Wildcats Thunder Basketball/Recruiting Analyst
First let me say that this week has been a fun weekend for gathering info. Trying to find out who is visiting, who isn't. What's going on during the visit. Who's enjoying themselves and who isn't(doesn't seem like anyones not enjoying themselves these days on a visit to UK). There has been a confirmed 5(KC Ross-Miller, Clarke, Clark, Washington and Miller) visitors and a report that a 6th(Jones) may have been there. I haven't been told for sure if Jones has been there, but have been told that if he hasn't he will shortly. So, he is either there now or will be tomorrow.
Clarke is the one recruit who out of this weekend will be a Wildcat 100%(of the 08 and beyond recruits not 07) for sure. I know its hard to say that without a commit but from what I have been told I believe a silent verbal(I hate saying that) has already been given. All that has to happen is for Coach G and Rotnei's parents to speak and figure the situation out for Clarke's future. I believe we hear something on Clarke before next Wednesday at the latest. I believe he will verbal then to the public.
Washington has totally been blown away as well on the visit to UK. UK is just trying to see if he is in line to get those core grades up and qualify to enter school in the fall. If UK finds something out about his grades this weekend he will verbal and sign. In fact he may already have. The only thing that turns me away from that notion is the fact that Coach G is looking at Mike Jones now. Jones is another 6-6 forward. Jones plays more away from the basket and I see no need for another recruit in that area. I for one hope that Washington's grades are in order and he ends up at UK. Washington is a big body back to the basket or face up scorer, something UK needs more. Oh by the way I'm hearing that Washington has already informed Coach G he wants to come to UK. So if UK gets good reports on his grades this weekend expect to hear of a verbal on Monday form Washington. But if the reports aren't good look for the recruitment of Jones to heat up.
Clark is another guy who is there this weekend. He is a kid that is athletic but not very polished in his game right now. Clark has all kind of talent but can Coach G get it out of him. I see Clark as more of a Tubby recruit(project). I say Clark is a backup plan to Washington and Jones if neither one qualifies. I don't see Clark ending up at UK.
Darius Miller has been on campus as well. But I haven't been able to hear much about his visit has of yet.I was told that he enjoyed it but that's about all. But I do know that Coach G pushed him to commit, which he didn't do. Miller knows that if he wants to play at UK he better hurry and accept the offer extended his way. I very much want Miller to be a cat(because hes a Kentucky boy but mostly because hes a top 20 talent). But if Miller waits to long cant blame Coach G for taking someone else in his place. I mean if you got another top 20 recruit(Liggins) ready to commit you don't tell him to wait to see what Miller does. You take the top 20 player ready to commit. Which is what Gillispie did. So Miller ya better hurry or ya going to miss your train.
Now to the KC Ross-Miller news. I read all the reports on the net and decided to call around to see what was going on. I was told that KC is going to commit to UK its just a matter of time. He wants to play here, but isn't 100% sure just yet. I was told there wasn't a commitment made, but there probably will be in a month or less. KC was blown away and doesn't think he will find anything better anywhere else. I talked to a guy that talked to a person close to the UK program. Really close to the coaching situation. He said KC told Gillispie that he knows UK is were he wants to play in college. Gillispie told him he was ready for his commitment, but KC balked when he was told this. He said that he just needed to talk things over with his family again before he decides something this big, this early. Can't blame the kid. But I was told that Gillispie thinks he maybe able to get a commitment from KC before the end of the weekend. So, if he does commit this weekend it wouldn't be a surprise. But I look for him to commit sometime in August to UK. KC will end up at UK.
This weekend has been a fun weekend and I look for things to get allot funner(is that even a word) before its over, or shortly afterwards. I think UK ends up with at least 2 commitments before the end of next week, coming from this weekend. I look for Clarke(in fact I was told he has already committed silently) to commit to the public next week sometime. I also see a commit from the final 07 recruit. Either Washington(probably him) or Jones. Just don't see Clark at UK. I can also see Warren committing soon if Clarke has in fact committed or is going to shortly. This has been the weekend update from my desk.
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Friday, June 29, 2007
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst
When Keenan Burton decided to forgo the NFL draft, UK's WR rotation was set for 2007.
However, a couple of other developments will also impact UK's 2007 WR scenario. For one thing, Curtis Pulley is projected as a 2007 redshirt. As good as Burton is, we need to remember that Pulley is just as big and fast as Burton. Joker Phillips sometimes used Pulley as a big play receiver in key scenarios when Burton was being double teamed. Pulley caught 21 passes for 201 yards in 2006. Some of his catches came in critical game situations. Those numbers will have to be replaced by someone else in 2007.
Another factor to watch is the development of senior Steve Johnson. UK's extensive prior experienced with JUCO transfer receivers has taught us that these kids really tend to play well as seniors. Johnson made several big plays in the Music City Bowl against Clemson. Close observers of the football program raved about Johnson's performance in December camp, leading up to the bowl game. Many of those observers believe Johnson has now surpassed Richie Lyons as UK's second starting WR. I think that's too early to call, but Lyons has his hands full in August camp.
Another recent development was David Jones' performance in spring drills. Although blessed with great speed and quickness, Jones has not adapted particularly well in his move from DB to WR because of two problems: route running and blocking. The blocking issue can be minimized by using Jones situationally. But WRs do not play much unless they run good routes. In April, Jones made some strides with his route running. With Pulley redshirting, I think Jones will see the field more in 2007.
Another development is the planned return of Michael Strickland. When Strickland signed with UK in February, 2006, some observers of the program felt that UK had gotten the next great safety. But Strickland's good hands convinced Rich Brooks to develop him as a WR. Then Strickland came down with a serious case of pneumonia last fall. He lost a lot of weight. So he dropped out of school and went home to Georgia to recuperate. Now Strickland plans to re-enroll this fall. I'm guessing a redshirt is in order, but that needs to be worked out in August camp.
Last but not least, the signing of Kyrus Lanzter last February is a key to the future of UK's WR rotation. Physically, Lanxter (6'3" 180#) is similar to Keenan Burton at the same stage of development. Lanxter played in a run-oriented HS offense in Alcoa, TN. Ideally, Lanxter would benefit from a redshirt year in 2007. However, with Burton and Johnson scheduled to graduate after the 2007 season, Brooks and Joker might feel that Lanxter needs immediate game experience. The kid certainly has the frame, speed, and raw athletic tools to play SEC football. He could play situationally in 2007, but 2008 is the time when they really need him to make an impact.
