Thursday, May 31, 2007

Did Mitch think of Billy D to NBA?

Bigbluemist
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

Did Mitch have the foresight to see this move coming?

Did Billy D shot straight with Mitch and tell him, "I'd like to try the NBA soon, so lets not waste each others time?"

CBC was hired in <
than 24 hours after Billy D "turned" UK down. We will never know for sure, but looking back it appears CBC might have been Mitch's #1 man all along.

Mitch knew he'd be crucified if he did not give the appearance he "tried" to lure Billy D to UK. After Billy D "officially" turned UK down the wheels moved pretty fast getting CBC at UK!!

This is something I've thought before, but a thread on a messeage board brought it back it up. What do you think?

Instate recruiting

Messenger
Wildcats Thunder Football/Analyst

It's early, but this is a pretty good time to discuss some instate D-1 prospects and their current recruiting relationships with UK.

This is another fairly good year for D-1 football prospects inside the Commonwealth, but events are conspiring to limit UK's instate recruiting board for the next class. In some cases, kids just don't project at need positions. In others, there is a basic lack of interest from one of the parties. In alphabetical order....

Logan Bell, OL, 6'2" 325#, Owensboro

One of the Commonwealth's better OL prospects, but not in very good physical shape at this early juncture of hi
s career. Physically comparable to Nolan DeVaughn at the same stage of development. No D-1 offers yet, but he has unofficially visited Lexington.

Ryan Benzick, OL, 6'5" 310#, Fern Creek

Benzick is physically comparable to Brad Durham at the same stage of development. Benzick may have a little more natural strength than Durham, but may also be a little more raw. He is probably one of the Commonwealth's two best OT prospects. Benzick does not have any D-1 offers yet, but some observers think he may end up in Lexington.

Aaron Boyd, WR, 6'4" 200#, Lexington

Big, athletic body with great frame. He has a scholarship offer from UK, and he is the little brother of a former UK QB. But sources on campus expect him to sign out of state. Virginia, Tennessee, and NC State are recruiting him hard.

Shumari Bridgewater, LB/RB, 6'2" 220#, Campbellsville

Pretty good athlete, solid tackler, and a locker room leader for Campbellsville HS. Bridgewater could be projectable as a D-1 FB or MLB. He has a scholarship offer from Western Kentucky, and UK's staff has looked at his film.

John Cole, WR, 6'0" 170#, Somerset

He is a track star with excellent speed. He has been named to the Orlando Sentinel's all-Southern team. However, his build is not particularly sturdy, and he has a way to go in terms of body and strength development. So far, he has no D-1 scholarship offers, although Vandy and UK have been in contact with him.

Jared Carpenter, DB, 6'0" 190#, Bowling Green

He isn't particularly big or fast, but he is a pretty good football player. He has a nose for the football, and is already a good tackler. He doesn't have the hip flexibility to play CB at the D-1 level, so he probably projects as a safety. Western Kentucky has offered him a scholarship, and he might end up at the home town school.

CJ Croft, QB, 6'0" 185", Ft. Campbell

He is a solid, but not spectacular, HS QB with good leadership skills. Due to size, he will probably be viewed by most college programs as an athlete, rather than a QB. Probably does not have the size and athleticism for a high D-1 scholarship offer.

Kienan Cullen, K/P, 6'4" 210#, Louisville

He is one of the better punting prospects in the South. Big, strong kid with excellent leg. Any other year, UK would offer him a scholarship. I would really like to see him end up at UK, but UK already has two scholarship punters on the roster. Right now, LSU is considering making him their top kicking target.

Nathaniel Dials, DE, 6'3" 230#, Paintsville

Could be a real sleeper. He received second team all-state recognition last season as a junior. He has an interesting speed/size package, and some athletic upside. No D-1 scholarship offers so far, but he has visited UK. UK's staff has maintained contact with him.

EJ Fields, ATH, 6'2" 180#, Frankfort

Tall, lean prospect with sprinter speed and big athletic upside. Some schools are recruiting him as a DB. He has a scholarship offer from UK as a WR, and has become one of Brooks' top instate targets. Many observers believe he will play in Lexington.

Dexter Heyman, DE/LB, 6'3" 215#, Louisville

He is generally considered the best D-1 prospect in the Commonwealth this year. Quick, solid edge rusher, with nice speed/size package. It remains to be seen whether he will be developed as a OLB or a DE. His big brother plays f
or UL, and everyone assumes Dexter will follow him to the Belknap Campus.

Josh Knight, LB, 6'1" 210#, Benton

He has LB size and speed, but plays for a small school at a modest competition level. He is lightly recruited so far, with no D-1 scholarship offers. He will need a strong senior season.

Tyheem Lawton, DB, 5'11" 175#, Fern Creek

Solid D-1 CB prospect with good athleticism and flexibility. Has a nice athletic ceiling. He doesn't have any D-1 scholarship offers yet, but he is getting looks from UK, UL, Tennessee, and Wake Forest. I would like to see this kid and his HS teammate Ryan Benzick end up at UK.

Tatum Lewis, DB/LB, 6'0" 210#, Winchester

Pretty good ball instincts and athleticism. Runs pretty well. He has some athletic upside. His senior season will determine whether he is a high D-1 athlete. No scholarship offers so far, but UK's staff is watching his progress in Winche
ster.

Zach McGuire, QB/ATH, 6'1" 190#, Berea

He has been a prolific HS passer at Madison Southern HS, and he is a solid athlete. No D-1 offers yet, but could play a variety of positions for someone. Could be a real sleeper.

Josh McWherter, LB, 6'0" 200#, Ft. Campbell

He runs fairly well, and he plays for an excellent HS football program. His size will work against him. No D-1 scholarship offers so far.

DL Moore, WR, 6'6" 190#, Bowling Green

Huge frame, solid athleticism, but mediocre speed for a D-1 WR. Some question whether he has the bone structure and work ethic to fill out as a collegiate athlete. Still, he is receiving a lot of early attention from Purdue and Nebraska. He does not have a UK scholarship offer yet, but some observers believe UK might offer this fall if he has a strong senior season and remains uncommitted in the meantime.

Brandon Newman, DT, 6'0" 290#, Louisville

After Dexter Heyman, he is generally regarded as the Commonwealth's next best prospect this year. Newman recently verballed to Notre Dame. He is a classic D-1 NT, physically similar to Myron Pryor at the same stage of development. But unlike Pryor, Newman is an excellent student. His ND verbal is a big blow to UK's recruiting efforts this year.

JK Ratliff, QB, 6'4" 190#, Paintsville, KY

Nice, long frame and pretty good arm. Plays against a modest level of HS competition, and has a long way to go to develop into a D-1 QB. Currently has no D-1 scholarship offers.

Eric Reed, RB, 5'9" 175#, Louisville

Generally considered the Commonwealth's best RB prospect this year, but his size could be a problem. He does not currently have a D-1 scholarship offer.

RD Reynolds, DB/LB, 6'2" 200#, Shepherdsville

Reynolds is a "tweener" who could end up playing OLB or safety at the D-1 level. He has a pretty good frame and speed. In another season, if more scholarships were available, UK might offer him. UK's staff has looked at film, and it is still possible that he could get an offer with a strong senior performance.

Sam Robey, OL/TE, 6'5" 230#, Louisville

Lanky, athletic all state offensive lineman who may need to change positions to play D-1 football. His only current D-1 scholarship offer is from UL, and that's where he will probably sign unless Notre Dame offers. UK is not on Robey's list, and the complicated relationship between Robey's father and UK's current Administration is too difficult to explain in a short paragraph. Suffice to say, I will be surprised if UK offers him a scholarship, partly because UK isn't recruiting TEs and partly due to collateral issues between Dad and UK.

