247Sports national analyst Jerry Meyer spoke to the Herald-Leader earlier this week about five-star basketball recruit Malik Newman, and he offered several reasons why he thinks Newman won’t play for Kentucky.
So who does Meyer believe is most likely to commit to the Cats from the class of 2015?
He was asked that question too, and he offered three names. That list started with the No. 11 overall prospect in Meyer’s rankings for 2015.
“I feel good about Kentucky’s chances with (Stephen) Zimmerman,” he said.
Zimmerman — a 7-foot center from Las Vegas — has narrowed his list to UK, Arizona, Kansas, UCLA and UNLV. He has not yet named a date for his decision, thought he has already taken official visits to all five schools.
He’s one of nine uncommitted players from the class of 2015 with a UK scholarship offer, and he was among the first from that group to earn one.
The next name on Meyer’s list just recently announced his intention to join the class of 2015.
“I think there’s a really good shot (for UK) with Thon Maker,” Meyer said.
Maker — a 7-footer now playing for a prep school in Canada — is ranked No. 8 by 247Sports and is also considering Kansas, Indiana and a few others. There is also the possibility that he skips college altogether and plays pro ball outside of the United States next season, though Meyer said he is under the impression that Maker will indeed take the college route.
Meyer also mentioned five-star post player Caleb Swanigan as a recruit who UK “has a shot” with down the stretch. The analyst said he was still trying to collect more intel on the recruitment of Swanigan, who has not given any hints along the way and still hasn’t narrowed his list of schools.
Swanigan — ranked No. 20 overall by 247Sports — is looking at Duke, Arizona, California, Michigan State and several others in addition to Kentucky.
Meyer noted the size of the trio he’s currently predicting to UK.
“That’s a lot of big guys, but they might lose that many big guys,” he said.
UK junior Willie Cauley-Stein and freshmen Karl-Anthony Towns and Trey Lyles are all projected as first-round picks in this year’s NBA Draft. Sophomore Dakari Johnson is also a possible first-rounder if he decides to leave early.
Many of the recruiting targets remaining on UK’s list will likely wait until the current Cats announce their future intentions before picking a school. There are currently nine McDonald’s All-Americans that remain uncommitted, a list that doesn’t include top-10 recruit Maker.
Meyer said that has to be the highest number of highly touted players who have waited this long to make a decision during his time as a recruiting analyst. He also says that will probably be the norm moving forward.
“It doesn’t feel strange to me, because I’ve been saying that I felt this was going to be the trend,” he said. “I’ve just been anticipating this, because it makes sense that it’s this way. These guys have the leverage, so why would they be in a rush?
“But it is different. It took a big jump this year. And this is kind of how I expect it to be from now on.”
Kentucky already has commitments from five-star post player Skal Labissiere, five-star point guard Isaiah Briscoe and four-star wing Charles Matthews.