Prospects take notice of UK's recruiting coup

jtipton@herald-leader.comApril 16, 2010 

  • Jordan Brand Classic

    When: 8 p.m. Saturday

    Where: Madison Square Garden in New York

    TV: ESPN2

NEW YORK — Arguably the best players in the high school junior and senior classes committed to Kentucky on national television Wednesday, the first day of the monthlong spring signing period. If UK orchestrated that spectacle in order to command the attention of other prospects, it worked.

Four other players on Kentucky's recruiting wish list here for Saturday's Jordan Brand Classic all-star game all said they took note of the commitments of Brandon Knight and Michael Gilchrist.

When asked if the commitments might affect his college choice, forward prospect C.J. Leslie said, "You think about it. But you also have to think about what's best for you. So that's what I'm doing: thinking about what's best for me."

Leslie, who attends the same high school that produced UK freshman All-American John Wall, said he plans to visit Florida after playing in the Jordan Brand game. Then he expects to make an announcement. He's also considering North Carolina State and Connecticut.

Wing Doron Lamb, who plays for Oak Hill Academy, and guard Josh Selby plan to make their college announcements during the Jordan Brand game on Saturday. The announcements will come, presumably during a timeout, in the first half. Each is considering Kentucky.

Lamb, who also lists Connecticut, Arizona, Kansas and West Virginia, said he knows his choice, but he won't reveal it until Saturday.

"That's great players to go there," he said of Knight and Gilchrist committing to UK. "I'm not going to say anything about them. But I know where I'm going. You'll have to wait until Saturday to see."

Selby, whom recruiting analysts speculate will not join Knight at Kentucky, took notice of the Knight-Gilchrist commitments.

"It made an impression," he said. "It shows me Coach Cal (John Calipari) is about his business. He's doing his job."

By inference, forward prospect Terrence Jones suggested that the Knight-Gilchrist commitments could dampen other prospects' enthusiasm for Kentucky. He said of the Cats' recruiting coup, "It doesn't drop them in my eyes."

Selby unfazed

Conventional wisdom in the recruiting world has had Selby waiting for Knight to announce his college choice. Then Selby, who like Knight plays point guard, would pick a different school to enhance his chances of becoming a starter as a freshman. Selby pooh-poohed such thinking.

"By Brandon Knight committing to Kentucky, that doesn't have an effect on me committing anywhere," he said. "I can compete with Brandon Knight or I can play against him."

But when asked what point guard role model he had, Selby seemed to suggest that being a point guard and floor leader had significance.

"The old Steve Francis, not the new one," he said.

When asked what distinguished the old Steve Francis from the new one, Selby said, "The old Steve Francis was the man."

Selby, a 6-2 player from Baltimore, Md., said his list was down to Connecticut, Arizona, Tennessee (where he originally committed), Kansas and UK.

Bill Self and Bruce Pearl made recent visits to try to persuade Selby. Selby said no coaches had made any eye-opening revelations in recent weeks.

"No, no," he said. "All of them have been recruiting me for a while. They all have said everything they possibly could say."

Jones set dates

Jones said that he will announce his college choice either April 23 or April 30.

And he plans a joint announcement with another top-50 prospect, wing Terrence Ross. Both are from Portland, Ore.

Kentucky is one of four schools the two prospects share on their final lists. Jones and Ross are also considering Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington. Jones has UCLA as his fifth school while Ross lists Kansas.

"I stand even in my top five," Jones said.

When asked how he could be even at this late date, Jones said, "Each school is doing a great job recruiting me and making it real difficult for me to pick one."

Jones said he and Ross are considering the possibility of going to the same school. But it's not a sure thing.

"I want him to do what's best for him and me to do what's best for me," Jones said. "If that's together, that's good. If that's not, I wish the best for him."

Jones is a 6-8 forward. Ross is a 6-5 shooting guard.

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