Corey Robinson, QB, 6'3" 180#, Paducah

Level of competition is a question, and exposure is a problem, because he plays for little Lone Oak HS. He has a classic QB frame and a good arm. In another year, UK might take him as a second QB. This year, he may struggle for high D-1 offers.

Matthew Smith DL/OL, 6'4" 260#, Louisville

Smith is a little bit under the radar right now, but he will probably draw a handful of D-1 offers this fall. He plays for an excellent HS football program, and he has a great frame. UK's staff has looked at film on him, and I would not be surprised if Brooks offers him a scholarship at some point if his work ethic improves a little bit.

Trent Steelman, QB/ATH, 6'0" 175#, Bowling Green

Pretty good HS QB who doesn't have D-1 size for the position. No D-1 offers yet.

Jake Stephens, K, 6'2" 200#, Lexington

Stephens is a quality punting and placekicking prospect who probably isn't advanced enough to get a high D-1 scholarship offer, but would be welcomed with open arms as a walk-on by almost any program. I would live to see him walk-on at UK.

David Ulinski, OL/DL, 6'5" 295#, Louisville

He is a HS DT who will probably be developed as a D-1 OT. Huge frame, with good feet and athleticism. He has a mean streak, and a high athletic ceiling. He has a scholarship offer from UK, and most observers expect him to accept it. He may be the best bet for an early instate UK verbal.

Ryan Wallace , TE, 6'5" 235#, Bowling Green

Commonwealth's top TE prospect is drawing a lot of interest from Purdue, Oklahoma State, and Stanford. Big, lanky frame and excellent athleticism. He is still growing. He is a coach's son and an excellent student. Any other year, he would have received an early scholarship offer from UK. This year, UK is not recruiting TEs.

Alan Williams, RB, 5'8" 175#, Benton

Solid HS RB playing against mediocre level of HS competition. He may not have D-1 size or speed. No scholarship offers yet.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

UK's Football Grayshirt picture firming up

Messenger
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

There has been a lot of speculation since February regarding which UK signees will grayshirt in 2007. It looks like the grayshirt scenario is becoming clearer now. There won't be many grayshirts this year. In fact, there may not be any. Strictly in terms of scholarship numbers, Coach Brooks doesn't need to grayshirt anyone.

Here's why. Duran Jefferson's recent felony arrest on a firearms burglary charge will cost Duran his UK scholarship. As newspaper readers already know, Duran admitted his guilt and asked the Covington judge for leniency (which was denied). Duran was already a borderline student, and this latest criminal development is a deal breaker. Unless he is trying to steal a car, Duran will never set foot on UK's campus. (Could be UL material.)

It is now clear that DJ Stafford is a long shot to make it to Lexington. DJ will probably attend Fork Union Military Institute or Garden City CC next fall. Either way, his academic shortfall is serious enough that UK insiders are not confident he can ever wear Blue and White. This is about admission test scores and horrendous personal habits. This kid has no reasonable concept of study habits.

2006 grayshirt Chris Cessna and JUCO transfers Jess Beets and Josh Winchell were admitted to UK in January, and participated in spring drills. Cessna counted against the 2006 scholarship allotment, but Beets and Winchell count in 2007. That means 23 more scholarship enrollments can be made in UK's 2007 class in August. With Jefferson and Stafford out of the picture now, exactly 23 freshmen are scheduled to enroll in August. Remember that 2006 grayshirts Marckus Boswell, Laray Foote, and Ameer Salahudin all fell by the wayside in February when Brooks pulled their scholarship offers. Boswell and Salahudin did not have the academic qualifications to enroll in January, while Foote had cut ties with UK during the fall.

The overall NCAA-imposed roster scholarship limit is not a problem, either. With Zach Hennis and John Logan gone now, UK might return as few as 59 scholarship players in its 2007 soph, junior, and senior classes. If Michael Strickland and Curtis Pulley show up in August, that number could expand to 61, but there would still be room for all 23 freshmen (i.e., besides Jefferson and Stafford) if they are academically eligible.

Not all of the incoming freshmen have been cleared yet by the NCAA Clearinghouse, but Sandy Bell is working on that. The remaining question marks are Moncell Allen, Mychal Bailey, Chris Drayton, Brandon Jackson, Ronnie Sneed, and Antonio Thomas, but all six have a shot to make it. In fact, Allen's and Thomas' scenarios look promising at this juncture.

So the staff's previous plans to grayshirt Jackson, Phil Hibbard, and Jacob Dufrene over scholarship numbers are no longer necessary. If anyone grayshirts, it will probably be strictly about a minor academic shortfall or a personal problem that arises between now and August. Someone besides Stafford could still end up in prep school, too, but not necessarily.

The guy to watch now is Drayton. Chris played well as an OLB for Hargrave last fall. He was one of the better players on Hargrave's defensive unit. Our staff needs him badly after Cessna's and Brandon Thurmond's spring knee injuries. They wanted him to enroll at UK in January, but his fall semester grades at Hargrave weren't good enough to qualify for D-1. He stayed at Hargrave for the spring semester, but no one knows yet whether he made up the academic shortfall. If he got close, summer school is still an option.

Monday, May 28, 2007

"Co-Game of the Week " 1975 UK Vs. IU


“If Kentucky ever, in its rich history played a more important game with more ferocity, someone will have to prove it to the 13,458 folks here.”

-- Dave Kindred, Courier-Journal - 3/22/75

Near the end of a humiliating 98-74 defeat at the hands of Indiana University earlier that season in December, the well chronicled “friendly tap” on the back of Joe B. Hall’s head from IU coach Bobby Knight took place near the scorer’s table. Hall took offense saying afterward that “all I want is another chance to play them. Knight personally humiliated me. I’ll never for get it.”

The #5 ranked Wildcats and their coach would get the opportunity for revenge against the 31-0, #1 ranked
Hoosiers in the finals of the Mideast Regional tournament in Dayton, OH.

The 24-2 Wildcats were SEC champions and clearly the strongest of Coach Hall’s previous three teams. With a senior make-up from the legendary 22-0 Super Kittens (UK’s undefeated freshmen team during Adolph Rupp’s last season); Kevin Grevey, Bob Guyette, Jimmy Dan Connor, Mike Flynn(pictured above), G.J. Smith and Jerry Hale; along with the top freshman class in the country, Jack Givens, Rick Robey, James Lee and Mike Phillips – UK had won its first two NCAA tournament games by an average of nearly 20 ppg.

IU was poised to win the NCAA title. It was expected to by just about everyone who followed the game in 1975. It was written that “at some point in every game this season, Indian broke the other guy’s will.” Bobby Knight had won four straight over his rival to the south – and had never lost to Joe B. Hall.

In this all-time classic (a game in which Dave Kindred called the “greatest game ever played”), Kentucky refu
sed to be broken like the other 31 IU victims that season.

After earning its seventh trip to the NCAA final four – one of the great scenes in the history of Kentucky basketball began to unfold along the Commonwealth’s portion of I-75. The Legendary Big Blue Nation began celebrating their Wildcat’s victory by following UK’s team bus and creating perhaps the first Big Blue Caravan all the way to a celebration in Memorial Coliseum. Along the way, the sea of blue was surreal to those who had the opportunity to witness just a portion of the trip home. Thousands of UK fans lined the interstate, draping signs of congratulations and jubilation from each overpass along the way in order to catch a glimpse of their beloved Wildcats.

WILDCATS THUNDER is once again pleased to present one of the greatest games in Kentucky basketball history – with a little twist. In 1999, Gannett News Services named Cawood Ledford as the “College Basketball Announcer of the Century.” The video you’ll see momentarily will be accompanied with a “voice-over” of Cawood Ledford’s call of the 1975 Mideast Regional Final game against the undefeated Indiana Hoosiers with a trip to the final four on the line.

