Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Lost Recruits: 2011

I love the heavy months of high school basketball recruiting. Having John Calipari as your head coach will make you obsessive about that kind of thing. So many kids become the most important thing a UK fan could possibly keep tabs on, only to fade from our entire conscious the second they pick the hat of another program. I wanted to bring back our old temporary dudes to give a perspective on if Coach Cal has been making the perfect recruiting pulls that we assume he's been making as our infallible grand puba. I covered the 2009 class here and the 2010 class here.

All of the given rankings are according to Rivals.

#5 (PF) Quincy Miller - Baylor
Before Anthony Davis burst into everyone's collective attention, Quincy Miller was the guard-like skilled forward who everyone was ogling over. He even crept into being the number one overall prospect at one point on Rivals, all while notoriously sporting UK gear everywhere he seemed to show up for a while. Everyone thought Miller was the third in line to join Michael Gilchrist and Marquis Teague at UK to form potentially the greatest class of all-time. Enter the aforementioned Anthony Davis as well as Kyle Wiltjer. Miller then became the odd big out. The rumblings then turned to the possibility that despite all of his unlimited potential and talent, Miller may be a little ... extra. So instead of completely overloading the talent bus with a questionable character, Cal took the safer Wiltjer commitment and moved on. This lead to a noted "death stare" that Miller gave to Calipari as he walked past him at the UK-UL football game while Miller was on a recruiting visit at Louisville. There was also complications involving Miller's coach Brian Clifton, who originally came into the UK conscious when he openly tried to steer John Wall away from Calipari to Duke. That's a double-fault, sir. You lose. Anyway ... Miller ended up spurning even UL, choosing to pair up with surprise returnee Perry Jones at Baylor next season.

#9 (SF) DeAndre Daniels - Undecided
DeAndre the Second flirted with enrolling early at UK to possibly play midseason last year. Who knows how it would've affected our team, but I would've loved the position that would've put Daniels in going towards his pseudo-sophomore season with the rest of Kentucky's monster class. But either way, DeAndre never enrolled anywhere early and has now moved on from making UK fans sweat to probably choosing between Kansas and Duke. He's a slick, super-athletic wing with a jumper who would've fit perfectly in Cal's system, but we'll see how he does elsewhere. He'll probably be one of the lasting grudges that the Big Blue Nation holds out of this class.

#23 (PF) Chane Behanan - Louisville
Here's the one recruit Pitino managed to snag in the Bluegrass battle from Cal. The local Bowling Green power forward looked like the one in-state talent who was good enough for Calipari to pick up and appease a certain branch of the fan base who want Kentucky boys to so desperately actually hit the floor. Even thought Pitino had made Behanan a major priority, it seemed like Cal was in a great position to do so, adding him to UK's already-established 2011 triumvirate. But then Calipari took a verbal from Kyle Wiltjer. Minutes gone. No one knows for sure if Cal thought Kyle was the better option or if he knew Chane was leaning elsewhere, but it happened. Behanan hasn't been shy with Wayne Blackshear to stoke the future flames of the UK-UL rivalry, so we'll see if they can actually back it up. And four years from now, we'll check back on the impact of Behanan versus Wiltjer to see the direct results of one of the few Player A-or-B recruiting decisions by Calipari.

#30 (PG) Tony Wroten - Washington
As a dominant multi-handle Twitter personality, Wroten tweeted himself onto the UK recruiting scene by teasing fans about his possible impending UK commitment. Fans checked his awesome highlights on YouTube and immediately envisioned a Wall-Bledsoe 2.0 backcourt between point guards Teague and Wroten. But as this drug on, the assumption became that Wroten was a little too loose with his words and attitude and Coach Cal preemptively backed off Wroten despite his friendship via the USA U17 team with Gilchrist and Teague. Wroten eventually chose to stay home at Washington, but not without fanning the UK flame one last time by lamenting to the Twitter universe: “@UKCoachCalipari aye coach. I just wanna know why u stopped recruiting me?” I still expect him to be a major player, but it'll be away from the spotlight in Washington. We'll see if he can stay away from trouble.

