2018 Big Board: Where Kentucky basketball stands with its top recruits after Peach Jam

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SOMEWHERE IN, S.C. — Want to know where Kentucky basketball stands with all of its top recruits in the Class of 2018? SEC Country sent Kyle Tucker and Joe Mussatto to Peach Jam, the Peach Invitational and Adidas Gauntlet Finale last week to find out.

There’s potentially bad news on Marvin Bagley and Bol Bol, potentially great news on Immanuel Quickley and Zion Williamson, and a bunch of 5-star guys just waiting for their offer from the Wildcats. How nice that must be for John Calipari, slow-playing top-25 prospects.

Here now, everything you need to know (and links to all our coverage) about Kentucky recruiting for 2018 — updates on a dozen 5-star players with varying degrees of interest from and in the Cats:


The No. 1 overall recruit in 247Sports’ composite ranking (we’ll use those rankings throughout this piece) curiously left Kentucky off his initial list of three post-Peach Jam visits. Duke was scheduled to get the first look — and then came a report that Bagley might be looking to reclassify and play college basketball this season. That timeline would almost certainly be bad news for the Cats.


The No. 2 overall recruit in the class is a breathtaking sight, a human highlight reel of ridiculous dunks and vicious blocks. Oh, and he’s talking seriously about being a package deal to Kentucky with 5-star point guard Immanuel Quickley — who happens to be all but a lock to pick the Cats. SEC Country was there Friday when Williamson first shared that big news and we followed up after his game Saturday, when he told us he isn’t just trying to get a rise out of BBN. Rather, the package deal is “the real deal.” Williamson’s mother also weighed in on that idea and her impressions of UK in that story.

BOL BOL (7-3 C)

The No. 3 overall recruit in the class, who led the Nike AAU circuit in blocked shots and made 49 percent of his 3-point tries, finally spoke about being cut from Calipari’s USA Basketball under-19 team last month. It clearly caught him by surprise — “It was very disappointing, because I just heard good things from him and other people the whole weekend” — and that can’t help Kentucky, even if he says he won’t hold it against the Cats’ coach. USC is emerging as a real player for Bol, who now lives in California, along with Arizona and Oregon. The hunch here is Manute Bol’s son stays out west.


The No. 4 overall recruit in the class, who started for Calipari’s Team USA all seven games in Egypt, poured in 44 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in a Peach Jam play-in game. But his team lost and was relegated to the consolation Peach Invitational at a high school in Augusta, Ga., so we caught up with him there for an update. “(Calipari) and I obviously got closer,” Reddish said. “We got to talk a lot more about me specifically. I guess it helped him a little bit.” Duke was considered the favorite heading into the Team USA experience, and probably still should be, but Calipari and the Cats won’t go easy in that recruitment.


The No. 5 overall recruit in the class, who came off the bench and played sparingly for Team USA, was still dealing with the back spasms that limited him in Egypt. He did not play at last week’s Adidas event, but he did talk. While it is widely believed Kentucky has faded in Langford’s recruitment, he said “they still stand the same as before,” adding that on the trip to Egypt “I just got a better feel for Coach Calipari as a coach.” Still, the hunch here is Louisville or Indiana for Langford — but keep an eye on Duke and UNC.


The No. 8 overall recruit in the class seemed like either a Duke (75 percent picks for the Blue Devils on the 247 Crystal Ball) or Vanderbilt (25 percent) guy, and told SEC Country in the spring that Kentucky understandably hadn’t reached out because of their strong position with Immanuel Quickley. We did catch up with him briefly at Peach Jam, but he was talking almost exclusively about the Blue Devils — and package deals with guys like Bagley. But then a funny thing happened Sunday: Garland apparently got a UK offer. So that’s something to monitor.


The No. 10 overall recruit in the class, who started alongside Reddish and Kentucky freshmen Hamidou Diallo and P.J. Washington on Team USA, might be the most important player in this class. He’s clearly tight with Zion Williamson and leading the charge to make them a real package deal in college — and it seems to be just a matter of time before Quickley pulls the trigger for Kentucky. Of the trip to Egypt with Calipari, he told us: “I definitely think it helped their cause.” And he’d publicly declared the Cats his leader before that trip. Gotta like UK’s position here.


The No. 14 overall recruit in the class, who came off the bench for Team USA and was very versatile and productive, went into that Egypt trip looking for a scholarship offer from Calipari. We caught up with him (and Reddish, his AAU teammate) at the Peach Invitational to follow up on that. “He said I was one of the best recruits in the 2018 class and that he wanted to start off the 2018 class with me as a Kentucky commit,” King said, adding that he is now confident an offer will come. Will the Cats move to No. 1 on his list if that happens? “Of course.”


The No. 15 overall recruit in the class recently decommitted from Arkansas — and then Kentucky reached out. Given the history with Archie Goodwin and Malik Monk, it would’ve been high drama to see a Razorbacks reaction to the Wildcats stealing another one. Alas, Perry committed to a third SEC option on Monday: Mississippi State. That’s another big get for Bulldogs coach Ben Howland.


The No. 16 overall recruit in the class was being followed around at Peach Jam by a documentary film crew — we had to sign waivers after interviewing him in case they use that footage — and he’s starting to hear more and more from Kentucky. The Cats told him last week, “We’re going to be here watching you,” so all he did was go out and posterize Bagley, the top player in the class, twice on Night 1 of Peach Jam. “I would love to get an offer from them. It would be a blessing to get an offer from Kentucky,” Williams told us. But … he also said a recent phone call from Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski was “like talking to God.”


The No. 17 overall recruit in the class was a star on Nike’s EYBL circuit this spring — 20.7 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.1 assists — and against last week at Peach Jam. And like Williams, he’s beginning to hear more from Kentucky. We’ll update this post with a story on Johnson soon, but he said the Cats have been showing up to more of his games and assistant Joel Justus has been in regular contact. “Just keep competing,” is UK’s message. If they offer, “they’ll end up on the list,” Johnson said. He added that Kentucky is a “legendary program, great coaching staff, a coaching staff that gets you ready for the league.”


The No. 20 overall recruit in the class was, until Garland, the only 2018 point guard not named Quickley with an offer from Kentucky. But with Quickely’s commitment seemingly imminent, doesn’t that rule him out? Not at all, Grimes told SEC Country on Saturday at the Adidas Gauntlet Finale. The Cats are still in pursuit — in fact, Calipari called him Friday after a 41-point outburst — and he considers himself a combo guard, willing to play on or off the ball. He’s quite a shooter (7 of 11 threes in that big game) and Calipari “already told me that he can play with two or three guards out there on the court. He has a good track record.” Kansas is considered the heavy favorite to land Grimes, but this is notable: he said he’s talked to Quickley and Williamson about their package deal.

NOTE: One name that probably belongs on this list (and it’ll surely change as Kentucky hits and misses on some guys in this class, evaluates others and assesses its own needs) is Jordan Brown, a 6-10 power forward ranked No. 6 overall by the 247Sports Composite, who was in Team USA training camp and impressed Calipari but got cut. He does not have a Kentucky offer — or did not previously — and we planned to catch up with him in Spartanburg, S.C., at the Adidas event last week. But he didn’t come with his team. 


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Kyle Tucker – SEC Country

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