Over the years, UK has had some very good receivers. Craig Yeast, Aaron Boone, and Derek Abney immediately come to mind. But it has been a long time since UK's WR rotation has had the headliner talent and depth returning in 2007. Obviously, Burton is the star. Keenan projects as a likely NFL #1 draft choice. The other starting role will be heavily contested in August between Johnson and Lyons. IMO, it is likely that no clear winner will emerge, and both kids will see roughly equal PT in 2007. Both kids have good hands, but Lyons is faster. OTOH, Johnson is more physical, and a better blocker.
I also look for David Jones and Demoreo Ford to push hard for more PT this fall.
Pound for pound, Ford is one of this team's strongest players. Ford is the best blocker in the WR rotation, and Demoreo showed in the Music City Bowl that he can get deep. His speed is not like Keenan's or Lyons', but Demoreo runs well. Early in Demoreo's UK career, injuries were a problem for him. Now he is fully healthy, and IMO he is one of the team's most underrated players.
Redshirt freshman Terence Jones had some good moments in spring drills. Jones is still a raw football player, but he has solid physical tools. He is big (6'2' 190#), and he runs well. He still has some work to do with route running and blocking, but he made progress in April. It won't be easy for Jones to find the field in 2007, but Brooks and Joker will do whatever they can to prepare him for the 2008 season.
As well as UK's WRs performed in 2006, I look for more in 2007. Pulley's absence is a problem, but everyone else should be significantly improved. UK's WR rotation has SEC-caliber talent, speed, and depth. With a senior QB making a case for his NFL draft status at the controls of Joker's offense, the sky in Commonwealth Stadium will be filled with forward passes this fall. Barring injury, Burton should rank as one of the nation's most prolific receivers, and several other Wildcats should post breakout seasons.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst
DeAndre Liggins' commitment has come as a bolt out of the blue(so to speak) this week for many UK fans, because recent published lists of Liggins' favorite schools did not include UK.
This serves as a lesson. For one thing, teenagers change their minds easily, and one campus visit can do it. Secondly, Billy Gillispie has a grand plan, and he is working his plan methodically and relentlessly.
Less than three months after hiring Gillispie, UK is on the lists of many top 2008 prospects. After a decade of Tubby Smith, UK fans simply aren't accustomed to this anymore. Well....we will have to get used to it. Gillispie has been in touch with so many top prospects that UK fans need a program to keep up with all this recruiting action.
Herein lies a very important caveat. Gillispie is very thorough and perseverent. He has many options, because he is doing his due diligence very carefully. However, the Liggins commitment is the first public tip of Gillispie's hand.
As I have said before....HERE
Gillispie's primary roster need is to recruit SEC caliber baseline athletes, and as I've said..HERE
Gillispie's primary 2008 recruiting target is 6'11" center Tyler Zeller from Washington, IN.
Thus we can see Gillispie's "Plan A" now. In recent weeks, Gillispie has personally taken over Zeller's recruitment.
Deandre Liggins is Zeller's AAU teammate. Thus, Liggins represents a versatile recruit for Gillispie. Liggins can play three positions (PG, WG, WF). Liggins has the athletic tools to become a lockdown perimeter defender, which is what makes him so valuable in Gillispie's system. As the nation's #3 PG prospect(according to Rivals.com), Liggins gives Gillispie a nationally prominent recruit to kick off his 2008 class.
As Gillispie has focused on his "A-list" over the last several weeks, UK backed off Romero Osby(who recently verballed to Mississippi State). Meanwhile, Tony Woods, Chris Singleton, and Drayton Green have narrowed their lists, and may have eliminated UK. It is likely that their focus has been influenced by a falloff in Gillispie's level of interest in them, since all three were reportedly very interested in UK in May.
Meanwhile, Olek Czyz showed up for UK's camp earlier this month, but Zeller didn't. At that point, Gillispie personally assumed responsibility for Zeller's recruitment, and the effort to win a commitment from Liggins was redoubled.
As a separate but related issue, I know for a fact(through a former UK player who knows Gillispie and Cyprien) that Gillispie is still recruiting Darius Miller energetically.
UK fans are now asking how Liggins' commitment will affect UK's recruitment on other prospects such as Miller, Czyz, Willie Warren, and Rotnei Clarke. Unless one knows what is actually going on inside Gillispie's mind, the answer to this question can only be guessed. However, some important clues are available. I believe Zeller remains Gillispie's primary 2008 target. Winning a verbal from Liggins can only help Gillispie sign his AAU teammate Zeller, while also giving Gillispie one of the nation's most versatile perimeter prospects. I think Gillispie would like to sign Liggins, Zeller, and Miller in November.
It looks to me like Czyz is a back-up contingency in case Gillispie loses Miller. Or if a fourth scholarship becomes available, Czyz would be a candidate.
It will be interesting to see whether Clarke and Warren visit Lexington. FWIW, my source does not think Warren will come. As much as I would love to see Warren in Blue and White, I believe the chances are decreasing. I think Liggins' verbal spells the end of UK's recruitment of Courtney Fortson, too. I do not know whether Rotnei Clarke will follow-through with his plans to visit Lexington now, but it is difficult to see Gillispie taking both Liggins and Clarke when his most urgent roster needs are on the baseline. It is worth remembering that Gillispie is still talking with Czyz and Jamychal Green.
Meanwhile, Jared Carter is rehabbing from arthroscopic shoulder surgery. The surgery itself is not the primary issue. Normally, arthroscopic surgery can be rehabbed in 4-6 weeks. (FWIW, I am currently rehabbing from arthroscopic knee surgery on June 8.) The problem is that Jared has suffered at least three shoulder dislocations in the last eighteen months. Chronic shoulder problems sometimes defy a simple surgical solution because athletic activities impose an extreme range of motion on the shoulder, and because some people are simply prone to shoulder dislocations due to loose ligamentous joint structure. Chronic shoulder problems can be devastating to a young athlete's career. (UK football player Zach Hennis recently lost his D-1 career because of a similar chronic shoulder problem.) Jared still intends to play for UK next season, but he is clearly at a crossroad now. One more setback with the shoulder would almost certainly spell the end of Jared's basketball career. To be perfectly candid, this is likely to happen sooner or later. If another scholarship eventually opens up in UK's 2008 class, Jared's current scholarship is the most likely source. While this is certainly not a predictable event, everyone understands the problem Jared faces now.
