PORTLAND, Ore. — Of the 11 players on the U.S. squad for the Nike Hoop Summit here this week, five of the six remaining undecided players have Kentucky on their list of possible schools.
So when five to seven Kentucky players announce Thursday that they’re headed early to the NBA draft, that’s worth watching, just to see what starting positions might be up for grabs next season.
Kentucky has scheduled a news conference for 2:30 p.m. CT with coach John Calipari and an unspecified number of players. Calipari has said he expects the number to be between five and seven.
“I think that will be a big decision,” said Callaway (Jackson, Miss.) guard Malik Newman. “Just seeing where everyone goes. That can make a difference in a lot of guys’ playing time. I think that’s something that people here will look at.
“You don’t want to go into a position where you have to really fight a lot of people for playing time. That doesn’t make sense for a player of (the Nike Hoop Summit) caliber.”
Newman has listed Kentucky among his finalists. He said he’s in no hurry to announce his choice, although of the uncommitted players he might be the one most impacted by the announcement.
“I’m not sure any of these players are 100 percent going to Kentucky if someone leaves,” Evan Daniels, Scout.com’s director of basketball recruiting told USA TODAY High School Sports this week. “Usually you can point to a guy and say, ‘They’re going to get him.’ You can’t point to that guy in this group. Malik Newman is the guy with the best shot at it.”
Roselle Catholic (Roselle, N.J.) point guard Isaiah Briscoe has already signed with the Wildcats, who have a recruiting class of three players thus far. Memphis big man Skal Labissiere, who is playing for the World team at the Hoops Summit, has signed with Kentucky as has Chicago St. Rita’s guard Charles Matthews.
Others here who are considering Kentucky include Wheeler (Marietta, Ga.) forward Jaylen Brown, Bishop Gorman (Las Vegas) center Stephen Zimmerman, Kinston (N.C.) forward Brandon Ingram and Homestead (Fort Wayne, Ind.) center Caleb Swanigan.
“It’s going to be fun to watch,” Ingram said of the Kentucky announcement. “Spots will be filled and I think all these undecided guys will see what’s up.”
The only undecided player at the Hoop Summit who doesn’t have Kentucky on his short lists is Bishop O’Dowd (Oakland) forward Ivan Rabb, who has narrowed his choices to Cal and Arizona and said after he talks with his family, he may announce his choice this week.