Enjoy Wildcat Fans! GO BIG BLUE!

Click Here for Game

Credit goes to Bogansback2basil Wildcats Thunder Execute Moderator for the game write-up and the photos from his dad's scrapbook and Blueworldorder Wildcats Thunder Administrator for the game.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

"Game of the Week" 1981 LSU vs UK Senior Day

Heading into WILDCATS THUNDER’S second Game of the Week, the Kentucky Wildcats were in the midst of losing six of the previous eight games against its biggest conference rival at the time.

Sound somewhat familiar?

Prior to that Sunday afternoon made-for-TV-match-up on NBC, UK’s recent luck against Dale Brown’s LSU Tigers had not been all that good. LSU came into the game ranked #2 in the AP poll; UK #9. On his way to retiring as the second winningest SEC coach of all-time, Brown’s Tigers were riding a 17 game winning streak in the SEC – and 26 overall. The season for LSU would ultimately be one of their best ever. Its 31 wins are still the standard for LSU basketball. They had already wrapped up the SEC regular season title and were the reigning SEC Tournament champs. It was a perfect setting for only the fourth Sunday afternoon game during my four years at UK – but most importantly – for Senior Day.

Along with Seniors Fred Cowan and Chris Gettlefinger, UK was loaded with six McDonald’s All-Americans -- Chuck Verderber, Sam Bowie, Derrick Hord, Dirk Minniefield, Jim Master and our own Bret Bearup.

Bowie and Minniefield were first and third team performers respectively that season, while LSU’s Durand “Rudy” Macklin (Louisville Shawnee High School) was first team and both Ethan Martin and Howard “Hi-C” Carter second team All-SEC performers. There was no shortage of talent or star-power on the floor that afternoon.

Consequently, my fraternity had a Sunday morning party that continued long into the evening after the game had ended hours earlier. What a day…and night!

Perhaps we will have the opportunity to see another UK-LSU classic this summer. If so, maybe we can delve a bit more into the “character that was -- and still is” Dale Brown. It was Brown who made the
LSU-UK rivalry in the 1970s and 1980s what the UK and Florida rivalry has become this century.

One last analogy to the LSU-UK rivalry and the Florida-UK rivalry of today. There are many who say that Rupp Arena was the loudest during the 2003 slaughter versus Florida’s first ever edition of a #1 ranked basketball team. Still, Jodie Meeks was quoted on UKathletics.com as having said “I expected it to be loud, but the ground was shaking” after UK’s loss to Florida this past February. To me, that’s unbelievable! However…

As an undergraduate at UK, I went to almost every home game at Rupp Arena. NEVER, I mean NEVER have I been in a place that was as loud at it was that first day of March, 1981. For nearly three days, my ears were ringing after spending a little more than two hours on my feet and hearing 24,010 of my closest friends yelling their heads off!

See if you can tell just how loud it was as WILDCATS THUNDER presents
Senior Day, 1981 for your viewing pleasure. When LSU calls a time out after a mid-court lob pass from Dirk to Sam, perhaps you’ll feel like I did when I thought the rafters were going to fall in..? Listen to Al McGuire scream at the top of his lungs at that play! In the end, watch Big Sam make a G-R-E-A-T game saving play to end the game on the last shot by Hi-C Carter. I still get goose bumps when I see this game.

Have fun and Happy Memorial Day 'Cat fans!

Download directions are below

**Directions**

When you click on the link below it will take you to the download page where you will see the words please enter next to it there will be three letters type them in the little box as they are shown the click the download button beside it it will go to another page where it will countdown til your download begins once it reaches zero a box will pop up asking where you want to save the file just pick a place to save it and click ok.

Download Here or Go to Here to watch the game and other great UK Games..

Credit goes to
Bogansback2basil Wildcats Thunder Execute Moderator for the article and Blueworldorder Wildcats Thunder Administrator for the video.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Constructing UK's 2008 recruiting class

Messenger
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

Now that Pat Patterson's status has been determined, it is interesting to look at UK's 2007-08 basketball roster....

GUARDS

  • Kerry Benson* (fr.)
  • Ramel Bradley (sr.)
  • Joe Crawford (sr.)
  • Derrick Jasper (so.)
  • Jody Meeks (so.)
  • Dwight Perry* (so.)
  • Michael Porter (so.)
FORWARDS
  • Ramon Harris (so.)
  • Alex Legion (fr.)
  • Perry Stevenson (so.)
  • AJ Stewart (fr.)
CENTERS
  • Jared Carter (so.)
  • Mark Coury* (so.)
  • Pat Patterson (fr.)
  • Michael Williams (fr.)
  • * - walk-on

So let's guess what Coach Gillispie may be thinking in terms of his next UK recruiting class.

The scenario could change if UK signs another player for the 2007 class. At the moment, the only serious possibility is Serbian F/C Nemanja Calasan, who is visiting Lexington this weekend. I have been told the staff will not offer a scholarship to PG Hank Thorns. C Deandre Jordan will honor his LOI with Texas A&M.

At the moment, Gillispie has a total of three scholarships to give away in the 2008 and 2009 classes. Since UK's roster includes two seniors and no juniors, this number will not increase unless someone transfers or flunks out of school. At the present time, no UK player or recent recruit is thought to be on that path according to my
sources. That does not mean a kid cannot make such a decision a year from now. I'm just repeating what seems to be the case at this particular moment.

Let's look at UK's roster, position-by-position:

PG - Sophs Derrick Jasper and Michael Porter return. Neither was consistent last season, but inconsistency is expected from freshmen. A year in Gillispie's instruction program will determine whether Jasper and Porter are D-1 PGs, and I think the new system and staff will help them a lot. Gillispie unsuccessfully recruited Jai Lucas, but I hear our staff backed off Lucas because PG was not perceived as a primary roster need at this particular juncture. Our staff has decided not to offer a scholarship to Hank Thorns in the 2007 class. In 2008, PG will not be a pressing priority, since Jasper and Porter will still be around, and since GJ Vilarino has already verballed for UK's 2009 class. They would take Brandon Jennings or DeAndre Liggins, but probably no one else. Jennings has already verballed to Arizona, and that is unlikely to change unless a certain Zona assistant coach makes a professional move. Even if Jennings de-commits from Zona, his next choice might be Connecticut. So if we are assessing probabilities, I think Gillispie probably passes on PGs in UK's next class unless he can sign Liggins out of Chicago.

WG - Within the next six months, it is very possible that Jody Meeks might nail down the WG position for the foreseeable future. Alex Legion is also on hand now, although Legion's future appears to be at "3". But with Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford graduating after next season, Gillispie has to be looking at WGs if he can sign the one he really wants. It must be noted that Georgetown HS star Bud Mackey would be a perfect fit here, but Mackey is already a solid IU verbal. So "the man" is clearly Willie Warren, from Ft. Worth, TX. Warren would be the ideal building block, because he can play WG or PG equally well. He is a better prospect than Mackey, and he has the athletic tools to become a lockdown defender in Gillispie's system. He is already a great penetrator and an explosive scorer. If Gillispie could sign Warren, I don't think he would take another guard in the class. Currently, Warren is thought to be wide open, with UK, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arizona prominent among a long list of possibilities. But if Gillispie decides to go to the mat for Warren, I think UK has a pretty good shot. If Gillispie can't sign Warren, it will be interesting to see who else rises to the top of UK's recruiting board. Jerry Green from Austin, TX, could get into UK's picture.