In less than three months on the job in Lexington, Gillispie has successfully recruited Liggins, Alex Legion, Pat Patterson, GJ Vilarino, and Dakotah Euton, all highly nationally-ranked prospects. This should be reassuring to those who are concerned about Gillispie's recruiting.
Wildcats Thunder Execute Moderator
IMHO----Gillispie is making it clear to recruits interested in UK......do not wait to long to make a decision or there won't be a scholarship for you! Gillispie is recruiting several recruits at the same position......BCG always has a good backup plan. UK will never be held hostage again as it was under Tubby too often.
Liggins had a great visit at UK.....and he knew that BCG had other recruits, similar in talent, and that if he waited too long.....another recruit could claim his scholarship.
A very strong message is being sent to recruits across the basketball world. If you want to get aboard the "UK EXPRESS".....and go for NCAA championships while playing before the greatest and most passionate fans anywhere.......then commit ASAP! Welcome aboard DeAndre Liggins......it's great to have you as a CAT!
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst
First off thanks to WildcatsThunder staff member and fellow blogger TheWildcatBlog for the picture of Coach Brooks and his team. So take the time and check his blog out. Be sure to vote for Big Woo while you're there.
Now onto my take on next season's record.
September 1, EKU @ Commonwealth Stadium
September 8, Kent State @ Commonwealth Stadium
Leading up to this game, the "Fellowship of the Miserable" will be talking about Brooks' loss to Ohio U. in Commonwealth Stadium on October 2, 2004. Kent is a worthy opponent, capable of making a competitive game for 15-20 minutes of the first half. But this is not 2004 UK football. The Cats win this one going away.
September 15, UL @ Commonwealth Stadium
Coach Brooks has never beaten UL, primarily due to the fact that UL has had much better athletic talent on the field during Brooks' slow climb out from under the Mumme-Bassett NCAA sanctions. However, the Cats were on the verge of winning the 2005 game at Commonwealth Stadium until Andre Woodson fumbled inside UL's 5 yard line late in the fourth quarter. Historically, home field advantage has not meant much in this series. However, UL is breaking in a new coaching staff this year. The Cards open at home with Murray and Middle Tennessee (whom they will murder) before traveling to Lexington. I think this year's UK team is a lot better than last year's UK team, and undoubtedly in a different universe than Murray and MTSU. With tuneups against EKU and Kent, UK's OL should be ready this time. Without Petrino, UL is still a formidible team. But the intangibles favor UK this time around, and UK's seniors will go to the mat for a victory. Coach Kragthorpe has his hands full in his first road game as UL's new coach.
September 22, Arkansas @ Fayetteville, AR
UK's defense is improved this year, but probably not good enough to win this game. Arkansas may be the only SEC team with better offensive skill-position players than UK. It's a road game, against a possible top 10 team. Pray for no serious injuries.
September 29, Florida Atlantic @ Commonwealth Stadium
October 4, South Carolina @ Columbia, SC
This is one of those "swing games" that separate good seasons from great seasons. Coach Brooks has never beaten Steve Spurrier. I watched last year's game in Commonwealth Stadium closely. IMO the athletic mismatch was worse than the score indicated. That game was physically dominated in the trenches by the Gamecocks. Since then, Sidney Rice and Fred Bennett have gone on to the NFL, and Syvelle Newton has thankfully graduated. UK has a realistic shot in this game, but I don't see Brooks' first victory over Spurrier coming on the road.
October 13 , LSU @ Commonwealth Stadium
Historically, UK has beaten LSU when it was least-expected. A victory in 2007 would certainly fall into that category. Last year in Baton Rouge, UK suffered easily its most devastating defeat of the season at the hands of the Tigers (49-0). UK's high-octane offense was utterly unable to get anything going against LSU's athletic defense. The Tigers lost a lot by way of graduation and attrition from that team, but there is more than enough talent on hand to reload. I just don't see UK making up 49 points in 12 months.
October 20, Florida @ Commonwealth Stadium
The Cats are certainly overdue against the Gators. In recent years, most UK-UF football games have been reasonably competitive. Now the Gators return to Lexington as the reigning NCAA Champions. Coach Meyer will be breaking in a new starting QB and retooling a defense that lost many of its key players to graduation and early NFL departures. Since arriving in Gainesville, Meyer has brought in national top 10 recruiting classes every year. This rebuilding year is where it pays off for him. Tim Tebow will become on of the SEC's top young stars this year. Tebow is exactly the kind of athletic duel-threat QB who has given UK fits under Brooks. Plus, UF simply has more team speed and athleticism. The Gators won't lose many games in 2007, and this won't be one of them.
October 27, Mississippi State @ Commonwealth Stadium (Homecoming)
Rich Brooks owns Sylvester Croom. That's why this is UK's Homecoming game. UK has way too much talent for the Bulldogs.
November 10, Vanderbilt @ Nashville, TN
In my discussion of the October 4 UK-South Carolina game, I talked about "swing games" that can make the difference between a good season and a great season. This game is the second "swing game" of that nature on UK's 2007 schedule. This will be a tough, hard-fought game. Vandy's season may very well ride on this game. So will UK's season. In the end, UK has too much offensive firepower for Vandy's proud defense, while Steve Brown will find a way to contain Chris Nickson this time.
November 17, Georgia @ Athens, GA
Notice how all of these "swing games" are on the road in 2007? (That's the problem with this schedule.) This young Georgia team proved its meddle last year against Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech (Chick-fil-A Bowl) in the season's two final games. Matt Stafford will become one of the SEC's top young QBs in 2007. He is surrounded by a stellar offensive cast. Not this time, Wildcat fans.
