UK’s top recruiting targets in the class of 2019
John Calipari

John Calipari

John Calipari and the UK coaching staff got off to an earlier-than-usual start with basketball recruits from the class of 2019, and it looks like this will be an especially strong group of prospects nationally.

“It’s definitely pretty early, but this class looks pretty good. It looks pretty deep,” Scout.com’s Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader in February. “The 2018 class just lacks depth and isn’t very good overall. The 2019 class — it already has developed some star power and it appears to have good depth — so I think it’s going to be the next really good one.”

Click on a name below for more information on the players already on UK’s radar for the class of 2019, and check this page throughout the year for regular updates and additions to Calipari’s priority list for the class.

Cole Anthony

The son of former NBA point guard Greg Anthony is arguably the No. 1 point guard in the recruiting class of 2019. Coaches from UK, Duke, UCLA, Kansas, Indiana and several other major college programs have visited him in recent months. This past summer, Anthony led all scorers at Nike’s Peach Jam in mid July and still managed to have the seventh-highest assist total at the event. “Cole is a pretty dynamic guard in that 2019 class,” Scout.com recruiting analyst Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader. “I think he has a lot of combo guard to him. Right now, and especially on his high school team, he’s looked at as more of a scorer. And that’s kind of his mentality. He’s aggressive off the dribble and looks to drive the ball, but he can also make some jump shots. I think what is clear about Cole — and this goes with the pedigree of his dad being Greg Anthony — is he’s a confident kid. And he’s clearly been taught the game of basketball.” Anthony is a former Nike league teammate of current UK point guard Quade Green.

Position: Point guard
Height: 6-1
Weight: 180
Hometown: Briarwood, N.Y.
High school: Archbishop Molloy
Travel team: PSA Cardinals (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 4
Scout ranking: No. 6
ESPN ranking: No. 6
247 ranking: No. 2
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Bryan Antoine

***CONFIRMED UK SCHOLARSHIP OFFER***
Antoine is one of two five-star recruits from New Jersey’s Ranney School — along with small forward Scottie Lewis — and John Calipari has already watched the duo multiple times, extending offers to both players during the fall recruiting period. Antoine is one of the top shooters in the class and picked up early scholarship offers from Duke, Kansas, Villanova, Florida, UConn, Maryland and others, with the Gators forming an especially strong relationship with him at the beginning of the recruiting process. Scout.com’s Evan Daniels spoke to the Herald-Leader about Antoine after Calipari watched him play earlier this year: “I don’t like comparing these high school kids to elite-level NBA players — because I don’t want to put those type of expectations on them — but, that said, there’s a little Ray Allen to his game. He plays similar to him, and his strengths are similar. He can really make shots. He has good form and shot mechanics. He’s a confident shooter. And it’s not just catch-and-shoot threes. He can go one, two dribbles and pull up. … He’s one of the best shooter-scorers I’ve seen in that class.”

Position: Shooting guard
Height: 6-4
Weight: 180
Hometown: Tinton Falls, N.J.
High school: Ranney School
Travel team: Team Rio (Under Armour)
Rivals ranking: No. 7
Scout ranking: No. 7
ESPN ranking: No. 12
247 ranking: No. 3
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Keion Brooks

***CONFIRMED UK SCHOLARSHIP OFFER***
A sign of how serious UK is in their early recruit of Brooks: he was one of the first five prospects from the class of 2019 to get an in-person visit from Coach John Calipari when the fall recruiting period began in September. The versatile small forward is one of the best scorers at his position in this class, and he is also being pursued by Michigan State and Indiana, among others.

Position: Small forward
Height: 6-7
Weight: 180
Hometown: Fort Wayne, Ind.
High school: North Side
Travel team: Indy Heat (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 35
Scout ranking: No. 14
ESPN ranking: No. 21
247 ranking: No. 35
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Christian Brown

Brown was one of the youngest recruits in attendance for UK’s Big Blue Madness event last fall, and Wildcats assistant Joel Justus visited him at his high school a couple of months later. The South Carolina wing is a high-motor, elite athlete and already accomplished on the offensive end. Kansas, North Carolina and Florida are among the many schools already showing interest in his recruitment.

