Where UK basketball recruits landed in final rankings

 Posted by at 12:06 PM on April 16, 2018
Apr 162018


Rivals.com finalized its basketball recruiting rankings for players in the class of 2018 on Monday, and Duke signee R.J. Barrett remains the No. 1 prospect for next season’s freshman class.

The Blue Devils no longer have a sweep of the top three players in 2018, however.

North Carolina signee Nassir Little jumped from No. 5 to No. 2 in the final rankings, leapfrogging Duke commitments Cameron Reddish, who fell one spot to No. 3, and Zion Williamson, who dropped two spots to No. 5. Oregon signee Bol Bol is No. 4 overall in the final rankings.

Kentucky’s top-ranked commitment for next season is EJ Montgomery, who moved up one spot to No. 10 overall in the final rankings. Rivals.com national analyst Eric Bossi broke down Montgomery’s game in an interview with the Herald-Leader at the recent McDonald’s All-American Game.

Bossi said Montgomery likes to play facing the basket, but he’s capable of much more offensively.

“That’s what he does. That’s what he wants to do,” Bossi said. “He’s a face-up guy. He wants to face up and either shoot a mid-range to deep jump shot or drive you.

“It’s funny, because when they started doing the one-on-one stuff in the post, it’s like, ‘Oh, wow. This guy has post game.’ So that’s going to be the key. Whoever gets him is figuring out, ‘How do we get him to go and play in the post while still doing what he wants to do?’ Because he can do some of that. I always feel like guys with that game — if you get a couple of easy baskets in the post, then that other game opens up for you. But he wants to seem to do the reverse: play out facing first, then go post up.”

UK signee Keldon Johnson — a 6-6 forward — had a strong McDonald’s All-American week before spraining his ankle at the GEICO national championships, an injury that kept him out of competition at the Nike Hoop Summit and Jordan Brand Classic events. Johnson moved up one spot to No. 13 in the final Rivals.com rankings.

“Even as recently as a year ago, I thought he was kind of a combo forward,” Bossi told the Herald-Leader during McDonald’s week. “He did the bulk of his scoring from 15 feet and in and was kind of a mismatch problem. He still has that interior scoring, but he’s really learned to face up and put the ball on the floor to score from midrange. I wouldn’t classify him as a knockdown shooter from three just yet, but he’s become a shooter that you have to respect. You can’t just run away from him. He’s out there, he’s willing to shoot, and he’s developed that confidence.

“And I think the biggest thing is he’s really gone to work on his body. He’s gotten stronger and leaner and more athletic and quicker laterally. And I think that’s really helped him. Now you see him, and he’s a true small forward.”

UK signee Immanuel Quickley was the biggest mover in the final Rivals rankings, dropping five spots to No. 20 overall. He was not selected for the Nike Hoop Summit or the Jordan Brand Classic. The 6-4 point guard has improved his shooting over the past couple of years, and he showcased that part of his game during McDonald’s week.

“He’s knocked down some open shots, which has been good,” Bossi said then. “And he hasn’t turned them down, which is always key. It’s one thing to knock them down, but with some guys, you have to wait and wait for them to shoot. He’s taking them when they’re there.”

UK’s other signee for next season, 6-5 shooting guard Tyler Herro, moved up one spot to No. 34 in the final rankings. Bossi praised his scoring ability in his write-up from the Jordan Classic earlier this month.

“(He) looked like one of the more polished players from a skill standpoint,” Bossi wrote. “He keeps getting labeled as a shooter, but he’s more natural scorer than pure shooter. That’s fine because his floor game should be talked about more. An All-Star game is an All-Star game, but Herro showed great feel and basketball instincts. Basically, he’s more well-rounded than has been talked about.”

MORE: Rivals.com analysts’ final thoughts on the 2018 rankings.


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