November 24, Tennessee @ Commonwealth Stadium
The last UK victory in this series was in 1984, when Jerry Claiborne's Hall of Fame Bowl Champs beat the Vols in Knoxville 17-12. In recent years, most UK-UT games have been very competitive, which tells you that the talent gap has narrowed considerably. Last November, the Cats basically outplayed the Vols in Knoxville before succumbing to a late Tennessee rally 17-12 (which, interestingly enough, is the same score as UK's 1984 victory). Anyway, I digress. One day, this Tennessee winning streak will end. In recent years, Phil Fulmer has been extraordinarily lucky on several occasions to escape victorious. The pendulum is swinging in UK's direction, and the Cats are due. This year, UK has a full roster for the first time since the NCAA sanctions, and Brooks has the best senior class of his UK tenure. I don't think UK's seniors are intimidated by UT anymore. UK QB Coach Randy Sanders, a former UT OC, knows Fulmer's tendencies. The Cats are at home and, unless I miss my guess, this game will make the difference between a low-tier bowl and a medium-tier bowl. There is a score to settle with Fulmer. IMHO, UK's fine seniors will go out in an historic blaze of glory.
Cats return to Music City Bowl and win again, making it a 8-5 season.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Wildcats Thunder Basketball/Recruiting Analyst
DeAndre Liggins 6' 6" SF/SG a 5 star recruit and the #18 overall player in the 2008 class has verbally committed to University of Kentucky. Liggins is a major coupe for Coach Gillispie and will only make UK better. Liggins can play the SF spot, but is more suited for the PG or SG spot. I think it helps with Zeller more than some think. Liggins and Zeller are friends and like playing together. Not saying their a package deal, just that they know each others games and like playing together. Liggins choose Kentucky over Kansas, Illinois and Memphis and a few other schools.
Gillispie has signed Alex Legion a SG and
Wildcats Thunder Administrator
The University of Kentucky will play UAB on Dec. 15 at Freedom Hall in Louisville, this is to be a one-year deal. Could this lead to another Mike Davis melt down in Freedom Hall? This will be the fifth meeting between the two schools with the last three coming in NCAA Tournaments. The Blazers knocked the Wildcats out of the NCAA Tournament in 1981 and 2004. Kentucky beat UAB in the first round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
Wildcats Thunder Execute Moderator
Below is a list of a few video's of some of the recruits that the University of Kentucky basketball program is recruiting.
Leonard Washington (video) 6' 6" 200# Forward UK is recruiting and hoping to add to the 2007 recruiting class.
Olke Czyz (video) 6' 8" 235 Forward UK is recruiting for the 2008 Class.
DeAndre Liggins (video below) 6' 6" 180# SF but can play just about any position on the court UK is recruiting for the 2008 class.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst
1) The following true freshmen will forego redshirts and play in 2007: Mychal Bailey, Stuart Hines, Brandon Jackson, Kyrus Lanxter, Shane McCord, Ronnie Sneed, Ryan Tydlacka.
2) Rafael Little will rush for more than 1000 yards, catch more than 50 passes, and return at least two punts for TDs in 2007.
3) UK will upset Tennessee in Commonwealth Stadium on November 24 for the Cats' first victory over the Vols since 1984.
4) UK's most improved offensive players in 2007 will be LT Garry Williams and WR Steve Johnson.
5) UK's most improved defensive players will be MLB Braxton Kelley and DE Jeremy Jarmon.
6) Three different Wildcats will be named to various postseason all-SEC first teams.
7) Instate prospects David Ulinski, Ryan Benzick, Matt Smith, EJ Fields, and Ryan Wallace will be Wildcats.
8) Out of state prospects Randall Cobb (Alcoa, TN) and Gene McCaskill (Chester, SC) will sign with UK in February.
9) Brandon Newman made a strategic mistake by verballing too early to ND. Charlie Weis already has verbal commitments from three other nationally-ranked DT prospects besides Newman, and Weis has also offered a scholarship to five-star DT prospect Marcus Forston. I'm not saying Newman will decommit, but he needs to be thinking this over carefully during the summer while a UK scholarship is still available. Newman would be a great fit on UK's DL as heir-apparent to Myron Pryor.
10) Four Wildcats will be drafted in the first four rounds of the next NFL draft. Two will go in the first round.
Wildcats Thunder Sports Editor/Writer
"Chuck Connors starred in the 60’s western TV show Branded, which followed the life of Jason McCord, former Captain in the U.S. Cavalry. Court martialled for cowardice under fire during the Battle of Bitter Creek from which McCord was the only survivor, McCord knows he’s innocent but refuses to pin the blame where it belongs, his commanding officer, General Reed, who died in the battle.
Featuring one of the most recognizable signature songs in the history of television, Branded was also notable as one of the few dramatic productions to come out of the production team of Goodson/Todman, best known for game show properties like The Price is Right.” (Info courtesy of www.tv.com) I don’t know if you’re a fan of the series or not, but I am. Anyway, by now you are asking: what does this have to do with recruiting? Well true enough Jason McCord was branded as being a coward and deserting his men. Even though it appears he was innocent (based on his escapades in the show), he was still marked. Which brings me to my next point: what is the definition of branded? According to Webster, Branded means: 1. to mark with a brand, 2. to mark with disapproval, 3. to impress indelibly
# 4 PF JaMychal Green - Med. OFFERED
#5 C Tyler Zeller - Med. OFFERED
#6 SG Willie Warren - Med. OFFERED
#5 SF Deandre Liggins - High OFFERED
#5 PG Bud Mackey - Committed to Indiana but some BD-itis????
#7 SF Darius Miller - High OFFERED
#9 PG Dashan Harris - Med. OFFERED
#9 SG J'Covan Brown - Med. OFFERED
#9 PF Chris Singleton - Med. OFFERED
#10 PG Rontei Clarke - not listed but taking an official visit
#13 C Tony Woods - Not listed but widely discussed
#16 C Andre Clark - Med. OFFERED (07 Eligibility????)
#18 PF Terrance Henry - Med. OFFERED
#19 PF Olek Czyz - Med. OFFERED
#23 PF Kevin Jones - Med. OFFERED
#16 PG Courtney Fortson - Med. OFFERED
NR SF Leonard Washington-Med-OFFERED (Late 07 Recruit) (Special props to Dandycat a Wildcats Thunder Member for this list of recruits: see LINK) So, here’s hoping to at least “Branding” a few of these guys! Also, don’t forget about current UK commits GJ Vilarino (2009) and Dakota Euton (2010).
