As the 2018-2019 University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball team had a heartbreaking Elite 8 loss in overtime to the Auburn tigers on March 31st, we now have at the recruiting class for next season. Like most years, the Cats look to bring in a talented class with hopes of filling the void of sophomore PJ Washington(NBA Draft), freshman Keldon Johnson(NBA Draft), and graduate transfer senior Reid Travis(Graduation).
Potential/Expected returners: Freshman (PG) Ashton Hagans (?) Freshman (SG) Tyler Herro (?) Freshman (PF) EJ Montgomery – returning Sophomore (C) Nick Richards – returning Freshman (PG) Immanuel Quickly – returning Redshirt Freshman (SG) Jemarl Baker – returning
2019 Recruiting Class: **** Dontaie Allen SF(6’6 185 lbs.) from Pendleton County, Kentucky. Allen is a lengthy, athletic, guard, that excels at getting to the rim. He received Mr. Kentucky Basketball honors this past year, beating out University Heights Academy’s KyKy Tandy (Xavier commit) & Trinity’s David Johnson (Louisville commit). The instate kid, elected to stay home and follow in the footsteps of guys like Darius Miller, Derek Willis, and Dominique Hawkins. It will be interesting to see if he redshirts next season due to an ACL tear he suffered his senior year. To make matters worse, there were reports last week that Allen suffered a broken collarbone after a car accident in Lexington, Ky. Despite his injuries, we do know one thing, Allen can score the basketball. He scored 3,255 points throughout his high school career and was averaging 42.9 PPG before his knee injury. ***** Keion Brooks Jr. SF (6’8 195 lbs.) from La Porte, Indiana. He chose UK over Indiana, Michigan State, and North Carolina. Brooks Jr. is ranked the 23rd best player in the nation by 247 sports, the 6th best small forward, and the 3rd best in the state of Indiana behind La Lumiere School teammate and Kentucky target Isaiah Stewart (Washington commit). Brooks Jr. is a sneaky, scoring, forward that is very lanky and a mismatch for most defenders. Some scouts have said that he can play the two guard (shooting guard) at the college level. He can also be moved down to the stretch forward position due to his size and height and is very good in transition. Keion Brooks Jr. is also a Jordan Brand Classic recipient. ***** Tyrese Maxey PG (6’3 185 lbs.) is from Garland, Texas. Maxey chose UK over his hometown school SMU and is ranked the #9 player in the nation by 247 sports as well as #10 in the ESPN rankings. He is considered the #1 player in the state of Texas for a reason, Maxey is the definition of a floor general. Most recruiting services list him as a combo guard because of his ability to both handle the basketball and shoot from the perimeter. He is very polished offensively and has tremendous upside on the defensive side of the ball. Like Brooks Jr., Maxey is a Jordan Brand Classic recipient and he also played in the McDonalds All American Game with fellow Kentucky signee Khalil Whitney. He had 13 points and shot 3-6 from behind the arc while tallying 2 steals against the top 25 best recruits in the nation. ***** Khalil Whitney SF (6’6 190 lbs.) is from Roselle Catholic in Roselle, New Jersey. Whitney reigns from the same high school as former wildcat Isaiah Briscoe. He is considered the #7 best player in all of high school basketball by 247 sports and #9 by ESPN. Whitney is described best as a dog, he loves to compete. Mostly known for his freakish athleticism, he is also a very good defender. He fits the mold of a position less player that Calipari loves to incorporate into his system. Whitney is extremely raw and really needs to work on his ball handling if he wants to be impactful at the college level. However, the explosiveness is there. Like Maxey, he participated in the McDonalds All American Game but had a disappointing showing by shooting just 1-5 from the field. Hopefully, he can have a better showing at the Jordan Brand Classic game on April 20, 2019. *Grad Transfer* C Nate Sestina (6’9 245 lbs.) Once again, Cal hit the grad transfer market after having a lot of success this past season with Reid Travis. This time it’s Nate Sestina, from Emporium, Pennsylvania. Sestina is transferring from Bucknell University where he will have immediate playing time. Last season, Sestina averaged 15.8 PPG, 8.7 RPG, and 1.1 blocks per game. He had 11 double-doubles out of 31 games and shot 80.8% from the free throw line. After visiting UK on April 1, 2019, Sestina committed a day after his official visit. As for his game, he lacks athleticism much like Travis, but makes up for it in strength. He is a tremendous rebounder, both offensively and defensively, and can also shoot the ball from all areas of the floor. The biggest impact he brings to this team is maturity. Nate Sestina, is exactly what this team needs to add depth at the center position.
Uncommitted: Kentucky has their eyes on two recruits still left on the board. ***** Matthew Hurts (6’9 215 lbs.) Power forward from Rochester, Minnesota. Hurts is a consensus top 10 recruit that is down to Kansas, Duke, Kentucky, and North Carolina. The Mr. Basketball from the state of Minnesota will decide on April 19, 2019. ***** Jaden McDaniels (6’11 185 lbs.) Power forward from Federal Way, Washington. McDaniels is a ranked the 5th best player in the nation by 247 sports and the 6th best by ESPN. His recruitment has been rather quiet. Most believe that it is a two horse race between Kentucky and Washington. However, Texas, UCLA, and SDSU are involved as well. His brother attended San Diego State University and is a projected 2019 NBA draft pick, that is something to keep an eye on. There is not a time table as to when he plans to commit.
Coach Calipari and staff have created yet another stellar recruiting class. They have managed to reload on talented forwards, a superb guard in Maxey, along with a big body in Sestina. This class could potentially add two more components that we know of with Hurts and McDaniels. The Wildcats currently sit #2 with this class behind the Arizona Wildcats. The next couple of weeks will be fun to watch, we get to see who enters the draft, returns to school, and commits.