Position: Small forward
Height: 6-6
Weight: 200
Hometown: Columbia, S.C.
High school: A.C. Flora
Travel team: Game Elite 2019 (Adidas)
Rivals ranking: No. 20
Scout ranking: No. 10
ESPN ranking: No. 18
247 ranking: No. 30
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Vernon Carey

***CONFIRMED UK SCHOLARSHIP OFFER***
Carey is the son of the former Miami Dolphins offensive lineman of the same name, a longtime professional football player who played for the Miami Hurricanes before being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. The younger Carey has emerged as one of the very best players in the basketball class of 2019 — possibly the best — and he visited UK last fall with high school teammate Balsa Koprivica, another five-star player in the 2019 class. Carey is a big-bodied post player who can also play away from the basket and looks to be one of the best rebounders in the class. Many of the nation’s top programs are already recruiting him, including Duke, Kansas, North Carolina and his father’s alma mater. Carey was the MVP for the gold-medal winning Team USA U16 squad this summer.

Position: Power forward
Height: 6-10
Weight: 240
Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
High school: University School
Travel team: Nike Team Florida (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 1
Scout ranking: No. 2
ESPN ranking: No. 2
247 ranking: No. 1
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Ashton Hagans

Hagans visited UK for Big Blue Madness last fall along with Christian Brown — his teammate on the Adidas circuit. Hagans is one of the top point guards (and overall floor leaders) in the 2019 class and has early scholarship offers from several Southeastern Conference programs. UK coaches kept a close eye on him over the symmer, and the Wildcats are certainly interested in staying involved with his recruitment. His play during the spring earned him big bumps to top-10 status in the Rivals.com and Scout.com rankings.

Position: Point guard
Height: 6-3
Weight: 195
Hometown: Covington, Ga.
High school: Newton
Travel team: Game Elite 2019 (Adidas)
Rivals ranking: No. 6
Scout ranking: No. 5
ESPN ranking: No. 19
247 ranking: No. 14
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Matthew Hurt

***CONFIRMED UK SCHOLARSHIP OFFER***
Hurt is one of the most highly recruited players in the 2019 class, and there was a very early show of mutual interest between the talented forward and Kentucky’s coaching staff. Hurt is 6-10 and highly effective in the post, but he’s being groomed as a perimeter player at the college level, and he has the ability to shoot the ball and defend multiple positions. His offensive footwork is outstanding for a player of his age. UK’s coaches watched him on the Adidas circuit over the summer, and John Calipari extended a scholarship offer in December. Duke, Kansas, North Carolina, Indiana, UCLA and Louisville are among the many other major programs recruiting him.

Position: Power forward
Height: 6-10
Weight: 200
Hometown: Rochester, Minn.
High school: John Marshall
Travel team: D1 Minnesota (Adidas)
Rivals ranking: No. 5
Scout ranking: No. 4
ESPN ranking: No. 5
247 ranking: No. 6
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DJ Jeffries

***CONFIRMED UK SCHOLARSHIP OFFER***
Jeffries, who has early offers from Kentucky, Kansas and several others, fits the “positionless” descriptor that John Calipari has been pushing on the recruiting trail lately. Calipari himself visited Jeffries in the fall of his sophomore year, then returned this past fall with a UK scholarship offer. (He was just the second player in his class to land one, after Team Penny teammate James Wiseman). The Memphis-area standout can do a little of everything offensively while possessing the length and athleticism to be a solid perimeter defender as his game matures. He is a former Nike league teammate of current UK forward PJ Washington.