A final question: What do you do when you’re a Wildcat?
Monday, June 25, 2007
Wildcats Thunder Basketball/Recruiting Analyst
Now I know a lot has happened today with the DeAndre Liggins(left)recruitment. I have been calling, emailing, and text messaging all night trying to hear exactly what in the heck is happening. I just got a call back a couple minutes ago and it was indeed good news on the Liggins front.
I know everything that he has said before said that he would wait awhile before committing. But he knows that Rontei Clarke(a guy at his position that also has UK as is favorite)and Willie Warren are visiting UK this coming week sometime, probably Thursday or Friday. He knows that if Clarke visits and comes away as impressed as he was Clarke will commit while on the visit. This will cause Liggins ride to be more than likely taken off the table. I say more than likely because I don't know if Warren will commit if Clarke does. But if Clarke and Warren both commit on the visit or shortly there after Liggins will definitely be left in the cold. Now I don't know if Clarke and Warren are leaning to committing, but it wouldn't surprise me if they did. But with Clarke I think its 50/50 that he commits on his visit. If this happens Warren in my opinion will not be far behind. So Liggins knows if he wants to be a Wildcat he needs to act fast. Notice I said if he wants to be. And that is the way all indications are pointing right now.
I am still hearing that a 08 big man is still close to pulling the trigger for UK. I wasn't given the name but I can speculate who it might be by the info I was given. The recruit I most think it could be IMHO is Czyz. Now does this mean its him, NO! Its just the vibe I got while talking to my sources. Another name I have thought it could be is Green(the one in Bama). These names are just shots in the dark from the info I have putting together from my sources. But I can say that my sources still think a 08 big man is close to committing to UK soon.
Darius Miller(left) will be a Wildcat, if everything stays how it is now. This from a source very close to the situation. I ask if Liggins or Warren commit to UK would it change anything. The source said no. I was told that Miller knows that Liggins and Warren play different positions and he would have nothing to worry about from them. So I say Miller commits to UK before the end of July. This is what I'm hearing now. So till next time GO BIG BLUE!
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Even UK coach Rick Pitino said that UK was “playing the best basketball we’ve played all year right now. If our defense doesn’t leave us, I think we can definitely win the national championship, as can 10 or 11 other teams.”
Heck who would have argued? During three games in the SEC tournament, UK’s average margin of victory was 29.6 ppg – the tourney’s largest margin of victory since UK’s 30.7 in 1949. For only 3:37 seconds of the SEC tourney, UK trailed. In the aforementioned championship game, UK drilled 14 three pointers.
Yet for all of it’s dominance in Lexington – UK was getting ready to turn it up another notch in Nashville, TN and in front of a pro-ACC audience in Charlotte, NC against Wake Forest and Florida State. UK was the No. 1 seed in the Southeast Region – and gaining momentum as one of – if not THE choice by odds-makers to win the NCAA championship in New Orleans.
In order to try and make sure you understand how well Kentucky was playing that March in 1993 – consider this…
According to USA Today’s cover story by Steve Wieberg, there was one team in America playing like “supermen in this tournament.”
“Kentucky comes to the Final Four off a 25-point rout of Florida State (UK just keeps making them pay for knocking Adolph Rupp out of the tournament back in 1972 don’t they!?!?! – Bogansback2Basil’s comment). It followed a 34-point rout of Wake Forest, which followed a 21-point rout of Utah, which followed a first-round, 44-point rout of Rider. No team before the Wildcats has matched that 31-point average margin of victory in earlier-round games.”
“This is probably the best team I’ve ever faced,” FSU guard Sam Cassell said after Saturday’s Southeast Regional final. “Duke was certainly a great team last year. But Kentucky is the hottest team.”
Perhaps there is no game’s highlights that generates more “ohhs” and “ahhs” than UK's dominating NCAA sweet 16 win against Wake Forest in 1993. There is a YouTube video that makes “the rounds” quite often because UK’s performance was just so dominating.
Although Wake Forest hit six out of its first seven shots – they found themselves trailing 34-14 thanks to Kentucky sinking its first eight three point attempts!
So dominating was #2 ranked UK that CBS cut from the game when it was but 20-4 in favor of the Wildcats. 40 Kentucky points later, the Wildcats led at the half -- 60-26!
Ultimately, this collection of Wildcats lost to the national runners-up in New Orleans – but -- but for three weeks in March of 1993 – there haven’t been many UK teams that have ever played better basketball.
Tonight, the staff of WILDCAT THUNDER’S is proud to present its Game of the Week – Kentucky’s 3/23/1993 NCAA tournament dismantling of Wake Forest from the Charlotte Coliseum.
GO BIG BLUE!
CLICK HERE for the 1993 UK-Wake Forset Game
Click Here for Box Score
Write-up credit goes to Bogansback2basil Wildcats Thunder Execute Moderator and Video credit goes to Blueworldorder Wildcats Thunder Administrator
- The Champs, Louisville Courier-Journal, 1978 - Portions taken from “Forty Minutes to Glory,” Sports Illustrated, 4/24/76
It may seem as if the 1978 National Champions went wire to wire unscathed, without facing any trouble along the way. Oh…contraire! The second Saturday in March of 1978 almost saw the prohibitive NCAA favorite fall in a place that had been a House of Horrors many times before and after for the Kentucky Wildcats. Six years earlier, Kentucky native Hugh Durham, Florida State’s head coach, ended legendary UK coach Adolph Rupp’s fabulous career in the NCAA tournament’s second round. He was twenty minutes from knocking another UK team – this one – THE NCAA favorite – out of the tournament again. Had it not been for a bold second half lineup change that had the entire country – and the Big Blue Nation aghast when they say it – coach Joe B. Hall could very well be without an NCAA championship – and UK might not have the seven that it now owns.
“In December, Kentucky earned the tag “super team” from that nation’s press…By Christmas, the Wildcats were a unanimous choice for No. 1, the spot they had earned in the first regular-season Associated Press poll.
“But coach Hall was concerned. He didn’t like the way his bench frittered away a big lead late in the opening win over Southern Methodist. He didn’t like his practices. And he sensed complacency…Victims kept coming” – but Hall “believed complacency…was his team’s enemy.
