John Clay: UK fans are willing to settle for ... every top recruit

jclay@herald-leader.comApril 14, 2010 

Kentucky fans have grown greedy.

Happy and greedy.

Thank John Calipari.

Not long ago, in the early days of the program's prolonged Final Four drought, UK basketball fans were conditioned to accepting one top-10 recruit.

Maybe two, tops. But they'd settle for one. One beats none. Any one. A quick guard. A bruising power forward. A rebounding center. A dead-eye perimeter shooter. Just someone to build a roster around.

Then Calipari came to town. Dominoes began falling. Expectations were lifted. Now Kentucky basketball fans don't want just one blue-chip recruit. They want all the blue-chip recruits.

No sooner had Brandon Knight announced on ESPNU that the Floridian would be a Kentucky Wildcat, than the wheels started spinning. Fast. Yes, Knight was considered the top point guard prospect in the Class of 2010, maybe the best player overall in the Class of 2010.

But what about a sidekick guard? What about Josh Selby, the guard formerly committed to Tennessee? What about Doron Lamb, the sharpshooter with the excellent mid-range game?

What about forwards? What about Terrence Jones, the 6-foot-9 forward from Portland, Ore., who keeps mentioning Kentucky but is keeping his options open on the West Coast? What about C.J. Leslie, the 6-7 forward who was John Wall's teammate?

Or how about Marcus Thornton, the Georgia Mr. Basketball who de-committed from Clemson?

Or how about Terrence Ross, Jones' buddy from out in Portland?

Or how about Austin Rivers, son of Doc, who recently de-committed from Florida and opened up his recruiting book? What's that? You say Rivers is in the Class of 2011?

Well, Michael Gilchrist is the No. 1 player in the Class of 2011, and Kentucky already has him. Gilchrist made his choice Wednesday, as well. Did it on ESPNU. Knight opened the show by choosing Kentucky. Gilchrist closed it by committing to Kentucky.

OK, Cal, so how come no one for 2012 yet?

What's taking so long?

For a Kentucky fan now, all things are possible. All prospects. All recruits. All positions.

Not long ago, not many Kentucky fans had heard the name Enes Kanter. He was a tall Turkish player living in California. He had committed to Washington. Big deal.

Then all of a sudden Kanter reopened his recruitment. Kentucky swooped in. Kanter committed to the Cats. Then Saturday night in Portland, Kanter scored 34 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for the World Team in the Nike Hoop Summit. He broke the team scoring record held by Dirk Nowitzki.

Scouts said Kanter was the best player on the floor.

He's coming to Kentucky.

Yes, at least four pretty good players appear to be leaving Kentucky after one year. And while that might be a bad thing for team continuity, it's a good thing for recruiting. One door closes, another opens.

Sure, kids today want to play college basketball where they appreciate college basketball, where they will win.

Mainly, kids today want to play college basketball where the road leads to playing pro basketball.

Calipari has paved that road. Derrick Rose went pro after one year. Cha-ching. Tyreke Evans went pro after one year. Cha-ching. John Wall is going pro after one year. As is DeMarcus Cousins, and Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton. Jackpot.

This year's kids are seeing last year's kids going where they want to go — with a stop-off in Big Blue Country. That's not a bad rest stop. Not a bad one at all.

Kentucky fans want them all.

Reach John Clay at (859) 231-3226 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3226, or jclay@herald-leader.com. Read his blog at Kentucky.com.

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service