WF - Here, you only need to know three names for the foreseeable future. The first name is incoming freshman Alex Legion, who will push senior Joe Crawford for PT at "3" as soon as practice starts in October. Many observers believe Legion will be a star WF at UK for years to come. The other two names are Darius Miler and Chris Singleton. Almost everyone agrees Gillispie will take a "3" in his 2008 class, and everyone seems to think it will be either Miller or Singleton. Gillispie would love to sign Miller, who is the best D-1 prospect in the Commonwealth since Chris Lofton. But Singleton is just as good (maybe better). Contrary to what you often read on TCP, Miller is not a UK lean at the present time, although he is considering the Cats. Miller may wait until November to decide, which brings Singleton into Gillispie's picture. Most observers think Singleton is headed to Tennessee or UK, and some think he might beat Miller to the open scholarship. UK's staff would love to get into the picture with super prospect Al-Farouq Aminu from Georgia, but that appears unlikely at this point.

PF - Signing Pat Patterson did not end UK's pursuit of PFs, since Patterson might end up playing "5" at UK. Currently, Gillispie's staff is in hot pursuit of several highly nationally-ranked PFs for 2008, including Greg Monroe (Louisiana), Romero Osby (Mississippi), and Kevin Jones (NY). Gillispie seems particularly smitten with Osby, but UK assistant coach Glynn Cyprien also has a good relationship with Monroe. UK may sign one PF.

C - If one thing is certain about UK's 2008 class, Gillispie will sign a center. Gillispie needs to develop a big guy who can run the floor and defend SEC "5"s in his man-to-man defensive scheme. The "A-list" on UK's 2008 recruiting board is Tyler Zeller (Indiana) and Tony Woods (Georgia). Another possibility is J'Mison Morgan from Dallas. Morgan is a terrific prospect, but he does not run the floor (at 275#) quite as well as Zeller and Woods do. Zeller may be a IU lean, but Gillispie is recruiting him hard. A lot of attention is also being paid to Woods. In terms of raw athletic tools, Woods is probably the best of the three center prospects.

It's very early, but UK's 2008 class seems to shape up something like this (assuming three scholarships):

  1. Woods, Zeller, Monroe, or Morgan
  2. Miller, Singleton, Osby, or Jones
  3. Warren, Liggins, Green, or another baseline name from (1) and (2) above

Friday, May 25, 2007

What Conclusions Can We Draw?

Lwcat
Wildcats Thunder Senior Moderator

It's always fun to speculate......so here goes.... now we are seeing some 11th hour recruit invites to UK and perhaps an offer or two from BCG.

What conclusions can we draw from this concerning our roster for next season?

First, with Calasan(left) has evaluated the current , a 6'9" PF being invited and apparently offered a scholarship. For me, this means that BCG frontline roster and concluded what many of us at Wildcats Thunder have said.....the frontline is unproven and very inexperienced. Injuries, foul trouble and perhaps even a transfer could spell big trouble for UK next season. There is no question that getting Patterson was a huge get for the Cats, but we still have to remember that Patterson will be a freshman next year. So as BCG has looked at the frontline roster of Carter, Harris, Stewart, Williams, Stevenson and Patterson.....he apparently has concluded that if he can add an good frontline JC player like Calasan it would give the Cats much needed help to shore up a weak frontline. Even acknowledging the obvious weakness of UK's frontline, I don't believe for a minute that BCG would offer a scholarship to Calasan unless he and the staff felt he could contribute meaningful minutes next year.

Certainly, the invitation for Thorns(left) to visit is very interesting and surprising. In looking at the UK roster, one can make the case that UK is very strong and loaded in the backcourt. So why is BCG even looking at Thorns? Well, if we go back to last year we remember that Bradley, Jasper and, to a lesser extent, Porter all played PG, but none excelled. We recall that ball handling and decision making from the PG position too often left a lot to be desired. Now to be sure, one could say that at least some of the problems experienced at the PG position falls on the offense and the lack of development coming from Tubby and his staff. We all know how very critical the PG position is and will be in running BCG's offense. While Bradley can play the PG, it is obviously not his strong suit....he is a shooting guard. Jasper, started off last year looking pretty well at PG, but as the competition increased Jasper struggled in his ball handling, shooting and even free throw shooting. Now obviously we all expect all these players to show improvement under BCG and his staff, but will the improvement at the PG position be enough? It appears that BCG has serious questions as to whether any of the UK guards can run his offense effectively, so he is looking for someone who can. Thorns, apparently much overlooked because of his lack of AAU exposure has garnered some attention from Virginia, VT, UK and a few others. My understanding is that BCG wants Thorns to visit and scrimmage against the Cats to get a feel for whether he can be a future UK PG. Also, BCG might have some concern regarding one of the UK guards transferring out, although there has been no evidence of that as yet. Again, I don't believe for a minute that a scholarship would be offered to Thorns unless BCG and the staff concluded that thorns has the quickness, ball handling and decision making to run a UK offense.

My conclusion is that BCG wants to win now! He is not looking at next year as a rebuilding year, although it will be hard to avoid. Gillispie wants the UK program to start winning now and he is pulling out all stops on the recruiting trail to make that happen.

BCG knows that to have the best chance of being competitive and winning.....he must have a reliable PG. Also, he knows, as we all do, that he must shore up the UK frontline to compete in the rugged SEC. Now, he may not add either of these recruits to the roster.....but, the fact that he is seriously looking at these positions is very revealing.

As I said, speculating can be fun....in any case these are my thoughts on the matter.

UK's Backup Quarterbacks watching and learning

Messenger
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

The backup quarterbacks are watching and learning from Randy Sanders. Sanders' teachings have had a huge impact on Woodson, and they will be crucial in the development of the younger QBs.

Although not one of the more succesful football programs in the South over the last half-century, OTOH UK has had an interesing knack for developing talented QBs. There are many examples....Babe Parilli, Steve Meilinger, George Bland, Rick Norton, Bill Ransdell, Freddie Maggard, Tim Couch, Jared Lorenzen, and Woodson. If he stays healthy and continues to learn the nuances of the QB position from Sanders, I think Woodson has a chance to become the best on that list.

I believe Mike Hartline has a good chance now to become the next headliner QB at UK. UK's staff won't say this in public yet, but Hartline beat out Will Fidler last month for the back-up QB job. Although Fidler is the physically-stronger athlete, I believe Hartline has certain fundamental advantages, including more overall athleticism and sounder throwing mechanics. The next challenges for Hartline will be to (1) stay healthy, (2) listen to Sanders, and (3) hold off Matt Lentz next April (which won't be easy).

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mr Negative....John Clay at it Again!

Lwcat
Wildcats Thunder Senior Board Moderator

I guess UK fans shouldn't be surprised that the LHL once again chooses to take an anti UK stance! Clay has every right to his opinion, but he isn't running the UK basketball program. This whole issue of dropping the U Mass game has been blown way out of proportion. The facts are that the contract had a buyout clause.....UK chose to use the buyout clause and pay U Mass $50,000. Billy Gillispie is a new UK coach who had nothing to do with the original scheduling of U Mass.....Tubby is gone. It's obvious that BCG reviewed next yrs schedule and decided that playing Mass was not in UK's best interest.....instead BCG felt that another home game was in UK's best interest!

As UK fans, we expect the Coach of UK to always make decisions on what is best for the program.....that is what BCG did.

From time to time in basketball and football, for various reasons, schools decide to drop an opponent. It happens.....and for Clay to suggest that UK is doing something unethical is absurd.

Well, I'm not an expert in the newspaper business, but I hardly think that trashing the home school is a good way to improve circulation. I believe UK fans would appreciate objective reporting and not looking for ways to put down the UK program. At the same time, I understand the role of newspapers to uncover wrong doing and report it. But, the LHL continues to find any excuse to print something negative regarding UK.

I certainly don't spend money on buying or supporting the LHL in anyway and I know by the comments of many other posters...that the LHL has lost customers due to their too often anti UK articles. Like most fans, I do take a look at various sports websites to stay on top of what is happening in the sports world and particulary UK.....and unfortunately that does include the LHL website.

