UK’s top recruiting targets in the class of 2019

Bryan Antoine

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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
ESPN ranking: No. 12
247 ranking: No. 3
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Keion Brooks

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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. Brooks visited UK for Big Blue Madness in October, then visited Indiana and Michigan State the following weekend. Those three schools are getting the most buzz in his recruitment.

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
ESPN ranking: No. 21
247 ranking: No. 35
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Vernon Carey

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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 last 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
ESPN ranking: No. 2
247 ranking: No. 1
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Matthew Hurt

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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
ESPN ranking: No. 5
247 ranking: No. 6
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Jalen Lecque

The New York native moved to North Carolina for his junior season of high school and has emerged as one of the best guards in the 2019 class. UK assistant coach Joel Justus started recruiting Lecque in the fall. He’s a quick, athletic guard with plenty of size if he can make the transition to the point guard spot, which is his desired position at the next level. Kansas, Maryland and Syracuse are among the many major programs that have already extended scholarship offers to Lecque, who is considering reclassifying back to 2018 and playing college basketball next season. If he makes that move, UK would probably not be a realistic landing spot; the Cats have already signed five-star point guard Immanuel Quickley and could have Quade Green and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander back for next season.

Position: Combo guard
Height: 6-4
Weight: 185
Hometown: Bronx, N.Y.
High school: Christ School (N.C.)
Travel team: Southern Stampede (Nike)
Rivals ranking: No. 18
ESPN ranking: No. 14
247 ranking: No. 10
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Scottie Lewis

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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
ESPN ranking: No. 8
247 ranking: No. 5
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Tyrese Maxey

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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 — though there was considerable buzz in favor of the Wildcats during the fall.

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

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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.” He has denied rumors that he is contemplating a move to the 2018 class.

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