Insider Notes: Vernon Carey visits and the latest with James Wiseman and Oscar Tshiebwe

TJ Walker10/15/18


Article written by:On3 imageTJ Walker

Did you have a good weekend? Did you enjoy Big Blue Madness? I was in Texas at a wedding, so I had to miss the festivities but watched the replay and have heard nothing but great things about John Calipari’s 10th BBM. All three UK commitments were in attendance and five-star center Vernon Carey. The Cats hosted a plethora of 2020 guys and even a few players from the class of 2021.

Here’s the latest.

Vernon Carey:

Let’s start with the biggest eye-popper of the weekend. Above was an Instagram story post (if you’re unsure of what that is, it’s just a social media post) from Vernon Carey’s mother. It certainly didn’t seem like a positive update regarding UK’s chances. Seven poo emjois, whatever, but when you plop an eighth that’s when you know things aren’t great. I’m told that UK’s staff was aware of the post and wanted to get to the bottom of what happened and the answer may surprise you. Or maybe it won’t.

The post had nothing to do with UK or the family’s time in Lexington. It’d be crappy if it were about UK, but it wasn’t. The post was 100 percent and entirely about their travel getting to Lexington. Hurricane Michael made things complicated along the Florida Panhandle and east coast. “(They) were delayed like four times and then cancelled on flights getting in,” I was told by someone more familiar with the post.  Once again, it had nothing to do with their time in Lexington or UK’s presentation.

That supposedly went great (drink). I feel better about UK’s chances than I ever have in the past and I’ve said in the past that I thought UK was the leader. That was a couple months ago, but I still think the Cats are the leader. I need to mention that he is fresh off a visit to Kentucky and it was his first official visit this fall (he officially visited Michigan State back in February). Players, staffs, people ride high after an official visit, that’s how this works. UK’s visit will now need to holdup against official visits to Duke (10/19), Miami (10/26) and UNC (11/2). Michigan State may or may not get another official visit (new rules would allow it). A month is a lifetime in a recruitment so I’m not ruling out things possibly changing, but I think Carey ends up at Kentucky unless he’s persuaded on one of his other official visits.

I truly believe UK could have  Wiseman/Carey frontcourt for the 2019-2020 season.

Photo by adidas

Matthew Hurt:

KSR broke the story last week that Hurt wasn’t visiting Kentucky for Big Blue Madness.The intial post was false from the jump and nearly every website ran with the idea that Hurt was going to be on campus this weekend. It wasn’t that the visit was canceled or the Cats aren’t in a good enough position to land an official from Hurt, but despite tossing around the idea, Hurt never finalized plans to travel to Lexington for Big Blue Madness.

I believe he will be in town for an official visit during the season and Hurt won’t make a final decision until the spring. Hurt may see what other bigs in the class do, and how current NCAA players are projecting for the NBA Draft and that could impact his decision. I’m not sure if UK is the leader, but they’ll be right there until the end. There’s nothing to worry about with the news of him not being in Lexington this weekend.

Photo by Jeremy Warner, 247 Sports

Oscar Tshiebwe:

He will announce on Saturday and I expect him to pick WVU. I have one AAU source that believes it will be UK, but all other signs point towards West Virginia so I’m not going to go against the grain on this recruitment. UK’s staff hasn’t conceded, but I do know that WVU’s staff would be “shocked” if Tshiebwe ended up elsewhere. There was also a report from Illinois insiders that said they heard Kentucky is out of the running. They also said that Kahlil Whitney was going to Illinois so I wouldn’t put too much stock into that.

We’ll see how it all goes down on Saturday, but UK did a good job in this recruitment. They made huge strides in a short amount of time, but when the host family is pulling out all the stops for Tshiebwe to go to WVU that makes it tough, especially when the Mountaineers have been on the kid for years instead of months.

I’ll watch the decision and won’t be shocked if it’s UK, but as of today I’m going with WVU.

James Wiseman:

He officially visited Vanderbilt over the weekend and it appears the visit went well (drink). Like I’ve been saying for months, there’s going to be a third-party school that creates and generates buzz. I don’t know if it will be Vanderbilt. We also heard good things about the Kansas visit. My guess is it will be Florida State that gets the majority of the third-party momentum after he visits the Seminoles at the end of the month. This upcoming weekend he will allow for Memphis to pay for his visit, but he’s already been on that campus and around that staff several times so I don’t think you’ll hear too much new news after this weekend. Of course this won’t hurt the Tigers’ chances, but I doubt it changes the big picture.

One thing to look for- I would be worried if Wiseman signs in the fall. He may commit in mid to late November, but if he commits in early November and plans to sign in the fall that would worry me about UK’s chances. People close to UK thought he wouldn’t wait until April or May, but they definitely don’t think he signs in November, so if that happens that would be a surprise and surprises aren’t usually great in recruiting.

Some good news is I’m told that the three UK commits this weekend were talking about Wiseman joining their class. Obviously they were spending time with Carey all weekend, and I’m told they also like UK’s chances with Carey, but supposedly they were confident (mostly Maxey/Whitney, supposedly) about Kentucky’s chances with Wiseman. On the one hand, they may have been just talking optimistically about their friend and shooting the breeze, but on the other hand they are all friends. They may have more insight into these recruitments than any expert. I’m not hanging my hat on their prediction, but it’s certainly not bad news.

No. 1 player in 2019 James Wiseman (left) and Jalen Johnson.

Quick Hitters:

  • 2020 guys: I hope to have more later this week and maybe next week, but I’ve been told UK feels good about their chances with Jalen Johnson. He’s the small forward from Wisconsin that many have pegged for Duke, but I’m not so sure. I wouldn’t expect a decision anytime soon. It was Johnson’s second BBM visit.
  • Isaiah Stewart: Welp, it would be a big surprise if he ends up at Kentucky. Supposedly the family has had a change of heart after the dad was all about Kentucky. Make of that what you will.
  • Keion Brooks: He will visit this weekend. I think he likes UK but I’d be surprised if Brooks went anywhere besides IU.
  • Jaden McDaniels: He took his first official to San Diego State where his brother plays. Expect to hear of an official visit to UK soon. There’s a quiet confidence about UK’s chances in this recruitment.
  • Cole Anthony: He will visit Oregon this weekend. There’s been next-to-no buzz surrounding UK’s chances. I’d just start rooting for him to end up at a place like Oregon or Notre Dame so he doesn’t possibly cost UK a Final Four or title down the road.


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