I live in the Columbus, OH area and the Columbus Dispatch supports the Ohio State programs the vast majority of the time. Negative articles on OSU are at a minimum. That's what I don't get.....why would any newspaper feel that the best way to sell newspapers is to continually print negative articles on the home school!

So that no one misunderstands, I am in no way suggesting that any newspaper ignore or gloss over something negative on the home school when it is factual and legitimate!

UK's 2008 Shooting Guard Recruit list

Bigdaddy
Wildcats Thunder Administrator

Below is a list of shooting guards that the University of Kentucky is recruiting for the Class of 2008.

Willie Warren(left) a Shooting guard, from Fort Worth,TX Ht: 6-foot-4 Wt: 195 lbs Class: 2008
Jeremy Green Austin,TX
Devoe Joseph Pickering,Ont.
Lashay Page Latta,SC
Deividas Dulkys Las Vegas,NV
Devon Moore Columbus,OH

For more info on these recruits checkout Rivals.com and Scout.com

1994 UK vs LSU Highlights from the Greatest Comeback

ukbrian32
Wildcats Thunder Execute Moderator

Watch highlights from the Greatest Comeback in college basketball history as Kentucky came back from 31 points to beat LSU at Baton Rouge.

Kentucky at Louisiana State

- Tuesday, February 15 1994 -





Kentucky - 99 (Head Coach: Rick Pitino) - [Ranked 11th by AP]

PlayerFGFGA3pt
FG
3pt
FGA
FTFTARebPFAstPts
Tony Delk3827127439
Chris Harrison3423012218
Travis Ford382522231210
Andre Riddick4600125409
Rodrick Rhodes39164635211
Jeff Brassow57460214114
Jeff Sheppard0100001010
Anthony Epps0000000110
Jared Prickett1400020102
Walter McCarty914471283323
Gimel Martinez610031232213
Team





1


Totals37711537102133292699

Louisiana State - 95 (Head Coach: Dale Brown) - [Unranked]
PlayerFGFGA3pt
FG
3pt
FGA
FTFTARebPFAstPts
Jamie Brandon310136882413
Andre Owens1201221074
David Bosley0000000000
Sean Gipson0200004320
Ronnie Henderson12198134421236
Lenear Burns1400017512
Clarence Ceasar101847811104332
Brandon Titus1100392305
Glover Jackson0000000000
Roman Rubchenko1400124503
Team





2


Totals29601324243740231995


Game Writeup
- Courtesy of Dr. Jeffrey Neil Burch; Dr. J's UK Newsletter, Vol. 3 No. 24. (All Rights Reserved)

    Never Never Never Never Never Never Never Give Up!:

    If you hadn't seen it with your own eyes, you probably would not have believed it.

    Kentucky played as poorly against LSU in the first half and early second half as they ever have against any team. They were down by 31 points, and making such elementary mistakes that one might almost have expected Rick Pitino to stop the game, concede, and leave. Instead, Kentucky staged the greatest collegiate comeback ever from a deficit to win the game 99-95, a new NCAA record. Duke held the previous record, when it was down 56-27 at the half against Tulane on December 30, 1950, yet came back to win 74-72 (this according to the 1994 NCAA Basketball book).

    Nothing went right for that Cats early. Nothing. The Cats had lost their last 4 in a row in Baton Rouge, and this game seemed to be following a similar script. Andre Riddick put Kentucky ahead 1-0 on a free throw (missing the other), but LSU quickly zipped ahead on a Ceasar basket (which didn't occur until 2 minutes into the game). The Cats had several shots blocked when they were tentative inside, and some awful 3 point shooting assisted the Tigers in going up 7-1 with 4.5 minutes gone in the first half.

    Riddick made UK's first field goal shortly after, but a total absence of defense allowed LSU's Lenear Burns to score unmolested to put the Tigers up 9-3. Pitino was so frustrated with his team's poor offensive performance that he benched Prickett, Rhodes, and Riddick in favor of McCarty, Brassow, and Martinez early on in a single mass substitution.

    LSU exhibited phenomenal shooting over Kentucky's zone, especially from 3 point distance and despite occasional tight coverage. The Tigers seemed so in control that ESPN felt able to switch coverage to the conclusion of the Villanova-Connecticut game. They returned later with LSU leading by 22-15 with 8 minutes gone in the half. Ronnie Henderson was absolutely unconscious from the 3 point line, starting 6-7 even when closely guarded. Gimel Martinez was Kentucky's sole scoring source inside, getting 10 points fairly quickly to keep UK in the game. Gimel had 12 points by halftime and scored only one in the second half. By the time LSU had reached a 32-23 lead only one of Kentucky's starters had scored. Another Henderson 3 put LSU up 37-25 with 3.5 minutes left, another identical shot put them up 43-25, then Ceasar hit a 3 for a 43-25 lead, then Henderson hit another 3 to put the Tigers up 46-25 with 2.5 minutes left. Prickett finally got a basket underneath to halt UK's scoring drought, and Ford hit a 3 to pull back to within 46-30.

    Play was rough - Wildcat players were pushed around with no calls made, until finally the refs had to warn a group under the LSU basket to stop shoving. Rodrick Rhodes thereupon pushed a Tiger player in front of an official and was immediately called for a foul. LSU had a 48-32 lead at the half. Kentucky's starters had only scored 9 points, and the Wildcats suffered from 39% first half field goal shooting.

    Pitino benched Prickett and Rhodes to start the second half, going with Brassow and McCarty. A Brandon drive and Henderson free throws put the Tigers up 52-35. Ceasar got five quick points and LSU led 57-37. A Kentucky player was knocked to the floor hard on the next UK possession, but no call was made, yet Travis Ford grabbed Ceasar's arm as he was shooting, and was called for a deliberate foul (it probably was, but then so was the uncalled foul against the Tigers). A Brandon 3, several Kentucky turnovers, and a Ceasar basket and free throw made it 64-37. Travis Ford was playing badly, and Pitino played Epps for a while. More baskets by Ceasar put Louisiana State up 68-37, their largest lead of the night. It seemed at that point that everything worked for the Tigers, and the wheels were falling off for the Cats. The Tigers went on an 18-0 run against the Cats to create this lead.

    Kentucky could have folded their tents and gone home, but instead they tried almost nothing but 3 point shots for a while, and they started to shave the lead a bit. LSU visibly relaxed, and thought they had the game in the bag, but they became careless with passes and missed many free throw opportunities. Brassow, Delk, Ford, and McCarty combined to bring UK within 12, and after an exchange of baskets, Brassow hit 2 consecutive 3s to bring the Cats to within 10. McCarty made an inside shot which cut the margin to 82-74, then Burns and Rhodes fouled out for their respective teams.

    A layup by Ford and a basket by Titus led to an LSU margin of 87-78. Despite making more turnovers, UK chiseled away at the lead when LSU became even sloppier and their hot shooting (68% for field goals in the first half) deserted them. A Ford 3 pointer brought the score to within 6 at 88-82. Henderson made a 3, then Ford made an characteristic travel when he took a step and found no one to receive his pass. A pair of Brassow 3 pointers at 2:30 and 2:00 left in the game brought Kentucky back to within 93-90. Ceasar was fouled on a drive and hit his free throws (most of which LSU missed during Kentucky's comeback) to go up 95-90.

