Tuesday, March 31, 2015

McDonald’s standouts inspire rumors

Kansas University basketball recruiting.

Kansas University basketball recruiting.


— Ben Simmons interrupted fellow Florida star and LSU recruit Antonio Blakeney’s interview to break the news.

“Malik Newman just committed to Kentucky,” Simmons said.

Newman had not, in fact, committed to Kentucky — or anywhere else for that matter — but it was an easy sell amid all the recruiting talk.

Questions about colleges were all the rage this week leading up to tonight’s McDonald’s All-American Games — and they’re asked more often by players than reporters.

Nine of the 24 All-Americans, including seven of ESPN’s Top 12, have yet to choose a school.

Meanwhile, Kansas and Kentucky aren’t sure who’s going pro, who’s coming back and how many scholarships they’ll have available.

These facts are not unrelated.

Kansas is in the mix for five of the seven — Jaylen Brown, Malik Newman, Stephen Zimmerman, Cheick Diallo and Brandon Ingram. Kentucky is involved with all seven.

With one eye, the recruits are watching what happens with Cliff Alexander, Kelly Oubre Jr., Perry Ellis, the Harrison twins, Devin Booker and Trey Lyles. They’re checking each other out with the other.

“One of the biggest things about people who go (to the NBA) early, they win a lot,” said Newman, who does not hide his intention for a short college stay.

“I’m trying to get one of these uncommitted guys to the same school. It makes sense. It is all about winning. You look good, everyone looks good. That is the biggest thing. Go somewhere you can win and go somewhere they can help you.”

A 6-foot-3 combo guard ranked as the No. 4 player in the class by ESPN, Newman has been the most impressive guard in West team practices this week.

He’s also been on both sides of recruiting pitches this week. Moments before Simmons broke the fake news about Newman’s commitment, Blakeney expressed outrage when he heard Newman mention Kentucky to a reporter.

“The two I’m hearing the most are LSU with Antonio and Ben and Kentucky (Isaiah Briscoe),” Newman said. “Carlton Bragg has talked to me about Kansas, but he hasn’t been on me like the other two.

“I think the reason why is he knows what kind of job they’re (Kansas) doing on me, but if we’re walkin’ just me and him he’ll tell me about Kansas or things me and him can do.”

Along with winning, playing time is Newman’s major consideration. That’s why a non-power like LSU suddenly became attractive with the addition of Simmons, the No. 1 player in the class, and Blakeney.

With surprising interest from top 10 prospects Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb and Caleb Swanigan, Cal is hoping to be the West Coast’s LSU.

“That would be kind of scary if we all choose to go to that school,” Brown said.

A 6-7 small forward from Georgia, Brown also has Kansas on his list of eight finalists. He was involved in numerous conversations with fellow recruits.

“I’m working on some people,” Brown said. “I’m not going to tell you who. I’m working on trying to get people on the same page.”

Ultimately, Brown said, teaming up is an individual decision.

“I know it sounds bad, but I’m trying to think about myself in this process,” he said. “I’ve got to choose the best school for me.”


Reggie Flenory 7 years, 3 months ago

This Newman kid is a 100% pure baller toughness, attitude, and confidence

Aaron Paisley 7 years, 3 months ago

KU will lose Oubre and Alexander, that's it barring transfers and have 3 more openings. Kentucky will likely lose Townes, Cauley-Stein, Lyles, and Booker. They've already signed 3 players so they're likely only signing one more player. KU will end up with Diallo, Brown, and a lower ranked player or transfer as the final member of the class.

Walter Bridges 7 years, 2 months ago

All of which plan on staying at KU for exactly one year. Players to watch next year: Andrew White III and Frankamp.

Mark Lindrud 7 years, 3 months ago

I have been hearing Brown's name tied with KU as a frontrunner, but we know recruiting is always fluid until they at least announce. We still need to hear who is leaving, and I am guessing that happens next week after the Final Four. Brown would be a huge get and we would have some athleticism in our front line next year.

Robert Brock 7 years, 3 months ago

Nobody has a clue about Jaylen Brown's upcoming decision. He has kept it unusually close to the vest.

Benz Junque 7 years, 3 months ago

Except when Brown stated in multiple interviews that he will be attending an Adidas school. That's Kansas, UCLA and Michigan from his final list. I think we have a great shot at Brown.

Rob Bedford III 7 years, 3 months ago

Kentucky will lose 6-7 players after cutting down the nets. They will have plenty of room to add more of the players KU is after.

Jay Scott 7 years, 3 months ago

Who? Only 4 are projected in mock drafts. The twins are not.

Rob Bedford III 7 years, 3 months ago

Dakari Johnson and the twins may go if Kentucky wins it all. Remember Calipari was able to get Orton in the first round and he was a bench player.

Benz Junque 7 years, 3 months ago

Scouts are pretty down on the Harrison twins.

Tom Jones 7 years, 3 months ago

Diallo is probably St. John's bound after yesterday's news, alas.

Rodney Crain 7 years, 3 months ago

I would be thrilled with those 3.

Can you imagine the two options KY has, either they only lose 3-4, means they are favored to go back to back NC because of experience and talent, or they lose up to 5 or 6 and are still favored to go back to back because of experience and talent.

Jerry Collins 7 years, 3 months ago

It's always fluid until they pick a hat.........oh, wait a minute.

Tyler Capone 7 years, 3 months ago

A lot of people jumped on the St. Johns train for Diallo on 247. I like him a lot, hopefully him and Jaylen come here

William Weissbeck 7 years, 2 months ago

What about Zimmerman? Is he for sure to stay out west? His teammate is going to Duke. We are in desperate need of a true big man or a mobile, long, vertical 4. With Ellis somewhat undersized, the 3-man center committee we have now is just not agile, quick enough to keep us even on the boards. Diallo partially fills the void, but if not him, then who. Not the transfer guy - he'll just make it a committee of 4.

Ryan Zimmerman 7 years, 2 months ago

I'm honestly nervous we don't get any of the above... Zimmerman- Arizona Brown - UCLA Ingram - Duke Newman- UK Rabb - Arizona/Cal

We'll get a transfer to go along with Bragg, but i haven't seen much that shows any of the above are a hard KU lean...

Ryan Zimmerman 7 years, 2 months ago

Diallo is the only one that we are really in the running for... and I can see him actually going to ISU and becoming a Niang type guy

Mike Crosbie 7 years, 2 months ago

You could not be more wrong! A Niang type guy is a student athlete who returns to school...not a greedy selfish type who will be gone after one year an ruins the future veteran leadership in the process..... I hope we get NONE of these players and instead get the Niang type or WSU type who commit to a degree and a program, building towards senior leadership....that's a winning program!!!!

Walter Bridges 7 years, 2 months ago

One problem..there are no players left in the top 150 who want to play more than one year for the incoming class of 2015.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.