Hall “was concerned going into the NCAA opener against speedy Florida State.-
“Thursday, March 9 – We beat Florida State by 40 points – 97-57 – last year. That right there could make it an even game on Saturday. It will hurt us and help them.”
When Kentucky took the floor at the start of the second half – the entire Big Blue Nation could be heard yelling at the TV in shock! Coach “Hall’s starting lineup for the second half included Fred Cowan(#40right), a gangling, shy freshman who has scored in only seven games; Dwayne Casey, a Junior guard who has played only seven minutes in the previous six games; and LaVon Williams, a sophomore forward who, during one stretch, scored only two points in five games. At the height of Kentucky’s February slump (losing its only two games of the season), it was this trio that was left standing dumbstruck when they were late getting to the team bus.
“It is a daring move by Hall, perhaps the most daring of his career, but it pays off as the substitutes, scrambling wildly on defense, wear down Florida State. Kentucky goes on a 14-0 spurt and wins 85-76. In the locker room Hall says, “I want our All-Americans to thank the subs for keeping us in this tournament.”
Hall went on to tell the gathered press after the game that “I may not be smart but I’m not gutless.”
And once again -- the staff of WILDCAT THUNDER’S is proud to present its Game of the Week – Kentucky’s first round “scare” against Florida State from the 1978 NCAA tournament.
Click Here for the 1978 UK-FSU Game
For the Final Box Score of the game Click Here.
Game Write-up credit goes to Bogansback2basil Wildcats Thunder Execute Moderator and Video credit goes to Blueworldorder Wildcats Thunder Administrator
- The Champs, Louisville Courier-Journal, 1978
- Portions taken from “Forty Minutes to Glory,” Sports Illustrated, 4/24/76
Wildcats Thunder Administrator
The University of Kentucky has not applied for an extra year of eligibility for Jared Carter, who didn't play but three games last season because of surgery to repair a dislocated shoulder. The University of Kentucky compliance officer Sandy Bell explains why.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Wildcats Thunder Execute Moderator
This article titled Billy Gillispie: What we can expect defensively at A Sea of Blue is a very good description of ball-line, as well as Gillispie's philosophy on defense. The writer knows what he is talking about. Also be sure to read what he has to say about Gillispie's offense titled Billy Gillispie: What we can expect offensively another good article by A Sea of Blue. Both article were written a few days ago, but still a good description on what we can expect.
There are as couple of things to note here. For one thing, Gillispie hates zones. Although he has said that he will play the style dictated by his personnel, any significant role for zones would be a fundamental departure from Gillispie's core defensive philosophy. Gillispie is a man-to-man coach, who wants to beat opponents by outplaying, outworking, and mentally defeating them....not with gadgets.
Thus, you can look at UK's personnel and make an educated guess who will play, based on their athletic tools. Gillispie's defensive schemes require lateral quickness and an athletic ability to react and RUN THE FLOOR.
When Gillispie talks about SIZE....he says:
"I think you always want to recruit the tallest, (best) players you can get, and that sounds simple, but that doesn’t mean you want to take a guy just because of his size; you want to get good players. But if there’s a tall, really good player, compared to a guy who’s not as tall, than you obviously want to try and get the tallest."
Now, that is coach-speak from Gillispie. What he really means here is that tall guys are better than short guys, as long as the tall guys are as quick as the short guys. Very tactfully, he is saying that slow players can't play his style. And you can look at the player to whom he was obliquely referring in the chat, then decipher that player's realistic chance to play significant minutes for Gillispie in the foreseeable future. It's all there, between the lines, if you read the quote in the context that was offered.
First and foremost, Gillispie (like almost all highly successful D-1 coaches) is a defensively-minded tactical coach. To play Gillispie's style, players need to be able to get into position quickly, move their feet, and then react quickly to what the opponent does. This requires certain athletic tools, including quickness and agility. That tells us who will play next year under Gillispie. This also explains why I have been suggesting Pat Patterson will play "5" as a freshman, since Pat is the only large, strong Wildcat with those athletic tools at the present time. That's why they are looking at Andre Clark this week, whether or not they actually end up offering Clark a scholarship.
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Ananlyst
This is one of those lingering issues that doesn't come up much unless a rash of injuries hits....in which case it could become a primary factor in the outcome of UK's 2007 season.
Here are the returning scholarship defensive linemen:
DT: Travis Day, Myron Pryor, Ventrell Jenkins, Corey Peters, Ricky Lumpkin
DE: Dominick Lewis, JC Craigman, Nii Adjei Oninku, Jamil Paris, Jeremy Jarmon, Josh Minton
Of course, Jenkins(shoulder) and Minton(ACL tear) are out indefinitely with injury rehabs. Minton will miss UK's 2007 season for sure. Jenkins has a redshirt available, and the staff would like to use it now.
Barring additional injuries, two DL starting jobs are already locked up. Myron Pryor will start at one DT. Jeremy Jarmon will start at one DE. Both have all-SEC ceilings. The other two starting jobs will get worked out in August. In spring drills, Dominick Lewis and Nii Adjei Oninku dueled for the other starting DE role. After a fine month of drills, Oninku emerged from April with a tentative hold on the starting job. But the bigger Lewis (a senior) could still win it in August, since Oninku has a history of playing better in April than August. The other DT job is contested between soph Corey Peters and redshirt freshman Ricky Lumpkin. Lumpkin is going to be a terrific player at UK, but Peters probably starts in September. The other returnees will be needed for situational depth. It will be very interesting to watch the development of lanky DE Jamil Paris as a true soph.
The following UK signees are defensive linemen: Antwane Glenn, Shane McCord, Greg Mesiner, Charles Mustaafa, and DJ Stafford. When these five prospects were signed in February, the staff knew Stafford is the only one physically ready for D-1 play. They tentatively planned to redshirt the other four. Since Stafford is not academically eligible to play in 2007, no help will come this fall from this group unless someone is rushed into service ahead of schedule. If McCord's knee is alright, he might be able to handle such an assignment since he is very strong for his size. But they would rather redshirt him.
Summarizing....Coach Petri will field a very good starting DL, but depth is a big issue....especially if someone gets hurt. It is difficult to foresee immediate help from the true freshmen.
