Duke, Kentucky lead the race to land top 2019 class

The 2019 class is just coming into focus, but trends are already developing in terms of where prospects are leaning and the targets of various schools.

After the two live recruiting periods in April, one can start tracking which prospects coaches are watching and in which areas schools are putting most of their time and energy.

Things are bound to change, but here is how some of the top programs are lining up their 2019 classes.

1. Duke

Mike Krzyzewski will hope to finish with the top recruiting class in the country for the fifth time in the past six seasons, but the Blue Devils' lone five-star commit in the class, forward Joey Baker announced last week he would reclassify into 2018 and enroll at Duke in the fall.

With at least three one-and-done players entering the fold next season -- R.J. Barrett, Cam Reddish and Zion Williamson -- the Blue Devils could have a host of scholarships available for 2019. Atop the hit list are five-star perimeter players Bryan Antoine, Wendell Moore and Josiah James. Antoine is expected to decide soon, with Duke the favorite; Moore is a likely in-state commit, with Duke and North Carolina battling; James is a fast-rising prospect who picked up a Duke offer last week.

Up front, No. 2 overall prospect Vernon Carey Jr. is the top name -- although Michigan State, Miami, Kentucky and others are also in the mix for him. Five-star prospect Isaiah Stewart is another big man considered to be a Duke lean.

Elite prospects Matthew Hurt and Cole Anthony are top targets, but both recruitments have a long way to go. Some new names on the board include Aidan Igiehon, Kofi Cockburn and Aundre Hyatt.

One more player to watch is Joseph Girard, who picked up an offer in the winter.

2. Kentucky

Before discussing the Wildcats' 2019 class, we need to figure out the reclassification trend that could happen over the next few months.

Kentucky has two commitments in the 2019 class so far: five-stars Ashton Hagans and D.J. Jeffries. Hagans has been rumored to be reclassifying into the 2018 class and is expected to do that this summer. Top guard target Tyrese Maxey is also a candidate to reclassify, and Kentucky is the favorite for the five-star combo guard, who will decide this week.

Five-star point guard Jalen Lecque, who was offered by the Wildcats last week, has also been associated with the reclassification option in the past. Of the sure-fire 2019 prospects, James Wiseman -- the No. 1 player in 2019 and Jeffries' teammate -- is the clear-cut top target. It's expected to be a two-team battle between Memphis, coached by Wiseman's former AAU coach Penny Hardaway, and Kentucky.

Five-star forward Keion Brooks is the focus of a heavy, Midwest battle between Michigan State, Indiana, Louisville and Kentucky. Further down the target list are top-10 prospects Matthew Hurt, Vernon Carey Jr., Scottie Lewis and Bryan Antoine.

3. Kansas

It's unclear how many scholarships Bill Self and Kansas will have to use in 2019. There's a chance Dedric Lawson, who sat out this season after transferring from Memphis, and incoming five-star guard Quentin Grimes play only one season in Lawrence. On the other hand, Lawson is likely the lone senior on the roster.

Chicago point guard Markese Jacobs is the lone commit in 2019 so far. The Jayhawks are considered the favorite for a couple of highly touted frontcourt recruits: five-star Matthew Hurt and ESPN 60 power forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. Provided the Lawson brothers, Dedric and K.J. Lawson, stay at Kansas, the Jayhawks could also be in the lead for five-star forward and younger brother Chandler Lawson.

Kansas has also been a mainstay in the recruitments of five-star guard Josh Green and ESPN 60 in-state prospect Zach Harvey. Other names to monitor: Samuell Williamson, Jalen Wilson, Malik Hall and Tre Mann.

Kansas has also been spotted keeping an eye on elite prospects James Wiseman and Charles Bassey.

4. North Carolina

The Tar Heels have their best recruiting class in a few years coming in next fall, and they'll hope to follow it up with a couple more five-star prospects.

They already have ESPN 60 point guard Jeremiah Francis committed, but they're going after a couple more guards. Roy Williams watched No. 1 point guard Cole Anthony multiple times during the live periods and five-star wing Wendell Moore has been a priority for a while. Another perimeter name to monitor is ESPN 60 Josh Nickelberry.

Up front, North Carolina has picked up steam for five-star center Armando Bacot and is among the teams involved with five-star Will Baker. Elite prospects Matthew Hurt, Vernon Carey Jr. and James Wiseman are on the target list, as well.

Williams has also been busy since the live periods ended, offering five-star forwards Keion Brooks and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. Brooks is likely to stay in the Midwest -- whether at Indiana, Michigan State or Kentucky -- while Robinson-Earl is considered a Kansas lean.

One wild card for the 2019 class is Kentucky transfer Sacha Killeya-Jones. North Carolina is one of the favorites for him, and he would become eligible in the 2019-20 season.


After losing top recruiter David Grace to California, it will be interesting to see how UCLA's recruiting class takes shape in 2019. The Bruins currently have one commitment: four-star point guard Grant Sherfield. They're in on five-star center Will Baker and appear to be in a very good position for four-star small forward Jake Kyman.

During the live periods, UCLA coaches watched West Coast Elite five-star prospects Josh Green and Nico Mannion, the latter being a reclass candidate from 2020, top-10 wing Scottie Lewis, elite center Chol Marial and several others.

The Bruins recently offered 2019 small forward Jalen Wilson, five-star center Isaiah Stewart and fast-rising forward Zeke Nnaji. UCLA also conducted an in-home visit with top-five prospect Matthew Hurt during the early part of April.

6. Villanova

Fresh off Villanova's second national championship in three years, Jay Wright and the Wildcats are already off to a strong start in 2019. Villanova has two four-star prospects in the fold, with power forward Eric Dixon pledging before the live periods in April and ESPN 60 guard Justin Moore committing last week.

There are only two seniors on next season's team, but the potential departures of Donte DiVincenzo and Omari Spellman -- either this spring or next spring -- means Villanova will look to land a couple more players.

The five-star New Jersey duo of Bryan Antoine and Scottie Lewis lead the way, with the Villanova buzz surrounding Lewis growing the last couple of weeks. Wright also spent time watching the West Coast Elite duo of Josh Green and Nico Mannion, offering both players in late April. Mannion is a candidate to reclassify from 2020 to 2019.

Villanova is also involved with five-star prospects Isaiah Stewart and Cole Anthony. The Wildcats offered ESPN 60 forward Malik Hall between the two live periods, and local prospects John Bol Ajak and Seth Lundy are also potential names.