Position: Small forward
Height: 6-7
Weight: 190
Hometown: Olive Branch, Miss.
High school: Olive Branch
Travel team: Team Penny (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 37
Scout ranking: No. 26
ESPN ranking: No. 9
247 ranking: No. 16
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Scottie Lewis

***CONFIRMED UK SCHOLARSHIP OFFER***
Lewis — a consensus top-10 player in the 2019 class — is a teammate of fellow UK target Bryan Antoine and has already been seen multiple times by the Wildcats’ coaches. John Calipari extended a scholarship offer during the early recruiting period, and Lewis and Antoine both visited UK in May. “Scottie is a ridiculous athlete,” Scout.com’s Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader. “He plays the game so hard, and he’s got good size and length. He’s really good in transition. He has the potential to be a really good defender and defend multiple spots.” Duke, Kansas, Florida, Villanova and Maryland are among a number of schools that have already expressed heavy interest in Lewis’ recruitment. Lewis has also visited UK and praised the Wildcats’ program and John Calipari. He’s one of the most exciting players in the 2019 class, and UK appears to be in good shape early on in his recruitment.

Position: Small forward
Height: 6-5
Weight: 185
Hometown: Tinton Falls, N.J.
High school: Ranney School
Travel team: Team Rio (Under Armour)
Rivals ranking: No. 8
Scout ranking: No. 11
ESPN ranking: No. 8
247 ranking: No. 5
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Tyrese Maxey

***CONFIRMED UK SCHOLARSHIP OFFER***
Maxey was one of the top 2019 prospects on the Nike circuit this summer, averaging 15.1 points per game during the travel season. He’s an excellent scorer at the point guard position and has attracted Kentucky’s attention early on in the recruitment. Maxey has said that he looks up to fellow Texas native De’Aaron Fox and hasn’t been shy about his interest in the Wildcats. “Coach Calipari does a very good job of getting his guys to the league and that is my ultimate goal,” Maxey told Rivals.com this summer. One catch: SMU has hired Maxey’s father in a support staff role, and that is likely to have an effect on his recruitment.

Position: Point guard
Height: 6-2
Weight: 175
Hometown: Garland, Texas
High school: South Garland
Travel team: RM5 Elite (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 14
Scout ranking: No. 20
ESPN ranking: No. 17
247 ranking: No. 12
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Trendon Watford

Watford is the younger brother of Christian Watford — known to UK fans as the Indiana Hoosier who beat the 2011-12 Wildcats with a buzzer-beater in Bloomington. The younger Watford visited Lexington for Big Blue Madness as a sophomore and projects as a highly versatile forward in this 2019 class. UK, Duke and Indiana are all schools that have shown some early interest in his recruitment. The Hoosiers have especially picked up the pursuit of Watford under new head coach Archie Miller, who is making him an IU priority in the 2019 class.

Position: Small forward
Height: 6-8
Weight: 210
Hometown: Mountain Brook, Ala.
High school: Mountain Brook
Travel team: Nike Team Florida (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 18
Scout ranking: No. 15
ESPN ranking: No. 10
247 ranking: No. 22
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James Wiseman

***CONFIRMED UK SCHOLARSHIP OFFER***
The still-growing post player from Nashville — now living in Memphis — could ultimately end up as the No. 1 overall prospect in the 2019 recruiting class. His early list of favorites includes all of the nation’s blue bloods — Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Indiana — though UK has clearly made a significant impact already. UK assistant coach Joel Justus scouted Wiseman at the FIBA U16 championships in June and has stayed in constant contact with the 2019 star ever since. Wiseman also told reporters at Nike’s Peach Jam event in July that Anthony Davis is the player he tries most to pattern his game after. in September, he became the first player in the 2019 class to land a UK offer. “He’s so long and mobile,” Scout.com’s Evan Daniels told the Herald-Leader. “He always runs rim to rim. When you have that type of size and length and can contest shots, it’s big. I think the light is kind of flickering on with him. You’ve seen him take steps in the right direction over the past year, and this is the time that he needs to do it. He has a lot of upside.”

Position: Power forward
Height: 6-10
Weight: 220
Hometown: Nashville, Tenn.
High school: Ensworth
Travel team: Team Penny (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 2
Scout ranking: No. 1
ESPN ranking: No. 1
247 ranking: No. 4
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