Basketball Recruiting: Kira Lewis Jr. talks Kentucky, Kenny Payne and a quote he lived by while improving his game

Bob Gathany, Alabama Media Group

A name you won’t soon forget. Kira Lewis Jr., a newly rated five- star recruit in the Class of 2019. 6-foot-3-inches and 160 lbs, Lewis is a point guard. A native of Hazel Green, Alabama (Hazel Green High) that has taken the recruiting waves by storm.

Blue blood schools like Kansas, who recently offered a scholarship and Kentucky who has reached out. Interest from Indiana, UConn, Baylor, Auburn and home-state Alabama are just a few on the list with Lewis in mind.

Before the spring season began, Lewis sat near the end of the top-100 rankings by all major services, but after working on his craft and showing out against the best at the Nike EYBL, he has everyone’s attention. Kentucky assistant Coach Kenny Payne, was one of the first that took notice of Lewis and continues to communicate with him. “They’ve been telling me how they can get guys in the league if they come to Kentucky and work at it.” But also that “Kentucky isn’t for everybody.”

Lewis recently received an invite to Team USA tryouts in which solidified another milestone met in his path. “It means a lot, to get invited and to be able to try to compete for your country.” Representing your country would be a huge honor for Lewis but the invite also “shows that my hard work is paying off.”

A visit to Kentucky is set for June 10th barring the results of Team USA tryouts in which Lewis would have to reschedule. Nonetheless, the visit will happen and what does he hope is taken away from it.. “I hope that I form an even better relationship with the coaching staff and hopefully get an offer.” His first trip to Lexington was as a kid but he still remembers, “It was great, I love the campus a lot.” He also has a visit for Alabama set on June 1st. He intends to see Indiana, Iowa State, Auburn and a few more schools on his list soon.

On the opposite side of basketball, Family is a huge part of Lewis’ life. Like many, Lewis praises them for being his biggest influences. “My Mom, Dad, my two sisters and my cousin, mostly all of my family members are big in my life.”

On Kentucky:

With one statement he summed up a huge part of what Kentucky fans look for in guys that put on a Kentucky jersey—-grasping what comes with the opportunity.. “You have to sit back and realize everybody doesn’t get this so you have to enjoy it.” Lewis said of the attention he’s getting from blue bloods.

Growing up in a Football state didn’t stop Lewis from noticing blue bloods like Kansas and Kentucky. “I’ve always watched Kentucky as a kid!” He says getting an offer from the Wildcats “would mean a lot!”

On the Fans:

When I asked if he knew about the fans he stated “Big Blue Nation loves their basketball.” What does Lewis think about playing in the spotlight that Kentucky would carry? “It doesn’t get any better than playing in an environment where everybody has their eyes on you.” The spotlight is something Lewis is definitely ready to embrace, even more so now that 247Sports has him as high as No. 24 in the class.

On his Class:

Kentucky already has three guards committed in the Class of 2019—two point guards in Ashton Hagans and Tyrese Maxey and wing, DJ Jeffries. Hagans is widely projected by many to reclassify, leaving only two commits in the class.“I think I would mesh well, I’ve seen all those guys play and they aren’t selfish at all.” Lewis told of the three committed Wildcats in 2019. “I’m close with a lot of guys in 2019 but whoever I end up playing with, it doesn’t matter.”

On his improvement:

Earning a 5 ⭐️ ranking wasn’t easy “I just worked on my overall game and it was very hard to get to that point.” The grind won’t stop there though, Lewis knows what it takes to keep the interest from schools coming.. “I will continue to work even harder.”

Throughout his improvement, he used a quote from Kevin Durant himself “Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard.” These are the wise words that helped a four-star earn that fifth one.

NBA Influence:

NBA stars are a big influence on many players and Lewis just the same “I pattern my game after Kyrie.” “I look up to guys like LeBron and Kevin Durant.” Those are definitely some of the best in the game today for Lewis to follow the path of.

Lewis said he most likely intends on committing in the early period(November).


As always, check back here for more updates. @lori_mills


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