    A Tony Delk 3 with 1:40 left cut this to 95-93, whereupon LSU, instead of using up a lot of the clock, turned the ball over to give new life to the Cats. Kentucky then turned the ball back over, but the Tigers lost the ball yet again. UK missed a 3 but Brassow was fouled by Rubchenko. Jeff missed both free throws but Kentucky somehow got the ball after it was knocked out of bounds. McCarty hit a 3 from the corner (right in front of the Kentucky bench, which was yelling at him to shoot), and his goal put the Wildcats up by 96-95 with 19 seconds remaining. LSU called its last timeout with 11.5 seconds left to set up a scoring play. Kentucky saw the offensive set of the Tigers and called its own last timeout.

    LSU ended up getting off a poor shot which Tony Delk rebounded with 4.4 seconds left, and he was immediately fouled. Tony missed his first FT but hit the second for a 97-95 lead. LSU threw a long pass down court, but the LSU player who caught it fell down and was called for traveling. Ford was fouled on the inbounds play, and hit both his free throws with 2.2 seconds left, and that was the game. 99-95 was the final, with Kentucky outscoring LSU 62-27 in the second half to win (the Wildcats outscored LSU 9-0 to finish the game. McCarty finished with 23 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals.

    Kentucky hit 12 of 23 3 point shots in the second half, and LSU missed 11 of 12 free throws in the game's final 12 minutes.

Boxscore and Game Write-up courtesy of Jon Scotts Site

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

UK Football gets 2008 commitment

Bigbluemist
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst



Kentucky landed a football commitment from Trevino Woods, who stands at 6-foot-5 and 285-pounds and is one of the top offensive linemen in Georgia.Woods had been recruited by Louisville, Clemson, Auburn, Indiana and Georgia but the Cats were his only offer at this time.

JUCO Power Forward Nemanja Calasan to visit UK?

Bigdaddy
Wildcats Thunder Administrator

Nemanja Calasan
Power forward
Niksic, Serbia & Montenegro (OU) Midland (Tex.) College
Ht:
6-foot-9
Wt: 235 lbs
Class: 2007 (Junior College)

Nemanja Calasan is from Midland College in Texas. Calasan 6' 9" 245# averaged 13.5 points and 7.0 rebounds this season. He originally had signed with Utah but was recently released from his national letter of intent. Calasan is being recruited by Kentucky and Purdue.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

UK's 2008 PG list and Brandon Jennings Video

Bigdaddy
Wildcats Thunder Administrator

Below is a list of Point Guards that UK is looking at for the Class of 2008. Also be sure to check the videos out of Brandon Jennings(left) below.

Brandon Jennings Los Angeles,CA
DeAndre Liggins Chicago,IL
Verdell Jones Champaign,IL
Anthony McBride Cincinnati,OH
Robbie Townsend Fort Campbell,KY





Sunday, May 20, 2007

"Game of the Week" 1948 NCAA Championship Game UK vs Baylor

Bogansback2basil
Wildcats Thunder Executive Moderator

Wildcats Thunder would like to present the first UK Basketball "Game of the week." Wildcats Thunder plans to bring a different game each week throughout the summer. We will also try to have a write-up with every game that we bring to you. We hope you enjoy them all. The first one is of the 1948 Championship Game Kentucky vs Baylor.

=============

“In Kentucky, writes Lonnie Wheeler, “they even have a name for the basketball off-season. They call it the Kentucky Derby.” Such is the fervor for basketball in Kentucky that it is commonly referred to as a religion.

It was this depth of provincial feeling that seemed to beckon Wheeler, a best-selling author who found himself fascinated by the magnificent regional pride that rose up from the Bluegrass state in the spring of 1996, oh the occasion of the University of Kentucky’s sixth national championship. The famous Kentucky spirit was nothing new, of course, but by virtue of various misadventures it had been in a state of relative suspension….and returned to the commonwealth the basketball eminence which its citizens consider to be their birthright.”

-- A portion of the inside cover of
“Blue Yonder” Kentucky; The United States of Basketball

=============


When did this so-called birthright begin?

I believe it happened on March 23, 1930. On the advice of a gas station attendant, a high school coach in Freeport, Illinois decided to take the UK job for $2,800 per year. Nine months later, the first of a “gazillion” victories for Adolph Rupp took place as the UK Wildcats defeated Georgetown College 67-19.

So which team put the winningest program in college basketball history on the map?

The Basil Hayden-led 1921 team, winners of UK’s first conference title ever was perhaps UK’s first “best” team. Hayden of course was UK’s first All-American – an honor that UK basketball players have earned more times than any other D-I college basketball program.

Rupp’s first great team at UK was the 1932-33 squad. It has been noted (Season Review -Varsity Basketball [Kentuckian] and John Scott’s Site that while “playing one of the hardest schedules ever attempted by a Kentucky basketball team, Coach Adolph Rupp's Wildcat netters won 21 out of 24 games they participated in during the 1932-33 season and wound up the season by winning the finals at the tournament of the Southeastern Conference at Atlanta. Winning the crown in an easy fashion, the Cats brought the championship to the Bluegrass for the first time since 1921 and were heralded by basketball experts as the greatest Southern team of all time.”

Of course that team was later selected as the Helms Foundation National Champion for 1933.

Many will say that the 1946 NIT championship team was UK’s first great team. It would be hard to argue given the fact that it was UK’s first “national” title that Kentucky won "on the court" in basketball and it was played on the “big stage” in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Two members of that team would become a part of UK lore as the Fabulous Five in 1948. Ralph Beard and Wah Wah Jones(right, Kentucky's Alex Groza (15) and Wah Wah Jones (27) crash the boards while Baylor players look on) tasted victory in the Garden in 1946 – and were destined to so again two years later along with Alex Groza, Cliff Barker and Kenny Rollins.

On March 23, 1948, UK won its first NCAA championship by defeating Baylor 58-42. The following year, UK would win its second consecutive NCAA title and be on its way to becoming the winningest program in college basketball and a national icon.

It is with great pleasure that WILDCATS THUNDER presents the 1948 NCAA Championship game for your viewing pleasure. This is what we hope to be the first of a “Game of the Week” – right here at WILDCATS THUNDER.

Sit back, relax and enjoy perhaps THE game that started UK’s national rise to the top!

Click here for the 1948 NCAA Championship Game and enjoy the game. Look for a new game of the week next weekend.

Here is a copy of the 1948 NCAA Championship Game follow up by the Courier-Journal that Bogansback2basil's dad had cut out and saved in his scrapbook.(To be able to read the article below, just click the image to view and it will be readable.)

Saturday, May 19, 2007

What Its Like to Play For UK and at Rupp Arena

Blueworldorder
Wildcats Thunder Administrator

Some people have been requesting this video here and there and I thought I would bring it back. This is a great Clip, especially what John Pelphery says about Kentucky. For more Great Kentucky Basketball Clips CLICK HERE.

What should we expect from the Cats in 2007-08?

Messenger
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

Now that Gillispie's first recruiting class has been completed (probably), it is fair to speculate about the 2007-08 SEC basketball season.

First, one must recognize what the SEC East opposition brings to the table. UK has lost six-straight basketball games to Florida, and four-straight to Vandy. Those losing streaks are certainly not due to Tubby's tactical skills, which are his strength. Rather, this shows a talent gap. The Cats have also split their last four games against Tennessee. The early consensus of opinions seems to indicate Tennessee will be the preseason SEC favorite next winter.

Tennessee returns four starters, including star PG Ramar Smith, athletic PF Duke Crews, and All American candidate Chris Lofton. The Vols will be very good, especially if they can find a replacement for graduated center Major Wingate. That man could be big sophomore Wayne Chism or junior Ryan Childress.

Vandy lost SEC POTY Derrick Byars. However, Kevin Stallings returns one of the SEC's most experienced teams, including Ross Neltner, Alex Gordon, and all-SEC candidate Shan Foster (who kills UK every time we play the Dores). Byars will be missed, but Vandy should be good enough to challenge Tennessee.