This horse has been kicked 1,000 times, but wouldn't Micah Johnson be a good fit up-front for this defensive unit??
Thursday, June 21, 2007
Wildcats Thunder Sports Editor/Writer
The summer doldrums. What? You said “summer doldrums”? That’s right, the summer doldrums. I know by now everyone has heard of the “winter doldrums”, right? You know, that time period when the days seem to drag, what with the cold weather (well at least down south anyway) and shorter days, with spring seeming light years away. Yeah, that time period, the one where the bleakness of a dull, gray sky can seem so depressing that not even Prozac can ease the pain. For those of you who are die-hard basketball/football fans, we are now in the period called the summer doldrums. The NBA season is over (although it pales in comparison to NCAA men’s basketball if you ask me), and football season is not yet quite upon us. So now we have that period where little if any is going on in the sports we love so much.
What about baseball? Or hockey? Well, hockey is done for the season and no offense to anyone, but I would rather watch molasses run down a tree in the roughest Kentucky winter than watch hockey. Baseball? Well, if you ask me, baseball seems like the local t-ball league to me in comparison to NCAA basketball/football. Yes folks, it is official—we are in the dead period, a black hole between sports, doomed to the super villain “phantom zone” (see Superman movies!) until at least August.
So what do we do now? Well, we do what we do every year—we WAIT. Yes, while it is true now that Kentucky fans have Billy Gillispie (the one man recruiting show) on board, we wait patiently, excitedly every day for tidbits of recruiting news. There are always the unsolved coaching mysteries as well, such as: who is the last assistant coach—and—who will be the new Strength and Conditioning coach? The most fun thing to do during these summer months (beside vacationing at the beach or hanging out at the local swimming pool) is pretend that we are Billy G, coaching the Cats, bringing in the big name recruits, and restoring the University of Kentucky to it’s long known glory. So my final suggestion is this: get yourself an old rockin’ chair, find you a couple of old timers, and sit on the porch with an ice cold Dr. Pepper in the summer heat and talk about the old days and the days to come—coach those Cats. Don’t worry though, August is coming….
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst
Andre Clark 6'10" C of Arkansas will visit the University of Kentucky on 6/28/07 and has a scholarship offer from UK. Clark is basically looking at UK, IU, Oklahoma, and Colorado. IU is probably his current leader. He is another one of these kids who reclassified from the 2008 class to 2007.
Now, anytime you get a campus visit by a prospect, that means the kid could be blown away by the visit and commit on the spot. It doesn't happen much anyomore, but it is always possible. In Clark's case, there is another important issue. Clark does not yet have a firm scholarship offer from UK. That would have to be resolved before anything could happen.
And although Gillispie's staff is obviously concerned about Jared Carter's shoulder, I don't think they have ever counted on Jared being anymore than a role player next year. Fundamentally, our staff is still in the position of managing three open scholarships between now and the start of 2010 recruiting (i.e., since UK has two seniors and no juniors on their 2007-08 roster). From what I have heard, they are still undecided about whether to take another player in the 2007 class, and I think they would still prefer to sign Zeller/Miller/Warren (or a similar three-man class) in 2008. If more scholarships open up between now and then, so much the better. But that is not a predictable event, no matter what anyone is telling us right now.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Wildcats Thunder Football/Recruiting Analyst
Almost all close observers of UK's football program agree that the OL is the key to UK's 2007 season. While Coach Brooks returns the SEC's best group of offensive skill-position players, the OL will ultimately determine whether those guys will have a chance to repeat their 2006 success.
UK's OL lost graduating seniors Matt McCuthcan, Mike Aitcheson, Hayden Lane, Fatu Turituri, Trai Williams, and Travis Slaydon. McCutchan and Aitcheson were key OL starters, while Lane, Turituri, and Williams started at times during their UK careers. That's a lot of attrition. Thus, Coach Jimmy Heggins has his work cut out for him again.
Nonetheless, Brooks recently said:
"Our depth will be better in both the offensive and defensive line than it has in the last couple years."
This was an interesting statement for Brooks to make, in view of the fact that UK's OL was so thin in spring drills that walk-ons played key roles, and the staff was often unable to assemble two full OL units for standard scrimmaging. Here, Brooks is implying that the return of injured and suspended players will make the difference.
Here is my assessment of UK's OL picture for August camp....
LT: Gary Williams (UK's incumbent starter) will be a junior. Williams was one of UK's unsung heroes in the Music City Bowl when he outplayed Clemson's All American DE Gaines Adams. Now, Williams has a chance to become UK's best LT since Jonas Leining, which is ironic since everyone was bestowing that projection on former Cat Aaron Miller (an academic casualty) as recently as one year ago. Behind Williams, junior James Alexander will probably move from his spring RT experiment to reclaim the #2 LT role. The long term future of the LT position probably rests in the hands of two huge true freshmen, Billy Joe Murphy and Phil Hibbard, both of whom badly need redshirts in 2007.
LG: Great news here. Junior Christian Johnson has served his suspension for missing classes, and is back on the team. His loss would have been difficult to overcome. Johnson is this team's best offensive lineman, and one of its strongest players. With Johnson back in the saddle, the left side of UK's OL can be very good. However, Johnson's preparation wasn't helped by missing spring drills, and there isn't any depth behind him. Walk-on Michael Williams and former TE Zipp Duncan will back-up Johnson, but neither is ready for SEC play. So Johnson must stay healthy. The long term future of the LG position may rest in the hands of true freshman Jake Lanefski, who badly needs a redshirt in 2007.
C: Based on spring drills, it is a sure bet that UK's starting center in 2007 will be senior Eric Scott. The former TE has bulked up and beaten out all challengers. Scott has a lot to prove. He needs to build on his spring performance with a solid summer in the gym. But Scott brings more natural athleticism to the position than McCutchan did (if perhaps not as much raw aggressiveness as McCutchan showed). Behind Scott, the back-up C role will almost certainly go to sophomore Jorge Gonzalez, who has missed all of his UK career to date with injuries. Gonzalez is viewed as a possible 2008 starter, but first he must prove that he can stay healthy and make the line calls. He missed spring drills during his rehab, so he will get that opportunity this fall in practice. The third center might be walk-on Marcus Davis, who had some good moments in April.
