Isaiah Stewart is the No. 6 overall player in the 2019 class, and based on all of the buzz it appears his destination might be becoming more clear.
The Indiana native cut Kentucky from his list in March of 2018, but there was still a feeling that playing in Lexington may be an option for him, especially after he took an official visit to Kentucky.
A few weeks ago, Duke seemed like the favorite with Michigan State also strongly in the mix. In the last two weeks, however, all of the predictions coming in have been for the Washington Huskies.
The last four logged predictions from Rivals have been for Washington, including one from Rivals recruiting guru Eric Bossi.
Over on his 247 Crystal Ball, recruiting ace Jerry Meyer was among a recent string of predictions for the Huskies for Stewart’s landing spot.
There is some good news for Kentucky, however. Corey Evans, who is also predicting Washington, does think Kentucky is among the three schools in the best shape for Stewart.
Stewart is expected to make a commitment before February rolls around. This is more of a three-horse battle between Duke, Kentucky and Washington.
While not the favorite, Kentucky just being in the top three is better shape than it appeared they were before. It seemed like Michigan State was the third team and possibly the favorite at one point, so Kentucky passing them is progress, though it may not be enough to ultimately land the five-star center.
The Kentucky Wildcats currently have the 7th-ranked class in the 2019 recruiting cycle. That is the case with only three commits: Kahlil Whitney, Dontaie Allen, and Tyrese Maxey. While missing out on Stewart is not ideal, John Calipari and his staff seem to be in a good position with other top ten recruits Matthew Hurt and Jaden McDaniels.
It does seem odd that a top recruit from the East Coach could end up going to Washington, especially when he has offers from powerhouses like Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Michigan State, Villanova and Kansas. Stewart is from Indiana and has offers from every top program in the nation, yet he may be set to go play on the West Coast where he will be seen on fewer televisions and in a program where the chances of winning are much slimmer.
Sure, new head coach Mike Hopkins has plenty of ties to the Northeast from his days at Syracuse, but even before him, guys like No. 1 overall NBA Draft pick Markelle Fultz and No. 8 pick Marquese Chriss landed there.
But if Kentucky is going to lose a top recruit, though, it is better that he ends up at a non-contender. If Stewart picked the Duke Blue Devils to go with Vernon Carey, you’d have to imagine they’d be one of, if not ‘the’ preseason favorite to win it all next season.
Another Kentucky recruit who’s inching closer to a decision is Stewart’ teammates, Keion Brooks.
Brooks is a 6-6, 185-pound small forward. He is listed as a five-star prospect and ranked #21 overall by the 247 Sports Composite. The Indiana Hoosiers are currently the favorite in his recruitment, but Kentucky has remained firmly in the mix.
In an interview with Tipton Edits, Brooks admitted that he’s getting closer to a decision.
“It’s still kind of up in the air, but I don’t want to drag it out too much longer. I’m getting close to almost making a decision. I’m not going to drag it out all the way until April.”
Brooks also had some strong praise for Kentucky head coach John Calipari.
“The main thing I pulled away from that was just how great of a basketball mind that Coach Cal is. We were sitting at breakfast, and he was still trying to figure out stuff he was going to do in practice. … I was just fascinated by how smart he is.”
Brooks also talked about the message Calipari is hammering home.
“His message is Kentucky isn’t built for everybody, but he feels like I’m built for Kentucky. I have an edge about myself. You know, iron sharpens iron, so I just feel like — me going there — I could really achieve my dreams of going to the NBA, and possibly winning a national championship.”
Brooks added that he talks with Kentucky commit Tyrese Maxey, who is “on my case every day.”
Kentucky is certainly in the mix for both five-star recruits, but if a decision was made today, it appears both of them would land elsewhere.
Hopefully, Calipari and his staff can finish strong and land at least one of them.
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