John Calipari's top 2011 class ready to sign Wednesday

Gilchrist, Teague and Co.to make it official Wednesday

jtipton@herald-leader.comNovember 10, 2010 

Michael Gilchrist

RIVALS.COM

Michael Gilchrist, the crown jewel of Kentucky's recruiting class for 2011, will make it official when he signs a national letter of intent on Wednesday. "I just can't wait," he said Tuesday.

That makes it unanimous.

UK fans have been salivating about the next incoming class since Gilchrist and company committed. On Wednesday, the first day of the weeklong November signing period, the small forward from Somerdale, N.J., and two other top-six national prospects will sign. The other two are point guard Marquis Teague of Indianapolis and center-forward Anthony Davis of Chicago.

A fourth player, top-25 prospect Kyle Wiltjer of Portland, Ore., will also sign.

Their commitments caused recruiting analysts to wonder whether this might be the best class yet for UK Coach John Calipari, who brought in No. 1 classes the last two years.

When asked what he thought this incoming freshman class could accomplish for Kentucky, Gilchrist said he hoped to be "part of something special." Toward that end, he mentioned former UK great Tayshaun Prince as a role model.

"I want to be just like him," he said of Prince. Then Gilchrist added, "I have a lot to live up to, too."

That's for sure. Gilchrist has been widely considered one of the best players in the class of 2011. Rivals.com rates him No. 3.

If that translates into pressure, Gilchrist wasn't sure. "It's just starting to hit me," he said of the college career he's eager to begin.

Kentucky fans have made a lasting impression on Gilchrist. He said the fans have been regulars on his Facebook page. This attention had an effect. "I want to wear blue," the player said.

Gilchrist will come to Kentucky with a reputation for playing with great effort. "It just comes naturally to me now," he said. "I don't even know why I play so hard. I just want to win."

When asked whether he expects to be a one-and-done player, Gilchrist sounded taken aback.

"Wow," he said. "It's funny you say that. I don't really know right now. I'm just a senior in high school. I don't know about the NBA right now."

His mother, Cynthia Richardson, noted UK's academic tutoring service as a reason she liked her son's college choice. She likened it to her son's high school, St. Patrick's.

"Their athletes are set up to succeed," she said of UK. "Very structured. There's not much free time. Some other programs, they're not as stringent and structured."

She liked the idea that a player can get academic help practically any time, day or night.

"He's a student first," Gilchrist's mother said. "Basketball is just what he does. It's not what he is."

As for academic goals, Richardson said, her son wants to be a teacher.

"He loves children," she said.

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