Zimmerman and his family have been good about not dropping many hints as to where he might be leaning, while praising all five programs left on his list. Some have UNLV as the front-runner, and the recent announcement that Coach Dave Rice will be retained should only help the Rebels’ chances. Zimmerman has developed a close relationship with Calipari, and UK could be considered the favorite depending on what the Cats’ frontcourt situation looks like after next month’s NBA decisions. Honestly, none of the five schools would be a surprise pick here.
Who’s left?: Kentucky, Arizona, UNLV, Kansas, UCLA
Official visits: Kansas (10/10), Kentucky (10/17), UCLA (10/24), Arizona (11/7), UNLV (11/14)
All-star games: Zimmerman will play in the McDonald’s All-American Game (April 1), the Nike Hoop Summit (April 11) and the Jordan Brand Classic (April 17).
Likely decision date: No exact timetable; Could wait until after NBA stay-or-go decisions

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