I think a lot of people are underestimating Florida, because the Gators have lost all five starters from their two-time NCAA Championship team. That means Billy Donovan might need some time to develop his next team. But Donovan is an excellent tactical coach and a great recruiter. One good look at Donovan's 2007-08 roster should tell you that the Gators will be a force again, especially after his young players gain some experience. Walter Hodge should inherit the Gators' starting PG job, with recently-signed Jai Lucas as his understudy. Five-star super freshman Nick Calathes looks like the starting WG, backed-up by sophomore Brandon Powell. Calathes needs some D-1 polish, but will immediately provide Donovan with a potent perimeter scorer. Chandler Parsons, Dan Werner, Alex Tyus, Jonathon Mitchell, Marreese Speights, Jack Berry, and Garrett Tyler will battle for the three starting front court jobs. All of them are solid basketball players, and several are all-SEC material down the road. Donovan has been stockpiling talent in Gainesville, and people will be surprised how good this newest version of the Gators will be by February. They won't win another NCAA Championship, but they are big, deep, and athletic enough to challenge Tennessee in the SEC East. With UK's depleted baseline, the Cats will need a terrific performance in Lexington next winter to snap Florida's dominant winning streak.

Last year's
UK starting lineup was:

  • PG- D. Jasper (M. Porter)
  • WG- R. Bradley
  • WF- J. Crawford (J. Meeks)
  • PF- B. Perry (S. Thomas)
  • C- Randolph Morris (L. Obrzut)

I think UK's 2007-08 team shapes up like this:

  • PG- R. Bradley/D. Jasper/M. Porter/D. Perry
  • WG- J. Meeks/K. Benson
  • WF- J. Crawford/A. Legion/R. Harris
  • PF- P. Stevenson/AJ Stewart
  • C- P. Patterson/J. Carter/M. Coury/ M. Williams

In o
rder for UK to develop its best team by February, Jody Meeks has to be the starting WG. I think Gillispie will turn Meeks loose next season. Meeks is UK's most talented and versatile scorer, and probably the Cats' best overall returning player. He has the strength and quickness to be a better than average high D-1 defender, and he can become a prolific perimeter scorer. He has an all-conference ceiling, and could easily become the SEC's best guard next season if Gillispie commits fully to him over the two seniors.

In the beginning, I think Gillispie will experiment with Bradley at the point, for three simple reasons. For one thing, Meeks will beat out Bradley at "2", which means one of UK's two most experienced returning players will sit unless
Bradley plays the point. For another thing, Bradley is a better than average man-to-man defensive player, which is critical in Gillispie's system. Finally, Bradley might be the SEC's best returning free throw shooter. If you put all of these factors together, it makes sense for Bradley to be given the same starting PG opportunity in 2007-08 that Tubby gave him at the beginning of the 2006-07 season. Bradley blew that opportunity last season for two fundamental reasons: (1) too many turnovers and (2) poor shot selection outside the flow of UK's offensive scheme. If he makes the same mistakes under Gillispie in 2007-08, he will sit on the bench while Jasper, Porter, and Meeks play ahead of him. However, Gillispie is a more clever and demanding roster manager than Tubby was. I think it is possible that Gillispie may be able to coax and nurture Bradley's finer qualities at PG, while teaching Ramel to limit his less productive tendencies toward turnovers and poor shots. In a nutshell, this is exactly what Gillispie accomplished with Acie Law last year at Texas A&M, and it almost won the kid an NCAA POTY award. (Law was a finalist for the Wooden Award.) Athletically, Bradley is a similar player. Can Gillispie accomplish anything like this with Bradley? Maybe. We will see. But I would not be surprised if a little discipline and individual instruction make a different player out of Ramel next year.

But if Bra
dley can't do the job, I think Jasper and Porter can. At the very least, both kids will play important situational roles next season. IMO, Jasper and Porter are much better basketball players than most UK fans realize. Last season, people seemed to forget they were freshmen. Like most freshmen, they are still in the process of developing their athletic tools into D-1 skills. (Unfortunately, player development was not a strength of UK's previous coaching staff). Both kids have the athletic talent to become better than average defensive players. (In fact, Jasper will excel defensively.) Offensively, I think we will see a lot of progress because of Gillispie's ability to improve players through individual instruction.

Notwi
thstanding the very encouraging signing of Patrick Patterson last week, the Cats are nevertheless in trouble on the baseline. Randolph Morris and Bobby Perry graduated. With all due respect to Nazr Mohammed, Jamaal Magloire, and Marquis Estill, Morris was the best center at UK in a generation. This is where Gillispie's staff must work miracles in order to compete in the tough SEC East Division. Senior swing man Joe Crawford is the only returning starter in UK's front court. Last year, Crawford began the season as UK's starting WG. Then Joe moved back to WF after Ramel Bradley flunked his trial at PG. Although Joe does not have the size and strength to defend SEC "3"s, he makes up for this to a certain extent with quickness and athleticism. Still, defense has obviously not been his forte. His game has also suffered because he has been unable to put the ball on the floor and create midrange scoring opportunities against the SEC's big, athletic "3"s. But despite his small size, he is a better than average rebounder. In Gillispie's system, Joe will have more opportunities to use his athleticism in transition. This can only help. I think the coaching change will help Joe as much as anyone, and I expect him to be one of the most improved players on next year's team. Even so, I look for Joe to come under immediate pressure for PT from freshman Alex Legion. As the season transpires, Joe may have trouble fending off Legion's challenge, because Legion is bigger, stronger, and just as talented.

That said, m
ore complicated problems will come at "4" and "5" next season. It cannot be emphasized strongly enough that UK's returning baseline talent is simply not SEC-caliber. The signing of Patterson will help, but Pat isn't enough by himself to make up for the loss of Morris. Despite the fact that Pat is a very highly-ranked PF prospect, I don't think Gillispie can afford to play him at "4" right away. I think Pat will begin his career as UK's starting "5", where he is far better than Jared Carter or Mike Williams can ever be, but not nearly as good as Morris was last year. If Pat starts at "5", Carter may play situationally when Gillispie goes to a zone defense. Williams will sit next year.

I foresee Perry Stevenson and AJ Stewart battling for PT at "4", with Stevenson winning most of it if his work habits improve. But if Stevenson doesn't get serious and put the pedal to the metal under Gillispie and Holsopple, then Stewart's great motor could allow him to eat into Stevenson's PT (i.e., despite Stewart's inexperience and lack of physical strength).

With the hiring of Gillispie and the recent signing of Patterson, many UK fans are talking Final Four again. Coming from a proud fan base starved for good news, this reactionary euphoria is understandable. However, it is premature. To be sure, Gillispie is a better recruiter than Tubby was, but it may take some time to improve UK's overall roster talent to SEC standards and dig the Cats out of current losing streaks to SEC East opponents. Moreover, next year's addition of the Wildcats has no easy answer for Randolph Morris' departure.

In the final analysis, UK's opportunity to be successful may rest primarily in the hands of Bradley, Meeks, and Patters
on. If those three players work hard and listen to Gillispie, then UK can win 20 games against another difficult schedule, and draw an NCAA Tournament bid. But I am not counting on the departures of Florida's starting five to ease UK's task next year, since the overall talent in the SEC will be very strong again. Breaking UK's current losing streaks to Florida and Vandy won't be nearly as easy as a lot of people seem to think. There is a significant chance that UK's 2007-08 season could turn out to be simply a vanilla precursor to greater success by Gillispie in the years ahead.

Honestly, in six weeks of work....

Messenger
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

Mitch Barnhart hired Billy Gillispie during the first week of April. At the time of Gillispie's hiring, people were screaming bloody murder because Barnhart had been unable to hire Billy Donovan away from Florida.