RG: In announcing that Jason Leger will play on UK's OL again as a senior, Brooks implicitly made Leger the man to beat for the starting RG job. Leger missed spring drills with an injury. During the drills, JUCO transfer Jess Beets and sophomore Sefo Mailau Blaylock got most of the RG reps. Blaylock displayed his signature lack of conditioning, while Beets (reminiscent of most JUCO transfers) was injured for most of the month. If healthy, Leger should have no trouble beating out Beets and Blaylock in August camp, with one of those two probably filling the #2 role in the rotation if they can get in shape. There is a possibility that Josh Winchell could eventually get into this picture, too....
RT: JUCO transfer Josh Winchell emerged from spring drills as the tentative RT starter. However, most close observers of UK's football program will be surprised if Winchell still holds that role at the end of August camp. They are expecting two players who did not participate in spring drills to leapfrog Winchell in August and duel for the starting RT job. Those two are Justin Jefferies (who missed spring drills with an injury) and Stuart Hines (one of the crown jewels of Brooks' February recruiting class). Jefferies understudied Mike Aitcheson and Hayden Lane in 2006. He is a long, high-cut player with a nice frame, who made a lot of progress with the practice squad last fall as a true freshman. However, missing spring drills set Jefferies back. The staff is eager to see how much physical ground Jefferies can make up in the summer strength and conditioning program. Meanwhile, Hines is probably the true freshman most likely to see PT this fall for UK's offensive unit. In terms of his athletic ceiling, the staff believes Hines could be the best OL prospect signed by UK since Antonio Hall, if not longer than that. Hines is a different kind of player than Hall. Hines is smarter, quicker on his feet, and a harder worker. OTOH, Hines needs to add bulk and strength to his frame. But the staff believes his footwork is already good enough for SEC play. Thus, they look at Hines as a freshman with more athletic upside than Aaron Miller had in 2004, plus much better work habits than Miller or Hall had. I think Hines may turn out to be the present and the future of the RT position for Joker Phillips, although Hines has the athletic talent to play any OL position. Heralded true freshman Brad Durham is a natural RT, but Durham needs a redshirt in 2007.
Summary: Barring key injuries, the most likely starting OL for 2007 seems to be Garry Williams (LT), Christian Johnson (LG), Eric Scott (C), Jason Leger (RG), and Stuart Hines (RT), although Hines will need a superlative performance in August to nail down the RT job ahead of Justin Jefferies and Josh Winchell. This OL has a chance to be a better rushing line than any UK OL since 2002, because Johnson and Leger are very strong, physical players on the inside. The three biggest keys are: (1) Can Eric Scott get the job done at C? (2) Who will solidify the RT position, and how long will that take? (3) Can key injuries be avoided?
Monday, June 18, 2007
(First Regular Season Meeting between both schools since 1922)
Since the UK and UL basketball series became a reality in 1983, the University of Kentucky has a commanding 17-8 lead (26-12 overall). This record has a better winning percentage than before UL begged for a series against the premier program in the Commonwealth of Kentucky – and the winningest program in the history of D-1 revenue generating athletics.
1. a., The act or process of annihilating.
b. The condition of having been annihilated; utter destruction.
2. Physics The phenomenon in which a particle and an antiparticle, such as an electron and a positron, meet and are converted completely to energy approximately equivalent to the sum of their masses.
Synonyms: Utter destruction: eradication, extermination, extinction, extinguishment, extirpation, liquidation, obliteration.
This is what happens when one begs and pleads – even goes to the state legislature to work on having a law passed to play the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s flagship institution.
See November 26, 1983 Box Score
So, what was to happen with all of those external forces working to pit Kentucky’s top two basketball program together over the summer of 1983…? Perhaps as concisely as humanly possible – Jon Scott’s site provides the details of what followed the NCAA tournament win by UL on 3/26/1983…
“The game between the two programs ignited the imaginations of both fans and led to even more intense pressure that the two should meet on a consistent basis. It got to a point that unless Kentucky got serious about scheduling U of L, that the state legislators might try their hand at forcing it to happen. Joe Hall continued to cling to the policy of not playing in-state schools, and petitioned the UK athletic board to uphold the tradition. But support was weakening in the face of increased public pressure. Athletic Director, Cliff Hagan, began to back away from the policy and to isolate Hall who was dutifully toeing the line. In an interview with Jerry Tipton of the Lexington Herald-Leader, Hagan said "If the coach wants to play, we'll play. It's always the coaches who decide whom they want to play, where they want to play and if they're going to play. He's [Hall] continuing a practice. If he wanted to change it, I'm sure we'd change it."
In the end, the board chose to allow the 'external forces' affect the decision and they voted 12-6 to make an exception to the long-standing practice. With that, Hagan and Louisville AD Bill Olsen ironed out a four-game series to begin the upcoming year. The first game would be held in UK's home court, Rupp Arena and the game would alternate from there to U of L's Freedom Hall. Kentucky Governor John Y. Brown Jr. was heard to joke that helping to bring about the series was "the greatest achievement of my administration."
The first regular season match-up in over 60 years tipped off the 1983-84 season for each team and was shown nationally on cable. Billed as "The Battle of the Bluegrass" the game marked the return of UK All-American 7-footer Sam Bowie from leg injuries which had kept him out for two full seasons. The rest of the squad had all summer to think about their heart-breaking loss to the Cardinals. To say the Cats were ready to go and had something to prove was an understatement.”
No, this game did not have the final margin as WILDCAT THUNDER’S Game of the Week last week – but it was much more satisfying to the Big Blue Nation. With Sam Bowie f-i-n-a-l-ly back and patrolling the lane in Rupp Arena in front of a national cable TV audience on Ted Turner’s Super Station WTBS – the Wildcats inflicted the second worse loss on Denny Crum in his career up to that point (of course UK would make this margin seem a bit small in just a few years…).
Once again, the staff of WILDCAT THUNDER’S is proud to present its Game of the Week – Dream Game #2 against the Louisville Cardinals.
GO BIG BLUE!
Watch the Dream Game # 2 - Kentucky vs. Louisville(1983)(First Regular Season Meeting between both schools since 1922) Here
Write-up credit goes to Bogansback2Basil Wildcats Thunder Execute Moderator and Video credit goes to Blueworldorder Wildcats Thunder Administrator.