#33 (PF) Kadeem Jack - Rutgers
Once it became apparent that Kentucky wasn't going to fill out the extent of its roster for the 2010-2011 season, Calipari took a quick look at Kadeem Jack as a potential addition. After a short flirtation period, Jack spurned spots in Lexington and Chapel Hill to go to a year of prep school. I kind of wish he would've snagged Eloy's spot on the roster, but that unfortunately speaks to how Calipari had genuinely put his hope in Vargas being a contributor. Regardless, Jack reclassified to the 2011 class and picked Rutgers as his destination.

#34 (SG) Trevor Lacey - Undecided
If he doesn't commit to UK, he's immediately the most high-profile, dwelt-on miss since Jai Lucas jump-started the KSR movement. Everyone's wanted Lacey to commit for a full year now. He seems like the single missing piece to a monster recruiting class to make it the single all-time greatest. They would become the first ever legit Fab Five 2.0 with a guy at every position: Teague-Lacey-Gilchrist-Wiltjer-Davis. Lacey is a pure shooter even steps beyond the line (a la Knight and Jodie Meeks). The only reason he's not a unanimous top-15 talent is because he's somewhat limited athletically. If the going assumption is that Knight stays in the draft this summer, Calipari needs to go all-in on snagging Lacey. Since Daniels seems to be a sailed ship, Lacey is easily the top uncommitted talent left in America. One of the possible hang-ups that's been reported is Lacey's potential academic issues that may prevent him from gaining eligibility initially. Here's hoping he gets those straightened out and doesn't sign with Arkansas, Auburn, Kansas, or Connecticut.

#47 (C) Michael Chandler - UCF
Chandler de-committed from Louisville over the summer and it was quickly rumored that UK might take a major look at the big man. He was always considered an academic risk, but that hadn't previously kept Cal from getting recruits he really wanted. Some blame the Eric Bledsoe algebra situation for changing that whole angle. So Kentucky backed off of him and Chandler committed to Xavier before switching his mind quickly and heading to UCF. Chandler was once considered a top-10 prospect for the 2011 class, which originally made him a pivotal cog in UL's class, but has since fallen to the back of a loaded graduated class of big men. Hence the whole Central Florida thing.

#56 (SG) Kevin Ware - UCF
Ware was a Bruce Pearl commit who opened his recruitment back up after the annual backyard barbecue was canceled. I think that's what I read. He floated out UK as a possible destination along with Louisville and UCLA once the media swarmed to him as a newly available 2011 piece. With Lamb staying at Kentucky, the assumption is that Coach Cal never really looked in his direction all that much. Even though we were never serious with Ware, he made UK fans smirk slightly by spurning Louisville to go to Central Florida. Michael Chandler, anyone?

#92 (C) Joseph Uchebo - Undecided
Baru is from John Wall's high school, but we never got around to knowing him like C.J. Leslie because Baru committed non-dramatically to Sidney Lowe at N.C. State. But then Sidney Lowe got fired and Baru says the new coach doesn't like fancy lil' in-state talent and sent him packing. Paraphrasing. So of course Coach Cal sent a quick phone call in the direction of the kid's high school coach. This is a developing scenario.

#122 (SG) Achraf Yacoubou - Villanova
The funny-named shooter was the least known name of the immense talent that came to visit for Coach Cal's inaugural State of the Big Blue Nation speech. Weirdly enough, non-commits Harris, Leslie, and Irving all were in attendance as well ... so I guess it's safe to say that Calipari simply can't seal the deal. While it was an initial disappointment that he committed so quickly to Villanova before we even got to know him, he plummeted (un-)mightily in the rankings across the board after a less-than-stand-out senior year of high school.

Uunranked (PF) Braeden Anderson - Kansas
Anderson committed to DePaul last year and no one cared. Then he de-committed when most all of the other big men prospects were off the board and everyone cared. After seeming like an inevitable UK pick-up for awhile, it came to be known that Calipari never really went after him that hard as anything more than a last option. Hence the eventual Kansas commitment. It may have been much ado about nothing, since he's an undersized big who's not actually that talented. Unranked and all.

It's hard to even fathom wondering about players we didn't get when our class is currently the four-man juggernaut of (#2) Marquis Teague, (#3) Michael Gilchrist, (#6) Anthony Davis, and (#25) Kyle Wiltjer along with transfer (2008 3-Star) Twany Beckham. And we'll probably get one more guy. Anyways ... we'll see what happens.

... and Free Enes.


so what did ya think about whatever the heck i wrote?