In six weeks since Gillispie took the UK job, all of the underclassmen in Florida's starting lineup have declared for the NBA draft. This means Donovan had more open scholarships than Gillispie had.

Now keep in mind that Donovan has never lost a recruiting battle with UK until this month. Not a single one. Donovan signed Mike Miller, Bret Nelson, David Lee, Matt Bonner, Adrian Moss, Mario Boggan, Mohamed Akubar, Al Horford, Dan Werner, and Nick Calathes. Tubby recruited all of those kids, but signed none of them. Moreover, Tubby failed to offer a scholarship to Corey Brewer, who grew up in Tennessee and wanted to be a Cat, but instead ended up as the MVP of Florida's recent NCAA Championship.

So, Tubby finally succumbs to his shortcomings, and moves to Minnesota. Gillispie comes to Lexington. In only six weeks on the job, Gillispie has received an early verbal from star 2009 PG GJ Vilarino, signed a four-star wing player (Legion), and signed a five-star baseline player (Patterson) heavily coveted by Donovan. Prior to Gillispie's hiring, in fact, Patterson was a Florida-lean, and Donovan had been recruiting him for months. Patterson is the first known player to sign with UK after being offered a UF scholarship by Donovan....ever.

Meanwhile, Donovan signed Jai Lucas (a nice prospect, but a UK castoff whom Gillispie had cut loose).

Not a bad month of recruiting work by Gillispie, if you ask me.

Recapping UK's 2007 signing class

Messenger
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst

UK had five scholarships available in the 2007 class. The coaching staff change in April complicated recruitment. But in the end, UK signed a solid four-man class class.

One scholarship remains uncommitted. Chances are, Gillispie is done for 2007, and will probably carry the uncommitted scholarship over to 2008. Here's why.

When one is a
sked to rebuild a depleted roster in one of the nation's toughest basketball conferences, new roster talent is a prerequisite. On UK's current 2007-08 roster, Ramel Bradley and Joe Crawford are seniors. There are no juniors on UK's 2007-08 team. Barring transfers or dropouts, this means Gillispie has a total of two additional scholarships to award in UK's next two classes. UK's next sophomore class consists of Jared Carter, Derrick Jasper, Jody Meeks, Michael Porter, Perry Stevenson and Ramon Harris(which provides a lot of SEC-caliber talent in UK's backcourt, but not nearly as much on the baseline).

With that in mind, let's discuss the 2007 signing class, then speculate about 2008 a little bit.

Alex Legion 6'5" 215#, Mouth of Wilson, VA. Gillispie reluctantly passed on instate star Steffphon Pettigrew because Legion is a better SEC prospect. The Michigan native was awarded four stars by Rivals.com and ranked as the nation's #12 WG prospect. He is a classic perimeter swing prospect, with the perimeter skills to play "2" and the midrange skills to play "3". Of particular importance to Gillispie, Legion has the strength, athleticism, and lateral quickness to become a better than average SEC defensive player in Gillispie's aggressive man-to-man scheme. Legion will also provide UK with another badly-needed primary scoring option on the perimeter. He has nice range and rotation on his jump shot, and will not require tinkering with his shooting mechanics. He can spot up, or put the ball on the floor and create shots. Gillispie also likes Legion's leadership skills and positive locker room persona. I think Legion and Meeks may start together on UK's perimeter for a long time. The question is whether Gillispie will groom Legion at "2" or "3". This may not get completely worked out until Bradley and Crawford are gone in 2008-09.

Patrick Patterson 6'8" 230#, Huntington, WV. In a stunning turn of events for UK's basketball program, Patterson was signed last week by Gillispie as the nation's highest-ranked uncommitted HS basketball prospect. This is a dramatic development for a program that, heretofore, has been unable to attract highly-ranked HS talent since Randolph Morris signed with UK in April, 2005. Patterson was awarded five stars by Rivals.com and ranked as the nation's #2 PF prospect (behind only Michael Beasley). Patterson has a big, strong body and more than enough athleticism to play "4" or "5" in the SEC. In terms of size and raw athletic tools, Patterson compares somewhat to current NBA player and former Duke star Carlos Boozer at the same stage of development. His offensive skills will need time to develop at the SEC level, but he is already strong and athletic enough to rebound and defend against SEC baseline players. He will start immediately at UK, and should become an all-conference player by his sophomore or junior season. He should benefit greatly by being developed in Gillispie's system. Chances are, Patterson might start at "5" in 2007-08, then perhaps move to "4" at a later time in his collegiate career.

AJ Stewart 6'7" 200#, Jacksonville, FL. Rivals.com awarded Stewart three stars and ranked him as the nation's #35 PF prospect. He is an athletic prospect who runs the floor well and has a good sense of pace. His HS team won Florida's Class AAA state championship. He has been recognized for leadership ability, a big heart, and a strong will to win. Stewart is a classic "tweener". At this stage of development, he does not have the perimeter skills to play "3" or the strength to bang on the baseline against SEC "4"s. Therefore, he will have to be used situationally at first, while he gets stronger and his tools develop into skills. Chances are, his future is probably at "4", because it is doubtful that he will be able to defend or score on the perimeter. I look for Stewart to contribute situationally as a freshman, but it is difficult to speculate about his collegiate performance ceiling. If he gets a chance to play a lot, he could become a solid SEC basketball player in 2-3 years. But Stewart may have some trouble getting on the floor if Gillispie is successful in recruiting prospects on his current 2008 recruiting board.

Michael Williams 7'0" 270#, Alexandria, VA. Williams was awarded two strats by Rivals.com, but is unranked nationally as a center prospect. He is considered a raw prospect. His best assets are his huge frame, long arms, and tenacity. His liabilites are slow feet and an overall lack of SEC-caliber athleticism. It has been said that "you can't teach size", but there is a question whether Williams will ever be able to run the floor well enough to play significant minutes in SEC competition. He appeared overmatched by more athletic prospects in the recent Derby Festival Classic all star game, but he was able to become a defensive and rebounding factor at times in the game with his long arms. It remains to be seen how Williams will develop in a system that emphasizes man-to-man defense and demands that players get up and down the floor. In order to win PT in Gillispie's system, he will need to lose some weight, make a lot of progress with footwork, and develop a drop step and scoring skills on the low block.

This leaves Gillispie with as many as three scholarships to offer for next November. This could still change over the summer, but probably not. Although Texas A&M signee Deandre Jordan is not an option, and although Gillispie is not currently recruiting JUCOs, there is a small chance that Gillispie could add a foreign player or another prospect released by another school. More likely, Gillispie will probably carry over all three scholarships to the next class.

In six weeks on the job in Lexington, Gillispie has managed to get UK onto the lists of almost every top HS prospect in the 2008 class. However, many of those kids are already well on their way toward other schools. There is still time for kids like Brandon Jennings, Al-Farouq Aminu, Terrance Henry, Bud Mackey, and Scotty Hopson to ratchet-up their interest in UK, which could certainly happen with Gillispie's high-energy recruiting style.

But at the present time, here are the 2007-08 HS seniors to watch most closely....

  • Jeremy Green, 6'4" 185#, Austin, TX
  • Deandre Liggins, 6'4" 190#, Chicago, IL
  • Kevin Jones, 6'7" 210#, Mt. Vernon, NY
  • Darius Miller, 6'6" 215#, Maysville, KY
  • Greg Monroe, 6'10" 225#, Harvey, LA
  • J'Mison Morgan, 6'10" 275#, Dallas, TX
  • Romero Osby, 6'8" 230#, Meridian, MS
  • Chris Singleton, 6'9" 215#, Canton, GA
  • Willie Warren, 6'4" 190#, Ft. Worth, TX
  • Tony Woods, 6'11" 215#, Rome, GA
  • Tyler Zeller, 6'11" 215#, Washington, IN